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Saturday, December 29, 2007

SCOTLAND--DAY 11


We spend two nights in Glasgow. This gives us time to tour and time to wander. One certainly complements the other.

Our tour includes a stop at St. Mungo’s Cathedral, an extraordinarily interesting place. It’s beautiful, St. Mungo is buried here, and it is the only remaining medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to survive the Reformation unscathed. Knox left quite a bit of damage in his wake. Once St. Mungo’s was a Catholic Cathedral, but now it is part of the High Kirk of Scotland. Its history is as fascinating as its Gothic architecture.

We also get a chance to visit the Burrell Collection, a marvelous museum left to the city by Sir William Burrell, made rich through ship building. Three thousand pieces of the eight thousand piece collection are displayed at any one time, and admission is free. Rob and I spend our time viewing the magnificent tapestry collection. Room after room of tapestry. Outstanding even if you’ve viewed the Met’s Unicorn Tapestries!

The highlight of the day, however, is our Robert Burns dinner. We drive out beyond Edinburgh and view a statue honoring one of Scotland’s greatest heroes, Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots, who fought to free Scotland from English rule. We are greeted by a kilt-clad Scottish piper who musically escorts us to the inn where we dine in true Scottish fashion. We are introduced, once and for all, to haggis, the favored dish of Robert Burns and all true Scotsmen. Burns wrote the famous poem “Ode to the Haggis,” and we are entertained with a rendition by our host before haggis is served to us with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance. Rob loves it, and finds a compatriot in our friend Aggie. I taste it. Actually not so bad. BTW, haggis in a variety of forms is served at breakfast and at other dinners we have. (Michael, remember Boy Scout Camp Ranachqua and the visiting Scottish Boy Scout Troop?)

Also this evening we are treated to Scottish piping—quite different from the Irish pipes—and to Scottish Dancing, including the famous Sword Dance which dates back to 1573.

It’s another delightful and entertaining day and evening, and we are just beginning to get a feeling for this country.

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