Sunday, June 10, 2012

Scotland Part One ~ Arrival in Glasgow

First glimpse of Scotland
After relatively uneventful flights connecting through Boston and Amsterdam, I arrived in Glasgow on a gray morning; my friend Davie was waiting for me at the arrivals hall at the airport.  

I shouldn't say completely uneventful.  In Boston, after eating probably the most delicious and over-priced cheeseburger I've ever consumed (I wanted to get seafood, which seemed to predominate the menus in this seaport town, but the thought of eating a bad scallop shortly before an 8 hour trans-Atlantic flight scared me off a bit.  I decided to stick with the red meat that I was raised on) I proceeded down the terminal to my gate, and after reading and waiting, and saying hello to a little Yorkshire terrier who was also making the flight, realized that the flight would be delayed.  An announcement came across the loudspeakers, and apparently one of the engines was malfunctioning.  Knowing what little that I know about the functions of a jet flying across the ocean, I thought this might be kind of important to resolve before takeoff.  I decided to cut the crew some slack and not get upset about it, but instead focused my energy on hoping that the mechanics could get the machine fixed.  They did.  We boarded an hour late.

Arriving in Amsterdam Schiphol airport a bit tardy, I was delighted to find that my connecting flight was in the same concourse.  I ran through the terminal, got through security, and talked with the attendant briefly about how I had connected in under a half an hour (he praised my swift transition), but did not foresee my baggage having the same amount of luck.  He agreed.
Typical Glasgow red sandstone building
(note the Starbuck's on the ground floor)
Upon arrival in Glasgow, my bag indeed did not make the connection and I got to experience my first interaction with a real-live Scottish person.  (Not just any old Scot, but a Glasgow baggage attendant.)  He reassured me "not to worry" and that if I would just fill out a simple form, my baggage would be delivered to my area of residence the same evening.  I was skeptical of his blatant optimism, but decided to go with it.  At least it saved time not having to go through customs at this point.  I did get the third degree from the passport control agent, who always seems to be trying to catch someone in a mistruth, but she decided to let me pass as well.

Architecture at University of Glasgow
Me at University of Glasgow
Davie at University of Glasgow ~
don't tread on the grass!
Davie then took me through the streets of Glasgow on a mini-tour.  He advised me not to sleep right away ~ just a short afternoon nap would be allowed before going to the pub later in the evening.  We parked the car and toured through the University area, looked at the pickled body-parts in jars, and also took in the nice display about the Antonine Wall that was started 20 years after Hadrian's Wall in northern England, the Antonine Wall being the most northern area that the Romans had reached in the mid-second century AD (142 AD and took 12 years to complete).   The wall stretched from present day Glasgow at the Firth of Clyde to present day Edinburgh at the Firth of Forth.  On display were a lot of fragments of stone, some with inscriptions, and lots of artifacts such as old leather shoes, brass buttons, and coins.

Davie also told me about the story behind Glasgow's Coat of Arms:  There's the tree that never grew, the bird that never flew, the fish that never swam, the bell that never rang.  All of the elements are associated with miracles that the patron saint, St Mungo, performed in the late 6th century at the Brythonic Kingdom of Strathclyde (present-day Glasgow).

Lamp post with the elements of
Glasgow's Coat of Arms
We returned to Davie's flat and I decided it was time to take a nap.  Davie got on the phone to check about my baggage, and the courier said that it should arrive sometime in the evening, around 9pm.  Davie explained that that wasn't going to work out for us, because we had plans to go to the pub for a beer or two, and the courier replied that he would check back.  He called a few minutes later to say that he would be by with my bag in about a half an hour!  I guess he must have felt akin to us for the fact that we were going out drinking.

Mitchell Library
Me and Davie, manning the taps at the Bon Accord pub
After my nap, we took the bus to the Bon Accord pub downtown near the Mitchell Library, and I realized quickly that this whole "driving on the left side of the road" business was really going to mess with my head.  I kept looking the wrong way to cross the street.  I would look to the left and think no one was coming and then suddenly a car would go zipping by me from my right.  When I tried to go to the cross walks to push the pedestrian light, Davie just laughed at me.  "We can cross anywhere, you know.  You don't have to go to the crosswalk."  Duh ~ how silly of me not to think that one can just jaywalk willy-nilly across the street and not get run over.  But the drivers did seem to be much more attentive to pedestrians than the ones in the States.

We went to the pub for a couple of pints (and yes, some Scotch Whiskey too), and after the owner insisted on having us stand behind the taps for a photo op, we decided to go home.  It was just barely dark when we got back out on the street.  We caught the bus back to Davie's neighborhood, but still had to walk a few blocks to the flat, which Davie said was good for me, but all I could think was how my head was spinning from the alcohol, the time change, and the lack of sleep.  I was pretty sure I was going to sleep well that night.

I was surprised to see that when we got back to the flat, it was near midnight.  We had a cup of tea and a scone before bed, and then I slept like the dead.   I had an early start planned in the morning ~ had to be to the train station in a nearby suburb to start my 5-day running trip from Glasgow to Fort William (about 100 miles away) and run my first 20 miles.  I was to meet the AMS-Outdoor van at the Milngavie (pronounced "Mull-guy") train station to take my bags for me so that I could run (nearly) carefree through the Scottish countryside.

Continue to Part Two here.


  1. Larry ChojnowskiJune 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip. Wish we were there with you. What a great experience. Enjoy!

    Uncle Larry & Aunt Mary Jo

  2. Would love to go to Glasgow someday. We Scots are great people. :)

  3. You're right Kelli! The Scots sure are friendly! And Davie seems like a real mate. Also, good travel advice to chill out and hang out for a bit after a trip across the pond, as opposed to just crashing out. Way to casually rally and go with the flow, Missy! Scotch Whisky and a couple of pints always help with that!
    I can't wait for the next edition!
    Love ya, S.

    1. Davie is a true world traveler, and probably more friendly than the average Scot, although he can get a bit grumpy at times (only briefly, and well-deserved, I assure you!) but never grumpy with me, only with incompetent low-lifes, haha! Yes, his advice was good, and he was a spectacular host. I couldn't have asked for better.

    2. maybe not "grumpy" ~ surly is probably a better descriptor of my friend Davie :)