Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer in Glasgow reminds me why I love this city so much: at the faintest hint of summer, weegies flock to patios for a pint, the sun manages to stay up until 11.00pm and people seem even more friendly.

Case in point: last Friday I was due at Lauren's place, at Glasgow Harbour, for dinner. Thinking I could save myself time and money, I walked across the Clyde to the Crowne Plaza hotel and ordered a cab - not realising that Take That were playing in Glasgow that evening and as such, it seemed EVERY FEMALE in Scotland was heading to Hampden in black taxi to see them perform. I waited for about 30 minutes before a chap from the front desk asked me if I needed help. I replied that I worked across the river and was waiting for a cab, to which he replied, "I'll call you a cab and get a priority on it".

Another 10 minutes went by and the chap called the taxi company again and was told that Glasgow Taxis were EXTREMELY busy and desperately trying to get a taxi.

Finally, after an hour went by, the chap came back over to me:

"Listen, I've checked with my boss and he said it's ok if we take the company van and give you a lift to your friend's place"

As a skeptical Torontonian I protested that he didn't have to because I wasn't staying at the hotel.

"No, no. It's fine, I know. We'll give you a lift seeing as it's just down the road from here"

Astonished, I muttered in agreement.

How kind and altruistic was it for the two dudes working front desk to give me a lift to my pal, Lauren's?! And before I get comments about how foolish it was to get into a van with a strange man, let me just state that the man was in his 60s and I sized him and concluded that I could take him, if need be. As violent as Glasgow is at times, it isn't the kind of place where I doubt strangers' kindness; Glaswegians are genuinely friendly people who don't really think twice about helping stranger's and other people out.

Another thing I am loving about Glasgow? Riding my sweet Azor Dutch bike (pictured above) around the city. It seems Glasgow City Council has finally realised that this city is part of Europe and as such, has started to adapt the more continental attitudes towards bike lanes and cycling. More and more bike lanes have started popping up and routes are due to be completed in 2012.

Likewise, my old city of Toronto has recently implemented more cycle lanes as well - at the expense of car lanes and commuter tempers. I can just imagine how those bike lanes are going over with the commuter suburban crowd who love their cars.

Speaking of Toronto, apparently the LCBO (the liquor board of Ontario who control the sale and distribution of alcohol in Ontario. Read: booze CANNOT be bought anywhere else apart from the government of Ontario stores) are threatening to strike.

Cue the mass panic of folks in Ontario, as they rush to the LCBO to stock up on booze. In response, cue the puritanical tsk-tsking and clucking of tongues from commentators, speculating that all those stocking up are "sad" and "alcoholics in denial". With such attitudes, you would think that the Temperance Movement was alive and well in Ontario. Indeed, in some aspects, it seems like it still is in Toronto (don't be drunk in public; don't drink more than two glasses of booze once a month; dont' smoke; don't make eye contact; don't speak to strangers; don't dare strike up a conversation with a stranger; don't voice your frustration in public but instead loudly sigh and be passive aggressive and so on) - which drove me nuts.

The longer I am away from Toronto, the more I think that people living there seem to "tolerate" it. People seem to live in the city and tolerate it because, where else is there to go in Canada, if you're an anglophile and want to live in a big cosmopolitan city? Ok, maybe Vancouver. I got to the point where I couldn't tolerate it anymore and it seemed like the only people who could enjoy it, were the minority of people living in the upper echelons of six figure salaries. And even then, that minority seemed to resent having to share their city with bike commuters who dared to demand bike lanes.

So, I don't think I need to live in fear of ever just "tolerating" Glasgow. With the kindness of strangers and my Dutch bike, which can easily handle a case of beer on the front rack, what more do I need?!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three Things I Love About Summer in Scotland:

1. There is still a glimmer of light at 11.00pm

2. No need for AC (air conditioning) as it rarely goes above 26C (perfect for this northern soul Canadian)

3. People go on holiday ("vacation") for two weeks, usually to another country, and fully expect you to do likewise.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Can we talk about T in the Park?

Frankly, I don't get it. Don't get me wrong - I love concerts, dancing and rocking out; I just don't get the whole beer throwing (and god knows what else) aspect of it?

Last year when I attend T in the Park, for the first and last time, I was appalled by the crowd's enthusiasm for beer flingin' and slingin'. What gives? Not only is it completely disrespectful, but also a total waste of beer (and money). Maybe it's because I lived in Toronto for so long - where people rarely dance at concerts (which, to be fair, is almost as obnoxious as beer-throwing) - but I was so freaked out by the possibility of being doused with someones beer or worse, urine, I wanted to leave.

So, am I onto something here or am I just an uptight (and old) Canadian?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

As seen at the Barras

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dear Tim Hortons

I am a Canadian currently residing in Glasgow, Scotland. Recently, I have noticed that some convenience stores in the UK (Spar), have been carrying "Tim Hortons" coffee and donuts. However, upon drinking the aforementioned "Tim Hortons" coffee it is, in fact, NOTHING like the decent Tim Hortons coffee that I know and love. Upon further inspection, it appears that Tim Hortons have merely licensed out its brand to Cuisine de France, who, in all honesty, have done a disservice to the Tim Hortons brand (not to mention Canadians abroad) and are pedalling utter crap.

When I first noticed that Spar were advertising Tim Hortons coffee, I literally screamed and ran into the store and was ecstatic to get a little taste of home. Imagine my disappointment then when I actually tried the coffee! As for the "donuts", a quick glance revealed that they were dry and did not even resemble Tim Hortons donuts (nor actual donuts, if I'm completely honest).

So, please Tim Hortons! Do not taunt us Canadians abroad! Please please PLEASE open a proper store over here. Recent North American chains have started up here in the last 10 years (i.e. Subway and Quiznos) to much success and expansion. Isn't it time that Tim Hortons did too? So, forget America and come to the UK!

I desperately miss my Tim Hortons coffee in the morning!

Many thanks

Friday, June 05, 2009


For my 30th birthday, Paul and I went to Budapest for four days.

Budapest is somewhat like Paris, but without all the art, culture and world-renowned food. It's got grand boulevards, history, beautiful architecture but seriously, what is UP with all the rude locals?! If they weren't outright ignoring you or grimacing at you, they were trying to rip you off and over charge you for hummus (true story!) Don't get me wrong - I really liked Budapest but dudes aren't the friendliest bunch of people. Maybe it's a cultural / language difference or maybe I've just been spoilt by living in the overly friendly Glasgow.

Upon walking into the Tisza Cipo shoe store, Paul and I were greeted by the two store employees who just glared at us. I cracked a smile, said "hello" and browsed the shoes. After picking up a pair and taking it to the employee, I asked for a size 40 (size 9 in Canada / size 7 in UK) to which he replied, "really? this is big size!" Of course I immediately thought of that Kelly Shoes skit on youtube (see below) and felt like replying, "oh. FUCK YOU!"

After dropping almost $300 on Tisza Cipo shoes, Paul and I still weren't offered a smile or a thanks or a "bye". I mean, how dare we go over there with our extravagent western money and buy some overpriced former communist hipster shoes, right?

Would I go back? Yeah, maybe. Will I? probably not. Personally I'd suggest Paris and/ or Antwerp.

Hotel shower

hotel room: we stayed at the chic Hotel Palazzo Zichy

Paul over the Danube river

Buda Castle

Parliament Building

Gellert spa and baths

Dinner at the yummy, amazing and cheap Cafe Kor

And just for good measure - here's an older photo of me on our street, on my way to go snowboarding, and flippin' off Paul (who was in our flat). This photo slays me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Dear Paul Hartley,

Please don't leave Celtic. 50% of my interest in Celtic will be gone. Bummer.