My Guide to Glasgow: Sights

Glasgow doesn’t have a great reputation and many travelers skip over it when going to Scotland, but in my five months there I came to know and love it.  I truly believe it is a highly underrated city, and guidebooks don’t give great advice on what to do there.  So, for anyone that’ll be in that area, these are my recommendations.  If you have questions about anything else there, please feel free to ask.  I’ve also spent a lot of time in Edinburgh if you want any recommendations for there.

Necropolis take 2 011

The Necropolis. This, in my opinion, is the best thing Glasgow has to offer.  Latin for “city of the dead,” the Necropolis is a massive Victorian cemetery built on a hill.  That might not sound so appealing, but it’s absolutely incredible.  If you’re lucky enough to get some nice, sunny weather definitely head straight here.  While there, also check out Glasgow Cathedral aka St. Mungo’s (the patron saint of Glasgow), which is right by it.  The religion museum next door isn’t bad if you’ve got some spare time, but don’t bother if you’re trying to squeeze lots of things in.

Entrance

Entrance

Kelvingrove Museum and Park. The architecture of the museum is spectacular, and even if you don’t have time to explore the inside you must see the outside.  The inside is famous for the numerous sculptures of heads hanging from the ceiling.  When I asked an employee what they meant he said “nothing, they’re just meant to attract your attention upwards so you don’t forget there’s a second story.”  The inside of the museum is huge, and there’s lots to see.  The park is beautiful, and on sunny days hoards of people flock there.

uni of glasgow

University of Glasgow. The main building of the university is awe-inspiring.  You feel like you’re at Hogwarts.  You can also tour the inside, which contains the Hunterian Museum and numerous gorgeous halls in which people actually attend class and take exams.  From the university you have a view of the towers of Kelvingrove Museum.

Botanic Gardens

Botanic Gardens. I walked through the Botanic Gardens every morning and they’re wonderful.  I was in Glasgow from January to June, and flowers began blooming mid-January.  There are always flowers and they change frequently.  The daffodils are particularly nice.  There are two greenhouses which are free and worth a wander.  There’s an old police stand outside the gardens that is now called “Cop A Coffee” which is open sporadically.  You can stop at Oran Mor, the once church, now bar across the street, for a pint and meal outside.

20th Birthday! 005

St. George Square and City Chambers. This is a nice stop on the way to the Necropolis.  The square is busy and houses a few statues and a memorial.  You can tour City Chambers for free and it only takes about 20 minutes (although advertised to take 45).  The inside is lavish and luxurious, and boasts the largest marble staircase in the world, beating out the Vatican by half a flight.

Glasgow Museum of Modern Art.  I’m not a fan of modern art, but the statue outside the building is famous and worth seeing.  There is almost always a cone on its head; occasionally the police take the cone down but someone always replaces it.  Friends of mine who actually like modern art have said the museum is good, so if that’s your thing go for it.

Stuck in a Spanish Bathroom

When I was 16 I stayed with a family in Spain for two weeks.  It was a great experience and I’m glad for it, although the living situation wasn’t always comfortable.  Their eldest son was about my age, and had spent two weeks with my family in the U.S. before we both went over to Spain to stay with his family.  He was spoiled and childish, obsessed with World of Warcraft – let’s just say that spending four consecutive weeks with him was not pleasant.

I did, however, get along very well with his parents.  The father was one of my dad’s good friends from work, and I had known him for a while.  He and his wife were so welcoming and hospitable.  We spent the first week in their apartment in Benidorm and the second in their house in Laredo, outside of Bilbao.

Benidorm is on the Mediterranean and I absolutely loved swimming there.  If you stood still for a minute you could see huge purple fish swimming around your feet.

One of my funniest (and most embarrassing) memories from the trip occurred in Aqualandia, a water park there in Benidorm.  I had gone to the bathroom and was trying to leave the stall when I realized the door was broken.  I was stuck.

I hadn’t had any trouble getting into the stall, but there was a doorknob on the inside that I suppose wasn’t connected properly, and therefore wouldn’t open the door even when turned.  I tried pulling on the top and bottom of the door to no avail.  I considered crawling under, but I was in a bathing suit and didn’t want to rub my bare stomach all over the wet, dirty bathroom floor.

Finally, I stood on the toilet and looked out.  A couple women gave me confused looks and I stood there for a minute trying to remember my Spanish.

I made eye contact with someone “Um, ayudame?”  I asked.

She looked at me, not all that convinced that I was sane.

“La puerta,” I said.  I didn’t know how to say “stuck,” however, which was turning out to be an issue.

She stared at me for a second before walking away.

Oh God, I thought, I’m going to be trapped in this stall forever all because I never learned how to say “stuck” in Spanish.

I had learned the word for “broken” at this point in my Spanish education but couldn’t remember that under pressure.

Finally, after repeated entreaties of “Por favor, ayudame,” hoping I wasn’t being rude by using the informal command but unable to remember the formal one (my Spanish suffers greatly when I’m stressed), someone walked up to the door and gave it a little push.

It swung right open, leaving me even more embarrassed than I had been while poking my head over the stall.

Naturally, I couldn’t think of any way to explain and weakly said “la puerta….” a couple times before washing my hands and getting out of there as quickly as possible.

The Laredo part of my trip consisted mostly of hanging out with a bunch of people my age who spoke too quickly for me to keep up and referred to me as “la americana” as if I didn’t have a name.  Luckily, the scenery (though not my photo quality, sorry) was incredible enough to make up for that:

Laredo

Laredo1

Puerto Rico Pictures!

Sunset from the hotel window

Sunset from the hotel window

City walls

City walls

View from El Morro fortress

View from El Morro fortress

Old San Juan

Old San Juan

El Yunque Rain Forest

El Yunque Rain Forest

La Mina Falls, El Yunque Rain Forest

La Mina Falls, El Yunque Rain Forest

Where we swam in El Yunque

Where we swam in El Yunque

El Yunque

El Yunque

Puerto Rico 13 264

It’s a Love Story

Excuse the T-Swift reference, it was the first thing that popped into my head as a title and it just kinda stuck.  I apologize.

So, I have another story for you guys today.  Kind of long, but here goes:

When I first met Seth I was wearing my whale rain boots, sitting on the floor of the library reading from an anthology for my English 120 class.  I was sitting outside the door of a screening room, waiting to see a film for my Shakespeare class.  He came and stood beside where I sat.  When he started chatting with me, I thought nothing of it.  Because we were talking we sat together in the room when it was time to walk in.

When he came and sat next to me in our next class period I still thought nothing of it.  He was nice and funny and I enjoyed talking to him.  I had a boyfriend, he had a girlfriend.  We became friends, and started getting lunch at the dining hall together a couple times a week.

That’s my perspective.  I only learned his about a week ago, but here’s what happened:

He got to the library for the movie viewing.  There were two rooms and he set his stuff down outside one.  He went to the bathroom and when he returned, he saw me sitting outside the other room and felt like he needed to talk to me.  So he picked up his stuff and moved over next to me, where he stood for several minutes trying to figure out how to strike up a conversation.  Finally he decided to just talk about what I was reading, as he was also in English 120.

Normally, Seth would go to breakfast after his 8 am class.  In order to have lunch with me he started getting up earlier to eat before class so he’d be hungry again by the time I was free to eat lunch.

Our lunches were enjoyable and we talked about everything.  We got along really well and talked easily.

He would invite me to do things with his other friends sometimes, which I always rejected.  I wanted to go, but Jack didn’t like him, although he would never say so.  We kept having lunch, though, and sitting together in class.

I was in the airport about to leave for Glasgow when Seth texted me to wish me safe travels.  I realized he had no idea about my dad, and had to force myself to tell him.  I hadn’t had to tell many people – Jack had mostly done that for me.

While I was in Glasgow my relationship with Jack suffered heavily.  I never wanted to talk to him anymore.  I depended heavily on my friends there and, increasingly, Seth.

Seth was one of my only friends who actually checked up on me regularly while I was gone.  The girl who was supposed to be my best friend contacted me two or three times over five months.  I was the one struggling, grieving, the one who needed her, and yet I contacted her probably three times as often.

When I got home Seth and I met up twice over the summer.  In August Jack and I finally broke up.

Back at school Seth and I became closer and closer, and soon enough he was my best friend.  He was the one who could always cheer me up, make me laugh.  We understood each other, and he depended on me for help too.

I had feelings for him, probably had for a long time, but I was in denial.  I was starting to realize he had feelings for me too, which I worked even harder to deny.  I tried to friend-zone him over and over again, telling him about the dates I went on and asking him about his girlfriend.

When Seth realized he needed to break up with Sadie I helped him talk through it.  I liked Sadie and I didn’t want them to break up because I worried that if they did Seth and I would end up together and ruin our friendship.  I was still in denial.  The night they broke up I was on a date.

I got home and soon after he texted me that they had broken up.  He was upset, and I went over.  We stayed up all night talking and watching How I Met Your Mother.

Three days later he was at my apartment and we were lying on the couch watching A Very Potter Musical.  He turned and faced me, his face close to mine, too close.  It had gotten dark.  I was thinking Oh god, I should move, I shouldn’t let this happen, it’s too soon, I don’t want to ruin our friendship.

I didn’t move, and that first kiss was incredible.  I freaked out a little afterwards but he kept kissing me until I had to kick him out…because I had a second date with that other guy.

My second date didn’t go well – I couldn’t stop thinking about Seth.  I went on a third date with him anyway (so much denial), which was awkward and kind of disastrous.

At this point I finally realized what is now glaringly obvious: there was no escaping this.  Seth and I were always going to end up together, we were always drawn to each other.  It took me a long time to accept it, it took him a long time to get out of a long term, long distance relationship he had settled for, but we are so happy.

Puerto Rico

In the beginning of January my mom, Grandma, sister, and I went on vacation to Puerto Rico.  I can’t really say that I’m a big fan of the whole huge sky-scraper hotel thing.  I had a view of the beach from my window, but I felt it was marred by hotels:

Puerto Rico

Not that I can really complain.  But overall I really enjoyed the island.  We stayed in San Juan, and while the part we stayed in was much too commercial and touristy for my tastes, our trips away from the area were fantastic.

We explored the old town which was really interesting.  I really felt like we got a taste of Puerto Rico’s history – I loved the mix of colonial and Latin architecture and we visited the old forts.  One of them, El Morro, is shaped like a bull’s head, an unmistakable mark of the Spanish.

My favorite day was when we went into the rain forest.  We didn’t get to hike as much as I would have liked because my grandma couldn’t come and we didn’t want to leave her too long, but what we saw of El Yunque was incredible.  We hiked a little ways to a waterfall that everyone swims it.  We swam a tiny bit and then continued hiking.

Not many people continued on past that waterfall, and we found many more swimming spots, almost all of them vacant.  The forest was amazing and these natural pools even better.  On our way back down we stopped to swim in one and clamber around some on the rocks.  It was so surreal, swimming in beautiful, clear water in a rain forest leading up to a waterfall.  I was totally in awe.

Unfortunately, I have misplaced my camera cord and only have the pictures I took on my iPod on my computer.  I wanted to put up pictures of the place we swam but that’ll have to wait.

We also took a boat to a beautiful uninhabited beach and went snorkeling.  Pictures to come whenever I manage to get them on the computer!

I would recommend traveling to Puerto Rico for anyone outdoorsy who wants an active but still relaxing vacation.  The hiking was easy and enjoyable, although I did read that there were more vigorous trails as well.  The nature there is stunning and you can be active and enjoy it without exerting yourself too much.  I would definitely say that staying outside of San Juan would probably be the best option, though.

Grief

Despite the things I’ve been through, I normally have a very positive outlook on life.  I have learned to take the little things in stride, to accept what I can’t change and seek out what makes me happy.

Then some days are just bad.

Today is one of the bad days.

It’s 1:30 am, I should be in bed.  I have class tomorrow and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open but I hate going to sleep when I’m upset.  Something about lying in bed in the dark by yourself just makes bad feelings infinitely worse.

Grief is a strange thing.  It can hit you at any time, and it the weirdest ways.  The knowledge that it could render you completely miserable at any given time – watching a comedy, eating out with friends, etc – even over a year later, is awful.  It’s easiest to not think that way, to focus on being happy, on the present moment, but then it happens.

And  sometimes it’s just weird.  Today I was walking home to change before going to a basketball game with my boyfriend and some friends.  I was listening to happy music and enjoying the nice weather, feeling good.  And suddenly I felt like crying.  Not emotionally; all the sudden I was just fighting back tears.  It was purely physical.

Now, several hours later, the emotional part has suddenly hit me.

And I want to go back to Glasgow, but I want to go back to before my dad died.  But stay the same person that I have become.  Mostly I just carry a lot of sadness and wish I didn’t have to.

 

 

And to anyone reading, the next post will (most likely) be about my recent trip to Puerto Rico.  Much less depressing, so stick with me.

 

New hamster: GusGus

New hamster: GusGus

Reflections

A year ago today I was at my dad’s funeral.

A year ago today I was in a different relationship.

A year ago today I was best friends with a girl who prioritized seeing her boyfriend over seeing me in the wake of my father’s death.

A year ago today I was lost.

Today, I still grieve.  I’m in a new relationship that makes me incredibly happy.  I’ve finally gotten enough sense to cut ties with my supposed best friend, and I’m not lost.  I know who I am better than ever, and I am proud of myself.  After a year I am still in so much pain that sometimes I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me, but I also feel like a more whole, complete person.

Today, I know I can do anything.

Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland