My First Impressions of Glasgow
Having heard of the infamous dull weather of UK, I was mentally prepared for it. That’s exactly how I found it when I reached Glasgow towards end of September. Having spent just over six months in Glasgow now, I think I have absorbed enough essence of this city to be able to write about it. So here’s how Glasgow, the biggest city of Scotland appealed to me.
I had reached Glasgow at night after an extremely delayed flight from Mumbai. The next morning, as I would invariably do in any new town, I set out on foot to explore the city. I love to walk and discover rather than be glued to Google maps. This way I can find my very own nooks in the city.
Anyway, so when I started jogging it was about 6 AM in the morning and it was dark outside (as it would be in September here). I crossed the empty streets as I headed to the city centre. I entered a narrow alley unbeknownst how dark it towards the other end. But being very brave that I am (*chuckles*), without paying much heed I continued walking. I reached the middle of the alley and I heard a scream, a very shrill and distinct scream of a lady. And then once again! What’s going on!?
Alarmed, I stopped right there. I could literally feel my heart beats accelerating. So many thoughts echoed inside my head with a sudden surge of testosterone. I tried to listen. In next few seconds the screams continued. I was now sure someone was in real trouble. As I raised my head to try and locate the source of the screams, there was another scream. But it sounded different now. I looked at the sky and then I started laughing hysterically. It was a bloody sea gull!!
There are seagulls here like we have crows in India. And sometimes they scream like crazy, so much that it is frightening.
Screaming bloody seagulls!
Glasgow has flourished along the river Clyde and is in lowlands (Southern, relatively flat, region of Scotland). The weather of course is extremely moody. Before coming here I was sure I am going to face rainy days quite often. However, I realised that it wasn’t the rain that I should beware but the cold and the wind. For someone who has seen the wrath of monsoons every year (me!) what goes by as rain here is not even worthy of being called as rain (:D).
Tiny droplets fall randomly any time of the day and the sky is almost always cloudy. There is chill in the air and the wind blows hard. When it changes, however, changes quickly. Hardly any snow, most assured when I just arrived. But I have seen two snow storms lasting couple of days already; of course the snow melted quickly. I don’t mind the rain, but I pray every day now that it’s not windy. Cold air + wind is a deadly combination. I am now waiting to see how wonderful Scottish summers are.
I was surprised to notice that pedestrians do not mind the signals here. (In a corner of my mind, I felt just at home!) The vehicle traffic, however, very strictly follows rules and traffic signal. I have never heard a vehicle use horn so far barring a couple of rightful exceptions. The later was a pleasant surprise and I instantly loved both these aspects of the city. I now have mastered the (guilt ridden) art in crossing the road right in front of the buses stopped at red signal. Well, be a Roman (Glaswegian) when in Rome (Glasgow), right?
Odd mishmash of old and new buildings
My first impression of the city’s look in general has not changed much in last six months. I absolutely hated the cityscape of Glasgow. This city is a weird combination of semi-modern buildings and old buildings amidst some spectacular very old architecture. The old buildings stand out. They have a distinct greenish brown grime accumulated over decades. Except certain popular and touristy places in the city, many of these old buildings have blended in with the layers of modernisation. The overall look of the city thus becoming plain weird.
The Scottish accent is somewhat different from the English accent (that the entire world drools over). It is but of course English yet, it sounded very foreign to me for the first few weeks. Irrespective of that however, I found the Scottish people to be very warm, patient and helpful. It’s not difficult to start conversations with total strangers. They greet you with “Hiya” (unlike usual Hi or Hello) and patiently answer your query with their peculiar accents. Having been around for a few times now, I have more than enough experience of the warm Scottish hospitality. One of my favourite actors, Gerard Butler is Scottish and was born near Glasgow. Watch this youtube video where he explains some funny Scottish slangs in his very Scottish accent. I think the accent is rather adorable. What do you think!?
I‘m realising how tough it can be to be regular on a blog. Last whole month was really busy for me. But more posts are now lined up and I’ll make up for the last month now. Stay tuned for more posts on my travels and experiences in Scotland. Of course, in between I’ll continue to write about my travels in India as well. Do subscribe (form at the bottom) if you want a wee email in your inbox when I post next!
P.S. If you’re wondering why I am in Glasgow head over to the about me page.