S C O T L A N D : D A Y 1
AUGUST 19 (Saturday) -- arriving in Glasgow
Arrived at Heathrow Airport early in the morning. Caught flight to Paisley Airport near Glasgow. Pretended to know what I was doing.
Stepping into the terminal at Paisley, I managed to find a Thomas Cook office, which I had read was necessary to book a room somewhere in the city. With some effort, I hauled a backpack, two suitcases and myself aboard a local bus, then I tried to understand the driver's directions on how to find my hotel once I was unloaded. (It took me a couple of days to develop an "ear" for the quick accents of the cities.)
For the better part of an hour, I wandered through the streets of Glasgow looking for my hotel, which the T.C. office had described to me as being a "Bed & Breakfast," or "B&B." All of Great Britain was laboring under one of the hottest summers on record, so with every step I found myself more and more looking forward to finding the B&B and standing in front of the air conditioner for several hours. But despite being in what had to be the correct area based on the address I'd been given, I couldn't find the B&B. There was a large open plaza, some kind of small shopping center, a hole-in-the-wall pizza place, and (abutting the pizza place) a hotel whose sign read, "Hotel." But no B&B. After standing in the shade for several minutes and attempting by sheer mental effort to force the B&B to admit defeat and reveal itself, I gave up and asked the guy in the pizza shop where I was. (Note that I was still trying to match addresses--I wasn't about to unbend so far as to ask for the B&B by name.) After a series of remarkably helpful shrugs by the pizza guy, I picked up my suitcases and stepped into the hotel to repeat my question... at which point I realized that I was standing in the lobby of the B&B for which I'd been searching.
I checked in, went upstairs, and made the first of what would be many discoveries about Scotland: There is not one air conditioner in the entire country.
Throwing open the window to my tiny room, I lay down and wondered if the people in the upper rooms of the building across the street could see the large pasty guy in my room trying not to sweat to death. Then I amused myself for several more minutes wondering if pigeons ever flew into people's hotel rooms since there were no screens on any of the windows (my second discovery about Scotland).
Finally tiring of playing the "what decadent convenience will I miss next?" game, I decided that the early evening would be a good time to try walking around without suitcases. Perhaps I'd find a store that sold electric fans. My third discovery was that Scotland's merchants lock their doors once the sun goes down.
Alone in a strange city, my never-very-abundant sense of adventure by now completely exhausted (along with the rest of me), I wound up having my first meal in Scotland at a Pizza Hut. A pretty young woman whose nametag read "Gillian" made an instant friend of me by letting me sit by a window where I could get my bearings on the city, and by being very unobtrusive and soft-spoken so as not to startle me while I tried to reset my internal bearings. Eventually I made my way back to my lonely tourist's garret and tried to get some long-overdue sleep. Discovery number four was that a prominent feature of cities is an active and highly vocal night life, most of whom passed in review under my window and all of whom were singing at the tops of their lungs about how wonderful it was to be blind drunk and able to slam car doors.
Discovery number five was that if you're tired enough, you can sleep through anything.
|Previous Day: August 18||Next Day: August 20|