~ Reminiscing, Recommendations and Regrets ~
3. More than words
On our first day in Glasgow, I had to have lunch at the Solid Rock – I had seriously been looking forward to going there for years. First, it was RPL’s favorite rock bar (he had been talking it up forever), and it has a skull in its logo 😀 Very much me, the punk rock rebel type. RPL was very much like that as well, we were so alike in so many ways. Also, the Solid Rock plays my kind of music: rock and punk (among other genres), and RPL and I always had a strong music connection. We spent countless times over the years staying up all night listening to music and discovering new music through each other. Some of my favorite bands to this day are ones he told me about – Stereophonics, Runrig, The Distillers, Off With Their Heads, Gun. It actually became a thing where he’d mention some band or song and inevitably I’d say “oh, I never heard of them.” He’d just say “yes, you have” and send me a video link. I’d open it, listen for a second and type back “oh yeah, I do know them. lol!” I remember specifically one time he was talking about the rock band Extreme. I said I’d never heard of them. Then he sent me a video link for “More Than Words” and I was like “omg I’ve always loved that song!” I’m sure he was just shaking his head at me. For some reason, that’s the song and instance that’s stayed with me. Actually, it’s probably a little embarrassing to say it got to the point of being a thing, because it means that I either had a horrible memory or just haven’t been paying attention to who was singing these songs I listened to. But right now after all these years, I’m thinking about it and hear him say “yes, you have” and it makes me smile. Anyway, those are some of the reasons I had been excited about finally going to the Rock. I felt like I had a history or connection to it already. It was quiet when we went because we were there in the middle of the day, but the food was good and the music was awesome. (It has since become my go-to bar now when I go to Glasgow, and I dragged my sister there with me on my last visit).
Christine and I went back to the Solid Rock later that night because they were having Quiz Night. We found a table and worked on our team name – I think we came up with California Dreaming (being that we’re from California). A couple local guys came to share our table, and we all playfully covered our arms over our papers as if to say “don’t look at our answers!” Though I think we ended up helping each other out anyway. The first question asked was “what is the legal age in Scotland to drive a bus?” Christine and I just looked at each other like “uhhhh….is this how it’s going to go?” Fortunately, the questions got a little broader. After the quiz was done, Christine went up to the bar to turn in our paper. I was checking my phone and after a bit I looked up for her because it was taking her a long time to get back. I was surprised to see her up near the bar, playing a card game of High Low. The further she got up the pyramid, the larger the crowd got. I pushed my way to the front and watched her win the damn game! We (mostly she) won Quiz Night and we walked out of the pub close to £500 richer.
A night or two later, Christine was tired and wanted to retire early, and I wanted to go to the Solid Rock once more before we left Glasgow. I walked to the pub (which coincidentally happened to be only a few blocks from where we were staying at the Hotel Indigo), found a corner table, ordered a Guinness and just people watched and enjoyed the music. I walked back from the pub late that night, all by myself in Glasgow, feeling so independently alive. I had no qualms about being a foreigner in another country. I felt completely at home and remember wishing it could have been so.
While based in Glasgow I took a couple day trips with RPL that I’ll go into later, and the rest of our time in the city Christine and I developed a slight routine and did some sightseeing. We started each morning by grabbing lattes at Café Nero (which became my new favorite coffee place and where I first developed my obsession for Stroopwafels). We walked along Buchanan Street (the main, pedestrian-only shopping boulevard, which is a must) and had lunch at the Willow Tea Rooms (a beautiful restaurant with an interior inspired by Glasgow-born architect, artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh). It really was lovely inside, his work is just exquisite. Keeping with the Mackintosh theme, we also visited The Lighthouse (great views from the viewing platform), the Glasgow School of Art and went on the Mackintosh Building Tour. The building was so beautiful, especially the library. Christine and I were both absolutely gutted when we heard about the two fires to the building a couple years after our visit. The loss is heart wrenching.
Of the two cities we stayed in, Glasgow was my favorite. After my second visit eight years later, it is still my favorite. It just speaks to me and my personality more. I’ve heard people ask, as they’re planning their first visit to Scotland and already intending to spend time in Edinburgh, whether they should see or skip Glasgow. Definitely do not skip Glasgow. Though it’s really not fair to compare the two cities, they each have so much to offer with different vibes. I only touched the tip of the iceberg on this trip.
That I didn’t take more pictures. I would later learn about this magical invention called the SD card for my phone 🙄
Chapter 2: Wide-Eyed Wonder