Sure, they used to hang folks from the gallows here in Grassmarket Square. All that remains today, however, is the brightly colored social center of Edinburgh, with luscious pubs, fabulous and diverse food, and boutique shops for cheese, antique maps & books, clothing, and 16th century structures repurposed as entertainment venues. Love it!
The title of today’s blogpost refers to the innate modesty of the lovely Scottish people, and indeed the UK in general; though Glasgow is a beautiful fall colored city with its muted cinnamon, red, and yellow bricks soot stained by centuries and often rehabilitated for the 21st century by modern neon signs and decor, the vestiges of Gothic religion dominate its architecture, its ruins, its iconic locations, and ultimately the feeling that any good thing that inspires passion ought to be tempered back down to reality, lest it be crushed under its unassuming ambitions.
We are day 2 wandering in Glasgow after a lovely rainy afternoon with relatives yesterday. I shuddered at taking the hop on, hop off boss, given my general eye rolling experiences back home in San Francisco with such things, but it proved to be an efficient way to see the city and decide where to go, given that we are only here a weekend. Glasgow city & west end feel largely San Francisco sized, all things are walking distances, there are lovely cobblestone and brick promenades all over the place, and Glaswegians are on the alert to step outside in a jiffy if there’s a break in the clouds and the sun comes out.
The picture today was on my way walking to Glasgow Cathedral, a reminder there are still bits of 1800’s buildings that will be NOT be preserved for the ages. They’ll eventually be knocked down, modernized, replaced with new things. That’s Glasgow’s reinvention of itself, and the city holds a fond place in my heart for this trip and a return; there’s far too much to do here than a weekend allows.
Ah, The bus terminal. The old American tradition of the 1950’s – 1970’s until it began it’s long slow decline to a reputation as a refuge for society’s marginalized, its homeless, its drifters and beggers and miscreants alike. Transit is always fun for people watching, but taking a Greyhound bus cross country takes it to a new level. A Scottish musician trying to make it big “I’m going to LA!”. A rotund elderly lady who forces the bus to stop in the Arizona desert because she doesn’t want to throw up around the other passengers (she sprinted to the back of the bus, and we all watched her heave). The dreamy throwback hippy millenial with her tie die and long straight hair all scarfed up. A wisecracking Asian bus driver, telling jokes that only a few of us understand, but we laugh because he’s laughing so hard at himself.
In any case, you’re looking at something temporary in this picture; By late 2016, San Francisco’s ultra modern Transbay Terminal (e.g. our first true Grand Central Station) will have opened, and the terminal before you will become a park with skyscraping views of shiny glass towers, with folks on lunch break nibbling their organic wheatberry salads as they sit awkwardly in the grass. Go West and gentrify, by gum, and don’t forget to bring your Pez dispenser!
Oh, sure, there are curmudgeons out there who would complain that taking San Francisco’s transit system is almost as fast as walking, but they also likely whine about every little detail that doesn’t meet their fancy, in the manner of many city millenials.
I love our transit system, it’s colorful, interesting, I can get anywhere in this 7 square mile peninsula head with nominal walking if I want, and the people watching simply can’t be beat.
If you visit our fair city, come into SFO airport, take the BART into the heart of the downtown, take the light rail or buses to the Great Highway, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, walk the diverse neighborhoods with layers on as the microclimates shift rapidly, and partake of world class food and culture.
There, feeling better?
I did the Friday night ramble out into my lovely city to take in the floating wisps of cloud cover and crisp, cool air that signify fall here in San Francisco. I picked up some new Teva sandals and finally threw away the beat to hell sandals I’d been wearing all through my Saba trip, and damn, they felt comfy.
I slung my little camera at my side like a tourist, snapping every few blocks, which prompted several tourists on the waterfront to ask me to take their picture. I always worry about that one time I’ll take the picture, and they’ll look at their little iPhones and wince and say “No, No, No,” indicating my picture quality was suspect, but what the hay, ya gotta be nice some of the time, build up karma capital.