That was our question after 5 days in Glasgow. Before we left, Dave and I must have had a half dozen people tell us in so many words that we were stupid to spend our vacation in grimy, homely Glasgow when Edinburgh is so much prettier. As usual, we did as we pleased, and choosing personality over looks was wise. I said in an earlier post that we're slothful tourists, meaning we're mostly interested in just wandering around taking in the spirit of a place, rather than scrambling to see prescribed sights and have packaged experiences. Glasgow, which is a sort of busy-but-relaxed city with a generally haphazard air, was perfect for us. There's plenty to do there, especially for two people who can happily prowl art galleries, cafes and bookstores all day long, but you never get the feeling that the city's being presented for tourist consumption. On the contrary, people always seemed mildly surprised to see two Americans visiting purely for pleasure, especially in November. Everyone was very friendly, but we never got that sense of being politely hustled you always get in tourist meccas.
The big surprise about Glasgow was the quality of the food. Restaurants are pretty expensive, especially with the current sad state of the dollar, but we had a lot of wonderful meals that were worth every penny. We ate a fair amount of traditional Scottish food, and came away trying to figure out why Americans are always horrified by haggis and black pudding--again, what's not to like? There was very good Indian food, too, along with the usual Continental/fusion stuff. We stayed in one of five rooms above a pub where they served a great breakfast of smoked haddock poached in milk with bacon--not exactly AHA-approved fare, but ideal if you're going to spend the day tromping around in a cold rain.
The room was actually the funniest thing about the whole trip. It was grubby and small, which we expected given the price, and the place was run by very nice people who didn't seem to have the faintest idea of how to operate a hotel. The handle to our door was broken, and people kept saying "We're going to fix that," in a sort of anxious, hopeful tone, kinda the way fundamentalists talk about the Rapture. I got locked in the room one night because I forgot and let the door swing shut, with no handle on my side to open it. Twenty minutes of pounding and screaming eventually brought a fellow guest who opened the door. "Your door's broken," he said. "Yeah," I said, "they're gonna fix that." One night they sold a room twice, so we were awakened around midnight by the argument between occupant and would-be occupant. I'm not sure I'd ever stay there again, but it was certainly a lot more entertaining than the Ramada would have been.
We did spend one day in Edinburgh, and it is indeed postcard pretty, with much more in the way of touristy gawking opportunities than Glasgow--so of course it's lousy with tourists, even this time of year. We also spent a day hiking around Loch Lomond, probably my favorite part of the trip. It was cold but clear, and there weren't many people there; in fact, virtually no foreign tourists, just locals who had driven out for the day, most of whom had at least one dog along. Naturally, that made us miss our crew back home. I think Dave felt especially deprived without canine company, but then he got the chance to do a successful search and rescue for a sweet old guy's dog that had wandered off. That more than made up for it, though I'm kicking myself that I didn't get a picture of the reunion. I never think about things like that at the time.
Dave, however, does remember to take pics, so here are a few he made. These are from Loch Lomond and Balloch Castle. I'll post some shots of Edinburgh and Glasgow tomorrow, and give the perfume report.
The trail you see here is as muddy as it looks, muck up to the ankle, but we enjoyed it just the same. The funny tubes that look like a Cristo installation are covering saplings they've planted to reforest with native trees.