Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Ireland/Scotland Trip: Day 4 (December 11)

The morning of the 11th was an extremely early one for Sarin and I. We had a 7:30 am plane to catch to Glasgow. We had a show set up there at The Captain's Rest, but the venue somehow got double booked and the show was changed to a different venue (The Box) at the last minute. This abrupt change in venue, along with a few other things, was enough for a few members of the band to decide not to play the show in Glasgow, so I decided to play the show as a solo show.

Sarin and I took an early taxi out to the Dublin airport to catch our flight on Ryanair. We had heard horrible things about Ryanair, (there is even a song that talks about how horrible is supposedly is), but our flight was just fine. I guess it helps, though, that we didn't bring any luggage and that the flight was only an hour from Dublin to Glasgow. In any case, we got to the Prestwick, Scotland airport around maybe 9 or so, and by 9:30 we were on the train into Glasgow. The train ride to Glasgow was gorgeous. We saw the ocean, beautiful countryside, and some medium sized cities like Irvine and Johnstone. The palette of natural color in Scotland seemed really different from every place I've ever seen in the States, and even quite different from what we saw in Ireland. The countryside was green, but much of it was almost a grayish-green or something. I've never seen anything like it. Also, the texture of the landscape, for lack of a better word, was very different from any other place I've seen. It's really hard to describe, and I'm not remembering it perfectly unfortunately, but it was such an amazing thing to be immersed in a natural environment that is so utterly different from what we experience here in Idaho. We really wanted to take some photos, but we couldn't get anything decent on a moving train.

After maybe an hour, the train arrived in Glasgow at the central train station right in the city center. The first thing we noticed as soon as we got off the train was just how bone-chillingly cold it was, and a humid cold at that. All I was wearing was a hooded sweatshirt, and that definitely wasn't cutting it. The train station was pretty dang cool looking, even though the restaurants there were overpriced. Here's a photo of the station:

After we ate good, but overpriced, bagel sandwiches for breakfast, we ventured out into Glasgow. We had only two things on our agenda that day: 1. meet my friend Duglas Stewart from the band BMX Bandits at Mono record store/vegan cafe, and 2. play the solo show that night. We had plenty of time until we were supposed to met Duglas so we walked around in Glasgow for a while looking at the shops. From what I understand, Glasgow has a reputation of being kind of a dirty industrial town, but Sarin and I thought it was really nice. It was different from Dublin in that there were more tall, skyscraper-like buildings, but there was some really beautiful architecture. Here's a few photos from our wanderings in Glasgow before lunch.

We stopped in a gift shop where you could get Scottish souvenirs (I got a keychain, but it has already fallen apart, sadly enough), a book store (it almost seemed like the Scottish equivalent of Barnes and Noble or something), a few clothes shops (Sarin was looking for a scarf), and an internet cafe. Soon enough we had to get serious about finding Mono (which is owned by Stephen Pastel of, well, The Pastels) so we picked up the pace, but unfortunately got a little lost before we received some help with directions. Finally, we reached it. Here's a photo:
When we got inside it didn't take long to find Duglas and get a table in the Cafe. We had a really nice chat (including some great stories from Duglas about his days as a TV producer for the BBC), and we had some really nice food. Sarin doesn't eat meat, so the fact that Mono is entirely vegan was awesome. For once she could order anything from the menu. I had the Greek platter with some of the best hummus I've ever had. Sarin had a vegetable pie that she loved, and Duglas had vegan Bangers and Mash. Thinking back I should have gotten that too, since they don't have a lot of Bangers and Mash in Idaho, oddly enough.

Then we looked around at the Monorail record store that was all part of the same building. Here's a photo:

Often Stephen Pastel is working at the store, but, unfortunately he was off that day. I did, however, get a chance to pick up a copy of a rare Pastels 12" single. Apparently, they thought the single was out of print, but more copies surfaced in the warehouse so they had some in stock. Score! Where else is something like that going to happen? The store was small, but the selection was excellent. Unlike a lot of stores, they don't seem to be trying to be all things to all people. They know their clientele and do an excellent job of catering to them. Duglas ended up getting a Sun Ra Doo Wop album (That's a sentence I thought I'd never be typing.) I ended up getting the aforementioned Pastels 12" and an Ivor Cutler CD for my sister Rachael. If the exchange rate weren't so against us, I easily could have bought another 10 discs without breaking a sweat.

After we were done at the record store, we decided we'd better check into our hotel. We were all set to get a taxi until Duglas told us we were within a half hour's walk from it. Very generously he offered to walk us there. What an awesome guy. On this walk, we got an even better sense of what an amazing city Glasgow is. We stopped in at their Modern Art Museum (which was free) where they were exhibiting the work of Bridget Riley. After that, we saw at a winter carnival with ice skating, rides, and booths. Here's some photos:

And here's one Sarin was talking about days later:

We continued on to our hotel and saw a few amazing street musicians, including these guys:

Soon, we made it to our hotel:

After a couple hours of chillin' in our hotel room, we got dinner at a noodle house and went to the venue. I played with a couple cool acoustic acts (including The Lonely Souls) and lots of folks seemed to like my set. I also had a pleasant chat with Chris from the band Washington Irving, who tends bar at the Box. The highlight, of course, was getting to play "Scotland" in Scotland for a member of one of the bands I mention in the song! Here's a photo (with near Satanic red eye unfortunately). Duglas is the one near the front of the stage.

After my set, we said goodbye to Duglas, and it wasn't too long before we went back to our hotel and hit the hay. What an amazing day! Thanks so much to Duglas for showing us around and hanging out.

And thus ends day four.

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