Having found a cheap one-way to Glasgow we took it and figured that things would work out in the end (things always work out in the end). The flight was OK (or at least not memorable, which amounts to the same thing) and before we knew it we were in Scotland. And it was 5am.
Getting through immigration was pretty easy (I was a bit worried because we were coming in on one-way tickets and countries generally don’t like that sort of stuff). They had two lines, one for British and European passport holders and one for the rest of the world. This mean that there were like 10 people in our line while all the Scots had to wait for ages. I liked that part a lot. Asked us some basic questions, stamped our passports and then let us go. The stamp was pretty disappointing, no fancy design or anything. But never mind that, we were in Scotland!
The plan for the day then was to see as much of the city as possible and then fly out to London in the afternoon. But it being quite early we decided to wait in the airport for a while as nothing would be open for a while yet.
The first thing we noticed on leaving the airport is that it was much colder and wetter than we had anticipated. Especially coming from 30 degree Toronto. Thankfully we prepared for poor weather and so were reasonably prepared (although still a bit cold). We took a bus into town and decided to stow our stuff in a locker at the bus station as we’d have to bus out to the airport later on anyway. The only British currency we had was a 50 pound note (about a hundred bucks) and the lockers needed change. No problem, there were plenty of places to break a note at the station.
First I went to the newsagent. I asked her if she could break a 50. She said it was too early in the day and she didn’t have that much change yet. Then to the bus ticket counter. Same story. Apparently shops in Glasgow don’t have any money in the morning (which may or may not be a surprise but I’m pretty sure I’d be able to break a 100 at a Greyhound counter, and in Japan where cash is king and convenience store would do the same and thank you for it). I went to the taxi stand and asked a driver. He said he’d be happy to break the 50, but only if he drove us in his cab.
Returning to the wall of lockers increasingly annoyed with Scotland and all things Scottish I saw a man in a suit. A white-collar worker about 2 hours early for work. I asked him, and he could! All was right in the world again. Now possessing two 20s and a 10 I asked the newsagent for some change, and like shop clerks the world over she said she could only do it if I bought something. When the revolution comes, we will go to shops asking to break bills, and anyone who asks us to make a purchase will be summarily executed. Consider yourself warned.
So mint Aero in tow, we put our bags in the locker and made our way into the Glaswegian mist.
The first thing we did was walk around the city, this was both to orient ourselves and to kill time as it was still way early.
After a bit of walking we got tired and bored and hungry so stopped off at a coffee shop somewhere near the city centre. We sat there for a while, enjoying the warmth and looking at all the people walking by. We noticed two things:
- All males under 30 had the “Beckham” haircut, this crappy kind-of mohawk where a presumably normal head of hair is gelled to the point where a meringue-like peak made of highlighted hair forms. A few people over here have it, but in the UK it’s pretty much every white guy you see (unless they’re a skinhead).
- None of the women were good looking. Although there were a few who I’m sure were stunning by Scottish standards, they wouldn’t rate a second look (in a positive way anyway) in any of the cities I’ve ever visited (except maybe Cincinnatti). Maybe all the Robson Hall first years are from Scotland.
Shocked and Awed by the lack of eye-candy we made our way to Glasgow Cathedral, a wonderful example of Gothic architecture. It had nice stained glass windows and a really big cemetery on a hill.
After that we went shopping (for the trip I’d say that half of any given day was spent shopping) and had perhaps the worst food court food I’ve ever had. I don’t even remember what I had but it was sooooo sooooo bad. Maybe a pizza slice and french fries. That sounds about right.
Then we went to look at architecture, specifically that of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I took many photos but apparently somehow the data on the card was corrupted so those ones are lost. Strangely, and thankfully, it only happened the one time, so I now think it was my fault somehow.
At about this time the weather started picking up as well and it was getting really nice outside. Also, Glasgow has these pedestrian only streets (like Queen West without any cars). I like car-free urban areas. We need more of them in North America.
But it was at this time that we had to make our way to Prestwick airport to get the hell out of Scotland. So with the weather picking up, we picked up and left Scotland and its funny money behind (Scotland has its own currency, the Scottish pound, which is exactly the same as a British pound but is printed by the Bank of Scotland and has a different picture. British pounds are legal tender in Scotland and vice versa).
Next up: London