Glasgow: A Tale of Two Pauls

So, I love Anthony Bourdain.

If you’ve never seen Parts Unknown, you’re missing out.  It’s on Netflix, so get your binge on.  For those of you who don’t know, Anthony Bourdain is a chef who got a gig with CNN where he travels the world and experiences the cultures and foods of the people he meets.  (For the Charleston one, he went to the Waffle House, which I thought was brilliant.)

Anyway, I’m saying this because when I first starting thinking about going to Scotland I wasn’t even remotely interested in going to Glasgow.  Nope.  I wanted to see Edinburgh.

In his piece on Scotland, Anthony Bourdain did go to Glasgow and found it to be fascinating and vibrant.  That was the first time I started considering Glasgow as a destination, but I still wasn’t really committed.

All along the way through Scotland, I met people who were from or who had spent time in Glasgow.  And, for the most part, they loved it.

There was a cab driver in Kirkwall who was from Glasgow.  He said, “Glasgow is a city divided.  You either root for the Celtics or the Rangers.”

Sam Li, whom I met in Portree is working in Glasgow, and told me that I should definitely go to the University of Glasgow.

“It looks just like Hogwarts from Harry Potter.”

Sam was right on that call.  Or maybe Hogwarts looks like it.

When I figured out that I was going to need to stay a night in Glasgow, I even considering booking a room at the hotel at the airport.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  The price was too expensive, and I wouldn’t have had such a great experience at the SYHA hostel if I had gone with the hotel.

As I made my way into Glasgow on the bus from the airport, I wasn’t feeling too keen on the city. It was really quite busy.  There was lots of traffic and shopping and pedestrians and noise.  In fact, Glasgow is by far the busiest and biggest city in Scotland.

After being dropped in the middle of the city center, I started trying to figure out how to reach the hostel so I could ditch my bags and explore a bit.

I did something I have rarely done on my trip.  I hailed a cab.

My cab driver was a Glasgow native named Paul, and Paul loves his city.

“The people of Glasgow are just cheerful and eager to help you out.  The city gets a bad rap about its violence.  Most violent incidents have occurred between people who know one another,” he said.

Paul suggested that I visit Kelvingrove Park and the University of Glasgow as well.  He dropped me off at the hostel and wished me well.

In the hostel itself, I met a young woman from the Netherlands named Lysanne.  She has actually done some travel writing herself and has even written about Glasgow.  She also suggested that park and the university and the botanical gardens.

I did in fact take that walk, and I was totally blown away by how beautiful Glasgow is.  (I’m including the video below.)  In fact, when I got back to the hostel, I immediately texted my daughter, McKenzie, and told her that I thought she would love Glasgow.  I hope she goes one day and stays longer than I did.

Lysanne said, “Living in Glasgow lets me have access to so much that city offers because I’m still a city girl at heart, but within an hour I can be in nature in the highlands.  It’s really a great place to live.”

The next morning I had another cab take me from the hostel to the bus station.

My cab driver was a Glaswegian named Paul.  Yes.  He was a different guy from the previous cab driver.  And Paul loves his city.

We talked about the history of the city a little bit.

“All of these big buildings were funded through the profits from the slave trade, you know,” he said.

And then he added with a laugh, “I suppose if Donald Trump’s gets his way that America will be going back to slavery, eh?”

I laughed and asked him how long he had been a taxi driver.  He said he’d been driving a cab for 39 years in Glasgow.

“And, you know, there are still parts of the city I haven’t seen.  Sometimes I’ll be driving somewhere, and I’ll say to myself ‘I’ve never been here before,'”

I know that I didn’t give Glasgow her due, but, if I am lucky enough to return to Scotland one day, I plan to remedy that.

Until my next post, keep looking to the heavens and seeking your own star.

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