Bound for Glasgow

July 9, 2016 - Glasgow, United Kingdom

After a couple of hours sleep the alarm stirred us out of bed at 2am. God, I didn't think this hour of the morning actually existed but there were still people wandering the streets and the party boats with their bright lights and loud music were still plying their trade. We packed the last of our things and began walking toward Al Arumaila to check out and to meet the driver. We actually met the receptionist with whom I had confirmed our arrangements. He and a young man from the kitchen staff were walking toward Al Musheireb hotel with our breakfast box. At the same time the driver of a black Mercedes approached us and held up a sign with our name. Not exactly as planned but it was now falling into place. Our driver loaded the luggage and waited while we went to Al Arumaila and completed the check out.

Although we had not insisted on an English speaking driver, this guy spoke very good English and explained how the traffic fines were very high and the 80kph limit on the airport road were enforced by hidden camera. Even waiting for more than a few minutes in the Souq could lead to a fine that would arrive in the mail at a later date. He wasn't too concerned about this morning though; not at 3am.

Our driver dropped us at the Departures entry where our tickets and passports were checked before we could go inside (probably instituted after the Istanbul attacks) and we then went directly to the check-in counter and very quickly had our bags into the system and our boarding passes in hand. We then went back to a seating area near the entry to enjoy our little breakfast box of orange juice and croissants.

After doing the immigration and security things we made a preliminary foray to our gate area before returning to the general transit area in the hope of crossing paths with Sarah's group. Their plane was scheduled to land at 5am and ours didn't begin boarding until 5:40am so we tried to split up and cover the possible paths they could take. At the appointed hour we had to abandon that task and move on to begin boarding our aircraft. This time it was a 787 Dreamliner with 3-3-3 seating and felt less cramped than the bigger aircraft. That impression may be due to the smaller capacity so less people pressure.

Another 7+ hours to contemplate in this aluminium tube (or should I say fibre composite) but it passed reasonably easily. By the time breakfast had been served and we had watched 'The Dressmaker' and taken a nap we were more than half-way through the flight. We began watching 'In the Heart of the Sea' but were interrupted by the serving of a snack. Margaret's neighbour in the row began talking to us;  an Edinburgh native who now lives in Melbourne. The conversation continued until we were on the ground in Edinburgh which meant that the movie would have to wait until late. The time was better spent and seemed to pass more quickly talking to him.

It looks like there is some reconstruction work happening at the Edinburgh terminal so our path through immigration was into a shed out the back before collecting our bags and breezing out through Customs without slowing our pace. We stopped at an ATM to withdraw some £'s and followed signs to the coach park to look for the bus to Glasgow. Margaret had found that there was a half-hourly service and chosen our hotel to be near the bus-station.

There were signs directing us to the Coach Park and then to Stop C for the Glasgow bus but in the Coach Park there was only Stops 1 to 10 so we asked one of the drivers. 'You going to Glasgow', he said in a Glaswegian accent, sounding somewhat amazed, then said we had to go back to the terminal building and just near the entrance there are the bus stops. Ah ha. The difference between coaches and buses, perhaps. We easily found the 'bus', bought our tickets from the 'bus driver' and settled into a very comfortable 'bus'.

We again remarked to each other how quickly one passes from the city area to the countryside in the United Kingdom, or in Europe generally for that matter. The trip was about an hour and we were soon coming down past the University of Strathclyde toward the Buchanan Street Bus Station. Our hotel was only a few blocks away along Renfrew Street so we were soon checking in.

Checking ourselves in I should have said. The CitizenM is worlds apart from the boutique qualities we had enjoyed over the past few days. Here we looked after ourselves, although there were staff to assist where necessary but essentially we were responsible for everything down to programming the key and printing the receipt. We chose a city view room on a higher floor, the 5th for us and we entered with some trepidation. Adequate is a good description.

The king bed fills the end of the room under the wall-to-wall and bed to ceiling window. That is the bed COMPLETELY fills the end of the room with no room to walk around it. Climbing over the other person is the only way to get to the window side of the bed. There is a TV on the wall above the foot of the bed and an iPad beside the bed to control  TV, blinds and curtains, lights etc. The bathroom is a frosted glass oval on one side of the room with a shower and toilet. The vanity basin is opposite the bathroom space and a narrow desk with a pouffe seat and a swivel chair complete the furnishings. A large drawer under the bed takes all our luggage, even with some of the contents laid out within the same drawer. Oh, there is also a hanging space with room for three hangers. All very space saving and funky but requires a severe change in attitude after the sprawling spaces of the Musheireb hotel.

After dropping our bags and unpacking we walked out down Renfield Street and stopped for a pint at a local pub. Bliss, after a few alcohol free days. We then decided to walk down to George Square in search of the Jamie Oliver restaurant we went to in 2013. There we had a spagetti carbonara and a rosato wine. Our efficiently busy Glaswegian waiter was good fun and looked after us well. We finished off our meal with a brownie for Margaret and a polenta with creme fraiche for me and a coffee each. We considered it £50 pounds well spent and added some cash for Allan who sat and chatted a bit afterwards. He had just returned from a wedding in China so commiserated with us over what had been a long day even though it was only 5:30pm.

We were both feeling quite tired so returned to the hotel for an early night. Thankfully we managed to wrangle the technology and draw the blinds and turn off the lights to darken the room against the long summer evenings at this latitude.


Time to enjoy our breakfast box
3:30am is not a very busy time
The departure gate areas
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