Let me first give a proper super thanks to our lovely couch surfing host, Neil - yep, that's his collection above. He let us try a wee dram and organized it by location after pulling it all out of the cabinet. I had the Caol Ila (pronounced cull-eela), a sister distillery of Lagavulin, and Eli sampled the Ardbeg. Definitely a classy welcome. Neil was a great help as well with giving us some general direction for our brief time in the city - he armed us with a better map, some suggestions for the must-sees, and took us out to some awesome pubs in the evening on more than one occasion. Yay to couch surfing being not only functional, but honest and friendly so far!

One of the first and biggest things we noted about Glasgow is that most of the major, and I hesitate to use this word, attractions ... are free entry, all of the time. That is right - museums, galleries, botanic gardens. Free! Which is supremely helpful to people on a budget traveling in this not-so-inexpensive city. Considering the exchange rate lately and the small amount of time we were actually in the city limits, I'm mildly impressed with what we were able to have our eyes and brains take in.

Something else that we noticed was that many of the art spaces had Community Rooms or Studios where educational workshops, kids classes and events were scheduled to happen or taking place during our visit. The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, the Center for Contemporary Art and the Glasgow Print Studio each hosted some interesting work and had plenty of work space for outside groups and classes throughout the year. The CCA was especially diverse and it's space really invited us to just mull about, check out an exhibit, or browse the little book and craft/work shop. Very good place to space out and figure out what's happening in Glasgow while you're there.

In between some rain and hail storms, we ducked into the Mitchell Library for a coffee and, you guessed it, some reading/quiet time. It is housed in a classic old building but has sneaky modern parts that pop up here and interesting combination of the two. Glasgow seems to be full of these little contradictions - particularly clear in the mix of old and new world buildings. Here's the view of our cafe (in the library) during an odd moment of sunshine for that day and the reflection of a beautiful old stone church in the glass pile of a building across the street:

Sandwiched by a few walks down and around popular Byres Road in the West End (college-hip-cafes-shops-road) and a meander through a farmers market with loads of meat and delicious rhubarb-ginger jam, we visited Kelvin Grove and the Botanic Gardens (conveniently close to one another). They were both exhaustive in exhibit and accompanying information, but in the best and most interesting way. The Kelvin Grove is a strange hodge-podge of art, natural science and Scottish history housed in a monstrous brick red stone palace on the edge of a lush river.

The Botanic Gardens were definitely one of our favorite things - and one of the most impressive either of us had been to. I suppose this makes sense, given the UK penchant for gardens and such. Most of the plants were housed inside two of the most magical and well kept glass palace-like greenhouses. Inside, there were rooms for every climate or style of plant, from arid to palms to orchids and succulents and they seemed to go on forever. Each informational poster had not only the name and genus but some thorough cultural or ethnobotany type information, so we ended up spending hours walking around, reading and looking closely at leaves and patterns and whatnot. It was great preparation for the meditation of farming.

Not to be overly heady in our wandering adventure, we took full advantage of the great playground in one of the many nooks on the grounds of the gardens. Glasgow left us with many little bits of dreaminess, no matter how grey and awkward our introduction to it was.

Location:Inverness,United Kingdom

Hello, Transition.


We have officially continued on in the eastward direction - solidifying, with a little disbelief, that we are certainly on our way and not merely on a week-long vacation. It seems that no matter how obvious that is, our bodies and minds have engrained habits of existence that are slow to be changed.

Thanks to some wonderfully succinct advice from a great friend, we are doing our best to absorb and be a part of all of this with small steps making up the whole. Step one, get off airplane. Step two, get to bathroom. Step three, reconvene and find bus area....and so on, until we get to the hostel, or couch host, or farm. The steps don't necessarily have an end - even more so, they seem to always be able to begin again, wherever you need them to. It is grounding, present-making.

This process - or attention to it - was especially helpful through our first few days hitting the ground in Glasgow. For those of you familiar with Boston, imagine your first experience there being dropped off in the middle of Downtown Crossing or the financial district around 5pm and your hostel being right at the edge of both. It most certainly wouldn't be the same Boston we all know and love. For those of you not familiar, what I'm getting at is that it is important to remember that first impressions are not always an accurate portrayal. Also, things take time to gel - identities of cities and people are strikingly similar in that they are incredibly complex and unfurl at surprising times or in funny ways. Sometimes it is easy to forget that.

I've said it in an email to someone recently and it remains accurate - the translation to Glasgow from Reykjavik was an aesthetically bumpy one. Where Reykjavik seems to cater to a visitor with simplicity in design and transportation, Glasgow - though things are in English - seemed harsh at first. We were also in the midst of the first stage of the aforementioned realization, while plinking ourselves in the center of a big city filled with expectations. Alas, it took a day of simply observing that exact experience and having patience...with ourselves and the newness and with the incessantly on again, off again rain.

The sense of openness, possibility and mini-adventure that comes with just walking about in a new place, getting lost, pulling oneself through the confusion is reinvigorating. It works well for us to take these walks and we've been wishing that we brought a pedometer with us, to satisfy the documentarian urge. At the very least, we are psyched to have remembered our rain coats.

Location:Dunollie Terrace,Oban,United Kingdom