Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scotland: Part One

A bit of Glasgow, then on to Edinburgh

The first thing we heard after leaving the train station in Glasgow was a voice, thick with a Scottish brogue, say to Tall Guy,  "Helleeew, yer wef's a beeeeuuutafellll gerrrrrrrrrrl!".

Tall Guy: "Excuse me?"

The Scott: "Yer wef, mahn, she's lufly!"

Tall Guy smiled and the man kept walking...

Tall Guy, to me: "Is that Gaelic? What is a wef?"

"He likes your jacket", I replied.

"No, I think he didn't say that", Tall Guy looked at me suspiciously.

I smiled. The two of us were in for an interesting weekend of interpretation.

Tall Girl outside of citizenM
Our hotel, citizenM, was FAB.U.LOUS! It's a Dutch chain with Nordic decor: clean lines, easy-to-use gizmos (we had a shower "pod" with "mood lights" and different body washes to either wake you up or calm you down, electric shades, and a "daylight" alarm clock). I slept very well in an enormous bed and woke up feeling refreshed, but not very touristy. Fortunately, Tall Guy felt the same. That's how, en route to the cathedral we felt we should see, we got a little sidetracked by Easter Sales in a lovely pedestrian shopping area.

We went a little nuts and are now outfitted with some great new hiking gear. AND... I found... a pair of shoes! Tada! Finding women's shoes that fit me was enough to earn Glasgow the Tall Travel Star of Approval.

largest marble staircase
Anyway, the only "sight" we saw on Thursday was the City Chambers (it's a beautiful building inside and out. We took a free one hour guided tour - I translated for Tall Guy), and if you're ever in Glasgow, we highly recommend checking it out. Aside: the same goes for Hamburg, another great City Chambers that also has free guided tours. Go!

When we travel, we like to take night pictures when buildings are lit up (warning, Glasgow is NOT Paris and other than the City Chambers, not much is lit), so we took a post-dinner walk over to the cathedral. Part of the side was covered in scaffolding, so I had the bright idea of stepping over a little rock, which turned out to be a fence, to get a better view. That's how we ended up in the cemetery. At night. And let me tell you, crumbling angels and old Celtic crosses might look cool by day, but they are creep-creep-creepy at night. As are cherry trees..

city chambers by night
The Glasgow verdict? It's worthy of a day trip. If you can't stay away from the shops, and also want to visit the Kelvingrove Museum, maybe a day and a half. The City Chambers, as I've said, deserve a visit.The people were friendly, shops were much tidier and less crowded than in London, and it's a great city for walking.

edinburgh castle
In Edinburgh, we alighted the train to find a tacky tourist's dream: Scottish blue "viking" hats, complete with red hair, kilt towels, and postcards of bagpipers standing in the wind were everywhere! While we do like souvenirs, and sometimes it's fun to have a funny hat, it was slightly off-putting, not at all as I remembered it. I remembered authentic kilt shops, tea rooms, and artisans. As we left the station with a group of (adult) tourists decked out in flaming red hair, I sighed. Fortunately, though, we (re)discovered that Edinburgh is much more than a postcard town.

Tall Guy had directions to our hotel, but they were for driving, not walking, and after using the GPS on "drive" whilst in Amsterdam (and walking two extra kilometers thanks to one way streets), we were really happy to receive directions from a kind stranger that shaved some time and hills off for us.
the palace of holyroodhouse
The McDonald Holyrood is a charming hotel. A luxury chain, it's decorated, um, Britishly (floral drapes, floral cushions, floral bedspread...). citizenM had better beds, but the McDonald H had... a tea maker and shortbread cookies! And I do love having tea on hand for whenever I should want it (in fact, whilst in Glasgow I told Tall Guy that the only thing missing in our hotel was a tea maker!).

As you can probably guess by the name, we were staying very close (read: across the road from) Holyroodhouse Palace. That means... at the bottom of the Royal Mile (read: walk up a hill to get everywhere). It was a nice, quiet location, but we suggest staying either in the middle of the mile or nearer to the castle for convenience.

Want more? Come back tomorrow!

the guard: just try to get past me!

the nerd guard: um, yeah, stay out! (teehee!)

the talls guard holyroodhouse


  1. did you see the fuzzy cows? man i love those guys.

  2. Only from the train (boo!), but we're planning another trip this summer, so maybe I'll pet one. ;)