Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lauren visits Glasgow!

Hello, so I have lots to update you all on before I head out to a pub to watch the Superbowl! Since we have a 5 hour time difference, I will be starting to watch the kickoff at 11pm, but hopefully it will be fun, and I will be able to stay awake.

Tuesday January 25th was a holiday in Scotland called Burn's Night, celebrating the life of Robert Burns.  None of my friends here had tried haggis, the national dish yet, so we decided to go to an event the University was putting on in celebration of Burns night and try it out.  They had a very formal ceremony with a poem by Robert Burns read in Gaelic, a bagpipe played, and a ceremonial stabbing of the haggis.  After this we all got to try the haggis with tatties and turnips, which really wasn't as bad as I was expecting, based on the fact that it is sheep intestines.  After finishing our meal, we did some more Caelieh, the traditional Scottish dance, before we headed home.  It was quite an experience and a very Scottish one at that:)
The ceremony

Betsey, Erika, Nicole and Sam enjoying their haggis!

So last Wednesday, Lauren arrived safely from China, and we met up after my morning literature class at a coffee shop.  After chatting for a bit and looking at some of her pictures from China, we dropped off her stuff at my apartment and headed into City Centre.  I showed her around, and then went to my first one-on-one bagpipe lesson.  Playing the chanter was harder than I thought it was going to be, but my teacher is really great.  We did some basic scales and talked about the instrument.  Then I met up with Lauren again and we went to a delicious cafe for lunch.  We both got the same thing, spicy pumpkin squash lentil soup with a half of a hummus, brie and red pepper sandwich.  It was one of the most delicious things I have had so far!  Then, after dropping Lauren off at a book store where you could "read"/recover from her jet lag, I went to my 2 hour bag piping lesson.  After learning about all the different kinds of bagpipes from all around the world (who knew they came from anywhere other than Scotland?) I went with my two friends Sam and Ian to pick up Lauren.  The four of us walked back to my house, where we quickly ate a light dinner and then headed to my friend Christine's room.  There Lauren got to meet four of my other girl friends, Nicole Betsey and Christine from the US and Hanna who is from Germany.  After hanging out for a little bit we went to Pub night at the Grovensor Cafe, which we go to every week.  Lauren and I took advantage of the free food so ate some delicious pasta and pizza, while turning away the haggis that was offered to us.  After chatting with many of the international students who were at the pub, Lauren and I decided to turn in early to get ready for the next day.

Friday morning I had my photography class, and I left Lauren behind to do laundry from her trip (and mine since she is such a sweet sister) and make lunch.  After a full three hours of dealing with chemicals to process our film, I came home to meet Lauren for the afternoon.  We headed over to the Kelvinhaugh Museum, which is a museum right across the street from my apartment that has an assortment of exhibits.  After exploring the animals of Glasgow, Egypt and art sections, Lauren and I met with my friend Christine to walk to city centre and see a free open stage show called "Celtic Connections".  We got there just on time, and got to see about 6 different acts of local Glasgow bands.  We saw fiddles, folk music, husband and wife duets and a young band with pipe, fiddle and accordion.  It was all great music, and a good way for Lauren to get a taste of Scotland! The three of us headed back to the most highly recommended Indian restaurant in the area, Mother India Cafe, to get dinner with Betsey and Nicole.  You cannot make reservations at this place, and since it was a Friday we ended up waiting quite a while.  The host felt so bad, that after some confusion, he gave us a free bottle of wine with our meal! We got about 9 different types of Indian food to share, and it was a delicious, and very filling meal! We had plans to go out after, but the 5 of us were in such a food coma that we just went back to my room to watch a movie and go to bed early.
Lauren at the Kelvinhaugh Museum carefully wrapping a mummy, just like 5th grade

our delicious Indian dinner 
the fiddlers at Celtic Connection

Lauren and I woke up earlyish on Saturday, but took our time getting ready, making a delicious breakfast of french toast, scrambled eggs and bananas.  After breakfast we packed up some snacks and headed to the train station to meet my friend Ian and head into Edinburgh for the day.  We took the train, which gave us a great view of the grassy hills of Scotland, and were in Edinburgh within a half an hour. We walked around the royal mile, checking out the castle, the cathedral and many of the shops along the way.  Lauren, Ian and I even invested in a very small sampling of whisky since that is what Scotland is known for, but when we tried it later in the night none of us particularly enjoyed it.  After touring around, the three of us stopped for Lunch at one of the cafes labelled as where JK
Our french toast, eggs and bananas

Lauren writing the next harry potter, on a napkin of course
Lauren and Ian "enjoying" the whisky

Lauren, my roommate Kristin, Hanna and Christine at the lane

Sunday morning Lauren had to pack up all of her things to catch the bus.  Betsey Nicole and Christine woke up and met us at a restaurant near our house called "the neighbourhood"  There we each got a delicious brunch, Lauren even got a "traditional" Scottish breakfast, but the vegetarian version so she missed on out the black pudding usually served.  We had wanted to try high tea, but they were already booked, so this brunch was just as delicious! Then I walked Lauren to the bus stop and we said our goodbyes after a wonderful visit! I miss her already, but was so happy that she got to come out and see where I will be for the rest of this semester!

This past week in my photography class I was able to develop some of my photos.  It is so cool how we get to do it, making test strips first with the projector to see what filter to use and how long to expose the image for, and then creating 8 by 10 black and white prints! Hopefully, if the class goes well, I will come home with many beautiful memories and maybe even gifts for people if they would like any of the pictures!
After my photography class last week I played squash with a friend of mine which was really fun, and then came home to get ready to go out with a few of my friends.  On Saturday my friend Betsey and I agreed to check out some of the adorable cafes we walk past on our way to city centre every week, and to bring the essay we are both working on for our Scottish Literature class.  Betsey is gluten-free since she has a slight case of ciliacs, so we found Black Vanilla, a gluten free bakery.  It was a dangerous place to find out about.  We stayed there for at least 6 hours, working on our papers, chatting, and enjoying tea, brie and chicken paninis and the delicious cake.  Betsey got an orange and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and I got a piece of a cinnamon, banana, walnut, polenta cake with cream cheese frosting.  We were SO full, but everything was delicious and it was such a relaxing way to get work done we are definitely going back to a different cafe this weekend.
That night, we met up with Nicole who had two of her friends visiting from England, and we all went to a place called Driftwood for dinner.  Then our friend Hanna was having friends over, so we went to her house for a little party.  There I got to meet many new friends from France, Germany, Scotland and Belgium.  It was a great party, and the group of us headed out to a club near by for a little bit after to dance and hang out.  
On Sunday morning I woke up and went to Church with my roommate Ani.  In Scotland nearly all the churches are either "church of Scotland" or Protestant.  This was a Protestant mass, which was very different than what I am used to, but everyone was very friendly and welcoming.  After church the girls and I went into the city to run some errands.  We came across a place called Sloans, which hold open fair markets every Saturday and Sunday.  We also found out that they play free movies in the upstairs of the pub every Tuesday! So I am very excited about that, and we made plans to go every week.  Yesterday we saw Heathers, which was a strange 1980s movie, but the place where the movie was held was so adorable that we will definitely be back.  In future weeks they are playing movies like Pretty in Pink and Rebel without a Cause, so I am looking forward to that.
Hard at work at Black Vanilla

our DELICIOUS cakes

Betsey reading and eating:)

The girls at our dinner out at Driftwood

The open air market
The adorable street sloans is on

Well, I have my first presentation due tomorrow morning in Scottish Literature on my interpretation of the novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie so I am going to go practice that one more time before bed.  But hopefully this weekend I will have some exciting updates for you all, and won't wait so long before making my next post!