Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Wee Camping Trip In The Highlands Part 4 - A Day In Glasgow

Glasgow….I’ve only seen a small part of it, but what I saw would be heaven for most of the young people I know. Here you have the urban life, pubs and Starbucks everywhere, good beer, good whiskey, and music all around. Plenty of good food, and for some reason I haven’t figured out, the price on clothing wasn't bad. Even with the exchange rate against us, we could have found reasonable-priced clothing just strolling along the street. There are parts of the city where the street is clear of vehicles, but it is pedestrian-beware where you do cross traffic. Nobody really waited for the crossing light, but hardly anyone dared jaywalking. I was extremely careful and almost met my maker from walking in front of a taxi I didn’t see coming around the corner.

It was way more crowded than I would have expected on a weekday when everyone should be at work, but I saw plenty of people shopping, and dragging their carryon bags with them. It turned out that many people in the UK get a two week vacation right around Easter and we landed right in the middle of it. We also had the good fortune to book our hotel right in the middle of City Centre, which included the long pedestrian-only Sauchiehall St.

We ate lunch in the Iron Horse pub and the food was good, almost as good as the atmosphere. I was to find later, that the meal I had there was on the low end of what I would find on the journey. I was so proud of myself. I walked right into a crowded pub, oriented myself, and immediately noticed that instead of the music stopping and everyone turning around to look at the strangers that dared to invade their territory, nothing happened. There wasn't a place to sit at all, but two nice ladies noticed Pam and said they were just leaving and offered us their table. I quickly sat down and wondered if this place took our credit cards, what kind of tip to leave, etc. Meanwhile, Pam pushed up to the bar, ordered our food, and a half pint of what they had on tap for me. She then proceeded to carry on a conversation with a couple of the local men at the bar, nodding and laughing. When she finally came back to the table, I asked her what she had learned. She had no idea what they said, she was picking up every third word at the most.  It was a two way problem, they couldn't understand us when we talked fast and we had no hope of understanding them when they got excited and the burr got really thick.
There I was! Eating Bangers and Mash in a pub in Scotland on Easter Sunday! If I had known that for the next two weeks that almost every meal was going to be in a pub, I wouldn't have thought it was such a big deal.

Everywhere, the people were nice, and something I found striking was that jobs we may consider menial were being performed by clean-cut smiling young people. I never really saw a scowling face except outside when the wind was blowing cold and hard. Nobody seemed angry that they had to work on the day. It didn't occur to me until much later that perhaps they were smiling because they were working indoors in a nice store instead of having to be outside!

As much as I loved Glasgow, there was that thing you see everywhere…the façade is maintained, but don’t look out back. In the alleyways, trash abounded and sometimes some surly-looking characters. Glasgow had that look of ‘we had a party last night and sometime today somebody will be up to clean’.

If there was a standout thing to mention besides the fantastic buildings and the incredible cold wind and snow, it was the buskers performing in the streets. I took some video and am still reeling from performances that would rival anything I’ve heard before. That somebody could sit in the street in 30 degrees F and do what they did, made me realize that I have probably no talent at all and should give my equipment away to the homeless...I had wondered before why some performers thought backing tracks were a necessary evil…these performers proved them wrong…really wrong.

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