Today Lesley, Shabnam and I took the underground over to the west end of Glasgow. The Glasgow underground is incredibly easy to navigate. It's £2 return to ride, and it just goes around in a big circle. You can either take the Inner Circle, which goes west, or the Outer Circle which goes east. It took us only 10 minutes to get to Kelvinhill, which is where Kelvingrove Park, Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery, and the University of Glasgow is.
That said, the underground is also a little scary to ride as well... for me anyway. Given that the only other "underground" I've ever ridden is in Toronto, and is not really all that much underground, this was a new experience for me. The platforms are, by and large, tiny. When the train comes in the wind picks up on the platform and the very small train (tall people mind your heads!) comes in with a roar. Once your on, you blast through the dark tunnels that seem to have only 6" of clearance around the entire train, with the cars swaying side to side. But, it is a quick, cheap, and presumably safe mode of transport around the city.
Walking around the west end was like being in a completely different city. This is completely strange when you come to the realization that you're only 2 miles from George Square. The west end has a reputation of being the more posh end of Glasgow, and I suppose it is to a certain degree. But going over there I am lead to believe that it is more a leftover of the time when Glasgow was quite a bit more rough around the edges. The west end simply got cleaned up first, and Glasgow central is certainly catching up.
The first thing we saw was Hogwarts... er the University of Glasgow (left). No, Harry Potter was not filmed at the University of Glasgow, but compared to the more utilitarian style of Strathclyde's buildings, it certainly could have been.
After wandering around the University we went through Kelvingrove Park. The park is very pretty, very green and full of trees. The River Kelvin runs through, and you can cross over it by foot bridge at several points. You might remember Lord Kelvin, who invented the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature (c'mon science geeks, don't let me down!) and who's alma mater is Glasgow University. Anyway, the title of Lord Kelvin, if I understand it correctly, is actually named after the river and not the other way around.
Facing Kelvingrove Park is Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery. This is a massive museum which was completed in 1901. The building actually backs Argyle Street, which has lead to the myth that the building was built backwards to spite the architect. The myth has it that the architect was so distraught he jumped to his death from one of the towers. This isn't true. The truth is that the museum was built facing the park intentionally, and in part because the 1901 International Exhibition was held there. In 2003 the museum was closed because the blond coloured stone had become black from coal dust. The stone was cleaned by using a rubber compound to coat the stone, which once pulled off pulled the coal dust with it. All the artifacts had to be moved out at the time, but some of the larger ones like Sir Roger the elephant and a giraffe had to remain and have special enclosures built around them.
At the Kelvingrove Museum, admission is free. There is also way more to see than you can in an hour or so. There are rooms devoted to nature, women's rights, Scottish art and history, just to name a few. There is also a cafe, kids area, small reference library, and a massive organ which plays on certain days. We're hoping to return to hear that in the not so distant future.
The weather was beautiful today, but we arrived home just before it started to pour rain. I got a great picture out my bedroom window of a rainbow coming down over the Royal Infirmary (right). Tomorrow my classes start in ernest, and I will be putting my nose to the grind-stone. I do plan on seeing more of Scotland and Glasgow, but school is going to have to come first... at least for the next little while.
Anyway, I've uploaded pictures of the west end trip to flickr. You might notice that I've taken many photos off of flickr. This is because my flickr account has a limit of 200 viewable photos and rather than just have the most recent photos visible, I thought I ought to just leave up my absolute favourites from my past trips, and have room for new ones. Anyway, go over and take a peak.