We are already leaving Scotland after three days and heading off for our four-day vacations. I can’t believe it’s all gone by so fast. Edinburgh was the only city out of the ones where we spent more than one day (London, Cardiff, Dublin, Belfast) that I feel I don’t totally know my way around. However, what I saw of the city was beautiful.
Today’s blog post will not focus on Edinburgh, but Glasgow, because we spent our Tuesday there. Glasgow is actually Scotland’s biggest city, and one of the top five in the entire UK (when counted by the population living in the actual city itself, not in the urban area.
To start off the day, we had the awesome opportunity to visit the offices of BBC Scotland. We learned that, at least for the BBC Scotland, the outlook is actually looking up for the future, with new funding coming in, and a new all-Scotland TV channel being given approval. This was heartening to hear, as I am used to hearing journalists describe a doom-and-gloom outlook for their future.
We also visited the Glasgow Transport Museum, which was a very interesting experience. The museum was designed by the same designer, Zaha Hadid, who designed MSU’s Broad Art Museum (I’ll talk about architecture more in my Scotland essay, coming later this week.) The museum also featured interactive technology integration, and an extensive exhibit on ships. Though a lot of us are experiencing “museum fatigue” at this point of the trip, I found this museum to be very unique compared to most other museums I’ve visited, and definitely worth the trip. The transport museum featured a life-size replica of a train station, including a pawn shop, a pub, and model trains and buses you could walk into. It also had exhibits on other forms of transport, like ships, cars, and even skateboards.
In nearly four days in Scotland, I saw no sign of either of the Scottish languages—Scots or Scottish Gaelic. I did see one of the languages (I’m unsure which) on a sign welcoming passengers to Edinburgh Waverley station (the world’s only train station named after a novel) while on the train leaving Edinburgh.
A music update: while on this trip, I’ve been compiling a giant playlist of music (mostly alternative) from some of my favorite artists from the British Isles. While in Scotland, I’ve been listening to Cocteau Twins, a dream pop band headlined by vocalist Liz Fraser that originated in Scotland. You might know them from their biggest hit song, “Heaven or Las Vegas,” also the title of my favorite album by the band. Now that I have traveled through Scotland, I understand the connection between Cocteau Twins’ dreamy music and the landscape of the country they came from, which often feels dreamy, separated from the realities of the bustling cities nearby.
Junk food update: I also got a chance to try Irn-Bru, Scotland’s most popular soda. I have to say, it is one of the strangest tasting sodas I’ve ever encountered. It wasn’t something I’ll miss when I get home, but it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t finish my drink. It was definitely different from anything I’m used to. The drink is orange, but there is no orange flavor in it at all. In fact, the soda it tastes most similar to is Dr. Pepper. It has that same effect of being a strange amalgam of flavors.