After a rather uneventful Saturday, I can happily and confidently confirm that Edinburgh is a much nicer and more lively place to study abroad than its competitor city Glasgow. While Glasgow had previously been described to me as a hub for excitement and Scottish experience, the ten hours I spent strolling across the city proved the exact opposite. Not only was Glasgow quiet and empty, but it was far from glamorous with its sad, decrepit looking buildings and lingering smell of feces. Perhaps I am painting an unfair picture of Glasgow, and it truly can be a marvellous place. Nevertheless, my time spent there was barely worth the price of the bus ticket.
Getting into Glasgow around ten o’clock in the morning, Hannah, Karen, and I jumped off the bus excited to start a day of exploring in a “big Scottish city.” We were armed with a list of recommended places and restaurants to try, and began our venture. The first thing I noticed about Glasgow was the buildings. While they were still old world looking, they lacked a certain charm that their Edinburgh cousins so loudly exuded. The entire look of Glasgow resembled that of any older city. I felt as if I could of been in the older parts of San Francisco, rather than roaming about a city with more years and history than my entire home country. However, once the initial disappointment of the buildings faded, a new one settled in: uncomfortable silence. Glasgow was not in fact the “Glas-Vegas” we had been promised. The streets were silent, and few people walked about them. At first we speculated this was due to our earlyish arrival, but we soon realized that the city was in fact just strangely quiet. Now, it may be that the day we chose to visit was an odd one out, and that normally Glasgow does provide the liveliness and excitement we had hoped for, but it does not help the fact that we were left hungry for more.
We walked about the city for a while before our literal hunger got the better of us, and we decided to pop in a cafe. The cafe we stumbled into proved to be the most exciting part of our day. Beautiful lanterns draped across the ceiling, and an entire aura of “pinterest perfect” decorations filled the rest of the room. To top it all off, the food was delicious as well. But then again, it is hard to go wrong with nutella pancakes and hazelnut hot chocolate.
With full bellies and happy hearts, we continued on our venture. Our next stop was a book store recommended by Buzzfeed called “Voltaire and Rousseau.” This forty year old book store claims to host the largest selection of books, old and new. Sound promising and exciting yes, but I warn you: do not go here if you actually want to find something or are claustrophobic. The shop resembled a hoarders den, with stacks of books so high and chaotic that finding anything would be impossible. The site was so shocking we all had to run outside for a good laugh before timidly returning inside to give it a go. Overall, I found nothing due to the lack of organization, and all I gained from it were a few photos for the gallery.
Despite our disdain for the place, we spent nearly an hour there before moving on to our next item: the Kelvingrove museum. This museum and art gallery is supposedly one of the best things to see in Glasgow. While it was quite fun to walk through, and I did enjoy posing with some of the exhibits for pictures, I found that this too was a bit underwhelming. More than likely it is due to the fact that I have already walked through several museums while in Scotland, but up until now, each one had been more amusing than the last.
With a short cut through the University of Glasgow, whose charming buildings did pull at the heartstrings, we opted to cut our losses and begin the trek back to the bus station, despite it not leaving for another three hours. Along the way we found a Chocolate Factory and, with all of us in slightly low spirits, stopped inside for a well needed pick-me-up. Even though we only planned to pop in for a cup of coffee and perhaps a nibble on a cookie, we ended up staying in the quaint little shop for nearly two hours, chatting away with each other. It was then we decided that the trip was worth it just for the moments of friendship and bonding that we were having. We may not have uncovered the wonderful excitement of “glas-vegas,” but we did have great company.
Realizing that it was about time to find the bus station again, we bid adieu to the Chocolate Factory and once again walked the length of the city so that we could return to our adopted home in Edinburgh. We had not checked off all the things on our list; however, feeling exhausted and slightly defeated we decided it did not matter.
With a short stop into a pub to use up the remaining half hour that stood between us and the bus ride home, I concluded that the fact we were able to walk across the whole city in one day proved that there was something wrong with our method. Perhaps we came on an off day. Perhaps we were visiting the wrong sites. Perhaps we just didn’t understand the culture of Glasgow.
Nevertheless as the bus grew closer to Edinburgh and the beautiful buildings once again flowered my line of vision, my love for Scotland flourished once again.