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Friday 16 Oct 2009
Glasgow, United Kingdom

Gadding about in Glasgow part II

I woke at a ridiculously early 6am and read for a while before getting up at 8. I knew nothing would be open for a least another couple of hours, so I wasn't in a rush. Breakfast was uninspired no-name cornflakes, powdered apple juice, paper-thin toast with marmalade and vending machine tea (also probably powdered). Typical dorm breakfast.

The plan was to jump on a hop-on, hop-off bus around the city to get my bearings and to find out what was actually worth visiting. I was typically early, and although I chatted to the gorgeous Clark-Kent-type Scot running the tourist bus stop (number 2), I still had to go and get a hot chocolate to fill in the time. The bus finally departed and we started on the tour past Glasgow Cathedral (oldest Gothic church in Scotland), Merchant City, Tollbooth Tower (at the junction of the four oldest streets in Glasgow), the Peoples Palace with the Doulton Fountain (moved from Kelvingrove Park), back to George Square, past ‘the Armadillo' and SECC, the Tall Ship, up to Glasgow University and round to Kelvingrove Art Gallery where I got off. I wasn't that keen to see the Art Gallery but the building was stunning and they were holding a Doctor Who exhibition. Like the nerd I am, I wandered round for half an hour taking photos of Cybermen and Daleks and David Tennant's shoes (0.2, he wasn‘t actually there). I took a few mandatory shots of the gothic steeple of Glasgow Uni before waiting at the bus stop (where I got a wink and a smile from a dashing local bus driver - number 3), and jumped back on the tourist bus. We headed down Sauchiehall Street, into the Theatre District and back round to George Square but I stayed on the bus back round to the Cathedral.

It was pretty impressive as far as gothic cathedrals go, not the same size as York Minster, but infinitely cooler as it had an under church and "Blackader Aisle" (no sign of Rowan Atkinson though). What was more impressive in the mid-day sun was the Glasgow Necropolis that stretched right up the hill behind the church with the requisite crooked and blackened headstones, crypts and statues to long-forgotten heroes. The view over Glasgow in the sun was worth the climb but I couldn't help thinking that the place would be great fun at Halloween.

I thought about waiting for the bus down the hill to the People Palace but gave up and walked instead, passing the Tollbooth Tower, Barras and into Glasgow Green. The Peoples Palace was hardly worth the walk, and I sat in the sun for near half and hour before the next bus came. The plan was to do another circuit to get photos of the Armadillo and a couple more of Glasgow Uni but in the shade and breeze on the top deck of the bus, it was too chilly and I hopped off again at George Square. After a bite to eat from Greggs (I'd forgotten how much I liked their sausage rolls) and a bit of people watching (number 4), I headed in the direction of the pedestrianised Buchanan St for a patch, some postcards and some souvenir shopping.

There was a surprising lack of souvenir shops but I found one with a decent patch and continued aimlessly up Buchanan St, and on to West George St in time to see them block off the street to film a movie scene - kinda cool. I continued vaguely wandering in search of another souvenir shop and then decided that I might head to the Gallery of Modern Art. I'd seen a poster somewhere of a photographic exhibition of people with Scottish roots, and thought it may be at the GoMA. There is a statue of the Duke of Wellington out the front which more or less permanently wears a traffic cone as a hat; apparently every time the council removes it, it gets replaced. The gallery was full of abstract paintings by people "recreating the mood of the clouds using block colour" although it looked like a gallery of kindergarten paintings, and I went next door to Borders instead. Out the front door, I couldn't help but pop into the local Flight Centre to have a stickybeak and a quick chat about FC in Scotland. It's not very different actually except they seemed to have far less brochures on the shelves.

Finally knackered, I stumbled back to the hostel for a Spiderman-shower and a cider in the bar (secretly hoping to find someone to have dinner with). No takers so I strolled up to the local Wetherspoons, The Crystal Palace, for fish and chips for dinner. I stayed in the hostel bar long enough to check my email then fell into bed.

This morning I hoisted by backpack for the last time to head to Glasgow Central train station. Apart from a few early risers (number 5), the station was relatively empty. I'm travelling forwards this time (much better for a 5 hour trip), accompanied by a mother and daughter team sharing their lollies with me, and a couple of teenagers behind me talking so fast, it sounds like Spanish. The green, green, green countryside is flying past us and although I've no idea where we are, it's still remarkably postcard worthy.

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