Thursday, December 08, 2005

I realize a while ago that it took me about three months to get really tired of traveling. For the past few weeks I’ve had no motivation to go anywhere. Even when I decided on a destination it took me a week to get moving. I’ve been sedate and tired and thinking fondly of going back to the states.

The irony of this is that it took me three months to start to be really comfortable with people here. I have friends here! Groovy friends, who I can call up and say hey, let’s do things!

Who make me not want to leave.

Consequently I’m a little itchy, thinking about how I have less than two weeks before I leave (!!). There are still places I’d like to go, but I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen. Angela has left to go home to Korea for Christmas, and I won’t get to see her until either I come back to Edinburgh, or she comes to visit me in the US. That’s really disappointing, because by the last week we were hanging out she felt the most like my friends back home – lots of joking, lots of physical affection. I’ve really missed it and was glad to have it again.

On Saturday Bjarte goes back to Norway. He’s one of the best dancers here, and will be finishing his PhD in Norway, so he won’t be going back to Edinburgh. Again, I won’t be able to see him until one of us visits the other.

Oof. Well.

I went to Glasgow (pronounced “Glaz-gow” and not, not, not “Glass-gaw” it doesn’t rhyme with “cow”) last Saturday. It took a couple of stern conversations with myself before I finally left the house, bag of essentials (underwear, book, knitting, and computer) on my back. The plan was to stay until Monday.

It’s a short trip to Glasgow, only 45 minutes by train. I got there a little after 1 and found myself in the centre of their major shopping district. It’s apparently one of the top rated shopping places in the world these days. Imagine, if you will, being in a large city with top-ranked shopping. On a Saturday. Three weeks before Christmas. When it’s cold. And moving on to being dark.

That’s my idea of fun! Except not so much. The stores were all just larger versions of the chains they have here. There wasn’t much that was new. I saw evidence of an Urban Outfitters and stopped in the Borders, but we have those in the states. I slogged through the ooze of narcissistic, pushy shoppers and wandered the streets. It wasn’t until well after I left my house that I realized that I’d left my guidebook at home, so I didn’t know where I was going.

I kept to the better-lit sections of street that I found, but once the sun sets (around 4pm) the whole city looks shadowy. The streets are lit from lamps attached halfway up the buildings which gives the impression that there aren’t many lights at all. And once you leave the shops it looks even darker. Encouraging!

I finally decided to find a hotel, and kept my eyes out for one. I finally found a Radisson – a chain, but it was decently situated and, beyond that, the only place I’d seen so far. I went in and asked for a room, but they were all booked up.

Of course. It’s a near-Christmas weekend – everyone’s here to shop. I made a decision that I would do what I found first: stay in a hotel, or take the train back home. Fighting through stores and people made me tired and bruised, and made my own bed have a brand new intrigue. After wandering around the same streets over and over again I found the Tourist Information Centre and decided that okay, hotel it was. If they could find me one.

When I said I was looking for a hotel room for the night the woman at the desk winced. Oh dear. She asked what my budget was, and said that she might be able to find me something on the other side of town – an easy ride on a bus or underground. I politely declined and asked where the train station was.

In the five or so hours that I was there I didn’t see a whole lot, and wasn’t impressed by much. The nice thing, though, about being in this country at this time of the year is that they really go all out for Christmas. Decorations everywhere, and many of them tasteful. Maybe not the bow tie on one of the statues, but at least it was funny. They also have amusement park rides and an ice skating rink. Not exciting enough to keep me there, however.

I have an idea of going back at some point. I feel like there might be things other than shops there.

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