We are still playing “catch-up” from our itinerary change. If we had stuck with our original itinerary, we would only be an hour or so away from Glasgow. From Manchester, it is close to 3.5 hours. On the upside, the hotel we are staying in has a laundry room so we will definitely be using it! Clean clothes! Since we are arriving after noon we won’t have as much time to explore as we would like so have decided to take the HOHO bus.
After our poor efforts at finding our hotels using Google Maps we decided to spring for a cab, even though our hotel is only 0.6 miles from the train station. Once again, we ate at the train station. We prefer to eat before we get overly hungry. If we waited until we were checked in to the hotel and then had to go out and find a place we both wanted to eat, one (or both) of us would be cranky from hunger. The cab driver was friendly but had a strong Glaswegian accent; neither Clayton nor I could understand a word of what he said. He took us on a circuitous route. We knew the hotel wasn’t that far from the train station but it seemed to take an awfully long time to get there!
We had reserved a studio unit at the Fraser Suites. Unbeknownst to us, this is a chain hotel. And, if I am ever in a city that has a Fraser Suites, I would not hesitate to reserve a room there. The room was beautiful and included a kitchenette as well as a couch. The internet was decent as well. We had requested a room on an upper floor. I had read that the ones close to ground level can be noisy; ours was very quiet.
We headed out for our HOHO ride. We got directions to Queens Square which is where the HOHO route begins. As we were walking there we saw the train station. I don’t know where the cab driver took us, but the train station is really close to the hotel – literally, turn the corner and walk straight ahead 1/2 mile or so. We were able to find the HOHO without getting lost so paid our fee and hopped on board. It was partly cloudy and cool but since it wasn’t raining, sat upstairs on the double-decker bus.
It was a challenge to try to write anything on the bus and try to take pictures. It was also challenging to match the sites we passed with the description in a couple of places. I can say that Glasgow means, “Dear Green Place.” There are many universities here; the first was built in the 15th century. There are 150,000 university students here!
Glasgow’s fortunes were built on the tobacco trade, weaving and textiles, and ship and train building. It became quite polluted in the 1900’s but has been cleaned up since.
The first site on the tour was Glasgow’s cathedral. St. Mungo is the patron saint of the cathedral here. Next up was Tollbooth Steeple, built in 1626. This used to part of a much larger complex that included the town clerk’s office, the council hall and the city prison. There also used to be spikes where the heads of unlucky prisoners were displayed to deter others from committing crimes. The local gallows were entertainment for the locals as opposed to a deterrent; up to 80,000 would come to watch public hangings. Scotland has their own judicial system, different from England. In Scotland, a verdict can be guilty, not guilty and not proven (they know you’re guilty but just can’t prove it!). This may be where the term, “getting away scot-free” came from.
We passed a large park known as Glasgow Green. It was built in 1450 and is the oldest park in Europe. By law, residents are allowed to graze cattle and sheep there. Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army camped here before heading to Culloden. Near the park is the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world. If the name Doulton sounds familiar, it may be because it is the same family that owns Royal Doulton. Also in the area is the Templeton Carpet Factory. The town council would only approve the building if it did not look like a factory. This particular factory made carpets for the Titanic.
Something unique in Glasgow is that all museums here are free. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum seemed to be a very popular stop on the tour.
We headed along the Clyde River. At that point it got really, really cold on top of the bus. I wanted to sit upstairs until I got a few pictures of the University of Glasgow so we stuck it out up there a little longer. Near the river are several interesting places including a huge transport museum (another popular stop) and the SSE Hydro (a uniquely shaped concert hall) and the SEC Armadillo (the nickname given the place due to its shape).
We reached the University. After taking some pictures we moved downstairs to warm up. It was totally impossible to take pictures from down there but it was worth it for the heat. We drove down Sauchiehall Street (pronounced Sockie hall); Sauchiehall means meadow of willow trees. Many of the former residents came from London so there are business and side street names copied from there. This is a long street with lots of shops and restaurants.
We drove through the theater district. According to the audioguide there are more auditoria per head in Glasgow than anywhere else in the UK. The Royal Concert Hall here was built with perfect acoustics. Great, right? Except that it was built right over a subway line. Oops!
We had now completed the loop of the city so hopped off the bus and walked back to the hotel to relax for a bit. We headed out a bit later to walk around the city on our own. We were really close to many of the main sites.
After dinner we went back to the hotel to start our laundry. One really nice amenity of the Fraser Suites is that they offer free washers and dryers. They charge 1 £ for laundry soap, but when we stopped by the front desk to pay for our soap, the guy called housekeeping to leave our soap for us in the laundry room; no charge. We put in our load of laundry and went back to our room. That was the easy part. Drying? Not so easy. The washing machine didn’t do a very good job of extracting water from our clothes so they were pretty wet going into the dryer. The dryers seemed pretty ineffective as well. There were two men that had put a load of clothes in the dryer an hour before; the clothes were not even close to dry. It ended up taking two hours for our load to get (mostly) dry. By then it was time for bed!
The hotel had a continental breakfast buffet as opposed to the full English breakfast offered by many. However, the choice were plentiful and we left full. We checked out and headed out to the train station; off to Edinburgh!