Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

To those who celebrate it, Merry (and Minion-y) Christmas!

One of these days I'll actually act my age and not insist on decorating all of my presents in cartoon paper.

I have a feeling that day won't come for quite a long while though.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Back home

We headed home today, and I feel like I could stay so, so much longer. I loved spending time with my family, and I absolutely fell in love with Glasgow. From what I could tell, especially because it lost so much population (at one point, it was at 1.5 million, whereas now it sits at around 600,000), there's a hardiness to people. There seems to be a solidarity among them to pull through hard times.

Like I've said in previous posts, Glaswegians were just so friendly. And so very funny. It was truly a pleasure to speak to them.

One more shot of a kilt before heading out. But of course.

The flight from Glasgow to London was short and turbulence-free, so no complaints there. Sadly, we had a seven hour lay-over in London. So, just long enough to be incredibly boring, and just short enough to not be able to go into the city proper. We busied ourselves by going to Wagamama (a chain noodle bar I first discovered when I studied abroad in London in 2000) and people-watching.

The flight from London to Toronto seemed to take forever. We had a tailwind working against us, and for some reason, flights home always seem to go by slowly. I sat next to a guy from Austria who had traveled extensively, and we chatted about our travels and various road trips. In one of his visits to small town, Arizona, he was refused a drink since the bartender had never heard of Austria, wouldn't recognize it as a country, and thus thought his passport was fake. Oy.

I also passed the time by watching Love and Mercy, which was fantastic.

By the time we got to Toronto, went through customs, and collected our bags, we were pretty exhausted. Luckily, we were able to get right to bed and recover from our long travel day had a five hour drive home ahead of us.

I don't know that my mom and I have ever been that punchy before. We couldn't stop giggling and busied ourselves by playing the longest game of "Would you rather?" that I have ever played. Long road trips don't bother me, and driving 12 hours to a gig seems like nothing, but for some reason, that drive home from Toronto was brutal.

It was all worth it though. The trip was amazing and not one I'll soon forget.

And now, let the holiday festivities commence!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Swings and screams in Scotland

On our last full day in Scotland, we hopped on the Glasgow tour bus and took that around the city.

But, first, I made my mom go on these.

She protested quite a bit, but  by the time we were finally locked in, it was me who was freaking out.
A view from the air.
Despite being the only people screaming on the ride (children included), I am happy to report that we survived.

Here's a video of our little scream-fest.

Note that we still weren't brave enough to go on this:

After we were good and scared (and wind-blown), we hopped aboard the tour bus.

From there, we saw a bunch of sights.
More City Chambers because, well, why not, it's beautiful.
The Kelingrove Art Gallery.

After the tour, we decided to stop for lunch at this cozy Italian tapas place called La Vita Spuntini. It was in the university district, which was so cute. One of the best parts was (in addition to offering lots of delicious vegan choices), it had Christmas crackers. Naturally, I forced my mom to wear the crown her cracker contained throughout our meal. No pictures of that though, I'm afraid.

After removing our crowns, we met our cousin, Anne, at the pub for one last drink (or four).
 We ended up talking for hours, and our final goodbye was filled with many hugs and tears. I really wish we all lived closer. But, I suppose this is an excuse to head back sometime very soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Back in Glasgow

By Sunday night, I was pretty excited to get back to Glasgow. I loved Edinburgh, but it was a little too busy and touristy. While Glasgow is larger in population, I found it to be a more quiet city since there appeared to be fewer tourists. Plus, people were so friendly! And quick-witted, too. I've never been to a city where people are so eager to strike up a conversation and crack jokes with you. Even when we just asked for directions, people seemed to want to know where we were from; and in one case, after saying Detroit was the closest big city to us, wanted to know what our thoughts on the show Hard Core Pawn were.

We decided to treat ourselves by staying at the fanciest place to date, the Hotel Mercure. It was a block away from the City Chambers, and it was really nice. And I think my favor part about it was it had storm windows that doubled as a refrigerator since we put our beverages in between the two panes of glass to keep them cool.

On Monday, my mom joined our cousins to visit the Scottish country side, and I stayed back in the city. I decided to head to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, where I took these shots:

Modern art is my favorite type of art (especially performance art), so, unlike in Edinburgh, I actually took time to truly read about each exhibit, and my utterances were genuine. There was one piece about the Lockerbie bombing trial that was particularly powerful.

After the museum, I spent a fair amount of time living it up in our swanky hotel room (read: watching free cable), and at night, we headed to grab some dinner at Sapporo. I know this soup might not look the best, but hot broth and udon noodles in the cold and dreary weather really hit the spot!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last day in Edinburgh

Our last day in Edinburgh consisted of going to the Scottish National Gallery, walking around, and eating more vegan haggis. The last part is shocking, I know.

The weather was rather dreary (as evidenced here), so we quickly scurried to the gallery to get inside and get warm.

Speaking of weather, it was unseasonably warm while we were there (here's a sample of one of the newspaper stories).

And, it wasn't terribly rainy throughout the trip either. As one of our cab drivers remarked, "there's two seasons in Scotland: rain and lots of rain." So, we figured when Edinburgh got rainy and cold, it was to be expected.

The Scottish National Gallery was nice. I feel like I should say something kind of smart here about art, but, frankly, I don't know that much about art. I'm not even so sure what one is supposed to do at museums. I'm not afraid to admit it, but sometimes I just pretend to read the description of the pieces, I nod my head, and then occasionally will stand back, take it all in, and mutter "ah" as if some light bulb is going off in my head and that particular work's meaning and comment about life. Usually what I'm doing is simply wondering if anyone else is doing the same. Or, if I'm somehow missing the point. Or, if perhaps, rather than going to law school, I should have taken more artsy sorts of classes to be more cultured.

But, then I remember that I tell jokes in bars for a living, and suddenly, I don't feel so bad about my lack of awareness.

So, I suppose I'll leave my description of the gallery as "nice."

After walking around the gallery for a while (pretending you know what you're doing and that you belong is tiring, apparently), we were hungry, so we headed back to Henderson's. This time, our trip included chocolate (which, was, quite simply, heavenly).

On the way to the bus station, I snapped a couple photos, which I quite liked.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Edinburgh

On our second day in Edinburgh, we decided to take a sight-seeing tour. It was cold and windy up top, but we braved it for the views.

Our first stop off the bus was to the Edinburgh Castle. 

The wind was out in full force, so we walked around until we nearly got knocked over. Then, it was back on the tour bus and on to find a vegan restaurant (David Bann) that had been recommended to us.

We decided to be adventurous and get off the tour bus around where we thought the restaurant was. I love doing this sort of thing because you never know what sort of finds you'll stumble upon. We happen to stumble upon a place that had Scotland shirts for five pounds. So, we, naturally, stocked up. I'll probably be wearing Scotland attire into my fifties.

Eventually, we found the restaurant and warmed up with some risotto and curry chocolate pancakes. The food was good, but to be honest, I miss my new BFF, vegan haggis.

After dinner, we went back to our room and guessed it, more British reality television. This time, we were entertained by a show about grooms planning weddings and surprising their brides with all of the details. As you could probably expect, there was no shortage of crying nor dramatics. Just the way I like it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


On Friday, we set off to Edinburgh! Before leaving though, we decided to have a "pub lunch" since we had been hearing so much about them. I was expecting something exciting. Free beer with lunch, perhaps? A special sort of meal I had never heard of?

Sadly, I found out they are just lunches eaten at pubs. But, happily, they are super cheap (well, as cheap as one can get when the pound is worth a lot more than the dollar) and delicious!

On Thursday, we stayed at the Ibis City Centre Hotel (a super cute, and cheap...well, relatively, as indicated above), which is located in the western part of Glasgow (so much for city centre, eh?) and right by Bath Street, a road that home to a lot  of bars and restaurants. After walking by several spots, we settled on a place called LIFE.

LIFE had a traditional Scottish broth soup, which they veganized. That and a beer did not disappoint.

Yay first pub lunch!
We then headed to the bus station to catch a MegaBus to Edinburgh. On our way, we met the cutest cab driver who presented us with gifts upon leaving his taxi. He gave us light-up key chains and pens, declared his love for the United States, and shouted "God Bless America!" as we started to walk away.

I'm pretty sure we were the first people to ever take tourist photos at the Glasgow Bus Station. We'll follow it up by taking pictures at a garage sometime soon.
The bus ride to Edinburgh was quick and comfy, and not nearly as packed as some of the MegaBuses I've taken in the U.S.

After checking into our hotel, we made our way to Edinburgh's Christmas display. And I thought Glasgow "did it up" for the holidays! It was nothing compared to Edinburgh. The entire city seemed to be covered in lights, there were countless carnival-style rides, and we even got to see a light show set to choir music. Plus, there were tourists everywhere, so I got to hear so many different languages and accents. It was truly unique.


The woman behind me = clearly unimpressed.
The weather was nicer than we expected, but still cold. So, we decided to head to Henderson's, a local veggie place, for some dinner. I fell in love immediately upon entering. Man, the Scottish really know how to do cozy! The place was adorable, complete with lots of candles, arm chairs you'd expect to find in your living room, and live music.

I, of course, had to have the vegan haggis. Henderson's was so much different than the one at the 13th Note. The haggis at the 13th Note had a lot of "zip" to it, and almost seemed to be flavored with curry. Whereas this one had a whiskey "cream" sauce and was covered in a puff pastry that was to die for.

Reunited with my soul mate.
After dinner, we were pretty tired, so we retired to our hotel and watched British reality television (some dating show where people select a mate based on the food their date has cooked). 

On the way home, I made a new friend.