The great Scottish whirlwind weekend
Being that some of my closest friends are from Scotland, you'd think I would have visited sooner. This October I finally made it up north for a long overdue inaugural visit to the land of kilts, haggis and the nicest people on the planet. The reason for my visit wasn't for pure tourism like most. Earlier in the year, my lovely and dear friend Elaine (above with the snazzy shades on), somehow convinced me it would be a good idea to go to Glasgow and run the Great Scottish Run. [Rain included of course]. When I signed up I didn't think much of it. Once I was there.... a 10k was the last thing I wanted to do haha. I did do it anyway and it was totally worth it.
I flew into Edinburgh and was greeted by abundant sunshine (luckily). Given the busy weekend of events I only spent a few hours in the afternoon in Edinburgh but it was enough to have a quick glimpse of this charming city. After a tasty lunch of Scottish fish & chips we strolled the High Street and older part of town. I have to thank Elaine for being a fantastic and entertaining guide. This city is delightful (for lack of a better word. I actually had to look up on theasurus some others words because I kept getting stuck on lovely and charming. BUT IT IS.)
Next stop was Glasgow. Just a short train ride away from Edinburgh we hopped on and made our way to Elaine's parents home. Now, everyone says they have a lively crazy family and I think to some extent every family has these qualities. However, being greeted so warmly by a full house of lovely Scottish people takes the warm fuzzies to another level. I have known Elaine for years and met her parents and sisters in Spain, not in their home territory. We were welcomed with hugs, food, drink and smiles. (Not to mention the extended family who was also there for a birthday celebration.) I admit, I have had a very rough year that has been quite the rollercoaster so being taken into a cosy home and treated like just another one of the family was a feeling I welcomed with open arms and basked in. If you're ever down, go find a Scottish person and have them hug you. Instant recovery.
After a deep sleep with full bellies in warm beds we set out to see the sights of Glasgow. We were greeted with another blazing sunny day. All the while Elaine insisted that it does indeed rain there all the time and this was just by chance. I spent most of the day questioning her weather knowledge. :-P
Like many cities, Glasgow has the tour bus that lets you hop on and off where you please throughout the day with the purchase of the day ticket. I'd never tried this (I had seen it in Madrid) and it was surprisingly quick and informative.
Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo's)
By now you know I love cathedrals. Or at least I would hope so because I tend to never shut up about them whether is be on the blog, Twitter, Instagram or real life. I'm a cathedral junkie. Glasgow Cathedral did not disappoint.
The cathedral is from the 12th century, dedicated in 1136. The history goes that the building sits where Saint Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow originally built his church. Saint Mungo lived in the 6th century and founded the city. The church is a fine example of Scottish Gothic architecture and according to Wikipedia, is one of the few Scottish medieval churches to have survived the Reformation unscathed.
Just across the way from the church on Castle Street is the Provand's Lordship built in 1471. This is one of the few remaining medieval buildings in Glasgow and it was noted that this is the oldest home in the city. It was most likely built for clergy or church support staff.
University of Glasgow
Our last stop of the day was to Elaine's alma mater. Founded in 1451, it is one of the oldest English-speaking universities in the world. For Harry Potter fans, it was reminiscent of stepping into Hogwarts. My phone was dying as we arrive so I was only able to snap a few photos but enough to share its beauty.
Though I strive to keep my posts focused on the historical sites and visits, this race needs to be shared. It was extremely uplifting from start to finish (all 10,000 meters of it). The race started next to George Square and did some comfortable loops around the city center. I've races in my time (just started up again a few years ago, when I was younger I did cross country and track competitively) and this was by far my favorite. The atmosphere was electric even before starting. At each 1km mark there was a bagpiper piping away to let you know you're distance. It was encouraging and entertaining to have your distance marked in such a musical way. There were live choirs and music throughout the race that served as helpful motivation when the going got tough.
The best part was the complete strangers genuinely cheering you on. For anyone who's done a race, we have those moments when we start to think why the hell we decided to do this in the first place. This is around 7k-8k for me, which is coincidently when my knees start to burn like a thousand fiery sun flares. This was the moment a sweet old couple patted my shoulder as I hobbled past and encouraged me to shuffle and that the end wasn't far. They didn't need to do that but it was what I needed in that moment. Scottish fairy god grandparents to cheer me on. I made it to the end in one piece.
My first visit to Scotland was a whirlwind weekend of family, tourism and 10k! I intend to have my next visit be less running and even more family and history!
A special thanks to Elaine and her family clan for being great hosts and race supporters. Not to mention her darling sister Claire who was my 10k buddy!