Glasgow is a vibrant living city, yet it is often overlooked by visitors to the UK. Although it was overcast with occasional rain, we were able to get out and explore and could not have asked for a better day.
Right down the street from our hotel are botanical gardens. The grounds are beautifully maintained and inside the Victorian style glass greenhouses are entire plant ecosystems including a rainforest type setting and desert. All of the plants are carefully labeled and it was hard to believe you were inside a building.
For years we have traveled to Europe without a phone and have successfully gotten kind people to ring a hotel for us if we were running late. Today, though, with Google maps and instant access to information, a phone is essential. My phone is unlocked and for $25, I was able to buy a 30 day SIMS card with 8 GB of data from Vodaphone. I can use it in France and Italy as well and it’s a better deal than I have in America. We also use the phone for a hotspot for the iPad.
Once the phone was set up, we turned on Google maps for walking and were guided to the home of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He was the most celebrated architect in the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Rather than following the ornate Victorian trend, Mackintosh designed his house to be open with muted colors and an air of simplicity. The hanging lights were actually ones people would want to buy today.
The Hunterian Gallery celebrates William Hunter: medic, researcher, author, midwife, teacher, and collector. He had a staggering collection of objects such as 7600 insects, Roman ruins from the Antoine Wall which extended across Scotland for 20 years, a gold coin from 294 BCE taken from the statue of Athena at the Parthenon, a mummy, and cabinets of curiosity containing organ specimens. Most curious was a chair where students sat for oral exams with an hour glass on top.
We stopped for lunch in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. David had a tuna sandwich mixed with cottage cheese which I didn’t think sounded good, but he said was great. The museum itself was amazing and featured a countless number of exhibits with one description for adults and one written for children in a large font. There were numerous animals on display such as tigers and giraffes. The museum acknowledged that long ago they collected many artifacts from amateur archaeologists but today it would be unethical to take things from other countries or buy animal specimens.
In the evening we went to the Sharmanka Kinetic Theater. Sharmanka ( Russian for barrel organ) is a theater of kinetic sculptures created by Eduardo Bersudsky. He originality carved wooden sculptures and then connected them to motors. The theater held 20 of us and started with calliope music and the figures moving. Then we moved around the room in darkness following lights and music. You never knew which creation would start moving next. Each moving display had music and was metaphorical. For example, A Time of Rats was about a difficult time in Russian history. Some of the mechanical depictions were creepy and like being in a house of horrors with moving ram skulls, a silk elephant’s trunk, and shoes moving up and down as a globe spun with a spinning umbrella on top. It was outright bizarre, but genius at the same time.
Other items used in the displays included a wheel chair, old sewing machines, pulleys, wheels, baby carriages, Venetian blinds, and pots and pans.
After the show it was raining so we headed back to our hotel with a stop at a restaurant Bread Meats Bread. The veggie burger was a sautéed veggie sandwich. Other options included a hummus burger or a classic grilled cheese. David tried their locally made Scotch, but I don’t really care for it.
Tomorrow it should be drier and we look forward to visiting the downtown area of the city.