Category Archives: Scotland

Glasgow/Loch Lomond

I’m a little behind on blog posts, so this one will be quick. We arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on 4/7 and left on 4/9.  Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland and it definitely felt more “modern” and didn’t have the plethora of old buildings or the character of Edinburgh.  Still, it was a fun and interesting couple of days. Our first night, we checked in to our hostel and then headed out to get some food and sample the nightlife that Glasgow is famous for. We ended up at a place called the Thirteenth Note and had some food and watched a variety show type of thing they had going on. This was down in a basement venue where it looks like they have all kinds of shows.  It reminded me of a lot of venues in Portland actually. Anyway, it was an interesting scene. It seemed be mostly a bunch of theater nerds (I say that with the utmost respect) who knew each other and doing various acts for each other. There was belly dancing, burlesque, a stand-up comedian who I could barely understand through his thick Scottish accent let alone the humor, and finally a piece of performance art worthy of Yoko Ono. It was a guy who has a music/art project based on the works of Townes Van Zandt or something and this particular “performance” was to create the album art for it. Basically, he stripped down to a pair of shorts, handcuffed himself to a chair and then had everbody come up and cut off chunks of his hair and glue them to a piece of paper. It was interesting to say the least. All in all, we had a good time though.

The next day, we took the train out to Loch Lomond National Park.  It is a beautiful place and it was really nice to get out and walk around in the woods for a day after mostly being in big cities for the last few weeks.  We even saw a Roe deer buck still in velvet as well as tons of birds and of course sheep. After exploring the area for most of the day, we headed back to Glasgow and had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Mr. Singh’s India.  Glasgow has a large Indian community and therefore it is famous for having some of the best Indian food outside of India. Since we’re not making it to India on this trip, we figured this would be the next best thing. It did not dissappoint. The food was delicious and the service was incredible.  The waiters all wear dinner jackets and it seems like the ratio is almost one waiter per table. It has an upscale feel, but the prices were actually very reasonable given the quality of the food and service.  I highly reccommend it if you’re ever in Glasgow.

Glasgow was fun and Loch Lomond was beautiful for sure.  Next we’re in Dublin, Ireland!  Pictures below.

Edinburgh/St. Andrews

Our first night in Edinburgh we arrived at our hostel, got some dinner, and then headed out for the evening. The hostel was nice, close to the city center in an old building with a lot of character.  The neighborhood we were in was kind of like a little slice of Portland with two co-ops and a bike shop within a couple minutes walk. We started off by going to the small co-op across the street and getting some food for dinner, breakfast, and lunch the next day. The hostel had a nice kitchen and we seemed to pretty much have it all to ourselves. It was nice to make our own dinner, and definitely much cheaper than going out. We’ve tried to book places with a kitchen as much as possible both to save some money and to break up the monotony of eating out every meal.  Eating out can get old as well as expensive and we want it to be a treat when we do so we enjoy it more.  After dinner we headed out to a small pub called Sandy Bell’s about 15 minutes walk from our hostel. Apparently it’s famous for it’s folk jams and it didn’t dissappoint. There were four musicians who showed up and played some traditional Scottish folk tunes. There was a fiddle, double bass, flute, and a thing the guy called a tenor guitar that I had never seen before. It had four strings and a resonator body like a dobro. I talked to him about it a bit and he said they were fairly common before World War 2 and were made for jazz players to be able to amplify their sound to get over the horns in the days before electric guitars.  It had a really interesting sound, kind of like a banjo but not as brash, really cool. He absolutely shredded on the thing too.  I’ll have to look into getting myself one of those when we get back. Of course we also sampled a few pints of the local brew as well as a wee dram of Scotch Whiskey, good stuff.

The next day, we headed to St. Andrews which was about an hour away by train.  This was a neat little coastal town with the ruins of a cathedral turned grave yard as well of the ruins of a castle.  Apparently it was once the spiritual capital of Scotland before the Reformation when the monks and bishops were rounded up by old Henry VIII.  It’s also the place where golf was invented so there’s lots of golf stores and the whole town is surrounded by golf courses.  Jocelyn mother also studied at the university there so it was neat to see that as well. Unfortunately on this outing I also dropped the camera and it seems to not want to focus now.  Therefore, all of the pictures from here on out will be with the phone.  We’ll see how it does, I may end up buying another camera, but for now it seems fine. Finally, after eating dinner in St. Andrews, we headed back to Edinburgh and turned in for the night.

Our second day in Edinburgh we did the obligatory walking tour.  This was interesting and filled us in on some of the history of Edinburgh.  The tour guide was great, a guy named Billy who fit the loud, brash Scotsman stereotype to a tee.  I’m sure he was playing it up a bit for us, but he was both funny and knew a lot about the city.   After that we went to Edinburgh castle.  This place was massive and very cool.  It’s been in continuous use for over 1,000 years and is perched up on top of a cliff with amazing views of the city.  The Victorians gave it a big makeover in the late 1800s, so some of it isn’t quite authentic middle ages, but it’s still very cool.  If you come to Edinburgh and do nothing else, I would highly reccomend coming here.

Our last day in Edinburgh we took a walk to see Holyrood palace and the Scottish parliament building. We then walked around in Holyrood park and climbed up to the top of the Crags, the cliffs on Eastern side of the city.  It was rainy and muddy, but the views were awesome and it was nice to get out into some greenery.  After that we headed to the National Museum of Scotland. This was a nice museum although not on the scale of the British Museum or the Smithsonians. They did have Dolly the cloned sheep there though as well as tons of stuff about Scotland and it’s people as you can imagine. After the museum, we headed to the train station to catch our train to Glasgow where we’ll be for a couple of days before heading to our second country, the Republic of Ireland!