Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Glaswegian for a day (part 1)

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A close friend of mine moved to Glasgow about a year ago to master the investment knowledge. This post follows my well-postponed visit.

It wasn't long before my plans for a visit grew into a group day trip to Glasgow. S, B, and I took the Sunday morning train from Waverly in Einburgh to Glasgow Queen Street. Since it was too early for prepare anything at home, and since we were on a trip, after all, we gourmeted on croissants and smoothies. The train took us past Linlithgow and Falkirk, which brought happy memories of our 50 km bike ride by the canal the week before. But this is a story for another time (or at least for the time when my film photos get developed).

My memories from Glasgow from about 5 years ago turned out to be completely skewed. Maybe due to my juvenile impressionability or maybe because of time, but I had remembered the buildings taller, more modern, and classically urban, utterly different from their Baronial counterparts in Edinburgh. I often compared Glasgow to Sofia as I saw some likeness in the multitudes in the thoroughfares and the general urban feel of the place.


Upon our descend from the train station, however, I did not find those tall buildings, nor were we swept by hordes of knife-swinging maniacs and zombies. The city welcomed us with familiar architecture and even more familiar weather – light showers followed by blazing sun kept alternating every 10 minutes throughout the day. Fortunately, we had not brought the Edinburgh wind along with us, which made our loitering a lot easier.

Our first stop was George Square, which lay in immediate proximity to the train station. It was all covered in marquees and decorations celebrating the 2014 Commonwealth games. Apparently, the council and the Scottish government had undertaken the mammoth task to equip the city for the upcoming games adapting numerous venues and constructing a whole village for the athletes. Hopefully, the village will regenerate this deprived area of the city as planned, and the money will not go down the drain similarly to other international events. 


As we had arrived more or less without a plan, our trip’s success lied greatly in the hands of out hostess, A. In futile rebellion against the weather we decided to stay outside as much as possible and avoid tourist ‘traps’ like galleries and museums. Nonetheless, our next stop was at the Gallery for Modern Art but rather for the iconic image resting in front of the gallery – the Wellington Statue with the infamous cone. Luckily, Glaswegians have a sense of humour and the cone was still there for our visit.


Slightly off the Royal Exchange Square where the gallery is, we came across a shop displaying roughly 1000 vintage sewing machines as part of its d├ęcor (I can only imagine my grandmothers’ bewilderment at the idea) and Dr Who’s police box. The box was not red as the original Glaswegian ones but that did not ward us off from enjoying it. Although this particular one was closed, we came across others that were fully functional as coffee stalls – a rather ingenious idea.


Our stroll took us down Buchanan Street and its Art Nouveau Peacock. Wrought iron has always impressed me and this one is not an exception but sadly it did not strike a chord with my companions. Instead, we slipped into the aristocratic-looking Argyll Arcade nesting ‘the largest selection of diamond rings, diamond jewellery, wedding rings and watches in a single location in Scotland’. 


Unlike wrought iron, diamonds are not my thing, especially after some insight on the history of the engagement ring but walking into the arcade was truly something. Especially when it led us into a vintage market accommodated in a coffee house from 1797


Sloan’s house has definitely preserved an atmosphere of history-soaked staircases and ballrooms and merely peeking around was a treat. The hallways led to a hidden back alley where we came across more stalls with random goodies, and maybe the most precious of them all – a fortune-teller. Soon we grew tired of the market and looked for a place where we can get a bit of fresh air and a glimpse over the city.


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