Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Castles in Glasgow

There are no castles in Glasgow... But there are dragons.
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! ...and Saturday... As well as Monday afternoon, with two showings Friday and Thursday. Dragons have invaded Glasgow – terrible giant monsters. Well,, maybe not dragons, but definitely dinosaurs! It's true. I saw it on the cover of “The Report” (a free newspaper I pick up when I can, because they have the T.V. listings.)

I had been planning on taking a day trip to Glasgow, and with this new development, why not today? If I was going to go, spending long stretches of time on the rails, beside old men trying their best, and usually failing, to stay awake – all the while blowing bubbles with saliva, snot, and who knows what else from every major orifice, well then I was going to do so to risk life and limb seeing dinosaurs duking it out in the Exhibition Centre, amongst a host of other onlookers, ready to brave this scaly invasion. But fear not, gentle reader, for I was prepared. I have watched all six episodes of Prehistoric Park, and seasons one and two of Primeval. I understand how these time portals effect Great Brittan, and I am ready!

The Polaroid of Perfection
As I stepped off the train, I immediately noticed the differene between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh survives on tourism, and as such most of the people there are too busy looking around with their eyes to the sky to, say, notice the man whose shirt is soaked through with sweat, and whose hair is plastered towards his face, suffering from the noonday sun. In Glasgow they are not.

A great number of streets have been shut down to traffic, making them a haven for stylish shoppers to peruse a variety of stores, while also managing to show off for those around them. Welcome to the International fashion show that is Buchanan Street. It is here that you can get sideways glances of scorn, incredulousness, and pity all in the time it takes to take half a step. Europe's most fashionable backpackers are here – and believe me, Europe has some fashionable backpackers. It is not the overly hairy hipsters, or the socially disavowed who take to the world stage, as is so often the case from North America. In Europe it is the youthful, the vivacious, the – well, the mind set in much of Europe and Australia is, “I've finished high school, I'm nineteen. Let's take to the open road.” Let's just leave it at that, shall we?

I don't consider myself old. I'm only twenty six, but apparently a combination of my shorts, button up, SPF embedded shirt (now with more sweaty-stick goodness), and sandals with oh so practical toe covering did nothing to impress those who seemed dressed for an evening out, in long black dresses with plunging necklines, or formfitting minis. The men, with their silk shirts, top three buttons undone, arms around who I'd be sure must have been supermodels, except for the packs on their back (I'm sure super models have adoring fans who would clamor at the chance to take on such punishment,) seemed equally unimpressed.

Oh look, long haired, printed t-shirt wearing, unshaven hipsters. Like a warm bubble bath. Honestly, who wears heels backpacking? Style can only take you so far. Once you hit the cobble stone... Well, at least when you fall, there will be a number of people there to pick you up.

East Argyle street? It's pretty much the same, except the self-titled popular sit in the middle of the passing crowds, judging from their place upon park benches (there's also a merry-go-round here!) It is my philosophy that if someone makes you feel awkward, the best defence is to out-awkward them. So go on, sit your sweaty self between the two people who think their whispering, and join the conversation! Perhaps you'll make a new friend?

Probably not though.

Getting Around Glasgow
From train station to subway station. My DK Eyewitness Travel Guide seemed to think that Glasgow is only one quarter its actual size, which is all fine and well for the fifty-something year old traveller who does no feel the same wonderment and excitement as I do towards dinosaurs. But me? I had to reach – what is apparently a terrible place, off the map, where even angels fear to tread. So my first step was aquiring a map.

This is always a key items to have. A map of a city is like a – well, in The Legend of Zelda, maps are held in treasure chests, and once you've obtained it, dungeons become much more bearable. The same is true for cities. But as there are no randomly placed chests here, and my guidebook fails me, I had to use my cunning, and my wits to obtain a map. Where do the best (free) maps come from? Why, exactly where I was. The subway station! Asking for a ride-guide, I was rewarded with a layout of the city that far exceeded the limitations brought to me by DK. Now I could see where I needed to go, but there was no subway station near it!
No one pound forty would take me where I needed. Apparently, however, there was a train station that would take me right to the Centre, and by proxy, dinosaurs. Great. Back up the stairs, back to the street, back to the train station. Like it would be hard to run a tunnel that connects them both?

“One ticket to the Exhibition Centre please.” I braced myself for the price. Whatever it was, I'd have to pay it. I could walk back later, but I wanted to ensure my tickets as quick as possible. If I spent half an hour getting there, just to see the last ticket sold out to some smarmy child in a T-Rex hat, and Brontosaurus t-shirt, well then I would explode into a rage devastating the entire city, as if I had been roused from the ocean for just this very purpose, spewing forth radiation, and leaving nothing but giant footprints in my wake. Better I should get the last ticket, the small child would be far less likely to rampage. Plus, he'd have his T-Rex hat for solace.

“That'll be one pound, twenty. Do yo want it return?” I queried how much that would cost, “one pound twenty five.”

Five p? Five p?! For five p I could get a return ticket, allowing me to be lazy, and travel in style, rather than walking back across the city? Who are these people who don't get return tickets? Wouldn't buying a one way shot be like admitting, “yes, I am going to try to hide in the science centre tonight and watch as all the exhibits come to life – oh the wonders of being chased around by balls with lightening inside, that move when my hand is placed upon it!”

Covered walkway from Station to Centre. Oh isn't that lovely, so when it snows people can be nice and warm. Does it even snow here? Yes, you'd think the covered walkway would be a very delightful addition, welcomed by all. What they don't tell you, as you step foot into this red rimed hallway of death, is that – because there are no windows, nor ventilations, only walls and walls of glass – you are about to suffer through twists, and turns, and meters upon meters of greenhouse entrapment! Whoever designed this – whoever thought, people don't need fresh air – something terrible needs to happen to them! So much for my semi-dry shirt, cooled by the trains A/C. It just was not meant to be. Children everywhere were screaming, “I'm roasting! I'm roasting!” Others were amusing themselves by making Batman action figures flip around in midair. Jealous.

Tickets secured, I headed back into the city. I had three hours to kill, and I was going to make the most of them!

Glasgow: City on the Go!
[the following is best read in your favourite world war two news real / old timey inner monologue.] The year in two thousand and nine, and you are visiting Glasgow. Yes, Glasgow is a city on the go, always moving, constantly pressing forwarding in new, exciting and interesting ways. Why there you are at the City Chambers, why aren't all those statues lovely? And whose that towering over head? If it isn't Sir Walter Scott himself. Hello Walter!

Take a picture here, or wait – because you'll be back. One can't help avoid the pull of George Square, and this lovely view. Buildings, statues, and greenery. Oh-My indeed, Dorthy.

Next up on your tour is the Gallery of Modern Art. Ahh the GOMA. Fun to say, isn't it? Try it along with us now. GOMA! Inside you'll see works of art unheard of. Have you always wanted to rip up a bible, or write yourself back into it, beause your group of people have been left out, or edited away throughout the years? Then there's an exhibit just for you! Do you want to become an activist and help fight injustices to the LGBT community? There's an exhibit (and even more exciting informational pamphlets) for you! Yes – no trip to the GOMA is complete without a viewing of the top floor Sh(out) exhibit, I say.

Now head over to the north west where the Provald's Lordship (Glasgow's only medieval house, said with disdain, as if other cities have a half dozen you'll see before breakfast!) and the St. Mungo's museum. You don't even have to go in to enjoy the sights at this one. No, you definitely do not. And who's that? Dr. Livingston, I presume?

Finally head to the west, and explore the rest that the city has to offer. Get a good taste, because it's just a short trip, and it's rush rush rush to see this city that's: On-The-Go!

Walking with Dinosaurs
The moment had arrived. I was going to see what I had spent the remainder of my spending money on (only the most expensive tickets remained.) And what a venue to see it. In my mind Scotland and dinosaurs had been inseparable ever since I first heard the words, “Welcome... to Jurassic Park.”

What I was about to bear witness to was two hours of prehistoric amazement, and - “sir, you can't take pictures here.” - what?! No pictures. I come to see dinosaurs, and I can't take pictures? Why? Because they're not allowed. No, others are shooting. Because of the flash? Fine, I'll turn it off, and up the ISO. No, because my camera is “too good.” It's considered professional equipment. Look – it's not my fault that I don't have a pocket sized camera. But it's not a SLR. Once again, it's no my fault high end non-SLRs were made, confusing your “banned / not-banned” equipment. I tell you what, when the show starts, I'll be dark, and I'll shoot away. You should probably concentrate on the people who didn't turn their flashes off like the announcement said, anyway.

Pictures were taken. Damn the man, save the Empire, and all that.

Puppeteers moved inside the most lifelike costumes I'd ever seen. But what did I expect from a BBC production, created in part with the many Dinosaur “Documentary” shows? You could see mussels move, and veins pressing against the wrinkled skin. They moved with the expert motion of trained puppeteers, and naturalists. They blinked, just as they should, and as often as they should. These were not people in dinosaur suits. These were dinosaurs. And all built to scale, easily – and impressively – seen against the main actor, our time travelling paleontologist. It would be he that guided us through the various eras, and explained all the fights, flights, and frights along the way.

Heading Home
Glasgow. What a city, and what a difference. I'm glad I saw it, and I'm equally glad that I was heading home to Edinburgh. It's nice to wake up in a quiet town, secure in the knowledge that the big city is only a train ride away. What a change a hundred thousand people can bring about.

As I stepped off the train in Edinburgh I noticed something. Something odd... Something off... Why, those were blue skies! Blue skies over Edinburgh! Suddenly I was brought to life, and everything was worth taking a picture of. Small shop? Sure! Impressive building I have twenty pictures of already? Let's add another! Blue skies! Blue skies over Edinburgh!

And the city knew it too. Street vendors were out, and patios were filled. This was the city as I'd not yet seen it. Oh what a day can do.

Biggest thunderstorm of the season? Yeah right. I'm on to you... weather man.

1 comment:

  1. really beautiful,,, visit the mine now


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