When people initially think of Scotland, images of the ethereal highlands and the venerable city of Edinburgh are the first to pop into mind. As Americans, I believe we have this preconceived notion that Scottish people are a little rough around the edges, people who are ubiquitous carousers with mouths like sailors. My empirically gathered evidence thus far isn’t sufficient enough to allow me to refute these claims, but I’ve come to realize that Scotland as a whole, is a much more eclectic place than I could have ever imagined.
As in America, Scotland is also a place of regional pride and demarcation. The Glaswegian aversion towards the people of Edinburgh is tantamount to that of a New Yorker and a Bostonian. Each inhabitant holds the tenet that their area is superior to all others. While Edinburgh is renowned for its historical richness and opulence, Glasgow is a city of gentrification, an industrial city that is slowly becoming one of the most stylish and hippest cities in Scotland. Call me a little biased, but I believe my heart belongs to Glasgow. From an exterior standpoint Glasgow seems a little coarse, but upon further exploration you discover that the city has so much to offer, ranging from quaint family owned tea shops to concert venues that would give Madison Square Garden a run for its money! So in order to justify my status as a native Glaswegian, I decided to explore the territory and really familiarize myself with this place that I now call home.
This week I went on my first Arcadia sponsored day trip, the Glasgow sub-crawl. This expedition is a variation of the famous Glasgow pub crawl, in which people pay £3.50 for an all day subway pass and at each stop venture off to a bar and have a drink. With the subway consisting of 15 stops, this popular tourist and local attraction can leave the participants, how can I put this, quite inebriated. Although legally permissible, the Arcadia program doesn’t particularly condone this kind of activity, so we partook on a more appropriate and mentally stimulating crawl.
Our first stop was the Gallery of Modern Art, a contemporary museum showcasing mesmerizing sculptures and paintings.
Right outside the gallery lies The Duke of Wellington statue, an interesting and iconic specimen who is known for wearing the traffic cone as a head adornment. The government has tried to stop this tradition, but rebelliousness is a quite difficult to quell. Judging by his Hawaiian styled shirt, looks like the gloomy Glaswegian weather has him yearning for a tropical vacation! He has the right idea; I could go for a little bit of Mr. Golden Sun myself!
From there we took off to the Lighthouse, a structure that offers the best view of Glasgow once you make it up the steep and spiraling staircase. As a girl who doesn’t pride herself on having a spectacular endurance, my wheezing commenced about midway up the steps. But once at the top, the view was truly amazing and without a doubt worth a wheeze or two.
After those primary stops, we went to my neck of the woods, surveying the university grounds and the student-friendly West End.
The experience in itself was so rewarding; at the end of the crawl I felt more well acquainted with Glasgow, a city that is truly a hidden gem. Our crawl lasted only 4 hours. Being the ambler that I am, I would have enjoyed exploring the sites at a more leisurely pace. However, I believe learning to navigate the subway (or the “tube” as it is referred to in the UK) will prove to be indispensable during my time here in Glasgow.