Monday, January 26, 2009

greetings from glasgow

My apologies if this seems a bit disjointed. I’ve had very little sleep (about an hour and a half) and am still reeling from a long day of travel and a full day of touring Glasgow, Scotland.

We experienced every sort of weather imaginable, from rain to snow to sun, all in the space of a few hours. I find myself having to re-think my ideas about “historic,” after visiting the University of Glasgow (pictured here in a close-up) and the Kelvingrove Museum.

I’m very drawn to Glasgow and to the people here. In a funny way, it’s not unlike the places I have lived before: industrial, a mighty river with remnants of a bygone era of water-based transportation and some very friendly, down-home people. Some characters too, but that’s for another day.

Glasgow is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, so it’s an especially exciting time to be here. What you and I call gentrification or rebirth, the people of Glasgow call a confidence; a brand-new set of inspirations and aspirations for a once-downtrodden city.

I am traveling with two other writers from outside of the states, the North American Scotland tourism bureau contact, the local Visit Scotland rep and our tour guide. They are a fun group and we’ve all had lots to talk about. I am staying at the Radisson SAS Glasgow for the first couple of nights, a fairly international hotel right in the heart of Glasgow. My room is divine and I am still getting used to the quirks of being responsible for my own energy use (lights and laptop turned on with my room key) and the lifts which go directly to my floor each time.

Tonight we are going to a fancy chips restaurant and tomorrow is my first visit to a Scottish castle, a trip to a golf clinic, and the thing I am looking forward to most, a Robert Burns poetry reading and workshop. In a couple of days we'll move on to an ancient estate for a night and then to a castle to stay outside of Edinburgh.

I will have lots more to write later. For now, I am falling over with exhaustion and a quick trip outside left me dizzy, watching cars whizzing by in the wrong direction, trying to catch a few familiar words from passers-by and generally just being overwhelmed with everything that’s happening. It is beautiful here, the people are also on the whole pretty good-looking, and I have a better concept of what it means to look Scottish already.