Updated: Nov 23, 2022
About a year or so before planning that first Icelandic visit, I had started watching a series called Outlander. For those unfamiliar, it is a story of a woman who is whisked back to a time two hundred years prior. The tale is replete with moral dilemmas, from the consequence of altered history to, cultural norms untethered to a modern context, perseverance, adaptation, and of course a romance spanning 200 years. In spite of that, well really because of all that, I also felt the urge to see the castles and places where this series was filmed…and so the planning stages for a trip to Scotland began.
We discovered that we could fly to Scotland via Icelandair and get an extended stopover in Iceland of up to 6 days ``for free”. We had originally booked hotels and worked out our itinerary to visit in May of 2020. Alas COVID-19 had other plans. We had hoped that it would be something that would be rapidly contained and that we would be able to go. As the date neared we realized that such was not the case. Some of the hotels offered refunds, others and the airline provided credits for future travel. The expiration of these vouchers was set for May of 2022. As that date approached, we went through the process again. Knowing that having some of the local currency in hand makes for a much smoother trip, we secured some pounds and kroners. Interestingly, it became apparent early on that covid policies discouraged and often prohibited cash transactions. We found that no purchase was too small for plastic. On the one hand, that makes it easy for the traveler to reconcile the costs associated with a trip. On the other, libertarians lament that “convenience” permits tracking by any interested party as to the cost, location and nature of one’s activities and how much easier it is to align with income than cash. Whatever the case, it helps to have some change for tips.
So following our Icelandic “layover”, we bid farewell to one island and continued our journey to seek the structures and landscapes highlighted in that Scottish saga.
In the 21st century most people get around by car, including tourists. Driving can be challenging for Americans and continental Europeans as the residents of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) all drive on the left, or what they call, the correct side of the street. The steering wheel is on the right, the gear shift on the left, and the rear view mirror in the center but in the other direction. Psychologists might say this creates a certain cognitive dissonance. Of course, if you inherently have trouble with your rights and lefts it’s just another day and it would be best to have someone else do the driving for you. Crossing the street can also be challenging because the danger is coming from the “other” side. There are signs in the city to always look right. The fact that those signs are there serve as a reminder that someone didn’t. Keeping all that in mind, we picked up our black Fiat 500 rental which was a mirror image of my white Fiat at home. Alternative reality.
We headed to Glasgow and stopped along the way at the Pollok Country Park for our morning walk. Part of the first season of the Outlander series was filmed in this park (Castle Leoch) as well as several scenes from the second season. Outlander fans see if anything looks familiar.
If you look at the photograph below you may recognise the bridge from the second season of the Outlander series. Claire rode a carriage over this bridge in an effort to stop a duel.
The grounds surrounding the Pollok House have beautiful gardens and if you go in June, blossoming rhododendron plants
Glasgow, where “People Make Glasgow '' was the first place we stayed. The city, famous for its impressive 19th century Victorian architecture, boasts over 1800 historic buildings. Other styles are interspersed, including those designed in the 20th century by Charles Rennie Macintosh, as well as some modern 21st century structures, giving the city an eclectic ambiance.
We successfully navigated the roads leading us to our Apartment, and its dedicated parking lot. Cities have so much to offer, but convenient free parking is generally not one of them. The good news is we had parking and a really nice apartment. The bad news was the four-flight walk-up. I hate to admit that my husband’s “travel light” mantra could’ve been taken more seriously. One other little detail about the apartment was its proximity to the train trestle. When a train came by, the building shook like the scene in “My Cousin Vinny”.
We left the car parked in the lot for the two days that we stayed in Glasgow. Note to self - should have stayed four days. Lots to see and accommodations were close to everything. We opted for a hop-on hop off tour of Glasgow, doing a complete circle of the city before we decided where we wanted to spend the most time and it gave us a different visual perspective. This is one of those uber touristy things for which we have developed a fond appreciation. Do they tend to be a bit cheesy and overpriced compared to city transport? Yes,but you can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and have the major points of interest described. The elevation also provides an “above the heads of the people” view for a photographer, particularly one of short stature. From there, you can plan which spot deserves a closer look. Every major city has one of these double-deckers and we unabashedly gravitate towards them.
One of the things about Scotland is that the weather can change quickly. The day can start off sunny, bright, and cloud free (which happened at least once), and within minutes, become overcast and rainy. When it did rain, it was very, very windy. Forget the umbrella and carry a poncho and/or rain jacket with you.
Just like a lot of major cities throughout the world, Glasgow has streets that no longer allow vehicular traffic and are pedestrian ways.
With all due respect to any chefs out there, the traditional cuisine of the UK is not really noteworthy. Wanting something healthy and full of flavor for dinner, we opted for Indian food, a lot of it. Dal, Chickpeas, Okra, garlic naan and basmati rice provided a fragrant gustatory delight. Luckily, we had a fridge and kitchen in the apartment to accommodate the “eyes bigger than the stomach” ordering frenzy.
There are four miracles attributed to St. Mungo. He resurrected a European Robin, used branches of a tree to relight a fire, brought a bell back from the Vatican, and recovered a ring belonging to Queen Languoreth. The Queen was accused by her husband, King Riderich, of infidelity, which at the time was punishable by death. The king tossed her wedding ring into the river claiming that the queen gave the ring to her lover. St Mungo had a servant catch a fish from the river and when it was gutted, the ring was found saving the Queen’s life. Not to take anything away from Mungo, but it would seem the guy who caught the fish deserves a tip of the hat here too. In any case, Mungo was the founder and patron saint of Glasgow. The crest of Glasgow was designed with a bird, tree, bell and fish to honor him.
Definitely no shortage of beautiful copper-domed buildings in this city.
Lots of beautiful graffiti art in Glasgow with several intricate designs attributed to SMUG.
A given in every city we visit is at least one Irish Pub/Tavern/Bar…or more
If you look carefully at the photo below you will notice a large ring atop the lamppost that is in front of the church. The ring symbolizes the wedding ring that was found in the fish's belly by St Mundo.
A quick stop for a Gyro (pronounced YEE-Roh) at Lazord Syrian Street Food
One day years ago, a rubber traffic cone appeared on the head of the Duke. Since then, every night it is removed and every day it finds its way back.
There are hundreds of majestic murals in Glasgow. I can’t possibly include all the beautiful ones that I photographed in this blog. To see more of the street art found in Glasgow as well as other parts of Scotland please visit:
Cities typically arise along waterways owing to the ease of transport and commerce. Bridges are a common sight and Glasgow is no exception.
As I stated earlier, while most of the architecture is Victorian in style, there are also some other architectural styles including Art Deco.
Before leaving Glasgow, we stopped for a bite to eat. I had the vegan breakfast which, with the exception of the potato scone, was quite good…vegan sausages, vegan beans, vegan haggis. What is haggis? Well, vegan haggis is pulses and spices but the non-vegan version? Let me put it this way, my husband had blood pudding and that sounded better.
After breakfast we were on the road again. Next destination: Fort William
In case you missed our previous blog segment “Return to Iceland 2022 - Different season - Photojournal”, click on the link below
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To see more photographs of Glasgow:
To see more photographs of Pollok Country Park: https://mariamarkatos.smugmug.com/Scotland/Glassgow-Country-Park/
To see more photographs of Scotland: