Scotland is a place I’ve been wanting to visit since I was a kid. On my mom’s side, I have some great-grandparents who were born there, and while I had never felt a strong tie to the area (or to bagpipes!), I was still very excited to see where I, to some degree, came from, and our first stop on this tour was in Glasgow.
We arrived in Glasgow in style – first class, window seats looking out at the beautiful countryside for the 4 hour (or so) ride from London. I will forever remember the train station smelling like the greatest fish and chips you can imagine. The station itself was really neat, very old fashioned and pretty, with even a hotel attached – fittingly named the Grand Central Hotel.
We were staying in the Radisson Blu, which was right across the street and so lovely – though I might be biased because, finally, I was in my own room! I made sure to turn the air conditioning on as high as it would go!
This was the start of our Celtic Highlights tour with Globus. I’ll write more about it as we go, but let me just say, this was such an amazing tour. It was short, at 13 days from start to finish, but when I think about how much I saw in that amount of time, I’m really amazed. I’d highly recommend it to anyone. We met our tour mates at dinner. There were only 20 of us, a mixture of Canadians and Americans (With one solo Englishman-living-in-Australia, Ian, thrown in for good measure!), so we quickly became good friends.
The following morning, we did a quick tour of Glasgow by bus, but all I really remember seeing was the university – though, to be fair, it left quite the impression. Founded in 1451, it is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world, and its alumni include Gerard Butler… so there’s that. However, we didn’t get to see too much of Glasgow at this point, as we made our way through the highlands up to Inverness, away from Glasgow for the next 12 days.
We returned back on a ferry boat from Belfast. I found it so strange that a city I had only spent 24 hours in already felt so familiar. We had our farewell dinner at the hotel (Hotel Novotel Glasgow Centre), which was so sad! I always hate saying goodbye to tour mates. This was my third (but certainly not last) bus trip around some part of Europe/UK, and it’s always crazy to think how quickly your tour mates become like family. The first one I went on was with my school friends, and I became closer to the girls I roomed with than I think I’ve ever been to anyone within a month’s time. This trip was different, though. We were all perfect strangers, and yet within a few days, we were going out every night, exploring the local pubs and sharing stories, even secrets, which were safe with these new friends who had no mutual connections. The first few nights, I stayed in with grandma and grandpa, but I’m so glad I got pulled out by Marsha, one of the girls I got very close to, when we were in Edinburgh. From that point on, we were a little eclectic, all ages crew, and that final night was especially teary because I think we knew that, no matter how many promises we made about reunions, this would be the last time many of us would ever see each other again.
We celebrated by going to the Tiki-Bar, this really cool place with the “girliest” drinks you’ve ever seen in your life. There was a beer pong tournament going on outside and a serious beach theme indoors – if ever you find yourself in Glasgow, you need to get back to that bar. We came back to the lounge, and said our final goodbyes, as we would all be leaving at different times the next morning. That’s the thing I both love and hate about travel friends. You meet these people that you don’t need to hold anything back from. For 24 hours, or if you’re lucky, a few weeks, these people are who you spend every waking hour with, and they might get to know you better than a lot of your friends from home. There are no complications, no awkward history to cloud the trip – it can be a perfect experience. But then, as quickly as it happened, it’s over, and everyone’s back to their normal lives.
For me, I got to carry on in Glasgow for just a little bit longer. After two weeks of luxury, it was back to shared accommodations for the grandparents and I. We took the morning for a much needed laundromat visit (as a side note, the coolest laundromat I’ve ever seen – totally industrial looking with all these 70s-80s concert flyers on the walls), before walking down to Buchanan Street, a fun, pedestrianized place full of shops and buskers. This amazing girl, Anna Shields, was playing Dreams, by Fleetwood Mac (You can check out her youtube cover here), and now whenever I hear this song, I feel like I’ve been placed right back in Glasgow. Isn’t it amazing how music can have that affect on us?
We had dinner at TGI Fridays, then headed back to the hotel to get an early sleep before our train to Manchester the next morning.
Despite the lack of time here, Glasgow has left such a lasting impression on my heart. I’d love to go back here for an extended visit. Some cities leave you feeling uncomfortable, but Glasgow felt more like home than most cities I’ve been to. I feel like it’s the type of city I could easily get lost in, without ever feeling lost, if that makes sense. If things go as planned and I end up working in England next year (Ahh, it’s still weird to type that without plans set in stone! But there it is…), then Glasgow will for sure be at the top of my list as a city to revisit.
Have you ever been to Glasgow? What should I check out next time? I’d love to read it in the comments below!