Chris' Previous Journal
August 19, 2010, Glasgow, Scotland
The Port of Glasgow is located in Greenock - about a 45 minute drive from Glasgow's city centre. We took the ship's shuttle into Glasgow and were let off at George Square, in the heart of the city surrounded by Victorian buildings, including City Hall.
The weather today was similar to the last few days - the sun would shine, then a few minutes later, rain. The temperature was a bit warmer - in the low 60's, but we dressed with our usual layers of clothing -- and of course, it was another bad hair day!
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, located in the country's west central lowlands.
After wandering about the square for a bit, we headed up the hill to the Glasgow Cathedral, one of the most ancient and historic sites in Glasgow. It is the only cathedral in Scotland that survived the Reformation.
Saint Mungo, who was responsible for the building of the Glasgow Cathedral is buried inside. Saint Mungo is known as the patron saint and founder of the city of Glasgow.
Saint Mungo performed four religious miracles in Glasgow and the coat of arms of the City of Glasgow is based on those miracles. In brief: 1) he restored life to a pet robin that had been killed; 2) a fire in the monastery went out, so taking branches from a tree, Mungo restarted the fire; 3) a bell which is thought to have been brought to Glasgow from Rome by Mungo and 4) Mungo caught a fish which had swallowed the ring of the Queen. The King had accused her of infidelity, but in fact, he had thrown her wedding ring into the river and the fish swallowed it.
Leaving the cathedral, we followed the trail to the Glasgow Necropolis - the "Great Grey Rock". The Necropolis is a burial site and contains the graves of more than 50,000 people.
One of the many memorials in the cemetery is that of William Miller, the poet and songwriter, who wrote: "Wee Willie Winkle". The cemetery is a mixture of mausoleums, monuments and gravestones. It would take hours to visit the entire Necropolis.
After leaving the Necropolis, we strolled down the hill headed back toward the city centre. Our first place of interest was the oldest house in Glasgow - built in 1471. It is in amazingly good condition, with a beautiful garden in the back. It's open to the public for viewing at no charge.
In the distance, we could easily see the seven-story Tolbooth Steeple, built in 1625 - 27. The steeple is topped with a clock and stone crown. Once, it was part of a large building, the Tolbooth, where the Town Clerk's office, the council hall and city prison were located. There was also a special platform where proclamations were read. It was the place to "see and be seen". Today, all that remains is the steeple and clock and it is located in the middle of a very busy thoroughfare, causing the vehicles to go around the structure.
Glasgow is a mecca for shopping fans - there are several large pedestrian malls downtown and highland tartans are readily available and very popular.
Reaching the Museum of Modern Art, we had a good laugh. There is a statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the museum and mounted on his head is an orange traffic cone. There are a couple rumors about the origin of the cone's placement - the first legend is that it was actually placed there by the Glasgow City Council, the second is that a drunk climbed astride the horse to "crown" the Duke. In 2005, after 20 years of the Duke wearing the crown, the Glasgow officials asked the citizens to end the tradition, but obviously, five years later, that request is being ignored.
Check out the photos of Glasgow, and you'll see one with the Duke wearing the cone. Glasgow photos page
The sun appeared just about the time we wanted to have lunch, and we found a wonderful outdoor cafe where we could enjoy people watching while we ate. It was an Italian restaurant and John ordered the lasagna, which he declared was almost as good as what he orders in Rome.
Following our lunch, I ordered espresso. They brought with the coffee, on the saucer, a piece of candy (or so I thought). Poor John - when I'm not sure of something food-wise, I always ask him to taste it to see if he thinks it might contain any gluten. So, he took a small bite and proclaimed it to be fine. After I devoured the entire piece, I learned it was sweetener for the espresso! Oh well - all I can say is it sure was good.
Glasgow and Scotland use the Pound, and today the U.S. dollar was .64 cents to the Pound.
We took a leisurely stroll back to the bus - the ship was making an early departure, so our day was over in Glasgow. Everyone, with the exception of two people, arrived early or right on time for departure. The bus waited for an additional 10 minutes and we left - without the missing passengers. We are assuming they made their way back.
All our tablemates were at dinner this evening, so we were able to catch up on everyone's day and experiences.
Taxes in Scotland (and all of Europe) are quite high on purchases. Most goods have a 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) included in the purchase price. Gasoline tax is extremely high - in addition to the 17.5% VAT, there's a 70% excise tax. In U.S. dollars, one gallon of gas at today's price would be nearly $7.00. I guess that's why we don't see many big pick-ups and SUV's on the streets here.
We're sailing to Portree on the The Isle of Skye, which should be a very fun and interesting day tomorrow. Scotland.