Honestly, I was positively surprised by the city of Glasgow. Before the conference, I had mostly read about it in terms of an industrial city with a high rate of unemployment and retired industrial estates. However, Glasgow surprises with great architecture and tourist attractions. Before the start of the conference, Julia and I had an awesome trip to Loch Lomond, which is part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It is also the biggest lake of Scotland and marks the beginning of the Highlands. When we think of Scotland, nature is one of the first images that come to most travelers’ minds. The national park exceeded our expectations and we were lucky to be there on a sunny day.
On Monday before the conference, we did a sightseeing tour and spent a rainy day following Mackintosh’s traces. Starting at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, we went up the hill to the University of Glasgow. Looking at the building from outside, I immediately had to think of Hogwarts. The two impressive inner courtyards with the pillars reinforced this impression. The hallway with its colorful carpets also seemed magic and it was a pity that the first floor was prohibited for visitors.
After visiting the main square with its war memorial, we walked to the Necropolis and St. Mungo’s Cathedral. The cathedral surprises with a timeline through Scotland’s national history and gives accounts (such as pictures and textual explanations) of the various conflicts between Scotland and England. Thus, the church does not only reflect clerical history but shows how the church and Scottish independence attempts have often been interwoven.
Another benefit of Glasgow and Scotland in general is the great food. There was one incident after which I learned that in Glasgow you should not trust food at half the normal price. However, apart from this one distasteful experience, the food was amazing, even haggis. =) Another beautiful memory of Glasgow is the Clyde bridge, which is impressively illuminated at night.
After our week in Glasgow, I spent a great weekend in Edinburgh before going north to visit Inverness and the Highlands around the Moray Firth and the Speyside area. The cultural impressions of Scotland supported the great experiences at the IATEFL conference. I brought home a Scottish cape, several kilos of books and teaching material, a thistle brooch and the plan to go to the IATEFL excursion in Brighton next year.