In my life, I’ve been fortunate to travel to a lot of places. But despite how many places I’ve been, I’ve always had a bucket list of destinations I still want to go to: Scotland was on that list.
Glasgow in the Winter
With travel, comes flying - and I’ve been on a lot of planes. In all my years of airborne travel, I’ve never been afraid of the experience. My flight to Scotland was the first time I had to take a second breath to stay calm. Everything started off normal, I checked into my flight and was waiting by the gate - all good. Then the passengers were loaded onto a shuttle to take us from the terminal to the plane; strange but still okay. The panic arouse when I looked out the window of the shuttle bus. THE PLANE HAD PROPELLORS. Perhaps it was because I haven’t been on many smaller planes, but seeing literal propellors wasn’t comforting. All in all, the flight happened to be wonderful and absolutely smooth. The stewardess was even making some very Scottish jokes: apparently they weren’t able to make hot water for tea or coffee on the flight so they were offering “a wee bit of whiskey” complementary for anyone interested - too bad it was before noon.
After arriving, I made my way from the airport to my hotel in Glasgow to check in. The day was cold and rainy (typical winter in Scotland), and as it was already late and I was tired from traveling, I figured I do one or two things before calling it a day. My hotel was right next to Glasgow’s Grand Central Station. As a native New Yorker, I had to see another Grand Central. From there I made my way to Buchanan Street and walked up to the Buchanan Galleries shopping center. After making my way back towards the hotel and grabbing a quick dinner, I called it a night.
A Little Bit Of Pampering
The next morning started out bright and early; the first thing in store was a little bit of self pampering. Two nights before I left for my trip I had an accident. While attempting to pour water from the boiling hot tea kettle into my mug, the water shot out of the kettle and spilled all over my right hand. It. Was. Excruciating. I had gone to urgent care, and gotten the appropriate lotions for the burn. Two weeks later in Glasgow, my hand is completely healed but looking a bit like a horror show with all the dry peeling skin. Cue in my visit to Margaret Dabbs. While better known for their medical pedicures, I opted for the Margaret Dabbs London Supreme Manicure. While comfortably reclining and sipping some green tea, my poor abused hands were buffed, polished, serumed, and moisturized within an inch of their lives. After applying some of Margaret Dabbs’ signature polish, and forcing myself to relax while waiting for it to dry, I was ready to head out with newly saved hands.
An Afternoon Of History And Culture
With silky smooth hands, I made my way to my next destination. The University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world and considered one of Scotland’s four “ancient universities”. It was founded in 1451, but now has campuses spread across Glasgow and built over the many centuries. I visited the Gilmorehill Campus where the main part of the university moved to in 1870. It’s picturesque, lovely, and yup – in Harry Potter. I got a self guided tour map and made my way around the campus.
Just a short walk down the hill from the University of Glasgow is the Kelvingrove Museum. Walking even on a brisk day was easy and only about 10 minutes; you’ll walk through the Kelvingrove Park and pass over the River Kelvin. The building the museum is housed in was beautiful, and the collection housed in the museum was definitely impressive.
A Step Back In Time
The next day started with a bit of a history lesson. Provand’s Lordship is Glasgow’s oldest house. Built in 1471, it is the last of the 40 ecclesiastical buildings that stood in the precinct of Glasgow Cathedral. After a long life and having passed through the hands of many owners, Provand’s Lordship was given to the Glasgow District Council in 1978, and after repairs was opened as a museum to the public in 1983.
St Mungo (also known as Kentigern) is the patron saint and founder of the city of Glasgow. He lived in the 6th century and his name was given to the Museum and the Cathedral was erected in his honor. I did not go into the museum, but it’s just on the same grounds as the Cathedral. And truthfully, every time I looked at the name all I could think about was “St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries” from Harry Potter. Glasgow Cathedral is definitely a sight to be seen. Opened in 1136, it was built prior to the Reformation; meaning that this church was at one time Roman Catholic. Today the church is part of the Church of Scotland’s Presbytery of Glasgow – a Presbyterian church.
Just a short walk behind the church is the Glasgow Necropolis. I didn’t get to spend much time here because the Necropolis sits on top of a hill, and it was winter – meaning it was positively freezing. If you’re a fan of Pere Lachaise in Paris, then you’ll love the Necropolis. It’s the final resting place of over 50000 individuals and features approximately 3500 notable monuments. The cemetery is widely considered an architectural feat; it’s a beautiful, if somewhat eerie, sight to see.
After practically freezing my fingers off in the morning, I decided a little shopping was in order. I headed back to Buchanan Street to try and check it out in the daytime. I happened to stumble upon Princes Square; hidden behind a seemingly average facade along the street is a shopping mall. The indoor shopping center was a truly welcome relief from the cold. From there I walked down to the House of Fraser department store. As it was my first time entering a Fraser, it was a bit of a novelty for me. Just down from House of Fraser is the St Enoch shopping center, in front of it was part of Glasgow’s Christmas market. So after a bit of walking around, I made my way back to the hotel to get myself together for dinner.
I had a little bit of time before heading to Edinburgh, and I wanted to do something pedestrian – or very untouristy, since Glasgow was much more a “living” city than a tourist destination. Being a lover of coffee, I decided to check out a coffee shop I passed more times than I could count. I ordered some coffee, and sat for a little bit taking in the local flavor.