We left our home in Ottawa, Canada almost 2 weeks ago and are now officially travelling around-the-world for a year! It still doesn't seem real and we can hardly wrap our heads around it...
Our fist stop was Glasgow, Scotland!
I’ll be honest…The only reason we started in Glasgow was because it was the cheapest place to fly to in Europe during the month of July. Plus, we had never been to Scotland, so why not?!
We spent seven days in Scotland’s largest city, which might have been too long as the city is certainly not the prettiest in Europe and rather rough around the edges. However, we did find some real gems and had a good time.
We stayed in a lovely one-bedroom apartment in the Govanhill neighbourhood that we found on Airbnb. It was quite spacious, and the décor was neat – totally changing my opinion about wallpaper! The area around the apartment was full of shops and the lovely Queen’s Park was just a short walk away. Although it was outside the city centre; there were bus stops everywhere and we never waited more than a few minutes for one. One day, L and I even walked to the city centre and back.
Travelling long-term means that if we’re somewhere for more than a couple days we look for accommodations with a kitchen so that we can make most of our meals. This cuts down on costs big time and it’s fun to shop in the local grocery store and buy some local foods. During our week in Scotland we ate Scotch Eggs and Scottish meat pie and drank Scottish beer at our kitchen table.
When we arrived in Scotland we were exhausted! Our overnight flight was delayed in Halifax for three hours so that first day we simply napped, visited a nearby playground and picked up some groceries.
By the second day we were ready to start exploring. We visited the free Scotland Street School Museum, which chronicles the history of school education in Glasgow and is located in an old school designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early 1900s. Kids can visit classrooms from the Victorian era, WW2 and the 50s/60s. They can also try on school uniforms, play hopscotch in the corridors and see old toys and lesson materials.
We spent our third day in Queen’s Park, where we had a family picnic, played some soccer (football) and hit up the playground. We topped off the day with ice cream at What the Fudge Desserts, a neat little treat shop by our apartment that had a ceiling covered in comic book pages…and delicious ice cream!
During our day in Queen’s Park we stumbled upon Goals, a UK based football club with many locations. As mentioned, LJ lives for soccer and gets quite cranky if she doesn’t play enough. As luck would have it, Goals was offering summer camps and you could register by the day! The cost was much cheaper than camps in Ottawa, and they provided lunch and snacks. So, of course we signed her up!
While LJ spent a day playing soccer, L and I spent the day wondering around the city centre. I think the neatest things we did was climb up The Lighthouse, which is in Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture and provides a 360 view of the city.
LJ really wanted to see some castles and no trip to Scotland is complete without a trip to Edinburgh. So early one morning we hopped on a bus to spend the day in Scotland’s pretty capital. We visited Edinburgh Castle, ate lunch at The Old Bell Inn and even ended up seated next to a family from Edmonton. We watched the World Cup while eating Haggis, which was actually quite tasty! We did trick LJ into trying it but she wasn’t a fan. Before heading home, we drank coffee while LJ played in the playground at The Meadows.
Our last day in Glasgow was really interesting. We visited the Baltic Street Adventure Playground and I can hardly describe this place. It’s a supervised adventure playground, where everything is child-led.
LJ was in her element there and said it was like forest school but in the city. She climbed and jumped out of trees, swung on ropes, hung from bars and wooden planks, explored tunnels in the ground, watched kids play shopping cart bumper cars, and was pretty much free to play as she pleased while Lew and I sat at a picnic table playing cribbage. At one point I found her with a group of kids in the corner building a fort. She was hammering a huge piece of tubing to some wooden planks to create a telephone between the top and bottom floors. The playground also provides a constant supply of free food and drinks for anyone who stops by. When we were there we were encouraged to enjoy the hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, fruit and juices.
I’ve read about adventure playgrounds before and we visited a somewhat similar park in Ithaca, New York a few years ago. For a parent unfamiliar with the concept, it can be quite terrifying at first. Kid are playing with tools and jumping out of trees onto old mats, but in chatting with the staff we learned there has been nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises. Kids are remarkably adept at understanding their own limits and pushing themselves at just the right pace.
I sure would love to see more of these types of play spaces in Canada!
All in all, we had a nice time in Scotland. My only regret is that we didn’t make it to the Highlands (it was either that or Edinburgh). LJ had wanted to look for Nessy in Lock Ness and we both would have liked to see more of the country side. As a compromise, we took the train to our next destination so we could get a better view of the UK.
From Glasgow we headed to London…for a very special reason that turned out better than we imagined…But I’ll save that story until next time…
Scotland with kids
Where we stayed:
Airbnb - 1 bedroom apartment
How we got there:
WestJet flight via from Ottawa via Halifax
What we did in Glasgow:
Scotland Street School Museum
What the Fudge Desserts
Goals – Glasgow South
Baltic Street Adventure Playground
What we did in Edinburgh:
The Old Bell Inn