Glasgow: Day 2

Posted: May 10, 2016 in Travel

Sept. 9

I woke with a jolt at 4 a.m. to the sound of an alarm clock. Rolling over and looking at my phone, I realized that I hadn’t set an alarm at all. There was no noise. The only racket I heard was the incessant pounding on the inside of my skull. Either I had too much whiskey at the Toll Bar, or there was a tiny team of construction workers lodged in there performing a job that involved a jackhammer and a lot of screaming.

It took me all of five seconds to realize this. But what had happened? How did I end up back in this room, in this bed?!

Quickly taking in my surroundings, I established that yes, I was back in the room I had paid for yesterday, and that I wasn’t wearing pants. Sadly, I was alone.

There was a half-open Styrofoam box sitting on the nightstand. I came to the conclusion that it contained something edible, but I had no idea what. Apparently I ordered food somewhere. Something Mexican, from the look of it. This confused me. This was supposed to be Scotland, not Guadalajara.

For the next several minutes, I did nothing but lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, making a feeble attempt at piecing together my night after leaving the bar. I remembered walking, fumbling around with some ATM and trying to take out more money. My friends Katya and Matt would be meeting me here later tonight, but I didn’t know when. I had a half-finished text on my phone to Katya about that very topic.

After laying awake for what seemed like years, trying to remember who I was and where my pants were, I passed out again.

It must’ve been around 10 a.m. when I woke up. This time it wasn’t on account of some phantom ruckus taking place in my skull, but my bladder alerting me that it had long since reached critical mass and was about to violently rupture if I didn’t do something about it. “Fine, you bastard,” I mumbled as I rose up and sauntered into the bathroom. My glasses were off, so I could barely see where I was aiming while pissing. This amused me. I smiled while staring down at the blurred image of my penis. This was one of those moments I was very glad to not be in public.

When my desire for food became an actual coherent thought, I stumbled out of my hotel room and walked across the small shopping area known as The Quay.  Just north of the ETAP Hotel was the River Clyde, and just beyond the river was central Glasgow. Not too hard to navigate, I thought. There must be something reasonable to eat around here somewhere.

I shrugged as I crossed the car park and hit the narrow footpath alongside the river. Once more into the breach, I thought. Coffee, food, sightseeing, adventure — reasons I took this trip in the first place, after all.

The walk across the river to the city center only took about 15 minutes. From the view out of my hotel window, it looked like it would be agonizingly longer. But after the confusing night I just had that involved a hot Scottish bartender and a wild assortment of drinks whose names I could only begin to recount, any amount of walking was not ideal. Every muscle in my body seemed like it spent several hours getting bludgeoned by a meat hammer. Was it the whirlwind of traveling, plus the alcohol? Or only the alcohol? Jesus, was I just getting old?!

No, fuck those thoughts. Thirty is the new 20, and nobody was about to tell me anything different. I’d been to college. By now, my liver was a trained professional at processing horrible toxins with impunity. I think some strange combination of aggressive Scottish booze and women may have been the culprit here; or if nothing else, bashed me on the skull with the fury of a brick being shot out of a huge air rifle.

There was no room for complaints about self-inflicted dehydration here, though. It was a Friday, but a beautiful, sunny morning teeming with people roaming the streets. At first glance, central Glasgow reminded me a bit of parts of London, only about ten times smaller with the same amount of people. Lots of people. And though they were definitely present here in all directions, my attention was focused on the giant cathedrals intermixed with the modern architecture. There were giant rustic cathedrals everywhere I could see. But that’s a good reminder you’re in Europe — huge goddamn cathedrals everywhere; usually in wide-open squares that make for ideal photo ops.

I ducked into a pub for some eggs Benedict. I wolfed down the plate as if I’d never seen food before in my life, paid the tab, and hit the street again.

The rest of the day was spent sightseeing and meandering around town like the clueless American tourist that I was. I saw cathedrals, the Glasgow Cross, the myriad number of pubs (there were something like 300 altogether; the most in any European city if I recall correctly.) The food was surprisingly diverse, and my mind was completely fucked in half when I met a hostess in a Chinese restaurant who had a Scottish accent. I had no idea what to do with that one at all. I hope I didn’t blink and stare too obviously, but I probably did anyway.

Finding my way back to the hotel wasn’t a problem, fortunately, because it was clearly marked by a gigantic bridge at the edge of town. Once I got back there, I jumped on the hotel’s wi-fi and found out Katya and Matt were only minutes away at the airport. They’d just landed from London, and the three of us would be going to Edinburgh tomorrow.

The thought of some partners in crime was a reinvigorating thought. I knew there was plenty of trouble we could get into, and starting at Toll Bar was of course the first thought that came to my mind. What could possibly go wrong?


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