Friday, Aug. 16/Saturday, Aug. 17
Soundtrack: “Dry the Rain” Beta Band
Many months ago, three friends and I first began kicking around the idea of planning a trip to Scotland. The four of us are writers, and the plan originated as a writing retreat, but then our wanderlust, Harry Potter/Outlander fandom, and sense of adventure kicked in, and the plan for the quiet week in a Highlands cabin turned into a country-spanning road trip.
I was the first to arrive in Glasgow, having booked an earlier flight. I left work on a Friday afternoon and headed to O’Hare. On the plane, I watched Brave to get into the spirit. After a layover at Heathrow, I landed in Glasgow on Saturday morning around 10 a.m. From the bus stop, my 10-minute walk to the hotel turned into a 45-minute adventure as I ran into Glasgow’s Pride Parade. In no big hurry, I watched for a while, cheering and waving, then eventually found enough of a gap in marchers where I could dance my way across the street with luggage in tow. It was such a perfectly positive and joyful way to start my trip.
After I dropped off my luggage, I began my solo exploration. I love walking and wandering around a new city. I went into a local coffee chain, Cafe Nero, and tried to order, but was quickly reminded of the scarcity of drip coffee in Europe. Duh, this is why Americano is a thing, I reminded myself, ordering a large. My love of an oversized black coffee is very Americano.
As I walked along the River Clyde, the weather turned from sunny to gray, and the skies opened into torrential rain. I stayed out on the street just long enough to snap a pic of a large mural of Billy Connolly, hometown hero, then began sprinting in the direction of my hotel. Before I could get to the end of the block, the rain stopped and the sun came back out. Ah, Scotland weather. As a Chicagoan, I have fond feelings for challenging weather, so I tied my rain jacket around my waist and continued my wanderings.
In the evening, my friends arrived after slogging through two layovers in two different countries. We were all in that slippery state of half-exhausted, half-exhilarated, so after a quick freshen-up, the four of us went for a few pints at the BrewDog DogHouse. After we grabbed an outdoor table, two locals asked if they could share with us. They began dispensing local tips, mostly consisting of how to properly trash talk each other’s favorite football club, when it’s acceptable to drop the c-bomb in Scotland (all the time), and the importance of ending a night of drinking with pizza crunch (i.e. deep-fried pizza). They also jokingly warned us of wild haggis potentially attacking our car in the Highlands (i.e. the Scottish Jackalope, but with way more fabulous hair).
After drinks, we said goodbye to our table friends and grabbed dinner at an excellent tapas restaurant. On a stomach full of sangria (speaking for myself), we explored the City Centre at night. I love being this far north in the world, where the nighttime light looks soft blue and magical.