Touring Glasgow by Foot and Subway (With a Stop for a Concert)

On the banks of the River Clyde
The Glasgow Cathedral seen from the Necropolis

My Fitbit says I walked 22,148 steps today and I’m feeling every one of them. We started out this morning at the crack of dawn which in Glasgow at this time of year is around 8:00. We headed to the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis, a huge cemetery on the hill behind it. Everyone told us it was the best place to get a view of the city and they were right. It may be the coolest cemetery I’ve ever visited and it was worth the walk. (I’ll be uploading pictures to the Scotland section under the Photos tab soon.)

From there we headed to the Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace, an eclectic little history museum with the huge terra cotta Doulton Fountain in front. We hoped to visit the Winter Gardens greenhouse but we found it’s been closed for repairs so we continued on for a long, scenic walk along the River Clyde.

John Whitener, tuba player with RSNO

We made our way back to the hotel for a little rest before heading to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra center for an afternoon concert. We were looking forward to this concert because the RSNO’s tuba player, John Whitener, is from Maine and once took lessons from Paul. As we entered the lobby, we were delighted to see a life-size poster of John with his tuba. The program was short, La Bagarre by Martinů and Dvořák‘s Symphony No. 5. I wasn’t familiar with either work. I thought the Martinů piece was strange but I really liked the Dvořák. Afterward we met John and went to a coffee shop to chat. As the only non-tuba player at the table, I couldn’t contribute much to the very technical conversation that ensued, but it was fun catching up with him and hearing about his life since I last saw him, more than 20 years ago.

River walk in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

We had some daylight left and it wasn’t raining yet, so we then headed to the subway for a trip to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. The Glasgow subway is one of least confusing I’ve ever seen. It’s just one line, running in a circle. You can take the outer train running clockwise or the inner train running anti clockwise (as they say in the UK) but it doesn’t really matter because eventually you will get to where you want to go. At the Botanic Gardens we found that the Kibble Palace, a large greenhouse, was already closed (winter hours) so we watched workers setting up lights for their Halloween program, GlasGLOW. We then took a long, beautiful walk in the twilight along their river trail, and then took the subway back to the center of town for dinner at a pub (beer and pies).

We thought about looking for some evening entertainment, but those 22,000 steps took a lot out of us, so we went back to the hotel for some needed rest.

London to Glasgow By Rail for a Night at the Opera

Theatre Royal Glasgow

One of the best reasons to travel is to actually see all those places you’ve only read about. I read a lot of novels set in the UK and Ireland and I watch a lot of shows from the BBC, so I’m happy that I get to see a little bit of Scotland on this trip.

We landed in London yesterday but only spent one night there before hopping on a train to Glasgow this morning. We had been warned that trains to Scotland are often late so we weren’t surprised that the Virgin Train left London 20 minutes behind schedule. Then there was a freight train up the line somewhere that was mysteriously disabled causing a backup that delayed us another forty minutes or so. Other than that, the train was actually quite pleasant. The seats were comfortable and the view out the window was interesting. I think I saw more sheep today than in all my previous 69 years of life.

Glasgow Street Mural

When we finally arrived, we quickly checked into our hotel and then set off on a short walk to see what we could see. Our plan was to go to Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis where we were told we could get the best views of the city. Along the way, we were distracted by some of the amazing street murals on the buildings we passed, so by the time we reached the cathedral, we were too tired and it was too late for us to climb the hill to the Necropolis. Maybe tomorrow.

After dinner we made our way to Theatre Royal, home of Scottish Opera, for a performance of Tosca. It’s a lovely hall and a lovely opera. We have seen Tosca many times and sometimes I think we’ve been spoiled by the Met Live in HD performances where the sets and costumes are spectacular and every aria is breathtaking. Tonight we saw a very respectable show without the glitz and glamor and top-name stars, but an enjoyable evening all the same. Each time we see Tosca we hope for a happier ending, but tonight was like all the others. She jumped.

Tomorrow we spend our second day in Glasgow and I’m hoping to take more pictures. The internet in our hotel is unreliable, but I’ll try to post some in the photos section.