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In Glasgow, there is a very popular music venue. It looks like you have walked right into the Bat Cave. You almost expect to see Batman behind the red lights of the bar serving you Stella. The venue is under the train tracks of downtown Glasgow. The inside walls are all made of brick that form big circular rooms with high ceilings. The lighting is very low and the rooms resonate with the echos of the people enjoying a drink from the bar. Just beyond the bar is a small room that you are lead to by the gates that block off restricted areas in the cave like venue. The room is a tiny concert hall. There are enough chairs for about 50 people and the front row is just a few close feet to the staging area.

On this night, we saw a very intimate performance by Heidi Talbot. She is known for doing lovely versions of traditional Irish and Scottish songs as well as a few of her very own. We were just feet away from her and her band as they played their guitars and violins. They sang songs that were very soothing and sweet. Between songs Heidi and her band mates would tell stories of how they met or just funny things they had experienced together in their years of performing as a group. At the end of the show, Heidi made her way out to the bar area where she greeted her fans and autographed copies of her CDs and vinyl records. It was a very relaxing evening and it was nice to see someone as successful as her, be so down-to-earth.





 
 
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The internet connection is really awful for travelers. It’s expensive, slow and difficult to get a signal. However, when you do connect that feeling of being part of the World Wide Web, is one of the most exciting parts of your night. Not to say that all the sightseeing done during the day was a waste.

The reason why connecting to the internet brought us so much excitement was because we finally got to have contact with loved ones back home. For many of us, we had never traveled without the family or to a different country or for so long. All of us left behind friends and families that wanted to make sure we were safe. Some of us even left behind children that we wanted to check up on. Our families wanted to know where we were and what we had seen. So, posting pictures was a must. Not only did the people back home enjoy and beg to see them, but we were excited to share these new and exciting tales of adventure with someone dear.

-AMY
 
 
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One of the things that stands out to me the most about Scotland is the architecture. Whether walking down the street on the Isle of Arran or in the big cities of Glasgow or Edinburgh, I feel like I am going into the past. All the houses and shops on Arran are fairly similar looking in regards to the era in which they were built. They all have a very simple construction and modest height. They are typically white and give off an old time, yet modern, farm house feel.


The architecture in the cities is what amazes me the most. In St. Louis, we have old buildings. By old, I mean late 1800s to early 1900s. Before my trip to Scotland, I thought they were pretty neat. However, Glasgow and Edinburgh have buildings that are clearly centuries older. There are old churches and monuments that were built in the gothic styles and had survived Medieval times. Victorian and Romanesque styles could also be seen in buildings that are now apartments or offices. All these different styles are mixed in with modern building styles from the 19th to 21st centuries. Walking down the shopping district of Glasgow is beautiful. I had only seen these architectural styles in pictures from art history books before. To see them in person is truly amazing. They have such great detail and presence.
Oh, and don’t forget about Scotland's castles. The one in Edinburgh was the best. It was built in the 1400s and is brilliantly preserved.


-AMY

 
 
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Food plays a huge role in a person’s culture. Everything from the preparation to the eating is influenced by culture. Every culture enjoys different things.

Having never been out of the United States, I wasn’t sure how the food would taste. Some people will come back from their travels and will say that the food abroad is amazing. Others, not so much. When arriving in Scotland, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that there would be differences in how some foods tasted and what they were called and how they were prepared. However, I didn’t know to what extreme they would be. 

In Scotland, a burger is not a burger. At least in an American’s mind. They were flat and had a strange look and taste. The condiments offered were things that an American would probably not consider putting on their burger or fries, or chips as the Scots call them. Ketchup, which was more tangy in taste, seemed almost like an after thought. A favorite was mayonnaise and brown sauce, which I’m still not entirely sure what that is.

Even making your own food was an experience. The grocery store was strange. Items that would typically be seen in a cooler in the States were put on shelves, like eggs that were kept with the bread. Fresh bread also laid in open baskets on shelves for people to just grab. Select items that are available in the States are no where to be found. You find yourself having to look for substitutes to replace a favorite food item. The items that you do find, you buy because you are hoping for it to be familiar in taste. Often, your tongue is deceived. The difference wasn’t always bad. Vanilla yogurt in Scotland, I found to be tastier than that of the same brand in the United States. 

All in all, the food was an experience. A bit of culture shock. Once I got use to it, it didn’t seem so bad. Maybe it was because I came to expect it to be different and I accepted it. Maybe some of the tastes just grew on me. Either way, nothing tastes better than home, but it won’t kill you to at least try something new.

-AMY