Glasgow

Our destination today is Glasgow. We had debated before leaving the US whether to take a night train to Glasgow from London, but decided it was too expensive, so we’re taking a train that leaves at 9:43am and arrives at 3:15pm. It’s one of those trains that stops at almost every city along the way, so it will be a long trip.

We wait in the Euston station for the departure platform to be posted on the giant announcement board, like everyone else waiting for their trains.

Finally, about 9:20 it’s posted and those on the train rush off to queue for the track. We’re in car “A”, but car “A”, instead of being the first car head into the station, is the last car.

Nope, though it looks like a high speed train, it’s not. Nice enough inside, though not like the Eurostar. Unsurprisingly, there’s no security screening. We’ll stop at perhaps a dozen or more cities along the way. There is WiFi on the train. We’re reminded throughout the trip over the announcements of “See it, Say it, Sort it” – if you see anything suspicious, talk to “staff” or text it to the rail police so they can “sort it”.

As we pass in and out of cities and villages, I look out at the different types of housing. Mostly seen in the larger cities, there are certainly the tall apartment complexes with which we’re familiar , but in suburban areas of cities like London anyway, you don’t generally see much in the way of standalone single family residences, with land too expensive . So what are the different types of residential living arrangements here? I found this article that explains them to make sense of what I see. In smaller cities and villages, you do see single family residences and farmhouses.

Out of London, our train car isn’t particularly full; we reserved our seats, but some others are either unreserved or open until a later station like the one next to me. Stops at any one station aren’t usually more than ten minutes. At Birmingham, our car fills up quite a bit more.

As we move north, the landscape changes, first becoming more rolling, then rather hilly in some places with some mountains in the distance. There’s a lot of ranching with cattle and (lots of) sheep, but not much farming; I only saw an occasional corn field and some hay.

The last stop before crossing into Scotland is Carlisle. where there is an ancient castle . In various incarnations, there has been a fort here since Roman times; we can see the castle walls from the train as we pass by.

The thin red line is the Scottish – English border, but there is no visible evidence nor mention of it as we cross into Scotland. Geographically, It would be like saying you crossed from one county to another in a state in the US, though Scotland certainly doesn’t consider itself as a county. It is a country within the United Kingdom, with its own languages (besides English) , limited self-government and representation in the UK Parliament and a long, proud and tragic history.

One of the cities we pass by (but not stop in) is Gretna Green, which has a rather unique place in Scottish-English history. Due to the difference in minimum ages at the time required to marry, couples not old enough to marry in England would cross over to the first village in Scotland to marry, where the marriage age was much younger.

Not too long after passing Gretna Green, we pass by Lockerbie, site where the Pan Am flight 103 crashed after being bombed by a terrorist in 1988. No mention was made of the event.

The mountains give rise to sites for some wind farms and we see a number of wind turbines as we pass though the more mountainous landscape, but it’s not like the countryside is anything akin to the mountains of the Swiss Alps.

We arrived on time in Glasgow; Glasgow Central Station is a large station.

Glasgow central station

There are a number of shops that ring the inside of the central arrivals hall, from Boots (pharmacists), to WH Smith (books), restaurants and even a Krispy Kreme. We never had anything for lunch, but we’ll come back after checking into our hotel, which is just a few blocks away from Central Station.

This area of Glasgow is a mixture of old (like ready to be torn down) to spanking new high rise office buildings. The number of construction cranes are evidence that urban revitalization is ongoing in Glasgow. The city is divided by the River Clyde.

We’re anxious to get out in the succeeding days to explore the city and its surroundings. My second Great Grandfather immigrated from a city nearby to come to the US in 1841 and his brother immigrated as well, fought and died in the US Civil War. Immigrants, they made the US, no wall needed.

Our “welcome gift” (what the hotel calls it anyway) is unusual. Think I should try Haggis chips?

They can’t possibly be as bad as actual Haggis, can they?

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