September 27, 2015

A Weekend in Scotland

After I finished all my stuff on Friday, I packed a small backpack and went to northern United Kingdom. Because nothing will ever happen when one just sits at home, that’s why…

Well, the true reason for this trip was to check out the universities of Stirling and Glasgow, as I am considering Scotland as a possible place to move into. So I took a late night bus from London and after a crumpled night I arrived to Stirling the next morning. Just in time to get in the campus, register and join the program.DSCF7337Once I finished, it was already four in the afternoon, so I had to rush to catch my next plan: check out a local landmark, the Wallace National monument. Have you seen Gibson’s Braveheart? Yes, “that” Wallace.

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It is a 67 meters (220 ft) tall sandstone tower, built in 1869. I got there just in time before their closing time which made me happy, for sure. The tower has three stories of exhibition that shows the story of W. Wallace and a bit of Scottish history. However, as the monument was about to close in just 20 minutes, I skipped through all that and just run up around 250 steps to the crown, an observation deck on the top.DSCF7365

Since the tower is situated on the top of a hill already, there is a sweet view from up there on Stirling, range of the Ochil Hills and the Loch Lomond/The Trossachs National Park in the background.DSCF7372

Oh, the view on Scottish landscape was very appealing to me. I can totally see purposefully losing myself somewhere amid countryside like this. Surrounded in morning fog, wait on the sunrise on the top of seemingly inhospitable peak with all civilization left far behind and then possibly bike my way around on forgotten goat paths… sounds like a plan!

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Click to enlarge.

From the tower I walked towards Stirling’s downtown, where I planned to spend the night.

Sure, I could take a bus, but why when I could choose trails like this.

Sure, I could take a bus, but why when I could choose trails like this.

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In Stirling…

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…I went to local hostel to book me a night. With hostels it is a hit or miss situation, one is great, clean place while the second is a dump with rats and crap (looking at you, St Louis). Thankfully, this was the first option, and I met there a bunch of cool people there. It is sort of easy to make friends in hostels, as everyone is "on the same boat" –comfortable with traveling and strangers. After listening some cool stories (there’s never deprivation of those when your peers are from Canada, Mexico, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Italy and I’m sure I forgot some..) I played chess for a first time in three or so years, and later we went for some fun.DSCF7402

The next morning I left to the local train station…DSCF7411

…took the last look on the hills..DSCF7412

..and boarded a train to Glasgow.DSCF7415

I opted to explore pieces of the Scotland’s largest and the third largest city in the UK, and while on the train I put together a list of some spots I’d like to check out. As soon as I’ve arrived, I set off to see a bit unusual point of interest:

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The necropolis.

Totally the best cemetery I’ve seen in a while. That’s kind of an odd sentence, but whatever. It is very atmospheric place...

..but after some walking around I met a group of shouting Germans with some Asians taking a selfie in front of every single stone, which took away a piece of the genius loci. It would be interesting to visit this in early morning to catch misty, soft light and nobody around. I had better things to do than to bother with anybody, so I descended to see the Glasgow Cathedral, a Gothic temple dedicated in 1136.

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What a magnificent site it is.DSCF7449

Later I walked towards the city’s center, while enjoyed dozens of interesting views.

People Make Glasgow

People Make Glasgow

In the downtown, I visited the Gallery of Modern Art. It is situated in an appealing building..DSCF7475

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..and its exposition lived up to the “modern art” standards.

I checked out the Glasgow Central, a cool rail station over 100 years old...DSCF7499

...and booked me another night bus to get me back to London.

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Continuing west, the historic buildings were soon replaced by modern developments.

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it felt so good to walk there!

What a relaxation, exploring a new place and capturing frames that catch my eyes. I can’t express enough how much I enjoy doing this.

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It didn’t take long and I entered the Kelvingrove Park…DSCF7545

…where I took a 30m nap and was ready to enter the University of Glasgow.

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The spot was used by filmmakers who restricted some access, therefore I saw more of lenses of a size of my leg than the splendid campus. This in account, I moved to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum:DSCF7567

I expected to just check out the architecture of the building, but the fact that inside are pieces by names like Dali and Brueghel; I spent there much longer than I anticipated.DSCF7571

When I got outside, I realized that my next location to visit, the Glasgow Science Centre, is closing in less than an hour. The reason I wanted to go there is that the centre is home for the Glasgow Tower - a place offering a spectacular view on the city. I’ve repeated the situation from the previous day, going to see an observation point and running late. But just as in the previous day, after some sprinting I made it in time.

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As you can see, it doesn’t look as ordinary tower - because it isn’t. This one is rather special: the 127m (416'8") structure can rotate 360 degrees. Yes, the whole thing sits on a 65 cm (25.6") wide bearing, which is pretty awesome. DSCF7611Nothing else of this height can achieve this feature, so the tower is marked in the Guinness World Records book. And I got to see Glasgow from a bird’s eye. Sweet!DSCF7594

The Science Centre represents interesting modern architecture and the surroundings fit nicely to this matter.

However, sharp shapes of concrete and glass are accompanied by reminders of history, which, in this neighborhood, is purely industrial.

The most recognizable of mentioned is this Stobcross Crane, which used to lift Glasgow-built steam locomotives onto cargo ships. It is great that they left it here and didn’t demolish it as many other cities did with their heritage.

My last target for the day was The Riverside Museum, a building by one of my favorite architects: Zaha Hadid.DSCF7669

I went there on the opposite shore of the river, as there are ferries operating across. However, I missed the last one, so had to I walk a couple miles further..

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at least they weren't dull miles

..and cross the river by the Clyde Tunnel. (Well, "had to." Later I find out that I could simply take a subway. Perks of not doing proper research of a location before the trip.) Once I got from the tunnel, it was raining. But it didn’t prevent me to truly enjoy the museum’s building, although just from the outside.
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From there I headed back to the bus station. Rain was still going on but on the positive note, soaked, reflection-filled streets were cool to look at.DSCF7736

Darker it was, the rain was heavier. Still, I had a blast.DSCF7758

I boarded a bus, and after a couple hours I got back to London.

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See you soon, Scotland.


Edit: I made another trip up there already. Click for Edinburgh and Dundee.

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories

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