Scotland 2016: Day 8, 9, and 10

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On our eighth day in Glasgow, we walked out to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum again.  We started by crossing George Square, and up the pedestrian shops of Buchanan Street past this unusual statue.  I found out later it’s of Donald Dewar, the initial first minister of Scotland.   The walk took about an hour, across the high street of Sauchiehall, where I tried to find the loud man again who sat by the Pret a Manger.

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We had lunch at Table 11, a nice restaurant on Argyle Street, not far from the museum.  We had a crab linguine with chili, prosciutto wrapped pigeon with confit potatoes, a laksa lobster dumpling, and roasted beets with salt.  It was really nice.

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Later in the evening, Siobhan and I returned to the area to have dinner at the Gannet.  Dinner included sous vide cooked deer and a black pudding scotch egg.  While here in Scotland, we have managed to have black pudding, scotch eggs, fish and chips, and other Scottish delicacies.  However, we skipped deep fried Mars bars.

This photo was taken at night in front of the Kelvingrove Museum using a long exposure propping the camera up on a garbage can.  I end up taking one long exposure shot per trip, the first somewhere in Tokyo about eleven years ago.

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Our ninth and tenth days were spent with family, where we walked across the River Clyde to see the Gorbals, an area where Siobhan’s family lived many years ago.  The area has gentrified and changed significantly with modern flats and townhomes where tenement houses were before.  The riverside view as we crossed over the bridge was bright and attractive that afternoon.

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The morning of our tenth day, we went back to see the closed observation platform at the Lighthouse, where we could climb up and take a view in of Glasgow.  In the cool fall morning, the view was clear and we could see the beautiful old buildings of the city center, with the cranes of new construction stretching out in the distance.

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Overall, our trip to Scotland was enjoyable and at a slightly different pace than previous travels.  Glasgow is a wonderful city with a number of sights not far off on day trips.  We had a great time and will likely return in the future to see other parts of Scotland.

Scotland 2016: Day 7

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About 130 kilometers from Glasgow, the small village of Pitlochry sits on the edge of Loch Faskally.  This lake is nestled between ridges of mountains in ths distance, but is in fact a reservoir for a hydroelectric plant and dam built in 1951.  Today we took a train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Pitlochry, taking about two hours on a single track railway towards Inverness to get to this somewhat remote town in the Highlands.

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At the station, with its Victorian era iron work bridge and stone buildings, I noticed a small bookshop, run by volunteers for various charities.  Lined with a wide variety of authors and subjects and carefully organized (including an entire shelf about trains), in ten years they’ve raised over £170,000 for charities by selling used books.  This seems very common in the United Kingdom, where donations of used materials are sold at charity shops on the main street.  There were another three in the village itself, selling old shoes, coats, DVDs and toys.  I found a copy of Passchendaele for sale, which despite critical reviews saying otherwise, I actually quite liked when I saw it.

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Pitlochry has a number of cafes, restaurants and shops, including a Christmas ornament shop, which reminded me it was less than 79 days to the holidays.  It is incredibly picturesque and visitors poke in and about the storefronts along the main road.  We took a walk around the village, then took the long route that encircles the lake.

Initially we took a path across to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, over a bridge that spanned a river.  In the summer, the theatre presents various theatrical and musical performances and we could see staff busily sewing costumes in the windows.

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The valley didn’t seem particularly interesting until we found ourselves at the foot of a hydroelectric dam, its concrete footings and industrial equipment at the top of a river.  Once we got up the stairs though, a beautiful vista appeared.

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The path around the reservoir took us about two hours, paths cut into the banks and hills surrounding the lake.  In the background were the mountain peaks surrounded by clouds and mist. We eventually made it to the top of the lake, where a small cafe rented rowboats out and an area of the beach was labelled as a duck feeding area.  I thought it was charming their old sign included a telephone number which identified the exchange name and only three digits.

While our outing wasn’t the most adventurous, it was worth the train journey and the slice of lemon drizzle cake later at a cafe.

Scotland 2016: Day 6

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Glasgow’s Museum of Transport is housed at the Riverside Museum, striking, modern structure designed by late architect Zaha Hadid.  Hadid passed away recently, which I was sad to hear.  About ten years ago, a friend suggested while I was in Cincinnati to see the Contemporary Arts Center, one of her first major works.  Though it seemed an unusual concrete shard in Cincinnati’s streetscape, I found the interior to be quite natural in its flow and progression between galleries.  So often modern designs which have obtuse angles on the outside make for difficult interiors, but the Center became my own benchmark for how successful a public building could be.  If I visited a gallery or museum, I’d judge, is this better or worse than that one in Cincinnati?

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The Riverside Museum is similarly graceful in its flow: You enter by a jagged mouth of glass, framed by zinc metal siding, and follow around a curved path, meandering around exhibits of buses, trams, train engines and bicycles.  The interior is a strange institutional lavatory green, with perforated textures and soft radii in the ceilings.  The displays themselves are well curated:  The vehicles include small video players which have their owners or users discussing police car operation, velodrome cycling or even skateboarding.  The cultural context seems a little strange, with a display of dresses next to a Glaswegian tram, but make sense when interviews about youth attending dances through transit play alongside the period correct ads on the model itself.

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At the other end of the building is a tall ship, which reflects off the glass in the sun.  It’s an unusual but fitting space.  You can’t please everyone though, while examining the scores of scale ship models, two older men complained there were no sailing ships, only those powered by engines.  You also can’t get up close with a lot of the motorcycle and car models, which are hung from structures above and on the sides of the gallery, though I didn’t think that was a problem since there were plenty of vehicles to look at on the floor already.

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Hadid’s building is a successful one, especially given the contents inside.  If you compare it with the China Railway Museum, which is simply a storage shed with rails running across it, this one introduces a flow of visitors around the curves of a river, with exhibits along the banks and plenty of nice seating and gathering areas in the stream itself.