|View from our room|
It was great taking the day flight from Boston and arriving on the same day in the UK. I definitely recommend doing that if you can. The flying time was about 6 hours, we arrived around 7:25 pm, had dinner, went to bed and woke up refreshed with no jet lag whatsoever.
Since we were not in a hurry I decided to take a very nice long steamy shower. Afterward I let my hair air dry as I tried to configure my new Samsung Camcorder. I will be using it for the first time on this trip. I could have done the practical thing and set it up at home. However I kept finding excuses not to do it! No more procrastinating now or I won't have any videos to speak of. I did download the user guide to my iPad for easy reference. I flipped through the pages and after much trial and error I was finally able to set the date and time. I then inserted the memory card and formatted it. My mother was getting really annoyed at all the beeping noises the device was making so I abruptly had to stop and put it away.
I read that the breakfast at the Sofitel is very nice but it is also on the expensive side. We decided to get something in the terminal instead. It was soon time to get our things together and checkout. It is one elevator down to reception followed by passing through the 4 corridors and then another elevator up one level to get to the terminal. It is still more convenient than taking a shuttle bus or having to change terminals. The Sofitel was wonderful and I would definitely stay there again but next time I will book directly with the hotel just in case they lose the reservation.
Once inside the terminal we found the area for the passport check. The automated barcode scanner for the boarding pass is pretty cool. Once you scan your boarding pass a green light flashes and the gate opens. At security everything had to be screened in a large plastic trays including the carry on luggage. There was hardly any line. This time Heathrow security was painless compared to last December when we flew to Shanghai and had to empty our bags entirely. This time they hardly looked at anything and it only took 10 minutes.
I ordered peppermint tea and my mother had a latte which she said was delicious. The food took at least 25 minutes to prepare but was worth the wait.
|Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake with shrimp, fish flakes and a savory sauce)|
|Wagamama Egg White Omelet|
I went over to look at the monitor again and it said our gate would post at 9:30 am but it was taking longer than that. Finally the gate was listed and we were actually very close to Concourse A where our flight would depart from. It was only about a 7 minute walk.
|Waiting at our gate for the flight to Glasgow|
Boarding commenced and we found our way to row 7. This was indeed an older looking plane and it had seen better days. There was plenty of leg room though. Just when I thought I could stretch out a bit, a woman made her way to our row and indicated she had the middle seat. The plane was completely full. There were lots of business people as many of them were dressed in suits.
We took off to hazy skies and climbed through the clouds. I looked out the window for a while until I couldn't see anymore and then decided to work on the settings for the Camcorder again. I finally figured out that I was pressing the buttons instead of moving them from the outside edge. After some more beeping I had the camcorder set for anti-shake and daytime landscape mode, or at least I hoped so!
It took a surprising amount of time to exit the airport as we needed to take several different escalators and/or elevators. We grabbed a taxi for the 17 minute drive to downtown. It was overcast and rain looked very likely for our walking tour of Glasgow. We were soon in the city center and arrived at the Indigo Hotel. I have never stayed at an Indigo Hotel before but they were rated #1 on Tripadvisor for Glasgow. Upon entering the hotel it looked a little more institutional than the photos on the their website. However, it was still suitable and the rate was reasonable. We were told that even though it was early our room was ready. We took the elevator to the third floor and found our room.directly across from the cavernous linen supply room. This room stored soap, towels, robes, sundries. As the door was wide open we wondered if we should help ourselves?
Our room is an Executive Twin with two beds. The room is decorated in blues and greens with a desk and chair. I liked the wood floor but I was not sure what about it made it "executive". The room is actually much smaller than it appears in the photos on the website.
|Executive Twin Room|
The beds looked pretty comfortable and the bathroom was modern with a glass shower.
As we exited the hotel it was drizzling but not drenching. My mother used her umbrella but I just put up the hood on my jacket. It was about a 10 minute walk to Buchanan Street. Along the way we passed the Central train station as well as some more modern buildings. The city is a nice combination of traditional and contemporary styles.
Glasgow is a former industrial city that at its zenith had a population of over 1 million people. From the 18th century it grew as one of the Great Britain's main hubs of transatlantic trade with North America. It soon became one of the world's pre-eminent centers of shipbuilding, chemicals, textiles and engineering. The city fell on hard times during the 20th century with the post World War 1 recession and later the Great Depression. Glasgow entered into a period of rapid economic decline leading to high unemployment and urban decay.
In the 1990's Glasgow started on an economic revival effort. With the addition of diversified businesses from insurance, banking, biosciences, healthcare to financial services, the city's former affluence has returned.
Glasgow is now the UK's second largest and most economically important retail sector after central London. There are 4 universities and the city is identified as an art and design center. Many of the red sandstone Georgian buildings were restored and you have to keep reminding yourself to look up to admire the fabulous architecture.
|Buchanan Street in the rain|
|Lots of shopping and beautiful flowers|
|Interior Argyll Arcade|
Princess Square is a beautiful building from the outside and has many retails shops and lots of restaurants. The inside though wasn't that appealing.
|Near Merchant City and the Modern Art Gallery|
|Duke of Wellington Statue|
|Glasgow in the rain|
Pollok House was built in 1752 and is the ancestral home of the Maxwell family. It was designed by renowned Scottish architect Robert Adam and gifted to the city of Glasgow in 1966. The house may be best known for its large collection of Spanish art with paintings by El Greco, Francisco Goya and Bartholome Murillo. There is also on display a collection of silverware, porcelain and antique furniture. Pollok House is managed by the National Trust for Scotland.
Once inside I realized this was only going to take about 20 minutes as the area accessible for viewing was tiny. The man selling the tickets (8 pounds ea) took a fancy to my mother and wanted to make sure she enjoyed her visit. He pointed out what she should see and said not to miss the servants area downstairs.
The rooms we saw including the dining room, music room and library, did have some beautiful art and lovely antique furnishings.
|Interior Pollok House|
|Pollok House Paintings|
While I was using the restroom I was told the ticket man suddenly appeared and showed my mother the photo on the wall with the 200+ staff who ran the house in the early 1900's. This guy really likes my mother!
|Pollok House Staff 1905|
|Pollok House Garden|
|Pollok House from the rear|
|Pollok Park walk to the Burrell Collection|
The Burrell Collection buildings looks similar to a modern farmhouse. It is very understated but they have an impressive assortment of paintings and artifacts.
The Burrell Collection
The Burrell Collection comprises over 8000 objects. Sir William Burrell spent many years amassing his collection as a shipbuilding magnate. He gifted his collection to Glasgow in 1944 on the condition that the items be housed in a building 16 miles from Glasgow (due to air pollution) and not be loaned to other institutions. However, it took until 1967 to find a suitable site in Pollok Park which is 3 miles from the city center. The museum was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.
|The sign explains problems with leaks|
They don't allow photos which is a shame since the museum is so interesting and very open with large windows. Burrell achieved quite an eclectic art collection including stained glass, tapestries, oak furniture, medieval weapons, armor, Islamic art, Chinese porcelain and Impressionist paintings with about 20 by Degas. I took one photo of the stained glass near the entrance. There are more than 700 of these panels from various periods in the collection.
|Stained glass near the entrance|
We went outside and tried to figure out the correct place to wait for the taxi. There is a sitting area right outside but then second sitting area across the road. We went closer to the road and this turned out to be the right spot. While we waited for the taxi I was watching a bird that also seemed to be keeping a close eye on me as well.
At the entrance to the university the taxi driver asked directions to Bute Hall and we preceded heading west. The university is on a hill and the view is gorgeous. Glasgow University is the 4th oldest university in the world after Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard.
|Entrance to the Cloisters and Bute Hall|
|Cloisters Glasgow University|
We arrived at the other end to find it not only locked but barricaded with scaffolding. They were apparently doing renovations. You could peak in a bit but I couldn't make out much.
|Outside Bute Hall|
I felt like at least we made the effort and met a very nice person at the university so all was not lost. Our taxi driver had no problem waiting for us. We explained why our visit took longer than expected and then I snapped a few photos of the exterior of the Kelvingrove Museum before we were on our way to the Glasgow School of Art.
|Our taxi and the Kelvingrove Museum in the background|
It was only a short drive to reach the Glasgow School of Art on Renfrew Street.
The Glasgow School of Art
The Glasgow School of Art is Scotland's only independent art school offering university programs in architecture, fine art and design. In 1897 work started on the current building. The first half of the building was completed in 1899 and the second half in 1909.
The school has produced most of Scotland's contemporary artists, including since 2005, 29% of Turner Prize nominees and three recent Turner Prize winners.
|Glasgow School of Art Entrance|
|Rear of the building sloping down the hill|
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish trained architect and was only 19 years old when he was chosen to design the new building for the Glasgow School of Art. He was born in Glasgow in 1868.
|Charles Rennie Mackintosh|
|Glasgow School of Art (Mackintosh building)|
The tour started off slowly with some facts about the building and how it was constructed. It quickly became apparent how amazing and unconventional the design was at that time. Callum discussed how Mackintosh married styles from art nouveau and Japanese aesthetics. He had never been to Japan but was fascinated with light and dark contrasts and incorporated those elements into his design. Part of the building looks like a Zen Buddhist temple while other parts are classical art nouveau.
Since this is a working school with artists no photos are allowed. However I was disappointed that no photos are available for purchase in the gift shop. That doesn't make sense to me. I noticed a couple of guys sneaking photos and I tried to do the same but the setting on my camera was messed up and I was unsuccessful. Because our group was so big there were several opportunities to take photos even if you weren't allowed to do so. In the areas to sneak the photos there were absolutely no people or studios so I didn't see the point of banning all photos.
|GSA Walkway (courtesy of online photo)|
|Glasgow School of Art from the front|
|Decoration behind our table|
|Pillows and bench cushion seating|
|Baked Brie with potatoes|
The main courses arrived and were wonderful. My mother had the fish and I had the Chili Lime Prawns with mango pineapple salsa.
|Sea Bass with Cherry Tomato and Mint Yogurt|
|Chili Lime Prawns|
We weren't that hungry for dessert so we decided to share one. We ordered the homemade Brandy Basket with Trio of Ice Creams and Fruit Coulis. It was scrumptious!
|Brandy Basket with Trio of Ice Cream|