Dispatch #4: A Day in Glasgow

I took a trip with Ellen to Glasgow this week. We had several events lined up. I had hoped to get to the Museum of Modern Art but by the time we found it, replete with sunflowers in remembrance of Ukrainians, we had to hurry to our next appointment.

I had made arrangements for a guided tour of Glasgow’s street art. This was a recommendation from Stephan on things to do in Glasgow. Not that you really need to look for things to do. There’s plenty to do in Glasgow. But I love learning about a city and the less touristy parts of a city.

I’m sure you have seen street art in the various cities you have traveled. While I’ve admired many a mural or street art while traveling, I never gave it much thought. Well, that’s not exactly true. I would pass something like this and my first thought would be, “If they can paint that well with spray paint, why don’t they make better use of their talent?”

I confess that was such an ignorant point of view. I had no idea that street artists have actual degrees from art institutes, or that they are paid, some of them highly paid, to create the art throughout cities like Glasgow. My assumption was that it was just a frustrated artist. I know. I know. I’m sorry.

One of these street art paintings that I’ve just posted earned the creator over $30,000. It took a week of work to create. And it’s not just a matter of pointing a paint can. It’s living art. Or as our street guide Caryn noted: There’s a Buddhist quality to it. That sense that things are continually changing.

Most of the street art in Glasgow is created by males. They sign their names and per old tradition add a number to them to indicate whether they made it alone (1) or whether it was a group of artists who created the work. This particular grouping, however, had art created by women. The man in the middle there was such a piece. What’s wild about it is that while it looks like a bearded man in the photo you are looking at, when you stand in front of it, without a camera, it simply looked like a series of shaded cubes stacked atop one another. It only takes on the portrait of a man when you hold up a camera. You know, like those 3-D posters we had back in college of unicorns and lions?

This particular street art, titled Falling in Love, has a vintage Banksy feel. How they managed to get it on the side of the building is anyone’s guess. It just appeared there one day. The artist did not sign it and has not been publicly recognized yet. But I decided right then if I am ever in a situation where the only way out for me is to jump from a high-rise to my own death, I’m going to find someone willing to go with me and embrace and smooch them all the way down. Seems like a better alternative than looking down.

While I am always on the hunt for a decent cup of coffee in Ayr, the city of Glasgow has one of my favorites. I miss my daily Starbucks but unlike Ted Lasso I will drink brown water, willingly, if not happily.

There is something about the city that has the vibe of Amsterdam for me. I wonder if it isn’t the pigeons hanging around the government buildings and war memorials? According to our guide, Glasgow has been voted the friendliest city in the world, beating out Tokyo. I totally believe it. I’ve said it before and it really is true, Scots people are so very friendly. A certain family member who will not be named suggested that perhaps whiskey and ale had something to do with the Scottish disposition. I can’t say for sure. While I’ve had a couple of encounters with clearly inebriated Scots, and yes, those encounters fall into the “friendly” category, most of my exchanges have been with sober folks, who have been equally as friendly.

Our art tour ended, and we made our way to a local establishment for lunch. Before I left Oregon, one of my daughters called to say she was worried about what foods I would eat in Scotland. I will say I much prefer the cuisine in Spain to that in Scotland. No question. But Glasgow has a variety of food offerings. Everyone tells me that Mother India where I ate during my last trip to town is one of the finest places to eat. But when we took seats at the bar at Sloans, and ordered their mac-and-cheese (served with french fries because Scots believe too much of a good thing is never enough, including whiskey and carbs), a couple on a first date sat down to next to us.

He’s a chef at an Italian restaurant.

She works for NHS.

I warned them that anything they said could end up in a book one day because I am an unabashed eavesdropper.

The gal spent more time talking to me than she did her date. I don’t think he should take that as a bad omen, however. She said he was much better than the previous nuggets she’d met online.

It was a plus that he could cook because, she confessed, “I cannae cook.”


Karen Spears Zacharias is a graduate student at the University of West Scotland. Her next book – The Murder Gene – is available for pre-order now at your favorite local Indie store. It releases in May. Got your copy ordered yet?

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 2 years ago

I love your posts! I feel like I’m almost there when reading, plus your humor cracks me up! Keep em’ coming!!! ❤️🌹



about 2 years ago

I do confess to being the family member that suggested Scottish pleasantry perhaps resulted from chemical enhancements; furthermore, while a rather shocking suggestion, I would, of course, hold you tightly should you choose gravity to abet your exit from this world to the next. But let's do see all of the country first. ;)


Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt

about 2 years ago

Bravo--such an interesting day for you and Ellen. When we Celtic Roots travelers join you for our tour, you must share a bit about Glasgow and Paisley--two really interesting cities! Cheers and may a Starbucks find you at every port! S


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