Wednesday, February 03, 2010


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We are not a spontaneous family, but there are exceptions to every rule. On Saturday morning, Hal found an ad for Celtic Connections music festival, ending Sunday, in Glasgow. Within 2 hours, he had booked a room and concert tickets, and we were on our way to Scotland for the first time.
It had snowed in the north on Friday night, so the mountains on both sides of us were blanketed in it. The Cumbrian Mountains to the west and Pennines to the east. The highest mountain in England is 3200 feet above sea level (Scafell Pike in Cumbria), and the peaks we passed were mostly around 2000 feet. But considering that the coast is so near, they rise at a pretty good pitch. There are many evergreen forests here, apparently planted and managed. Barren fields and hillsides beside well-defined forests. Villages didn't seem as pretty as the ones in Cumbria, but we didn't investigate them on this trip.

Passing through Lockerbie, we both fell silent, with a sense that this was hallowed ground.

We made it to Devoncove Hotel on Sauchiehall ("sawkie" or gutteral "ch" as in "loch") Street in Glasgow in 3 hours. Devoncove is 3-star rated by the Scottish Tourist Board, so what did we get for our 59 GBP?

A clean, tiny room with wifi and en-suite bath. My personal favorite amenity was the heated towel rack. Mmmmmm. It also had a shower-caddy-dispenser, with shampoo, shower gel, soap, and conditioner. Cool! even if it was missing the soap button (still worked). During the night, we discovered that the walls were paper thin. The man next door was hacking up phlegm. I envisioned myself smacking on the wall, (kindly, of course) asking if he needed me to call a doctor. Conversations in the hallway were heard word-for-word.

Full Scottish breakfast was included, but rushed. They stopped serving minutes after we sat down, and fifteen minutes later, we were told they were closing up (meaning: GET OUT).

Sauchiehall Street (left) viewed from our room and the Royal Crescent (right).

Supper was at the Filling Station, an American-style restaurant, ala Ruby Tuesdays, with a Route 66 theme. We got our dose of red meat there.

Our concert was at the Royal Concert Hall. A Scottish man sitting in front of us chatted us up, and called us his colonial cousins from America. He's a storyteller, so we told him about Mystic Seaport and the Sea Chantey weekend.

Front of Royal Concert Hall (left) and view from Royal Concert Hall (right)

Majorstuen, the opening act, is a young Norwegian string band with a great sound and lots of energy.

The headliner was Nuala Kennedy, an Irish "flautist" and singer with backup band. We would have liked less percussion, but it was lovely. We bought a CD from each, including Kennedy's The Books in My Library (mp3).

Hanging around after, we managed to get into the Late Night Session where bands played 15-minute sessions. Quebecois Le Vent du Nord was good with its hurdy-gurdy, a very strange-looking instrument. Our favorite was Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller, a young Scottish vocal/fiddle duo.

It's 1.3 miles straight down the well-lit Sauchiehall Street from the Royal Concert Hall to the hotel, a good walk through a shopping district with shoes to die for, or maybe just to break an ankle.

Our return after midnight provided an eyeful for middle-aged parents who are rarely out past nine. The street was lined with young partygoers waiting to get into clubs. Numerous clubs. Astounding number of smokers. Workers were sweeping the pedestrian malls and collecting trash - litter everywhere. Hal couldn't believe the girls out on the town on a freezing night, with no coats, in short, short skirts, and 6-inch heels (see previous photos). What were they thinking? Someone told me that girls leave the coats at home so they don't lose them whilst clubbing. Interesting logic.

The city has some interesting architecture, alongside some horrific 60s buildings. I had fun taking reflective photos in windows.

University buildings

Balustrade view

Proud proclamation

Glasgow taxis

Reflections of the city




Most of the buildings are very dirty looking. It's a gritty working-class town with several universities. Odd mixture, but well worth a return visit.

Wow. I almost forgot to put in some very important photos.

This "truck" hovered over the entrance to a club.

We've been "collecting" O'Neill's in London, York, and Glasgow.

And finally, a reflection of the intrepid travelers.

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