Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Glasgow - The First Full Day

Glasgow – The First Full Day

At breakfast, Brian asked me how I slept and I told him very nicely that the noise both next door and outside had kept me awake. He said he was sorry to hear that. Ron chimed in with his not being disturbed at all and how he slept wonderfully. When I am not well rested, comments that are contradictory to my experience really makes me testy. I gave Ron that dagger look that said, “He was not talking to you. He asked me and I did not sleep well last night. If you have one more positive comment to the contrary, you are soon to become haggis.” Moments later, Brian came back to say that Room 2 was going to be vacant and he could move us to that room. It was at the back of the house and away from the living room. If we would pack our things, he would move them into Room 2 while we were out and after it was cleaned.

Breakfast was a typical Scotch breakfast according to Brian. Our food for the morning was a choice of three types of cold cereal followed by toast, two fried eggs, fried mushrooms, fried tomato, fried sausage, and a potato scone all with tea or coffee. It looked inviting. I ate some cereal, but soon realized this was a worthless exercise in working my jaw muscles. Hay and alfalfa would probably have more flavors. Being the adventurist that I am, I plugged forward with the rest of the meal. The only offerings my mouth could produce were textures and many of those were not pleasant without the flavors to distract me. The sausage here is soft in the center, though the outer casing is crisp. The texture alone is not pleasant and flavor definitely adds to the appeal. The potato scone was a flat triangle and held no interest since I would guess that under the best of circumstances, it would not be bustling with flavor. The eggs were like egg whites without seasoning. Need I explain that further? I ate about half of the meal and left the rest.

It seems that they don’t know what water mixers are in Scotland. All washbasins that we have encountered have a hot water faucet and a cold water faucet. I have yet to see one with a hot and cold-water mixer. Some even have signs advising that the hot water is VERY hot.

We found our way with the buses. The bus stop was about a half of a mile from the guesthouse. We bought day tickets to go to city center and that provided us with unlimited bus travel for the day.

Downtown Glasgow did not look that impressive last night when we took the taxi and it did not look that impressive now either. Edinburgh is a much prettier city, but then again a castle on a cliff does have some charm to add to the surroundings. Finding the tourist information center in St. George Square, Mr. Map went to get his Glasgow map and question the staff about the sights to be seen. Next door to the information center is a bakery. Actually, it looks like a slice of heaven for those of us who would rather eats desserts than proteins and veggies. The pastries were delectable looking. All of the pastry shapes had white or yellow creams oozing from them; some with chocolate coverings and others with caramel and toffee toppings, some layered and others not. They also sell individual serving meat pies and meat pasties. These are light flaky, lightly browned pastry with a sausage or other meat inside. It was all wasted on my tongue, so I had to savor them with my eyes only, but my stomach was begging for satisfaction. If this continues, I will be buying Prozac on the black market. We tried calling Michael again and left another message.

The information center suggested a city tour and we have found that this is the best way for us to get oriented is by taking the tour bus around town. The Mac tour bus has two routes; the blue route goes Eastbound, then back to the starting point at which the purple route continues Westbound to different sights. For 7.50 pounds for me and 5.50 for my senior friend, we were able to ride the tour bus for all of today and tomorrow. We took the bus around twice. Some sights peaked our interest, but not enough to venture off of the bus today.

It seems that this company called EasyEverything has done to Internet cafés what Borders and Barnes and Nobles have done to bookstores. All of the independent Internet cafés have closed down due to the above. EasyEverything, which was also in London and Edinburgh, has over two hundred computers with high-speed Internet service. For one pound, you can get from one hour to four hours of Internet connect, depending on the time of day and how crowded it happens to be when you enter. The time allotment is computer regulated and displayed on a screen as you enter. Instead of full computers, they have flat screens, mice, a video camera, and a phone at long workstations. There is no opportunity to upload files, download files, print, or any of the other services you can normally receive at an Internet café. This is why you have not heard from me before now.

While at EasyEverything, I tried Bank of America again, thinking that I had given them plenty of time to forget my past transgressions with the wrong password and they would welcome me back to the fold. Well Bank of America holds a grudge. They still would not let me enter the sight and I was getting more nervous. They did respond to my e-mail saying that I should call them collect. Now I had to figure out how to do that from a payphone, as we did not have a phone in our room at the guesthouse.

Needing a rest we went back to the house for a nap. Brian had moved our things into the other room as promised and the room was similarly comfortable. The beds were placed against the same outside wall toward the back of the house, so I was anticipating quieter surroundings. Interestingly, the bathroom was disabled equipped. There are only four channels here in Scotland and it is amusing to watch Ron try to channel surf with such a limited selection.

Afterward, we were relaxing in the living room and the other owner of the guesthouse came in to introduce himself. Graham, the other owner has owned this house for twenty years and he and Brian have had the guesthouse for seventeen years. He reiterated that the run of the house was ours. If we wanted to fix a meal in the kitchen, we were welcome to do so. He had his arm in a sling from a remodeling accident on the second floor. He and Brian have their own apartment up there and are remodeling the kitchen. He fell off of a ladder and broke his shoulder and arm. He explained how he usually does most of the things required in the house, but now he is incapacitated and frustrated at his lack of usefulness. Graham also confirmed that Halloween is a big holiday in Scotland. It seems though, that Christmas is not as celebrated as it is in the States. People go out for dinner or have Christmas parties, but it is not a humungous commercial adventure. The big holiday in Scotland is Hogmany. That is the New Years celebration that they go all out for with big lavish parties and a much larger celebration. After discussing a number of topics, he went over the directions for the local hotel restaurant and we decided to venture out to try and find it.

The hotel and restaurant are located in what was probably once a magnificent castle. Graham suggested we eat in the bar and not the restaurant as the menus were exactly the same, but the prices were different. Hungry, but frustrated with my inability to taste, I ordered a cheeseburger with jalapeno peppers with some hope that some flavor would filter through. Ron ordered a tuna salad sandwich. I had him taste mine to identify the intensity of the flavors for me so I can gauge how far off my buds are. He claimed there was quite a substantial pepper taste. I could not testify to it. I loaded my fries or chips as they are called here with salt, but there was no reaction on my tongue. Since it is useless to drink beer without tasting it, sparkling water or a soda is the drink of choice for now. I drank my Chinese medicine hoping for relief from the nasal problem, but more so to get my taste buds back.

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