Vacation Corner: Scotland today
This will be about Scotland. The last place where I was planning to work and yet, the place where I ended up as centre director of a Stafford House Study Holiday summer language school in 2008. Everyone says Glasgow is nothing special. People always go to visit Edinburgh. One of my English friends, Chris, even called it “city of the beautiful people”. There is a difference. My view of Scotland is very subjective, yet I am happy to share my observations:
changes all the time. It is similar to the weather in Poland but during the day it may change up to 20 times, so basically you need to carry on you your sunglasses as well as umbrella and it’s best to dress onion style. People. If you are in Glasgow you don’t understand people in the streets, taxis, shops. Even if you do, they have learnt to repeat everything three times to foreigners. Every time they repeat what they say it is as difficult to get as the first time they say it. In Edinburg it is a bit easier. If you talk to people who are well educated and well travelled and perhaps a bit older – no problem. And the Scottish accent is lovely.
Haggis is not as bad as we think and resembles our “kaszanka”. They make a big thing of it on Burns’ Nights, 25th of January, when people gather to read Robert Burns poem, do Scottish dancing and have a meal then haggis is a must. Otherwise it’s not. Chinese buffets, Indian restaurants and sushi are all there to chose from. IT is scary though how much junk food people eat and how much junk food is fed to kids.
I’m not interested. But I had to be. Running a school for 250 Spanish and Italian kids in the summer meant that I had to quickly learn about sectarian marches organized in August. This is when football fans of the Celtic and Glasgow Rangers football clubs go out into the streets to show they hate the supporters of the other team. The ratio of police on the day is one policeman per 2 people taking part in the march. This makes it a friendly and peaceful occasion to celebrate. Being Polish in Glasgow means that you are automatically the Celtic supporter. Polish means catholic, catholic means Irish, and also everyone knows Artur Boruc. If you go to a pub you should be careful, or at least aware that this may be a “celtic pub” or a “rangers pub”. It is key to know this. A Scottish lawyer (his grandmother was Irish) made a sign of the cross when I mentioned I am Polish, then he said “you’re Polish, John Paul II, very good very good, what would you like to drink?” He was a Celtic fan.
Absolutely lovely, once you understand them. It’s very easy to talk to strangers, if you feel like a chat. They are also very modest and down to earth, dress casually and welcome foreigners. They made me feel at home. Young people may look a bit scary, and too alternative with tattoos and piercing, but are OK.
Was once the most powerful city in Scotland and one of the most important in terms of international trade, in Britain. The shipping business is important and you feel the grandeur of the town, mostly thanks to its architecture. Don’t go the East end in the evenings, it’s full of drunks. West end enjoys good reputation and Ashton Lane, with its pubs is lovely and full of life. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is the best known architect in Glasgow, a very interesting character, lovely designs if you are into art deco. The city makes most of it making sure the tourists notice Mackintosh’s input. Lovely tea-rooms where you can have tea and scone with cream or marmalade – popular place to go to with friends or business contacts. Never thought so many famous inventors come from Glasgow University: Watt, Kelvin…
Bagpipes. Franz Ferdinand. Paolo Nuttini. The Proclaimers. I have a very fond memory of walking along Buchanan street in Glasgow, when I hear something that sounded “cool’… as I came closer, there was a man with a bagpipe playing Queens” “We are the champions”. Didn’t I say I hate bagpipes? But the national anthem is The Proclaimers’ 500 miles otherwise knows as “I’m gonna”. Not bad and a must play, sooner or later, for DJs. Check it out on YouTube.
I like it. Fizzy drink, like “oran¿ada”. I remember going to a theatre once in Glasgow, the show was unbelievably boring, but we all had IRN BRU ice cream and that kept the overall experience enjoyable. Yes, you can have ice creams in theatres while you watch the play, and you can keep you jacket on. You can also take a glass of wine with you, though they make sure it’s a plastic glass.