Saturday, October 27, 2007

Things To Do When You're In Glasgow

Had a friend come for a visit this month. In celebration of her arrival I contacted a winery in Chile and paid then an exorbitant amount of cash to get them to release a special vintage just for her. Just look at that face, it was soooooo worth it!

She's actually seen more of Scotland than I have as this was her third trip so the trick was to do things she hadn't done yet. So here's what we did....

First up, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Not only is it a fabulous piece of architecture but so much to see once you're inside. Make note though, if you want to take a tripod (a must for taking pictures without flash) you need to get permission. I felt so 'professional' walking around with my media slip. It made me laugh though, the application had nothing to do with permission to take pictures of the artwork. It was more about Health & Safety, don't want anyone to trip on your equipment (give me a break).

Next up The Burrell Collection

Some rich guy collected a bunch of stuff and then dumped it on the city to deal with when he kicked the bucket. Ok, not really. Here's the official blurb:

"When Sir William Burrell and his wife, Constance, Lady Burrell, gifted his collection of over 9,000 works of art to Glasgow, the city acquired one of the greatest collections created by one person. William Burrell had been an art collector since his teens, and the collection is made up of a vast array of works of all periods and from all over the world."

So an interesting collection on a massive estate, but the best part for me was the field that had Highland Cows. They are sooooooooooo cute!

When I look at them I can't help but think of that Bugs Bunny Cartoon

Next up, just a nice day walking the City Centre to take a look around. Another beautiful sunny day which is great for playing tourist.

Not that you can tell from my black and white shot. It's always fun to try and see a space differently even if you've walk the area daily. Everyone was busy taking shots of the GOMA, but not me. I was taking a shot of iron work across the street.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse. I've been to Edinburgh a bunch of times but have never managed to see the Palace. Also there is this cool Abbey ruin on the grounds out back. In addition there is also The Queens Gallery. So well worth the ticket price.

After dinner waiting for the next train back to Glasgow I thought it would be fun to attempt some night shots with my tripod. This was also the night I figured out the trick with using the self timer to remove the chance of camera shake (why was I the last to figure this out?).

The Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery. This is part of the University of Glasgow. I've been to the Art Gallery a number of times. It's nice and small so not too overwhelming to the culturally uneducated brain like mine. But I'd never been to the Museum part as it's been undergoing a massive renovation this last year.

Parents - take your kids to this. They will be completely grossed out by all the pickled things in jars (and I'm not talking Grandma's canned peaches). Too cool! Also, like the Art Gallery it's not too big and has lots of interactive displays.

Linlithgow Palace - this is one of those places that you can see from the train as you travel to Edinburgh from Glasgow. I can't believe it's taken me a year to get here when it is so close.

What a way to relive your childhood. Remember those days playing, climbing trees pretending you were in a castle. Well how about climbing all around a real castle, up turrets, down into the depths, finding little rooms hidden away. And it was a spectacular day. The only downside was we missed being able to get into the church next door as it was operating on winter hours and was closed already. Well it just gives me something to do next time I need to entertain a visitor.

Culzean Castle - another day trip out of Glasgow by train. You travel to the little town of Ayr and then catch a bus to the gates of the estate.

This was one of those cold, misty, foggy days that would befit a scary movie. But no wind so other than being a bit damp it wasn't too bad. This would be a great place to come in the summer as the Castle is part of a huge estate with lovely gardens. As it is autumn the leaves were starting to change and the colours reminded me of Ontario.

We timed our visit just right and caught a guided tour by a lovely little old lady that just kept getting side tracked with her script (too funny). And should you have a nice wad of cash just laying around and are looking for a place to rest your head the Castle is also a hotel.

Glasgow City Chambers - another must do in the city.

Tours are run twice a day and are free. It's a lovely building and the tour guides are very entertaining.

So there you have it, all done easily by day in and around the city of Glasgow. Just makes you want to jump in a plane to come and visit now doesn't it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Right now where was I....

London (Sep 28 - 30)

September 28th after a soggy day's meetings I decided to spend a weekend in London and fly back to Glasgow on the Sunday rather than Friday night. So what did I do to keep myself occupied?

Saturday Morning - Breakfast (well a very very late breakfast)

I found a small cafe run by an Italian family and I grabbed a baguette with bacon, avocado and just a touch of mayonnaise (it's safe now that I'm out of Scotland) and a coffee. Just a block away was the Thames and a lovely wall to perch on and enjoy the view and peace & quite as I ate.

With serenity restored and tummy fed I jumped on the tube to head into city centre. Didn't really have anything in mind other than explore the city with my camera.

I later hooked up with a friend from Vancouver that had also just moved to the UK a few months ago. She's not really someone I knew all that well but it was still nice to connect with a fellow Canadian and compare experiences on moving to a new country.

Then came the highlight of my trip, the whole reason for going. I have been waiting my whole life for this experience (OK that's probably stretching it a bit).


Yes I finally got to see the musical Spamalot. There is nothing more enjoyable then experiencing something where everyone else around you is of the same mind set. I think I can confidently say that the majority of people that purchase a ticket to see Spamalot are all Monty Python fans and consider The Holy Grail one of their favorite movies. Much of the dialogue was taken word for word from the movie. All the best characters were there, the Black Knight, the Taunting French Soldier, Killer Bunnies, and don't forget Dennis. Now some of the scenes were reworked a bit and an extra character was added along with a few new songs. And one particular song from another Python movie (I won't say which one) was even written into this - and everyone in the audience joined in by about the 3rd note. It was a great show, and will not disappoint any true Python fans. I left with a HUGE grin on my face.

Right, so that leaves me heading back to the burbs with a growling stomach. As I had met my friend earlier in the afternoon I wasn't really hungry for dinner before the show as I'd just had tea and a scone. Now it's quite late and I'm realizing the glass of red wine I had at the theatre was not substance enough. Once I'm off the tube I wander over to High Street and walk into a Kebab place that looks good. I get a grilled chicken shawarma that is just loaded with chicken, and tomatoes, cucumber, hot peppers, lettuce and lots of hot sauce and some yogurt. It's so loaded down with filling that I can't properly fold the pita its resting in to eat it like a wrap. It was soooooooo tasty, yum. I was too hungry to take the time out to take a picture, so you'll just need to use your imagination.

Sunday - I take the tube back into city centre again but to Victoria station to drop off my suitcase at the Left Luggage depot so I don't need to drag it around all afternoon as my flight doesn't leave until after 5PM. It's a beautiful sunny day and I wander over to Pret A Manger and grab a baguette, bag of crisps, some water and a little something for dessert.

How could you NOT enjoy something like that hmmmm? It was tasty.

I did the complete touristy thing in sitting on the steps in Trafalgar square & people watched for a while eating my lunch. The sun was nice and warm and there was not even the hint of wind. Once finished I then wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery as I'd never been in there before. If you ever get the chance, go. Lots of great historical paintings there. When I was a kid I remember my Mom having a set of books called 'The Life And Times Of" and then various historical pictures. I recognized many of these paintings from the book on Queen Elizabeth, it was very cool.

So all in all my trip to London was very low key and it was something I really needed because of all the busyness and chaos of the last few months of work. The weather cooperated and I got to take some pictures, see some theatre, walk around and get a little culture as well as some rest and relaxation.

Note to self, do this again - perhaps Paris next time.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This is a Holding Post

Just realizing now how far behind I am in my postings, so this is just a holding posting. I've been to London, Linlithgow, Ayr, and currently in York. Seen castles, palaces, abbeys a cathedral or two and more than my share of clouds, gray sky and drizzle.

Been taking lots of pictures and am only about 2 days behind in posting them. So you'll have to check out my Flickr site to keep you going until I get the chance to sit down and organize all my thoughts and can do a proper post here. Realistically that won't be until Saturday as when I go back to work Wednesday I know it's going to be crazy as always.

Until then....