Welcome to Mackintosh

July 1, 2011 Comments Off

All the traveling (and walking) was starting to catch up to us, so we slept in a bit, then started cooking a big breakfast. When at the store, I found a thing called the “Traditional Breakfast Pack” including Pork Sausage, Beef Lorne, Fruit Pudding (not actual pudding), and Black Pudding (also not pudding). This and a couple of eggs was just what the doctor ordered, assuming that the Doctor was Scottish and making you breakfast.

We started the day back on the main shopping street, Buchanan St. It was vaguely reminiscent of Paris, since there was a lot of art nouveau architecture due to the influence of Rene Mackintosh. We walked all the way to the end and had coffee in another Cafe Nero that was built into a little castle-looking structure that apparently used to be the subway entrance.

After a quick refresh we went back up the pedestrian mall to the main shopping center, and caught the metro out to the West End. The Metro itself was amazingly small. I swear the cars were about 5 feet tall, with doors that curved up the whole side so you could get in without crawling on the floor. Apparently they bought the whole system from the Mines of Moria when that place closed down.

It was fast though, and we were at our station quickly. I had advice from one of my buddies at Microsoft, Gerry, who is a local to Glasgow, that we should start at the Hillhead station, but I had a walking tour in my guide book that started at St. George’s Cross station, so instead of listening to the local, I followed the book.

Idiot.

St. George’s Cross was not what I would exactly call in a great part of town. We tried looking for the items on the walking tour, but we gave up as the neighborhood was pretty beat up, and just made for the cafe street recommended on our guidemap. This was a bit of a walk, and we were hungry for a good meal by the time we got there. This too, was not what I would call a very happy area.

We asked one of the passing locals where the better places to eat were, and in a dramatic change of pace, we actually started following the local’s advice. We walked past the university, and found an excellent street filled with shops and restaurants. It was full of students in Cap and Gown and their parents, as it was apparently Graduation day. It was really cool. Everyone was out having a great time and celebrating, and we found a nice place in a funky alley a few blocks down called “The Bothy” that had a great 2-course lunch meal, and was pretty swank to boot. After resting, having some great food and a few drinks, we headed back out to check out the area. I could see a subway station across the street.

Naturally, it was Hillhead.

We walked around for a bit, then hit the Hunterian Art Gallery to see the Mackintosh House. Apparently, after Rene Mackintosh died, large parts of his house were saved from demolition, along with the matching furniture, and the were assembled in full inside the gallery. Bits of the house poke out of that wing of the gallery, including the windows, and front door, which is about 10 feet off the ground, if it opened.

The exhibit is fantastic, very reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s house in Oak Park. All the furniture is made specifically for the house, in an amazing art nouveau style. The rest of the gallery was excellent as well, including a huge exhibit of Whistler’s work. Once we finished with the Gallery, we were beat and caught the train back at Hillhead to the center of town. We went to a local Tesco Grocery, bought some dinner, and headed back to the apartment.

I made us dinner of Steaks, Mushrooms, and Haggis Patties. This was my first exposure to Haggis, and it’s pretty good actually. Liver, Heart, Oats, and other ground up animal bits. My kind of food.

As a bonus, the TV was working again, so we watched a few movies and sacked out. Yulia and Sasha let me finish their Haggis for some reason.

Can’t imagine why.

Holland House Electrical Company LTD

June 30, 2011 Comments Off

We enjoyed another big breakfast with Emyr, who gave us directions to get out of Wales. Naturally, we used the GPS instead. There is supposed to be some point when you stop being stubborn and start listening to locals. We however, had not reached that point yet. So the next hour was spent driving past beautiful scenery, and usually driving right past the turn we needed. When you are out in the center of Wales the roads are narrow, twisty, and covered in sheep. We missed several turns because we couldn’t see them in time, and it was too narrow to turn around. One road was closed entirely. The GPS did a great job of recalculating on the fly.

It cost us an extra hour, but eventually we left Wales and made it to the M5. Once on the M5, it was pretty much a straight shot to Glasgow. We stopped at two rest stops for snacks and gas, but made fantastic time all the way up. We finally hit Glasgow a bit past 5, and found the block where our apartment was easily. We have 5 nights in Glasgow, so we rented a full apartment, which would have a kitchen and laundry, saving us cost in both food and deodorant. (A wash was a must by this point).

We had a confirmation number and a street, but it listed a range of addresses. It took a bit of walking up and down the block to find the door that had the small note on it letting us know that this was Reception, which closed at 4. I rang the bell anyway, and was getting ready to use the emergency contact number that was written on the note, when the door unlocked, and someone let us in.

We were lucky that the guy hadn’t let for the night yet, and he got us our key and showed us to our Apartment. It was a ground floor, exterior apartment. We went down to the sidewalk, and swung a creaky black iron gate open. Stairs led down to a landing below street level with a single apartment there. Right inside the gate, on the landing at street level, was a mosaic in the concrete.

It said, “Holland House Electrical Company LTD” around a company logo. Apparently the whole block was converted to apartments from whatever previous businesses were there. Interesting. We went down and checked out the apartment. The place was huge. Full Kitchen, living room, two separate bedrooms, and two bathrooms. We had a dishwasher and clothes washer.

I moved the car into the building garage, and brought the bags in. We immediately started a load of laundry, and went to walk around the town and find some food. the architecture in glasgow is fantastic, great, massive 19th century buildings in amazing condition. We wandered about for a while and accidentally ran into a Police Call Box (the same type that the Dr Who TARDIS is modeled on.) That was a cool surprise.

We eventually found a reasonable Italian place and had some dinner and wine. After that we fold a mini mart and got fixings for breakfast, some snacks, and wine for the evening. We walked back up to the apartment, opened the wine, turned on the tv, and discovered that the remote was out of batteries. I ran back to the Mini mart, got batteries, and ran back. Then we discovered that the cabe fitting was bad, and we only got BBC1 and 2. This gave us a choice of Some British talk show, and a sheep dog competition, in what sounded to be Celtic (with subtitles). We stuck with the sheep dogs and a lot of wine.

I will call Maintenance in the morning.

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