Lovely Cadiz

Lovely Cadiz
Cadiz - my favorite place so far in the trip to Southern Spain

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bloggo Diciassettesimo: Highland Fling 1: Glasgow

I've commenced my Highland Fling! Actually I’m nowhere near the highlands as I write, instead traveling in a very flat, lowland-ish region of England (farm fields and small villages flying by outside my window), from London to Glasgow on a delayed train from Euston Station. Apparently a sleeper train de-railed outside the station this morning, crossing several tracks and causing a delay to all trains at the station! We started a half hour late. Not sure if they will try to make up time or not, but it's not really an issue as I have nowhere in particular to go this afternoon. It's supposed to be very rainy in Glasgow, so I might go nowhere at all – at least until I need to find a place to eat dinner!

I really hope that it will NOT be a total washout in Glasgow, as tomorrow I have what I hope will be an exciting day-trip to Oban. But the weather gods will prevail, despite my wishes.

A bit later, IN Glasgow: The train arrived at Glasgow’s imposing Central Station about 3:30. Stepping into the street I noted only the lightest of drizzles, and my taxi driver cheered me up considerably when he told me that the last two days had been complete downpour/washouts. I checked in to one of two hotels in Glasgow named Charles Rennie MacIntosh (the less expensive one, and I may tell you later why it’s less expensive), for the fabled art nouveau designer/architect who left his mark on buildings all over Glasgow, including the dental hospital across the street and the Glasgow School of Art just down Renfrew Street, the street where I live for the next few days.

Once in my hotel room I wondered how I’d spend the next few hours. I knew I had to get to the Queen Street rail station to pick up the tickets for tomorrow’s rail excursion to Oban, and to Inverness, the next stop on my Highland Fling, on Sunday. So almost immediately after investigating my small but rather comfy room, decorated to a point in the Charles Rennie MacIntosh style, I charged out into Glasgow, now not even a drizzle from the cloudy skies. I walked along Renfrew Street, then down a rather steep hill into the downtown area. (Note to self: you’ve got to get back up it later!) 

I was surprised at how easy it was to reach the station, and on the way to it I discovered the pedestrian zone, on a street with the particularly Scottish name of Sauchiehall. And immediately as I stepped into that zone, I heard a rather decent solo from a jazz saxophonist, and put some money in his instrument case. A few blocks down the street, lined with pretty typical stores, more good jazz, this time from a quartet. A block or so farther and a young man was singing soulful ballads – the street musicians of Glasgow took me by surprise, a delighted one.

I picked up my tickets at Queen Street rail station, surrounded by pubs and restaurants surprisingly upscale compared those usually found next to train stations. I spotted George Square and made my way to this rather elegant spot, which features several statues of famous Scots, topped literally by a spire dedicated to Sir Walter Scott. 

There was also a simple and tasteful war memorial, and today several temporary structures housing a piping festival! More music, and very good music, during the time I was there from a small band with other instruments, but featuring the pipes. I stayed in the tent, which was also equipped with a bar, for several tunes. Adjacent to the music tent were booths featuring traditional Scottish culinary treats – I almost went for the venison burger!

I was very much enjoying my downtown stroll, so I kept it up until about 6 pm when my legs began to tire and my stomach started to grumble. I had been looking as I walked at a wide variety of restaurants and pubs and I picked a pretty traditional but rather interesting place, designed, if not by MacIntosh, certainly in his spirit. I had a wonderfully bad-for-me dinner there of Sausages and Mash, possibly the tastiest I’ve ever et, washed down with a pint of Caffrey’s Ale.

Back to the hotel then, with a stop at a Sainsbury’s Local for some snacks, and now it’s 10:15 pm, I have an early morning and a long day, so, praying to the weather gods to keep the rain away, or light at least, tomorrow, I’m more than ready for a good night’s sleep!

Friday morning: Cloudy, so far, but according to the early morning news rain will spread across the exact area into which I am venturing. Voila! There are few trains into and out of Oban, and I have six hours scheduled in a fishing village without much chance of shelter from the impending storm, but that’s why I brought my pancho. Breakfast begins in 15 minutes, and just after that I need to dash to Queen Street station to catch my 8:21 train to Oban. More upon my very likely rain-soaked return.

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