Sometimes, life has funny way of lining things up in front of you. Work, once again, needed me to travel to Glasgow, Scotland. The work aspect of this trip will be considerably different this time, but one thing was going to be the same. Kilmarnock FC had a home match. This is where things get a bit “thank you universe,” as the Killie match was on a Saturday. Well, it just so happens that when I began looking into booking my travel, it just made sense to travel to Scotland a couple days early, not only from a five-hour time differential point of view, but also from a monetary point of view. It was looking considerably cheaper to fly up on a Friday evening to arrive Saturday morning prior to the week I was to be there than any of the other options. Thank you Universe.
I flew into Glasgow, directly this time, on a Virgin Atlantic 747. Flying over to the UK this time of year is a bit easier than at the end of winter, like last time, due to it being the end of the window when most go on holiday. The flight was fairly full, but not packed, and I lucked out in getting a row all to myself. The food options were better this time as well — pulled pork with mashed potatoes and beans — and I was even able to sleep for a good four or five hours. That last bit was needed, and one of the most important aspects of preparation for day one in Glasgow. This was an overnight flight, arriving in Scotland at 9:30 a.m. Kickoff in Kilmarnock was scheduled for 3 p.m.
My flight arrived a bit early, so once I was through customs, I decided to sit for a few moments with an Americano coffee and square away my cell phones. My work phone works very well over here, my personal one does not. Due to wanting to maintain a separation of personal and work information, I have to carry two phones, which can be a pain. It turns out to be a pretty helpful thing over here. I can stay connected with the world, when not on the wifi somewhere, by using my work phone as an internet hot spot for my personal phone. It, if nothing else, lets me stay attached to the personal social medias I have back home. I just needed to find the best way to get from the airport to the hotel, and check to see if they had a room available this early in the morning.
Thankfully, public transport in Glasgow (trains, buses, and taxis) are plentiful and affordable. A train would have gotten me close to my hotel, but I chose to go the slightly simpler route and just get a taxi. I also need to remember to chose my words very carefully. Come to find out, my cab driver was also a football fan, and was going to the Celtic home match. He couldn’t understand why I wanted to go down to Kilmarnock for a “footy” match while Celtic were playing at home. Here comes my big mistake, as I reminded him that Kilmarnock beat Celtic last weekend. It was at this point that I wondered if I would make it all the way to the hotel or get dropped off on some random road in some random neighborhood, miles from where I needed to be. Thankfully, he was just kidding about kicking me out, but we didn’t talk much after that.
My hotel is in City Centre this trip, not the West End, but I am much closer to Glasgow Central Station, the train station I need to get down to Killie. I had the perfect amount of time at the hotel, changed, relaxed for a few minutes, checked in with folks, got a bit of work done, and headed out. It is only about an eight-minute walk to the train station, and the sun was trying to shine. Folks along the street were certainly looking at me weird, and then I realized it was because I was walking through town with a big purple scarf on that read Orlando City. While waiting to cross the street, I even chatted with a few folks about Orlando City, football, America, politics (without question, everywhere I have been in town, this trip and last, people want to talk about Trump and American politics), and everyone wanted to know why I was going to Kilmarnock for football.
The train station was just as busy as I remembered it. Tickets were secured, and I had timed my arrival pretty well as I only needed to wait about 10 minutes for the train to arrive. Once on board, there is certainly only one thing to do, wait for the snack cart to come buy and get yourself a Tennent’s Lager.
The train ride takes about 30 minutes, and then it is another 15- to 20-minute walk through residential streets to Rugby Park. I have to say, it was just as amazing to round the corner and see the park this time as it was last time.
And this was just half of the day, and also where things start to get fun, and by fun I mean just another chapter in the insanity that is my travel abroad. Part 2 of this amazing story will cover the Park Hotel, Killie Pies, the match, and what could be the most chance meeting ever. Stay tuned until Tuesday, folks. It only gets funnier from here.