Thursday, October 15, 2015

Murder Mystery: Glasgow, Scotland

Don't get too excited by that title.  No one I know bites it during this episode, not the big one anyway.  There will be other types of biting though.

We finally arrive in Glasgow a day late but early enough in the day that there is no way we are just going to sit around the hotel all day.  One of our party of four was left behind in Amsterdam to take the next flight so the three of us that have arrived check in at the hotel, dump our luggage and hit the streets.

The chilly, wet streets typical of Scotland.  That is the front of our hotel.  It is hard to see them because of what they are wearing but my companions are there checking out the fireman statue out front. Our room faces on to this street, it would be just to the left of this picture on that 3rd floor.  There is a bus stop next to where I am standing and one on that cross street as well.  The hotel is above the Central train station.  As with a lot of buildings in Scotland, our room has a heater but no air conditioning.  All of this and a 7 hour time difference will create an environment that is not conducive to sleep.

The other guys on this trip have been to Scotland before and they have told us we need to take a bus tour up to The Highlands.  Chris, the one that made it the rest of the way with us this morning, walks us over to the place where we can get brochures and, if we want, book the tour.  We get a lot of brochures but I really want to look them over before deciding.  As I look around at the rest of the things the offer here, I find a book I decide to buy for 6 pounds (around $10).

The book takes you on a murder-mystery-scavenger-hunt-walking-tour to Glasgow Cathedral, someplace I already know I want to go.  We have no other plans and the guys are on board to humor me so we head out to solve the mystery of which one of those people is our murderer and what weapon they used.

The original book did not survive the journey back to the US.  As noted, it is raining out.  Each time I get the book out to look at the next set of instructions/clues, it gets wet.  By the end of the tour it is coming apart.  The book says the tour should take us about 2 hours.  There is a little note about who has been killed but I don't remember much about that.  Most of the book contains directions to take you from one place to another.  Once you get to a destination, you look for some type of clue.  It isn't as easy as I thought it was going to be.  The cartoon look of the characters on the back is deceiving.

Also, there were no disclaimers about hazards in the book.  There were a few.

At work we used to have something called a "cookie foul" or a "doughnut foul" which involved someone eating only half of a cookie or doughnut and leaving the rest behind.  I hope dog  fouling isn't similar.

We run into our first snag at a cemetery.  A really old cemetery.  See how weathered and moldy that sign is?  They are all like that.  Some are so worn you cannot read them at all. We are trying to locate a headstone that has two brothers on it.  We need a date from the younger one to mark off one of the weapons.

The boys study a possible match.  The creepy factor goes up in a cemetery when it is rainy and dreary outside.  We are also the only ones walking around in here.  At least the only ones that are visible.  We make multiple laps, in groups, individually (even more creepy) but we don't ever find the clue.  I vote to move on, the boys agree but only after suggesting we circle back later.

The book takes us to a lot of places we might never have seen.  The clues are a variety of things, in this case, we are looking for some text on the other side of that statue.  To make it more challenging, it is written in Latin.

Sometimes the directions were difficult to follow.  We need a date off of that building at the end of that bridge but we should have found 2 clues before getting to the bridge.  It turned out we entered this area in the wrong place and the two missing clues are on the other side on a path to the right.

Our second cemetery, the Necropolis at the Cathedral.  I make plans to come back later in the week.  I want to go all the way up to the top and see what/who is up there and to check out the view of the city.

Mr. Livingstone I presume?  We hit our second snag between this statue of  David Livingstone and the Cathedral in the background.  There is a sign missing off the front of another statue in the courtyard and it appears that is where our clue would be.

While we are outside the Cathedral we find out that the guy we left in Amsterdam and the person who left Montana a whole day after we did have arrived at the hotel (which serves to highlight how bad our travel experience was).  They are given directions on how to find us.  In the meantime, we pause the hunt to check out the Cathedral, no clues lie inside.

The Cathedral is free and open to the public daily.  You can leave a donation, which we happily did.  There is a small gift shop in a corner and we buy a small stained glass ornament after being inspired by the amazing windows of this Gothic architecture style building. The building was built 12th century and it is, according to Wikipedia, no longer technically a Cathedral because it isn't the seat of a bishop and hasn't been since 1690.

I don't really care about all of that.  The building is beautiful and inspiring and what I really want to know is, is that for sale?  I have a thing for angel statuary, especially really big ones and, though it is hard to tell from the photo, she is life size.  I wonder what the shipping would cost?

I know this kind of looks like the other picture but this is a completely separate room.  There are a lot of nooks and crannies to check out here.  Lots of interesting stone work and stained glass and wood work.  There are tapestries and tombs in the floors below.

Back outside the rain has let up enough to take down the hoods.  The rest of our group shows up and we go from a party of 3 to a party of 5.  We are about halfway through the book and it becomes apparent to me pretty quickly that the hunt for our killer is going to take a backseat to hunting for pubs.  As we continue on to the next clue, the talk amongst the boys is primarily on this topic.  We have been walking for a long time and we could use some fuel for the rest of the walk.

And that's how it comes to pass that David eats haggis.  After trying mountain oysters a few years ago, I have sworn off food made from freaky animal parts and actually rarely eat any kind of meat other than fish or eggs anymore.  No haggis for me.  David doesn't love it but while eating at Taco Bell in the Minneapolis airport on the way home, they inadvertently finds a miniscule sliver of lettuce on his "soft tacos with no lettuce".  When I told him to get a grip he said he would rather eat haggis again than lettuce.  I think that says a lot about the general differences in food preferences where he and I are concerned.

All of the boys try the haggis and have some beers.  This is the first of 3 pubs we will visit before making it back to the hotel.  When we were in Amsterdam, we went down to the restaurant at the hotel and the Jackson Browne song from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High was playing.  He was the first in a string of 80s pop singers we heard that night.  This trend followed us to Glasgow.  Every place we went they were playing 70s and 80s "American" pop-music.  Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Seals & Croft.  I didn't expect to hear non-stop bagpipes and Celtic Women CDs but I didn't expect this either.  While the boys finish their sheep stomach "meatballs" I check out the ladies room.

I have seen a lot of funny signs in bathrooms, mostly about what to do with your tampons and proper hand washing techniques involving songs from Sesame Street.   This is my first encounter with a warning about drugs and "offensive" weapons.

Does this count as an offensive weapon?  Unfortunately I don't get to find out as the TSA frowns on my carrying this with me when I travel.  I can't even wear my hair in a ponytail if I don't want to have a quasi-sexual encounter with a female TSA agent these days.

Between pubs we continue to look for clues but not with as much interest.  We never make it back to the cemetery where we had our first missed clue.

We fail to solve the mystery. We have 3 suspects and 2 weapons left.  We leave Scotland a week later and are no closer to the answer.  Sherlock Holmes would be disgusted with us.

Toward the end of our walk, we end up by the Clyde river (or is it the river Clyde?).  There is the rest of my entourage, walking ahead of me.  I get behind as usual stopping to take pictures of things that most other people would never take pictures of.  Like trash.  Or homeless people.  Or strange signs about drugs and weapons in the ladies room.

It turns out to be a good thing that I am walking a little behind the crowd.  When I hear the phrase "I think I just burped up some sheep intestines" I know that a safe distance behind is right where I belong.  I am starting to think that haggis could be considered an offensive weapon by some.  It is a good thing that Alka-Seltzer is legal and that I have some back at the hotel.  I think one or more of those boys is going to need it.


  1. Sounds like fun. Good food. Good weather. A couple of cemeteries. What more could you ask for??

    1. I'm not sure haggis qualifies as "good food" :) I did make it back to the Necropolis, it is pretty awesome up there. Lots of angel statues to keep me busy.