42 hours with the Glaswegians

After the flight debacle which seemed like it would never end (and, in all honesty, it didn’t), I finally touched down at the Glasgow Airport, where the woman working at border control confused me by being incredibly stern and then underhandedly complimenting my taste in glasses. Shook it off, grabbed my bag from the carousel, and awkwardly hired myself a cab – into the city I delved.

Glasgow is a really cool city, contrary to what I’ve heard from some people. Being a Seattleite, it feels pleasantly familiar – I mean, there’s a substantial amount of rain. But there’s also a similar cultural vibe, as it’s a city that feels like people actually live there, it’s not just some tourist trap gallivanting around under the guise of authenticity. They have amazing restaurants and pubs with genuinely good food, and the people are SO nice (there is one specific instance of this which I will share later). Also, damn. Dat City Centre.

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As if all of this was not enough, I showed up to my quaint hotel and was promptly enveloped in the arms of my best friend, who I’d not seen since January. She smelled nice. And she hugged well. Umulu, I missed you.

Because of the Flight from Hell and the ensuing nail-biter-of-a-layover in Amsterdam, she had already been wandering around Glasgow a day before I arrived. Disappointing, but she also had scouted out the places worth seeing – we hit the high street (BOOTS! why oh why does this store not exist in the US), the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis (look up pictures of this place – it is insane), the City Centre… a good, quick little tour. This was followed by a charmingly typical pub visit, complete with a couple o’ pints and slightly inebriated men loudly reacting to a football match. We were even given wristbands by one of the barmen, and as he handed them to us he animatedly explained they’d be giving out “FREE PINTS IF SCOTLAND WIN!” I found this tiny little grammatical difference – treating Scotland’s team as a plural noun rather than singular – pretty damn endearing, although I can’t explain why. I’m a nerd, guys.

This marked the beginning of a leisurely evening spent in various restaurants throughout the City Centre – Em and I are both of the mindset that food is an integral part of any travel experience, valued over souvenirs and the like, and thus it is well worth spending a pretty penny on. We decided on a place called Slouch for dinner (she voted because of the menu, I voted because of the name). It was a trendy basement bar and cafe, with wallpaper and enormous booths and LIVE MUSIC. If you know me at all, you know I am a sucker for live music. So with my gourmet mac and cheese, my fancy cocktail (called the “personality crisis”), and my live acoustic set, I was a happy, happy girl. This feeling stuck with me through the champagne and chocolate fudge cake at a swish little Italian restaurant, although this is not a surprise. Friends and food. That’s what life is all about.

Shockingly, the next morning started with food. I know. Also three cups of apple juice. We embarked on an absolutely frigid doubledecker bus tour of Glasgow, which was SO COOL and I took too many pictures. I love cities that embrace the old and still let the new move in, and that’s exactly what Glasgow is. Such a fusion of time and culture. And speaking of fusion, we paid a visit to Kelvingrove, a museum which has everything from Monet paintings to stuffed flying possums to a really old coffee pot. While walking through, part of you wants to say “why…?”, but most of you wants to say “YES!!!!” Take a gander:

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IMG_0300Overall, Kelvingrove is a worthwhile stop if you’re ever in Glasgow, and it’s located near the absolutely stunning University of Glasgow campus. I thought my school in Washington was old and beautiful – haha NOPE.

The rest of our second and final day together consisted of afternoon tea (as could only be expected with my classy-ass hooligan friend), two more trips to Boots, and a very sad goodbye at the train station. Frown selfies were taken. The sadness was real. I dragged my suitcase out into the rain and wind, caught the shuttle to the airport, and said “seeyalatah” to Glasgow.

Now for the really enthralling chapter of this saga: a solitary all-nighter at the Glasgow Airport. My flight through Amsterdam was scheduled for six in the morning, so I figured it would “make sense” to just hang out at the airport for twelve hours rather than pay for a hotel nearby – I think I was right. I don’t know how many people would enjoy spending an entire night in a relatively small airport on their own, but it was honestly one of my favorite travel experiences. It was like seeing Disneyland after closing. I hung out at Starbucks and blogged, set up camp in the women’s bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth, bought myself a mix-and-match meal from TESCO at 2am… I was basically living the life. It was quiet. I had a multitude of outlets to choose from. Didn’t sleep a wink, but whatever.

So. Walked my luggage over to the check-in desks right when they opened at 4am, a smile on my face, knowing my travel woes had ended when I left Dutch soil. I say “knowing” because I was confident – not because I was right. Yes, dear friends, it happened again. Took my bag to the counter, handed the woman my boarding pass, and was immediately sent to the special services desk (I should just start going there first). I was informed that I would not be able to connect through Amsterdam for some reason I did not understand. I was very lucky that they automatically rebooked me on a flight through Heathrow, but the situation was still enough to send me back to Starbucks, frazzled and searching for an outlet, probably with zombie eyes. I collapsed in the corner and heaved my laptop out of my backpack.

This is when I will show you just how lovely the Scots are. While I was sitting there in my distress, a barista walked over to me and took my order – from my table. I began an attempt to respond, quite inarticulately, and then paused and said “wow, thank you for actually coming over here and asking,” to which he replied, “of course, you looked busy.” I explained the issues with flights and he was so nice and asked me questions and talked to me about Seattle – basically made my morning. Single ladies, if you’re ever in the Glasgow Airport, go to Starbucks and HUSBAND HIM UP. I should have. Except he’s probably ten years older than me.

And the rest of the morning is not very interesting, with the escalators and security and sitting in a terminal for an hour. The flights themselves I will probably include in the next chapter: arriving in Rome. Still can’t believe I’m here. No details yet.

I will leave you with what I assumed to be the “American” section of the TESCO in the Glasgow Airport. I laughed a little bit.

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Peanut butter, sugary cereal, poptarts, candy, and beef jerky: we literally eat nothing else.

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The coffee conformist

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Despite being a) an inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, b) a college student / generally sleep-deprived person, and c) the daughter of a triple tall americano addict, I never really got into the whole coffee thing. Up until I graduated high school, I would order lemonade at Starbucks, and for another two years after I never strayed from iced, unsweetened green tea. I had not consumed a drink with coffee in it until roughly six months ago. Tall, iced, non-fat mocha. I was annoyed with the sheer number of words I had to rattle off in order to get said drink, but I remember enjoying the unfamiliar rush of caffeine, describing it as “fun” to anyone who would listen to my chatter.

The next day, I repeated the process. This time, however, I felt like I was experiencing the physical symptoms of a panic attack, having so much energy coursing through my body with practically no outlet (sitting in lecture doesn’t require much exertion). I decided, at this point, that I was not going to pay five dollars a day for something that made me feel like my brain was out-growing my head. And then a week later multiple passersby witnessed me exiting Starbucks with a tall, iced, non-fat, decaf mocha in hand.

Due to the suburban lack of cozy, indie coffeehouses and my own laziness in the area of drink-making, the coffee thing did not present much of a problem while I was living at home over the summer. Upon my return to the city, though, it became quite the opposite – a coffee shop about a block away from campus lured me in with the free wifi and enormous peanut butter cookies, and who was I to ignore my forgotten flame, the mocha? In an effort to seem more chill and less high-maintenance, I dropped the “iced” and “decaf,” even though I have never been a hot drink person and I know quite well by now what caffeine does to my… wellness. The power of conformity, guys, I’m telling you.

And – I say this quite mournfully – now the non-fat mocha has pretty much become a part of my daily life. It seems as if each one I get has less chocolate and more coffee (particularly the one I’m drinking right now, which I accidentally ordered as a double-shot… when the barista asks, just say yes to avoid any potential awkwardness), and by this time next week I very well may be drinking my coffee black. The funny thing is that I feel like this has just happened to me. Like it has been out of my control. It’s, like, 8:30 in the morning, and I’m in this coffee shop full of books, Ella Fitzgerald’s voice reverberating off the walls, and I don’t want to be that pansy who orders an iced tea. You know? Chunky cardigan, hipster glasses, laptop open to WordPress, steaming mug of coffee; it just makes sense.

I didn’t want this to happen. But I suppose I just have to live with it now. Sorry, body. Sorry, wallet. Sorry, baristas who have to deal with me on a daily basis. Actually though.


On a separate note, my recommended songs of the week:

On the subject of lazy rivers…

Don't you feel like you're here drinking tea with me? Isn't it nice?

Don’t you feel like you’re here drinking tea with me? Isn’t it nice?

I decided to ditch the comfort of my bed today, instead electing to sit at Starbucks with a venti iced green tea and a chocolate croissant just waiting to be voraciously consumed. Yes, this is a really half-assed attempt to get the creative part of my brain to come out of hiding. But honestly I think it’s afraid of the overly garrulous women’s book club gabbing in the corner. So we will see how this goes.

Long story short, I just got back from a very fun and very humid trip to the one and only Orlando, Florida. I am jet-lagged. I am tired. I am recovering from an unfortunate sunburn. But I also have many a tale to tell.

First off, let’s have a chat about lazy rivers. Before this trip, my feelings in regards to lazy rivers were, you know, normal… neutral. I mean, they’re cool if you’re lazy and you have an innertube and there aren’t too many punks splashing around. But within the first day of floating along the river’s gentle currents, I was smacked in the sunburned face with a very telling epiphany: lazy rivers were created to aid stalker-type people. Really. Let that sink in. I don’t mean the dangerous, illegal type of stalking, but rather stalking of a flirtatious nature. Lazy rivers make it so incredibly easy to follow people around – in a normal pool, it is more justifiable to accuse people. Like, hey, you are purposely following me around this unmoving water. In a lazy river, however, you can’t say that. Literally everyone is going in the same direction at the same speed, at least generally speaking. Also, it is possible to touch people and be like, oops, sorry, I flail when I swim. Somebody’s (my) butt is bound to be swatted in a lazy river.

Here she is, the famous/infamous lazy river.

Here she is, the famous/infamous lazy river.

As you would probably expect, my family did the whole Disney World thing again. The first day, we went to the Magic Kingdom, which is as crowded as a theme park can possibly get. For some reason, my first thought that morning was “I’m just gonna be chill today, I’m not going to get pissed off at anybody.” Maybe I thought that because I know I’m a pretty irritable, albeit outwardly tolerant, person… but I’m willing to consider alternate reasons. Anyway, despite having many many happy moments involving castles, Peter Pan, and outer space, my brain was in rage mode that day. Does anyone else internally flip out at the people around them in line for no apparent reason? Like, a lady will be taking a picture of Scuttle from the Little Mermaid with her iPad, and I just silent-scream oh my god you look ridiculous GET OUT. I don’t know. I probably need to start meditating eight times a day or something.

We stayed at a very nice hotel, the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, which is sort of a mouthful so I nicknamed it the JDubs. My sister chose it because a) she is unhealthily obsessed with lazy rivers, and b) the hotel’s silhouette vaguely resembles that of Atlantis, which is her dream vacation destination (thanks a lot, Mary-Kate and Ashley). The lobby is grand and beautiful and it smells very nice, and our room was unexpectedly huge, with two balconies looking out over the expansive grounds of the resort. It was sort of ridiculous, but in the best way. There was much to be explored, and rest assured, we explored it all. Including the Ritz-Carlton next door. “Unnecessarily lavish” is the only descriptor I have for that establishment.

Lastly, I will try to bring some element of conciseness to this post with some “miscellaneous things I just can’t not talk about, also sorry for the double negative”:

  • I love squirrels and little lizards, both of which are abundant in Florida.
  • To Hugo from the French crepe stand: vous avez les yeux gorgeuous, and you can make me crepes ANYTIME.
  • I’m sorry to say it, but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter really wasn’t built for effective crowd flow.
  • The Beast’s castle in New Fantasyland is disappointingly dinky.
  • … But Prince Eric’s castle is superb and I’d like to live there. Preferably with Prince Eric, and also can I have Ariel’s hair?
  • If you want to irreversibly mess your hair up, riding in a convertible on the freeway is certainly the way to do it.
  • 80’s music is appropriate for every occasion.
  • Lots of Scottish people vacation in Orlando. Who would have guessed? Not me, obviously.
  • Sometimes religious chanting parades take place in lazy rivers. I also would not have guessed this.
  • There was a boy in the pool who kept throwing a ball at my sister every time she floated by. Really takes me back to the second grade, when flirting involved tossing rocks in your crush’s general direction. How suave of you, pool boy.
  • I go into a total depressed slump when I have to leave Epcot.
  • The only way to survive six-hour plane rides is to watch Friends and stare out the window with wonder in your eyes.

Alright, gang. I’m running low on tea and I have nothing left to ramble about. Sounds like this blog post is over.