Och, it’s true! Our second night there, and already I was loving Glasgow. It’s young and vibrant and artsy and ancient and wise all at the same time. And you know that Scottish independent streak? It’s real. Even the rock band in the pub tonight sang proudly about their Scottish history.
We’d arrived early at the Ibis Styles Glasgow Center and loved the humour and cheekiness of what greeted us on our TV screen.
The Gallery of Modern Art was a block away, complete with a statue of the 1st Duke of Wellington and his familiar cone hat. Story goes, the city eventually gave up removing it every time one appeared, went with the flow, and it’s now an iconic Glasgow image. In fact, we sleep with it at night.
We had our choice of great restaurants for dinner and ended up four doors from our hotel at Paesano Pizza, the best pizza place in the U.K., according to the cheery couple right next to us. No wonder the place was packed!
It’s true Glaswegians are friendly. We sat and chatted away with our neighbours the whole time there, trading travel stories and family news and ‘petrol-head’ stories. (That’s what car nuts are called in the U.K.) The pizza was very good, the conversation even better. Every Scot we’ve met has rellies in Canada, and lots have travelled there.
The next night’s pub visit was even more fun. The Scotia Bar claims it’s the oldest pub in Glasgow. Built in 1792 just near the River Clyde, it’s been home to merchant sailors when Glasgow was a busy port. It’s also seen the likes of Van Morrison, Gerry Rafferty, and Scotland’s own, comedian Billy Connolly in his early days as a folksinger.
Nowadays it’s home to great bands, actors, poets, and political groups alike. Tonight it was Journey North, (www.journey-north.com) a 5-piece folk-rock band…guitars, drums and bagpipes.
But the best part was a group of ‘hens’ asking to join our partly-empty table. (Don’t worry…’hens’ is what they call themselves. Scots, particularly Glaswegians, have a nickname for almost everything!)
Within minutes we were gabbing away with these Glasgow work mates who were also joined by a colleague, Nicola who’d moved on to a different career, and her ‘man’ Brian who the hens hadn’t yet met. We were all soon giving him the rigorous ‘is he good enough for her’ test, all in good fun.
It was all just so natural, like we were already mates. Nikki and I compared notes on psychic experiences, and we got some great tips on sights to see in the area. (Sorry, Nikki, we didn’t make it to Balloch. Whiskey tours and tastings at Clydeside Distillery were just too tempting.)
Of course, understanding everyone was a bit tricky at times. In a busy, low-ceilinged, 221 year old pub, gabbing with the locals, everyone laughing and talking at once, we were hard-pressed at times to wade through the local ‘dialect’. And I’m sure they thought our Canadian accent a bit odd. But that just all added to the fun.
People definitely make Glasgow. Since the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, when visitors were asked what makes Glasgow so great, their overwhelming response, the people, has inspired the city’s branding. Signs, t-shirts, bags, in shops, on buildings.
We can definitely attest to that, a key reason why Glasgow is now on my (quite short) list of places I’d visit again.
More on all the wonders of Glasgow in another blog.
Cheerio from Glasgow