July 5, 2015
It feels wrong to say that a destination disappoints, but Glasgow was below my expectations. Once it was twice its current population, it is an example of some positive things one gets from a population decline—cheap apartments, light traffic. There’s a strong sense that Glasgow is recovering from the losses it suffered when the shipbuilding industry left the city decades ago.
The center of Glasgow is this pedestrian mall that runs several blocks of high-end stores. The photo at the top of this post is of the quirky art nouveau designs that were the rage in the city’s hay days.
This indoor mall on the outdoor mall was puzzling. The style dates back to the 1890s, but there is hardly a scratch on the wood. Turns out, this accomplishment was done only 30 years ago. Scotland still has craftsmen who do something other than watch whiskey age. Those obvious stairs are escalators. It is called “Princess Square.” How precious.
The stately plaza in front of city hall is reviving. A few buildings remain that shouldn’t, including the little subway train station stop with a cheap diner at the entrance. (Rick Steves says that a decent meal can be had there at bargain prices.) Here and there Glasgow is a little run down, but it was not torn down, so the future is bright.
After walking around for 90 minutes or so, we ducked into a tea house to avoid an afternoon sprinkle. The nice thing about tea is that you can have a light meal and not feel guilty about the table service because the bill is so low. In the U.K. tea houses, the portions are inverse to the bill. It’s as if the most expensive item on your plate is the white space.
We walked an unnecessarily long distance from tea to tomb, but at long last we found ourselves at the Necropolis, a high-end cemetery at the foot of the cathedral. Even in death there once persisted the need for class, though always at the profit of the living. Must be time for church.
Scotland has an inexhaustible supply of black stone. There are advantages—you don’t need to clean it and it is easier to find your house in a snow storm.I’m a sucker for a big organ under the nave.