Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gears & Levers

Train Parts
I love anything mechanical. Give me gears, cogs, levers and any sort of engine and I love it. I love cars, motorcycles, boats and trains. If it moves with an engine I like it. So when we discovered a museum of transportation here is Glasgow, it was on my “must-see” list.

Glasgow has always had an image problem, seen as a working town with its neighbor Edinburgh being the “interesting”  city. As a result Glasgow is trying to improve it’s image for visitors. One way it has done this is to make most of the city attractions free. Most of their museums do not charge to visit them.

A wall of cars
The Riverside Museum of Transportation is one of the best and most interesting museums I have ever visited. It is in a beautiful setting right on the River Clyde in a beautiful modern new building. Although a ways from our hotel, it was on our "Hop-on-hop-off” tour bus route, so getting there was easy.

The most interesting thing about this museum was how they presented things. For example I have visited many excellent car museums with impressive collections of vehicles, but here the cars were displayed on a wall or parked on an incline two stories long. In addition there was a special display of a Mini, an Anglia, and an Imp There was a whole room devoted to engines including a Beetle that children could climb under to see the engine. There was a display of a new Mini used in safety testing and a Ford Cortina that was sold as original, but was really two cars welded together.

South African Steam Locomotive
There was a wall of motorcycles, four massive steam locomotives including one that had been built in Glasgow, shipped to South Africa, returned to Scotland 100 years later and restored, A tiny trailer where hippy protesters of Nuclear war lived, a presentation on the first ship sunk during WWII, a room about subways, a revolving carousal of model ships, a number of displays about bicycles and many other different topics and displays. Outside docked on the river was a three masted tall ship also open for exploring.

Although I walked through the entire museum and saw everything (I think . .), I did not have time to spend the amount of
Part of a steam engine
time I would have liked with all the displays. I spent a lot of time with the old steam engine from South Africa, and I spent a lot of time on the wall of motorcycles, but the police pursuit vehicle could have used more time, as could the Hillman Imp.

You can see why this museum appealed to me, but Regis also said it was the most interesting one she has visited as well.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Glasgow is not Chester

The New Glasgow
After spending a week in the quaint city of Chester, arriving in Glasgow came as a bit of a shock. Our Hotel is right in the city centre, and is old but very nice. However when Regis asked for a “City View”, she did not realize that the view from the front of the hotel mostly consisted of two derelict buildings. Our first walk around the area was not any better.  Finally finding a pub called “Hootenanny” (Seriously . . . in Scotland?), we discovered good beer
Glasgow Streets
and food and friendly people. We met a couple of locals from Italy and Poland (Yes they did live and work in Glasgow) who’s advice of things to see in Glasgow was the train to Edinburgh.

Regis and I however always find the best in any city or situation. The next day, after wading
Making the Old Look New
through hoards of runners (The Great Scottish Run), we found the tourist information centre and set out to explore Glasgow. By the end of the day, our hiking shoes had about five more hours of wear on their soles, and we had explored another cathedral, visited the necropolis, climbed to the top of a lighthouse (In the middle of a city), discovered a really cool art deco architect, rode the subway, and had supper in a pub in the catacombs under the city.

We Also Visited a Brewery
As we normally find, once you dig a bit you can find the soul of any city and there is usually lots to see and do in any city. Glasgow was an industrial city. The Lucitania, the first Queen Elizabeth and many of the early Cunard ships were built here, and the city’s shipyards are currently building the next generation of British warships. Some of the best steam locomotives were shipped all over the world from Glasgow. It never was a “Quaint” city it was always a gritty merchant and industrial city, and is very interesting as such. It has a rich history in Industry, business and architecture, and explored with this in mind it is fascinating.
The Inn Deep Pub

We spent the day today at the Riverside Museum Of Transportation (I feel a blog post coming on . .), and loved it. There is lots to see and do here. Oh BTW, on our city tour today we discovered that those two derelict buildings across from the hotel are a priority to renovate, restore or replace.

Glasgow is not Chester, it is however, a cool interesting city to visit.

Visiting the Dead

Walking up to the top
Arriving in Glasgow we decided to take a city tour to give us a better idea of what to see and do during our days here. We quickly had doubts about the tour operating today however, because the city was filled with runners. No one told us about the “Great Scottish Run”, and many areas and roads were blocked for this event. Sure enough, finding the tour office we discovered that indeed there would be no tours today. Another “Go to Plan B” day.

The Tallest . .richest?
Instead we decided to walk to the “Old Section” of Glasgow and visit the Cathedral and the Necropolis. It was a bit of a walk but after all we had a day to waste.

I have visited the “Cities of the Dead” in New Orleans, and the “City of the Dead” in Cairo, so the Necropolis sounded interesting. It is a cemetery built on the top of a prominent hill. Built in 1832 to solve a serious overcrowding problem in church graveyards, the Glasgow Necropolis was built as a business and a for-profit burial ground. Over 50,000 people are buried here but most have no markers. There are however over 3500 stones and monuments.

The hill is behind the cathedral and is accessible via a raised walkway crossing a road to a very ornate entrance. From there pathways in a garden-like setting wind up the hill to the top and gravestones and markers line the pathways.

Cast Iron . . Really?
Now, Glasgow was an industrial city with many self-made merchants, who wanted to be well known, and so the more important you thought your family was, the bigger the family plot and monument was. As you walk up the hill, you notice that the bigger grander monuments sit proudly at the crest of the hill, with the tallest and grandest for a man named John Knox, who was actually buried here in 1825, before the Necropolis was built. Most of the old monuments still stand proudly but it is kind of sad to see some fallen over and neglected. And there was one who ordered his memorial to be made of cast iron; I guess he had not heard of rust . . .
Fallen & neglected

There were lots of common names such as Miller and Brown all over the Necropolis, and I was surprised at how few “Mac . . .” and “Mc . . .” there were, although I did find one “Hill”, but it was on the way up, not at the top.