Solo travel: Glasgow

Solo travel trip number 3 of the year. I am off to Glasgow to tour the city and meet up with my old school friend. Got my Costa coffee, my sunflower lanyard, Grey’s Anatomy on my laptop, and hopefully everything I need and I am ready to go. I am on a Scotrail train and I had forgotten how annoying their tiny train tables are. I am having to half rest my laptop on my lap which is just annoying. One of the tough things about chronic illness is that it doesn’t stop because something is happening. You can’t flick an off switch because you are running out of capacity or because you have plans. We are in between Arbroath and Dundee and I am feeling so sick and I have a splitting headache. I just want to lie down somewhere in the dark. But I don’t get into Glasgow for another hour and a half and when I get there I don’t want to just crash, I want to explore and go to a cute coffee shop. Taken my anti-sickness medication and hopefully that kicks in soon. But hopefully if you are reading this and you have a chronic illness you can be inspired that you can travel, yes even solo. It’s not always easy and requires a lot of planning but I promise it is worth it.

You come out of Queens Street Station into the main George Square. I forgot how much impressive architecture there is around the centre, but I’ll come back and explore later once I have dropped my bags. But I did have to laugh that after walking for about 2 minutes I came past a whiskey bar. Classic Scotland. There are some really interesting streets on my walk from the square to my Air BnB with several cool historical and design features. I keep getting distracted walking to stop and take photos. Especially as I have to fully stop because my stick is in one hand. But the beautiful blue sky and warm weather is helping everything look at its best. I have spotted several nice looking cafes and from street art. Both wins. But my gosh my backpack is weighing me down. However light I think I have packed it always seems to weigh a ton when I have to walk with it…

Well clearly it wouldn’t be a Morag Air BnB without a boarded up shop just along from it oh and a person slummed on the pavement. Good vibes. Oh and a croup of homeless people arguing over the Tesco ATM by the door. But overall the area looks fine. Just a bit varied and hey it is handy to have a Tesco right in the building. Glasgow does just remind me a lot of Dundee in many ways. Still always that anxiety before you actually get to the place of oh dear what if I made a terrible mistake. But first observation it has a lift which saves me having to walk up 6 flights so a win there. Slightly spooky corridor vibes. Okay I am in the flat. Worry is over as it looks lovely. They have a huge comfy corner sofa and I can’t ask much more than that. Going to rest here for an hour and then head across to a nice looking cafe I passed on the walk up.

After my break I have come along to the very student vibes Tinderbox cafe, which is open till 22:00 which I love. It’s got so many different sections depending on what you want. Their coffee menu also looked fantastic. I have gone for an ‘on the rocks’ caramel icebox (basically iced caramel coffee) and it is very good. I have a nice little table for one by a sign saying ‘hitherto’ and am happy to sit here with my kindle for the next bit.

I am trying to make sure I don’t walk too much whilst I am here as it’s less than 3 weeks since I had my last knee surgery. But I want to go for a bit of a wander before I settle in for the night. So currently on the way to McLennan Arch in Glasgow Green. Walking through Glasgow there is such a range of fine buildings, independent shops, cafes, barss and history but also decay and disrepair and closed stores and you can move quite quickly from one area into another. But that for me is one thing that makes a city interesting. It has a personality and secrets to discover. It feels far more real. It makes you look up and around and see things you might otherwise have missed. You stumble across a bustling takeaway stall under a bridge and a mural of Billey Connolly. It would be fair to say I am taking a bit of a back roads way to this arch though. Classic Morag goes exploring. But this makes me feel free. No one to answer to, no clear plan. Just wondering brand new streets never exactly knowing what you’ll find.

Well my aesthetic arch has been slightly ruined by posters from the weekends music festival. You have to laugh, partly because my sister was at the music festival. And also the posters have police dogs on them which just look really cute. To be honest the whole of the park is still full of barriers so not looking at its best. But all is not lost. There are no signs on the other side so I can still try and get that aesthetic shot. Also there are three men practising juggling with these wooden shapes on string that slide apart and you try and flick them back together in the air. I am probably not describing it very well but I had never seen it before and I admit I did stop and watch for a while. Honestly it’s about 19:00 and it’s actually a really nice atmosphere with kids in the play park, people cycling, groups chatting. Feels a community place.

Also of interest to the historian in me is on the pavement there is an inscription by William Collins, Publisher and Temperance Campaigner, from 1834 “The Demon Drink. It struck its fibrous roots into everything so deeply that to tear up the spirit drinking practices is like tearing up the whole social system of society.” I shall need look this man up. But on that note I should get back. I don’t want to ruin my leg on the first day and it does feel like it might begin to rain. But there is even more wonderful historic buildings for me to admire on my way back. Some preserved well and some not so much. You got to take the rough with the smooth in Glasgow. But that’s what makes this walk back interesting. I like seeing the shapes, colours, states of repair, sounds, smells, voices, graffiti, everything. Everything coming together to make a community that’s for living in not just for tourists.

Back at my flat and I have ordered a burrito bowl from Bar Burrito for dinner. It was good and then curled up to watch ‘Palm Springs’. I am only half way through but it’s a very likeable and enjoyable programme that doesn’t require too much brain power which is perfect for right now. Plus it has Andy Samberg, from Brooklyn 99, acting in it so that’s a tick in my books.

But now at the wild time of 22:30 I am heading to bed. A few things I can tell already. It will be far too hot as I can only open the windows a tiny amount which I am really not a fan of. It will not be quiet. I had to throw so many cushions off the bed (although to be fair I always do that). Also the wardrobe sliding doors are giant mirrors next to my bed so I can see myself trying to sleep which is a little creepy. But for now time for some more Grays Anatomy and then (please insomnia) sleep.

Well it’s currently 2:00am and I am wide awake feeling too warm and also sick. But I have these fantastic headache cool gel packs which stick to your skin. I don’t have much of a headache but having it on my forehead (back of the neck works too) is helping me feel much more cool. Well in temperature definitely not in looks. But I am feeling better already. I wonder whether to write about things like this but I want to tell the story of my travels as they are. You don’t need to be having an amazing time all the time. I know I can put myself under a lot of pressure to make the most of everything and that it all has to be perfect. Just now I am too hot and feeling queasy and that’s okay. It doesn’t take away all the other lovely parts of this Air BnB or mean I am having a bad holiday or that I am being ungrateful. Life will always be life travelling or not. Allow yourself to feel what you feel.

Well it’s another beautiful day weather wise in Glasgow for my second day and only whole day of the trip. I have even boldly decided to wear a dress. The main plan for today is to go and see my old school friend even more excitingly, her new dog. This expedition did not get off to the best start as the bus didn’t stop for me. I was there in plenty of time, and I doubled checked it was the right place, I stood at the side of the pavement and stuck my hand out and it just didn’t stop. Always good to leave a disabled girl on the pavement. The next bus wasn’t for half an hour so I had to do a quick rethink and settled on getting the train instead. That involved an almost 2km walk back across the city. Remember what I said about needing to take things easy?

Glasgow Central is a huge, very impressive old station. Had I known I was getting the train I would have got there in enough time to get coffee. But worry not. I got the train and as it’s faster than the bus I’ll only end up being about 20 minutes late. So it all worked out in the end. But it’s little things like that when you have reduced mobility make life just that bit harder. I am now tired and a bit sore before I even have met my friend. I’ll need to make sure I have a nice and relaxed evening to recover. Pacing yourself is important but sometimes life gets in the way so don’t beat yourself up about overdoing things. Finding that balance isn’t easy and all we can do is our best..”

Today is an exciting day because not only am I seeing my old school friend but also her new puppy. Lola is a ten week old cocker spaniel and just absolutely adorable. So small and cute and perfect for puppy cuddles. Plus as Lola is so young she can’t walk very far which worked perfectly for me as I am still less than 3 weeks post knee surgery.

We headed to my pals favourite local tearoom with Lola. It just felt so wonderfully normal to go out for coffee and scones with an old friend and have a good chat. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and life was good. The scones in particular were fantastic. They have a different special scone everyday and today it was mango and cranberry which was delicious. After extensive conversation and seconds of coffee we went for a walk around the neighbourhood. My gosh there were so many incredible houses built from beautiful red brick. One had a tree house with a zip line in the garden and another had a Bentley, Rolls Royce and a Range Rover parked out front. I can see why my friend likes living where she does and it’s only ten minutes on the train into central Glasgow. I could move there very happily. Especially if I had a dog. But I will get a dog one day, that’s a promise to myself.

We finished off the day with more coffee. Can you ever have too much coffee? And playing with Lola and all her toys. Being a dog seems a great life. Then it was time to head back into central Glasgow but not before stopping off at the 13th century Bothwell Castle. It’s all in ruins but still a pretty impressive building. Sadly you can’t go in because some stones might fall on you but you can walk round the edge and admire it.

Then I said good by to Lola and friends before hopping on the train. I had booked tickets to see ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ at the cinema for when I got back because I knew if I went straight back to the flat I probably wouldn’t leave again. I am a huge Marvel fan so had been meaning to see it for a while and this seemed the perfect opportunity. You can always tell the other Marvel fans at a film because they stay all the way until the end of the credits to see the bonus film. I would recommend the movie though. It was great to see substantial Asian representation and the plot was epic.

I won’t lie, it’s 20:00 and I am just walking back to my Air BnB. It isn’t very far but it’s dark and the city suddenly feels very different. I don’t feel entirely comfortable. A lot of drunk people and everything seems shut. But I am just keeping walking. Hoping my walking stick and the fact I look young will mean no one pays me much attention. The film was really good though and a nice way to fill my evening. Don’t be afraid to take yourself out on wee solo dates. You don’t need to wait for someone else. The cinema is a good one to start with too because you don’t chat in that anyway and it’s dark so no one can even really see you are on your own.

I made it safely back to my flat. Got changed into my pyjamas and going to watch the rest of ‘Palm Springs’ in my cosy corner sofa spot. It’s been a good day.

I had a nice chilled morning for my last few hours in Glasgow. It’s easy to feel pressure when you are travelling to feel pressure to be making the most of every single minute. But if rest is what you want then that’s okay. Holidays are supposed to be fun, a break from the tasks and pressures of your normal life. So after packing up the flat I got an Uber into the centre with my bags and headed for a pre train coffee. There is always time to fit in another aesthetic Café on a Morag solo trip. I opted for Laboratorio Espresso, which I would really recommend. It is quite small so I was lucky to get a seat. But my gosh their coffee was absolutely blooming fantastic especially with a freshly made chocolate croissant on the side. Life doesn’t get much better than that really.

Just on the train back to Aberdeen and it is very busy. There are a lot of strikes going on at the moment and it’s times like these I am relieved not to be working on the railway anymore. Working strike days was hard because I knew we weren’t providing the best service but there was very little I could do about. It was sometimes hard not to get frustrated at customers because we were all working extra hard in roles that weren’t our normal ones to make things work but people couldn’t see that. But on the flip I understood why they got Cross. Anyways. I think they have lifted the rules that people can’t sit next to each other but I am not moving my bags off my seat. I will pull the disability card if needed. There have to be some perks of everything that has happened to me.

I am all set up with my Greys Anatomy and ready for the journey ahead. Even got my slightly tragic prepacked sandwich as Queens Street didn’t have the number of shops I thought it would and I didn’t have the energy to leave and find somewhere else. It’s been a good trip but I am very tired know. Why I am frustrated about a bit because I feel I haven’t done all that much compared to other trips. But I have to remember I am less than 3 weeks post surgery and there is a lot going on with my life and my health at the moment. I need to be proud of myself for coming on this trip and having a good times. It’s been good to have a change of scenery and distraction from what’s been going on. It was great to see my friend and her dog. I had lots of delicious coffee. I got to explore a city I don’t know that well and see some cool architecture and historic features.

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