We managed to get ourselves together and on the road about noonish. The weather is overcast and cool but when we crossed the border into Scotland the sun came out. We had a lunch and petrol stop and made it to Glasgow before 5:30 (yes, that really is as fast as you thought. I don’t know how fast Chris was driving but the car’s speedometer only registered 80 mph. I’m saying nothing more but all the other cars were keeping up and passing us!)
We found the right exit and found the Premier Lodge . (see review) It’s right at the Charing Cross rail station. It’s just a block away from Sauchiehall street which is one of the main shopping streets in Glasgow. This end isn’t pedestrianized but has lots of restaurants and pubs one of which belongs to the Weatherspoon’s chain, always good value. The room was bright and sunny in the afternoon light and the only drawback is that it overlooked the motorway that rings Glasgow and it was noisy at night and in the morning.
We rested a bit from the long drive and then headed to Sauchiehall Street for food. We discovered a great Chinese restaurant called Bleu Ginger (see review). When Chris had taken the car to a car park complex earlier, he had discovered that a band was playing in a venue called the Garage, also on Sauchiehall street. (The venue has a big yellow truck on the front of the building over one of the entrances) He knew the band, 3 Colours Red and asked me if I would like to go. They’re kind of hard rock and a bit loud but he thought I might like them. Well there was a 50/50 chance he said. I shrugged and said why not? If I really hated them we wouldn’t have to stay. Turned out I really did enjoy the band, just my kind of fast hard rock music. I did have to turn in my camera to the staff at the door and they kept it in their safe. I was a little worried but I got it back ok at the end of the gig. It was an enjoyable night and we ambled back to the hotel after, with a few nightcaps in the hotel bar.
The next morning, I bounced out of bed about 8:30 after a spell awake from about 5:30 for over an hour. I finally got hold of my mate Iain and he is going to pick us up tomorrow and drive us around to see some local countryside but when we spoke he offered to drive us up to the island of Mull and Iona. Chris and I had originally thought of going there but it was quite a drive and we really didn’t have the time so we settled on Glasgow. It means an early start tomorrow but we are looking forward to it.
We went down Sauchiehall Street to find a place for breakfast. Ended up at a little café by the Queen St. train station and the bus station called Café Italia. Breakfast was filling and hot and the tea was invigorating. They do have tea in the hotel rooms but only provide that UFT milk that always tastes a bit odd to me. The day is cool and overcast so good for walking at least. We head east past Strathclyde university to the Cathedral dedicated to St. Mungo.
Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis
I really like the cathedral here and I wanted to show it to Chris. I had seen it a couple of years ago when Carol and I had stayed in Glasgow for a few days before a tour. It’s not as big as some and the stonework on the outside is still mostly blackened by centuries of soot and it’s not really bright and light and airy inside. The floor of the cathedral nave is just plain stone, no fancy tiles but it is spacious and it’s more square than rectangular and it has some lovely stained glass. I really find that it has a gothic yet peaceful atmosphere, dark and cool with coloured light streaming in through the windows. I knew he would like it and he did though declared it a bit creepy. I think the dark skies outside added to the Gothic feel of it.
We explored the lower church where there are ruins and pieces from earlier churches and there’s the shrine to St. Mungo who founded the Cathedral and is the patron saint of Glasgow. There is also a white painted chapel under here called Blacader’s Aisle after an early bishop. They can’t called the under church a crypt because it isn’t actually below the ground level. The cathedral is built on a hill that slopes back down from the front.
We exited the church and I pointed out the Necropolis on the hill behind. This is a Victorian cemetery with elaborate monuments, shrines, mausoleums, acres and acres of rows and rows of them. There was nothing for it but to go have a look after I told him about that. We climbed up the hill and walked around, examining the stones and shrines. There was one that we looked at that was barred off and signed as dangerous. We peeked into the dark alcove and could see something carved on the back wall but really couldn’t make out what it was. Chris backed away with a shiver up his spine and me? I took a flash photo of it of course. What came out was a beautiful sculpture of the Virgin Mary with two angels against some marble inscriptions and yellowed (or perhaps that was the reflection of the flash) stone.
After we came down off the hill we headed into the old part of Glasgow because I wanted to see the Tolbooth spire at Glasgow Cross. We walked around and stopped for a snack and drink and poked our noses into second hand music shops looking for a cd of 3 Colours Red or anything else we could find of interest. Eventually we came to St. Enoch’s square where there’s a large new shopping mall and some larger stores, we’re getting into the shopping precincts of Glasgow now. We never did find the cd but we passed a movie theatre complex and decided to rest our feet and take in a film. There wasn’t a lot playing I wanted to see but Chris wanted to see the new Vin Diesel action film, A Man Apart so although it’s not my usual type of movie, again, why not? First we had a quick half at the pub across the street, one of the John Barra chain and then into the movie.
After the movie we went back to the same pub for a bite to eat and discuss the movie. We both thought it was quite uneven, lots of plot holes. Chris had seen the last Vin movie, XXX and really enjoyed it so was disappointed. I was ambivalent about it but at least I didn’t hate it.
Next port of call was the Hengler Circus, a pub which was up the end of Sauchiehall street near the hotel. It’s one of the J.D. Weatherspoon’s chains and we stopped in there for a couple of cheap drinks and then made our way to the hotel bar for a few more night caps, all the while discussing movies and actors etc.
This led to a rather lively debate about a movie and who the writer/director was. Both of us were adamant that we were right and there was no way to settle the debate as we didn’t have internet access. It came down to a bet of a pint but still no way to solve our dilemma. We decided to Phone A Friend so he went off to ring a mate in Manchester who we knew kept late hours. That friend was stunned to say the least, at receiving a call from Scotland late at night asking him to settle an argument before it became violent. Strangest call he ever got, he still says, laughing. Chris came back to the table looking very smug indeed. "You owe me a pint" Uh oh. I conceded gracefully and paid up. Neither one of us was willing to give an inch we were so positive in our own belief but confronted with the evidence, well, what could I do but amble up to the bar! When you’re wrong, you’re wrong :)
Seeing as we could now sleep easy having settled the question, we decided to head off to bed. Early morning tomorrow, Iain’s picking us up at 7:30. I’m to wake Chris at 7:10 if he hasn’t already appeared.