Walked and walked uphill to find cathedral — worth the trek
On our little pop-out pocket map of downtown Glasgow, we seemed to be only a stone’s throw from the Glasgow Cathedral. What the flat map failed to show us was the uphill slog.
However, we made our way doggedly upwards through the campus of the University of Strathclyde, missed the turn to the cathedral, found ourselves outside the Royal Glasgow Infirmary, re-jigged direction, navigated crossing the roads and arrived at “one of the few Scottish Medieval churches to have survived the Reformation largely unscathed."
Built in the 1100’s on the site of an ancient wooden church founded by St. Mungo in the late 500’s, it was our first visceral experience of how drenched in history Scotland (like other “Old Countries”) is. After a while, so much history begins to feel somewhat oppressive. Everything is so layered with accretion on top of accretion: fascinating but at the same time so very heavy with century upon century of so many things that have happened.
|flowers in Cathedral Square|
|David Livingstone, one of several statues of famous Scots in Cathedral Square|
We left our luggage near the pews by the east window and joined a tour in progress.
A few minutes later, as we drifted farther and farther away, I began to worry that someone might take a liking to them —pot-luck theft, as it were. This caused further consternation amongst the cathedral volunteers, as one is not supposed to leave bags unattended and they are regretfully not allowed to check then anymore, for security reasons. So we ended up dragging them around with us down to the crypt and back, worth the trip but cumbersome.
We found out a lot about St. Mungo, aka St. Kentigern (Mungo was a pet-name given to him by St. Serf, the monk who helped raise him), including why the lamp posts outside were decorated the way they were. The four images are Mungo’s symbols and they each have a legend attached to them:
The volunteer guide was a jovial fount of knowledge: five stars for the cathedral, which incidentally, hasn’t actually been a cathedral (bishop’s seat) since 1690. It is part of the Church of Scotland, i.e. Presbyterian. I never did get all the denominations of Scottish Christianity figured out and I won’t bore you with all my difficulties trying to get them sorted.
Walked downhill to catch the #2 bus to the Kelvingrove Museum
The cathedral volunteers had put their heads together to advise us of the best way to get across town to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. After much more walking — all of it downhill, thank goodness— we found the bus stop and soon the #2 arrived. We had a scenic tour across central Glasgow. Always look up, our cab driver had advised us earlier in the day in the short haul between the airport shuttle bus station and the Scotrail station. The old buildings are wonderful. One of the most famous is the Tolbooth Steeple, a medieval tower in the middle of the busy street.
|We walked by it, but I didn't take a picture; this shot is from wikipedia images.|
The Scots don’t have as well-developed a propensity for tearing down old buildings as Canadians do apparently.
|a view - from the taxicab - of a pediment |
|near George Square|
|Sir Walter Scott in George Square (erected 1837); column by David Rhind, sculpture by John Greenshield, carving by Handyside Ritchie (likely no relation), pigeon of unknown provenance|
We also got a kick out of the local colour provided by the passengers on the bus. After about 20 minutes, we were within walking distance of both our hotel, the Argyll Guest house, and the museum.
We got off, pop-out map in hand, and found our hotel where we were allowed to stash our bags, along with those of other guests, until check-in time several hours later.