In the morning, I stumbled down for breakfast in SYHA hostel. It was a crummy breakfast, but included in the price, and I was getting my money’s worth on 9 February 1998. In the breakfast room, the big, hairy Hells Angels type of guy who did most of the smoking and shouting the previous night sat down right across with me and tried to strike up a conversation. As if he had not been the most inconsiderate person in the world. As if he didn’t know that I loathed him with every fiber of my being. Luckily, I was too tired to speak my mind and responded only with non-committal grunts.
There actually is an independent hostel in Glasgow, their flyer posted to lampposts by the SYHA hostel as if they were freedom pamphlets for poor travelers stuck in overpriced rooms with brutish thugs. So I checked out of the SYHA hostel and checked into Globetrotters Hostel. I was shown to a funky room called the Death Star and assigned to a bunk called Darth Vader. In the kitchen, sesame bread with butter, jam and lemon curd was freely available. Much better.
Glasgow reminds me of Philadelphia, kind of grubby and rundown but with marvelous cultural institutions in unexpected places. I visited two museums this day, both of which were excellent. First I visited the St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art. The collection included well-interpreted and presented artifacts of religious traditions from throughout the world. I don’t think there’s any other museum I’ve ever seen quite like it. Next I visited The Burrell Collection, a spectacular modern building with a fantastic collection of stained glass and medieval tapestries among other things.
It was a good day for museums as the wind was so fierce that the rain fell sideways and I was completely soaked after waiting for the bus to the Burrell Collection. My umbrella was toast and I was down to my last pair of clean pants. That evening I attempted to catch up on my laundry, and went to a laundromat my guidebook claimed was open until 9 pm. The lights were on, the door was open, people were doing there laundry, and there were no hours or closed sign on the door. So I went and started filling a washing machine when the old woman who ran the place came over and yelled at me that the laundromat was closed. I steamed in rage as I stomped back to the hostel.
In the lounge I joined the other guests reading questions from Trivial Pursuit cards. My favorite question that came up that night: “What is the largest city in Scotland?” They were nice people but I didn’t really bond with them. As I wrote in my journal “they’re all Australians looking for work and I’m an American on holiday at a stupid time of the year.”
Glasgow Cathedral reflects off the sodden square it shares with St. Mungo’s Museum.
Art at the Burrell Colection: The Thinker by August Rodin, 1880, bronze. The Otter by K&M International, 1992, polyester fiber.