Monday, 15 September 2014

City Centre

On Sunday I went into the city centre alone to check out the sights. I thought I wanted to shop (Glasgow has the best shopping in the UK outside of London) but I ended up enjoying the atmosphere the most!

I took the subway to the city centre; there's only one route, which goes in a circle both ways, so it's really easy. I got off on Buchanan, where there's a large pedestrian only street lined with shops, from huge department stores to a tiny tourist shop. I walked around a bit, but actually didn't feel like shopping, so I went down further to find George's Square which is filled with statues and is where the City Chambers are located. On the way, there were people campaigning on the upcoming (3 more days!) referendum on Scottish independence, giving out fliers and stickers and making themselves heard. I got to the square, took some pictures....

World War I monument

The Yes campaign emphasizes how Scottish are generally more liberal than the rest of the UK, and how they could control their own global politics with a yes vote

City Chambers plus Sir Walter Scott memorial

...When everyone started to hear horns beeping. Then we heard the beep of police sirens, and suddenly a long line of cars and trucks, all with yes stickers and posters and the Scottish flag, drove by the corner of the square. You could feel the energy in the air; the yes campaigners (yes they want Scotland to be an independent country) all came out and were whooping and showing their flags, police had to redirect the traffic, and there was a news helicopter overhead, adding to all the noise.

None of what I filmed capture that of course, plus the shakiness doesn't help so feel free to use your imagination!

I also stopped by the Duke of Wellington statue, who is crowned with a traffic cone on his head. The city drew up a plan to raise the statue so people would stop putting cones on his head, but withdrew after online petitions and plans for protests against it. I got lucky and when I visited, his horse had a cone too :)

I walked back over to the subway station, and stopped to listen to a band playing on the street, busking for money. I originally stopped because they were playing "Wagon Wheel" and man I'm glad I stopped! It was a band of 5 guys, with one main singer, and I think 2 banjos. I'm not usually into that kind of stuff, but they were really good! They covered "Hit the Road Jack" and newer stuff like "Wake Me Up" and "Get Lucky". They got a lot of money, and it turned out that day they were donating all of it to a local foodbank! I sat on a stone seat to listen to them, and every so often I could feel the subway underneath, rumbling. It was such a cool experience to listen to them with a big group of strangers, even singing along at some point. This is going to sound so cheesy, but it could only be described as electrifying and invigorating.

A big puppet for the Yes campaign also walked by while they were playing. The last song the band (Papa Shandy and the Drams) played was "Caledonia" which was very pretty, but also relevant. Caledonia is a Latin name for Scotland, and it has become somewhat of an anthem for Scotland. When they finished, people cheered really loudly, and the lead singer finished with "Vote yes!"

It was such a cool experience, and I'm so glad that I'm here to live it up more!

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