Last week in – Part 2 – of this three part series on Glasgow, I suggest what to do in the city.
I never got to the other side of the Clyde this time. I would have liked to see the Tall Ship, Armadillo building and take a Clyde River cruise. If you have time, you can move out from the centre city to Pollock Country Park where you can see Pollock House which is also free entry and filled with antique furniture, silverware and art.
The Burrel Collection nearby is a space show-casing over 8000 objects such as tapestries, stained glass and Chinese art which was donated by Sir William Burrel to Glasgow. Also situated there is House for an Art Lover which was built after Charles Rennie Mackintosh died and was his dream home. Glasgow has their ubiquitous black cabs if you can’t figure out the bus service or your feet need a rest from all the walking. Check the price first, I never, ever trust a cab driver.
And even further from the city you can take a tour out to Loch Lommond and The Trossachs to get a feel of the countryside. There are lots of walks and trails as well as other outdoor activities such as cycling, canoeing and many more. Glasgow is Gallic for “dear green place” and outside the city the countryside really is green and beautiful.
Do make sure you eat and drink local produce. Local ales and beers are made in micro-breweries and apart from interesting names they are made with love and care. I had – Profanity Ale – which is a local beer and I also tried a – Skull Splitter – from Orkney.
The three vegetarian places I managed to visit were – Mono – Stereo – and – Saramago – which is a vegan cafe at the CCA. A beetroot pate at Mono cost £3.50, a Vietnamese salad was £7.50 and a large glass of red wine was £4.75. Tipping is not expected in the UK but rounding off the bill including some money is a welcome gesture.
I haven’t even touched the surafce of what to do and see. Live music venues such as King Tuts Wah wah Hut where Oasis were apprarently discovered or 13th Note in King Street where some acts with names such as – The Cosmic Dead – and – Undulating Gland – deserve a visit, if only to satify your curiousity. You might want to see some live drama at the theatre.
I could go back and back to Glasgow as I never seem to see the same things twice, and each time I return, a new section has been rebuilt which changes the city and it’s profile.
River Clyde looking east
Make sure you pack comfy shoes, an open mind and save some credit on your card for the shopping malls.
Here are some handy links for more info on Glasgow –
Secret summer Glasgow
Wild walk Scotland
Charles Rennie Mackintosh society
Scottish Independent Hostels
Scottish Youth Hostels
Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.
Last week in – Part 1 – of this three part series on Glasgow I talk about the history and people of Glasgow. This week I give my suggestions for things to see and do.
Start in the city centre at George Square. The tourism office is located right there and you can collect a map to find your way around. The map will show which buildings and statues are of importance. Vegetarians might also want to get a copy of – Vegetarian Scotland – to find veggie friendly eateries.
Oldest public house in Glasgow
The tourism office should also have a handy brochure listing all the free entry museums – of which there are plenty. You can save quite a bit of money with free entries and rather buy something special to remember Glasgow. I found many places of interest were closed on Mondays such as Barras, The People’s Palace and St Mungo Museum, so bear that in mind when planning your time in the city.
The shopping areas are at right angles to each other in and around Sauchiehall Street and Buchannan Street. Princes Square – doesn’t appear to be much from Buchannan Street but inside we found trendy cafes and designer boutiques so don’t just walk past without poking your nose into doorways and alleys. GoMA or – Gallery of Modern Art – is a must. I can’t say I am up on my art but it’s free and a full of very interesting creations, not just paintings and sculpture.
Merchant City area
You might also want to visit one of the – Willow Tearooms – in the area. They were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, an architect, artist and ardent proponent of Art Nouveau. The Lighthouse – is a great starting place to learn more about Mackintosh and where his designs and influnce can be seen in the city. Mackintosh is to Glasgow what Gaudi is to Barcelona.
Two places well worth visiting, and in walking distance from the city centre, are – Kelvingrove – where there is a free art gallery, museum, cafe and other exhibits. There are also beautiful public gardens and walkways surrounding Kelvingrove.
On the other side of town is Glasgow Green next to the River Clyde. Peoples Palace – is located here. It’s another free museum where they showcase everyday life and history of Glaswegians. You can have a lunch break in this exquisite setting.
I took a stroll along the Clyde taking in the views and aroma of the Chivas Regal whiskey distillery. Heading in the opposite direction are the river cruises and –The Tall Ship
From Glasgow Green you can walk up through the Barras, which is an indoor bargain market where they sell things like hairclips, carpets, vinyl and quirky designs. The sort of place to lose oneself and marvel at the junk and gorgeous things they sell.
If you carry on walking to the Merchant City and all the way up you will come to Glasgow Cathedral which is dedicated to St Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow. It was built in 1136. Across the road is the Necropolis where wealthy Victorians built massive mausoleums to their deceased loved ones.
Vegan mezze platter at Saramago
And if you walk quite a bit further north you will first find Woodlands
Road and then Great Western Road. This is the bohemian area of Glasgow
and has antique shops and organic emporiums to mention a few interesting places to look out for.
Here are some handy links for more info on Glasgow –
This blog is posted in three parts, each post a week apart.
I’ve visited – Glasgow – before and been in transit through the city a few times. It’s one of my favourite cities, so when a friend came back from visiting Scotland and said she didn’t care for Glasgow, I was completely shocked.
When I went to Glasgow this time, I was conscious of what could have put her off. My main reason for going to Glasgow was to do the – Great Scottish Run. The run was brilliant. Over ten thousand people ran the half marathon and it was a dream. No congestion, a course that isn’t ardous and takes you on a tour through the city.
Historically Glasgow was minding it’s own business as a regular medieval town for centuries. In 1707 a treaty allowing Glasgow to trade more freely, combined with it’s excellent loaction brought about rapid changes. Factories flourished and imports and exports as well as ship building on the River Clyde created massive employment opportunities and an influx of people. The city grew beyond recognition. Around the 1950’s trade and manufacture began to move to developing countries and much of the inner city fell into disrepair.
Glasgow Friendly City
Derelict chunks of the inner area were pulled down and tower blocks were built on the periphery to move and re-house large numbers of people. That proved to be a bad idea and many have since been evacuated and imploded. Read more – Red Road Flats – and – Bruce Report. The result of this is that Glasgow is the complete opposite of most cities. It’s been called a doughnut city because it’s hollow in the middle.
The exciting part is the planning and developing that is currently going on in the inner city. Essentially Glasgow is a city busy re-inventing itself. Old Victorian sandstone buildings and – Charles Rennie Mackintosh – architecture sit right next to glass and chrome structures.
Although the poplulation of the inner city has shrunk, if you include the out-lying areas, Glasgow is home to 2.5 million people making it the biggest city in Scotland and third biggest in the UK. Edinburgh might be the capital city but Glasgow is the economic powerhouse and the hub of all activity. Glasgow is the biggest shopping destination in the UK after London. It’s crammed full of fun and funky places to eat, play or stay.
The quirky Glaswegians are a massive part of the character of the city. They call Glasgow – The Friendly City – and it truly is. Each time I have asked a passerby for help or directions they have just about taken me to where I want to go.
Modern art at GoMa
Glasgow has a massive art and music scene. In – this blog – I list Glaswegian musicians. And some of the best humour comes from Glaswegian comedians. Think – Billy Connolly – and – Frankie Boyle. Not to forget a new wave of fashion coming from the likes of – Louise Gray, Christopher Kane – and – Holly Fulton.
Tourism in Glasgow isn’t as obvious as in Edinburgh but that’s not to say it isn’t happening. The Commonwealth Games are set for 2014 and Glasgow is bidding for the 2018 Youth Olympics. Glasgow also hosts plenty conferences and exhibitions.
Glasgow Central Station
I guess if you are used to settling into an Alpine lodge or soaking up the sun on a tropical island, then you may not care for Glasgow. But if you love art, music, food, shopping and discovering fun quirky places and spaces then you will surely love Glasgow.
You need to get a map, divide the city into the amount of time you have on hand, and get cracking exploring. Next week I give my suggestions as to what to do.
Here are some handy links for more info on Glasgow –
Part 1 – of this series covers a walking tour of Aberdeen city and shopping. Part 2 – is about the highland tourist route and driving. Last week in – Part 3 – I spoke about our road trip via Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park to Edinburgh.
Royal Mile Edinburgh
After a French style breakfast we hit the ground running. We had one day to see all of Edinburgh on foot. The must-sees I planned for us (grouped together by location) are: –
Start walking down the Royal Mile plus museums along the way such as The People’s Museum.
Holyrood Palace, Scottish parliament and Dynamic Earth Centre at the bottom of Royal Mile.
Elephant house on George IV Bridge where Harry Potter was written for a quick bite, Greyfriars Kirk, and down Candlemakers Row to Grassmarket area.
Edinburgh Castle and down to Princes Street Gardens.
Finally Charlotte Square, a UNESCO site and we wandered back along Princes, George and Rose Street. We had a late lunch at Henderson’s, a vegetarian restaurant in Hanover street.
We never made the Dynamic Earth centre but we still squeezed in a visit to Real Foods in Broughton Street for a health food shop-up. By now I was tired. We headed back past the theatre area to our hotel in Pilrig Street. It was a long day yet somehow my friend still
mustered up more energy to go for a run up Calton Hill. I have walked it before and highly recommend it for breathtaking views across the city. I was just too tired to join him.
Elephant House where Harry Potter was written
I thought I had lost him as he took forever to return but he did eventually, and after a quick shower and a change of clothes we went back into town and ended up at Q Bar for supper. The food was OK but they had great music blaring out and we ended up having far too much fun before walking back to the hotel and sleeping like the dead. A meal out for two with two glasses of wine and a tip costs around £40.
The next day wasn’t even half a day as my friend flew out at 11.05am and had to be at Edinburgh Airport with time in hand. The lengthy queues at the check-in counter meant he grabbed a coffee and sandwich and the next thing he was gone!
Much as I enjoyed Edinburgh, my favourite city in Scotland is still Glasgow, which we sadly never got to see. Edinburgh is
predictable and pretty. Glasgow is sassy. I love, love the vibrant and loud art and music scene in Glasgow. The architecture is full of Charles Rennie Macintosh art deco influences. There is a disproportionate amount of fun going on in Glasgow.
Glasgow also has far more shopping options. And the best bit? The extra, ultra friendly Glaswegians. No need to fear asking directions from a Glaswegian, they love to chat and help. Only thing is, I can’t understand a word they say. They have the thickest, broadest accent called Glaswegian patter which is incomprehensible to most English speakers. I love listening to them anyway.
Although Scotland is part of the United Kingdom they have their own parliament, their own currency and their school and work holidays are not the same as those in England. It’s cheaper to hire a car from Scotland than from England. We’ve used Enterprise Car Hire so many times and have been happy with their service. Just make sure you triple check the car for chips and chinks coz if they find any when you return the car, you are liable for them.
Your road trip to Edinburgh could include the Whisky Trail. Edinburgh is the capital city and home to Holyrood or the Scottish parliament. It is also the location of Edinburgh Castle. It is much, much more touristy and you will find museums and homage to all things Scottish at every turn. It all happens along the Royal Mile. There is a massive Edinburgh International Festival once a year around August called The Fringe. Think stand-up comedy and theatre. It’s a place for newcomers and old timers to show what they can do. The whole world seems to rock up for this event and if you are not inclined to mega crowds you will be glad to have missed it. If you love bagpipes you could plan to visit around the time of the Edinburgh Tattoo. Shopping in Edinburgh is not all that. Sorry to say. The shopping area in Edinburgh is Princes Street. I recommend the Haymarket area for a walkabout. Edinburgh has a few famous musicians, namely KT Tunstall, Shirley Mason of Garbage and Idlewild.
Ferry to Isle of Harris
After a day in Edinburgh you can drive to the north-east via Stirling and the castle which is geared to tourists. Swing past the Falkirk Wheel which is an engineering feat. It’s a boat-lift shaped something like The London Eye, it rotates boats in a circle in lieu of a boat lock and connects the Union Canal with the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Aberdeen is the third largest city. It’s a working city. Aberdeen was once a fishing village but is now the oil capital of Europe. All the buildings are built of big grey bocks of granite. The east coast is not as classically scenic as the west coast. The beauty of the eastern areas lies just inland where beautiful villages dot the area. If you cut across from Edinburgh to the east coast area you can visit quaint towns like Arbroath, Stonehaven and Montrose. Balmoral Castle, the Queens favorite, is also located in the Royal Deeside area not far from Aberdeen. You could drive up from Edinburgh via Perth and Dundee to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is also on the Megabus route and you can add on another 3 – 4 hours from Glasgow should you wish to go direct to Aberdeen. It’s a bum-numbing 12 hours from London. Aberdeen’s most famous musician is Annie Lennox.
Piper playing in central Aberdeen
Scotland has banknotes from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. English banknotes are accepted in Scotland but the reverse is not always the case. So make sure you spend your Scottish pounds before you leave Scotland. Scotland is not metricated so road signs and your car speedometer are in miles. Glasgow to Skye is about 200kms as the crow flies but in real time the trip will work out more than a straight journey.
Things you really should try to do while in Scotland are. Try a typical Scottish breakfast complete with black pudding. The Scots do a good and hearty breakfast. You should try vegetarian haggis if you don’t eat offal and we are led to believe the best steaks come from Scotland, the Aberdeen Angus.
Narrow country roads in Scotland
Do find a piece of family tartan. Almost everyone has a connection to a family or clan in Scotland and it makes you feel part of the country.
Please watch Scottish Star Trek on You Tube Scottish Star Trek so you can practice listening to Glaswegian patter which is nigh impossible to understand. These people are speaking English but you would never know it.
Do try the local ales. They take their beer drinking very seriously in the whole of the UK and you can spend hours browsing the supermarket shelves with the ranges on offer. Beer is not just beer. It’s a bitter, or a lager, or an ale and the brewers are masters. If beer is not your thing, then try an Iron Bru. It’s the local fizzy drink of choice. Scotland is the only European country where a cola is not the top soft drink.
St Nicholas Kirk Aberdeen
Don’t eat out too often if you can help it. It’s so expensive and often disappointing. Some pubs offer great food and good value but the UK is not known for it’s cuisine. The range of ready meals and imported fruits and cheeses in the supermarkets is staggering.
Lookout for the highland cows on your way, they’re easy to spot and are so cute and shaggy.
Try www.laterooms.com for accommodation. You’re looking at from £50 per night for a room. Usually includes breakfast and the standard of accommodation is good in the UK.
Outsider music festival
Scotland is colder and wetter than England. It is colder in the west than the east and as you head north to Aberdeen it get’s even colder. The BBC weather site shows Edinburgh in June and July months at the height of their summer as having average 5 – 6 hours sunlight a day, average maximum temperatures as 17’C – 18’C and average monthly rainfall as much as 83 mm. The sun comes up about 04.30 am and goes down about 10.00 pm. Read more about the weather and seasons here – Scotland weather and seasons.
Stone circle Templewood
It is the opposite in winter when average day temperates are 6’C to 7 ‘C and at night it will be close to freezing. The sun comes up at 08.45 am and goes down 15.45 pm and average sunlight hours are 1 hour a day. It can be a grey country. Bands like Wet Wet Wet and Travis singing “Why does it always rain on me?” are telling us something.
It does snow in Scotland. As you drive about you will see snow poles on the sides of the roads and big yellow bins with a mix of grit and salt to melt the snow on the roads. In Aberdeen it is possible to see the Northern Lights in winter. If you have a world map handy you will see that Aberdeen is on the same latitude as Moscow. Scotland is a long way up north.
If you are going in winter pack warm and always pack a Mackintosh – aka a raincoat. Scotland is famous for it’s inventors. Some other well known inventors apart from Mackintosh and his raincoat include James Simpson – anaesthetics, Johan Loudon MacAdam – tarred roads, Alexander Crum Brown – chemical bonds, Thomas Telford – iron bridges, Joseph Lister – antiseptics, James Boyd Dunlop – tyres, John Napier – the decimal point and Sir Alexander Flemming – penicillin. This is by no means all the Scottish inventors and a Google search will yield some surprises. The Scots are canny lot not only with their money.
Edinburgh Tattoo – tattoodonkey.com
It’s not just the country but it’s people that are so much a part of the experience. Get cracking looking up your ancestors and head north to find your roots. The next time you hear the bag pipes you can check to see if the piper is a wearing your clan tartan.