Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pigeon legs and church bars

We hired a car, got outta Edinburgh, and headed to Stirling and Falkirk before ending up in Glasgow. In Stirling we had a very odd pub meal and took pictures of a cool old castle and cemetary. The destination in Falkirk was the Falkirk Wheel, something we'd both heard about years ago. I have to say, the wheel was interesting, but I'm glad we hadn't planned on staying in either Stirling or Falkirk overnight; there was just enough to see and do for a couple of hours and that's it.
(Me at the Falkirk Wheel)
When we finally arrived in Glasgow, it couldn't have happened a moment too soon - being in the car was turning out to be highly stressful. The car we hired was a manual and of course the driver sits on the right. Neither DSH nor I had ever driven on the other side of the road before, but we decided to give him the first go at it and I'd be the navigator. Navigating tends to be stressful for me on a regular day, but add in the fact that I kept having to tell DSH that he was WAY too close to the curb/line and, well, I couldn't wait to be out of the car.

Day one in Glasgow was spent wandering the city centre. We went in and out of shops and walked all over taking shots of cool old buildings. I can't tell if it's because of the economy or if it was the weather or what, but Glasgow seems pretty depressed. The buildings are solid and dark and drab. Edinburgh may have ranked as the more interesting of the two to look at, but so far neither one of them are on my top 10 cities list.
(Oran Mor)
All of the walking and perhaps a bit of lingering jet lag meant that we were ready for a rest by mid-afternoon. We headed back to the guest house, watched a movie, and took a nap. We woke up refreshed and ready to head back out to meet Marion, a friend of Toto's who he'd told me to reach out to when he found out I'd be in Scotland. Marion took us to a part of Glasgow called the West End that we hadn't explored yet. We had a drink first (I don't remember the name of the place) and then had dinner at the Ubiquitous Chip. Marion made all kinds of recommendations - we had venison haggis and pigeon legs, both very tasty - and introduced us to Irn Bru (pronounced "iron brew"), a Scottish soda brand that outsells Coca-Cola (it tastes a bit like bubble gum for some reason and really isn't my thing, but Scots love the stuff). Afterwards we went to Oran Mor, a church converted into a bar that had pages and pages and pages of whisky to choose from (DSH was a happy man!). We eventually said goodnight to Marion, but not before she told us to be sure to call her if we needed anything or if we wanted suggestions for what to do when we leave the Isle of Skye (I still haven't figured that bit out yet).

This is why couchsurfing is so cool and why I recommend it so highly. Marion isn't at all involved with CS, but Toto is and that's how we ended up meeting her. I wouldn't have had Scottish contacts if it wasn't for Toto and CS, and we never would have found those really cool spots if it hadn't been for a local. It's nice to get off the tourist track and find out what the locals are getting up to. My piece of advice? Even if you're not comfortable with the idea of couchsurfing, you should still make every effort you can to talk to other people and get to know the people who live in the area you're visiting. I can guarantee that it will only enhance your experience.

Anyway, for day two in Glasgow, we decided to go back to the West End. We popped in and out of vintage stores, grocery stores, cupcake stores, and the Botanic Gardens. We also took lots of pictures of the University of Glasgow buildings and grounds. In other words, we did heaps of walking and wandering. :-) In a bit, we'll go out for dinner - I have a hankering for Indian food - and then we'll probably call it an early night. Tomorrow we leave Glasgow for the Isle of Islay, but we'll make a pit stop at Loch Lomond on the way.


  1. The secret to first time driving on the wrong side of the road is - get an automatic transmission!
    Having failed there, the next best thing is for the passenger to do the shifting and let the driver, drive.

  2. Oh, and another thing...
    The Falkirk wheel is amazing!

    Their website sux though - better link here:

  3. your pictures of falkirk are great!

  4. Dad - looks like I've failed at getting an automatic transmission AND having the passenger do the shifting. But. . .I've at least changed the Falkirk Wheel link. :-)

  5. Couchsurfing is over rated. Its not like it starts relationships or anything.

  6. Foos - I have no idea what you're talking about. :-D