Guide to Glasgow: a city full of surprises.



I'd been to Scotland a few times. I say Scotland but really I mean Edinburgh and a little town about an hour north of there. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the magic of Edinburgh, its proximity to the sea, the amazing views from Arthur's seat and its cobbled little streets but it was about time to visit the "real" Scotland...Glasgow.

I'd heard it was grittier, less touristy and although had a "rough" reputation in the past, parts had recently become quite "cool". So I was basically expecting a Scottish version of East London on the cusp of gentrification.

Yes, there were definitely some "hipster" vibes going on but I was surprised by how many other things the city has going for it. And I don't mean that in bad way - I just had no idea because no-one had told me!

So now I'm telling you because Glasgow should definitely be on your list for 2018.

Art Galleries & Museums

Now, I'm not saying I thought Glasgow would be grey and lifeless (that first one is pretty true though) I just didn't expect the wealth of galleries and museums it does have. Probably something to do with me only having been to one other city in Scotland: Edinburgh which is more of your perfectly picture-esque kind of place than edgy urban artwork.


           ^edgy urban vibes right there

I should've known really what with Glasgow being the 'cool' one.

I'll admit, in the end we only ended up going to one art gallery but it was VERY grey and windy and cold which obviously meant we had to stay inside wrapped up warm most of the time...

But the Gallery of Modern Art, or GoMA as the locals like to call it, was worth a wander around. Although, one of the best things though is actually outside.



No-one really knows what started the cone on the statue , probably a drunken night out lets be honest, but it has somehow become a symbolic feature of the city. So much so, that when the council finally had enough and tried to raise the height of the statue to stop people "vandalising" it, the people of Glasgow started a successful Facebook Campaign and a petition that gained 10,000 signatures against the decision.

The people won and Glasgow got to keep its cone. Nice to see a city that doesn't take it itself too seriously. *cough London.

Apparently the Kelvingrove Art Gallery is another one worth a look (on my list for next time). I will get around to that one I promise. My friend lives in Glasgow so I'll basically be back all the time anyway!


The Art & Culture is Free!!

Whats better than lots of art galleries? FREE art galleries!

And that makes Glasgow my kind of city! Because if you can save money on the cultural stuff - you 
have money for the coffee and food related stuff which is also an important of exploring  
a new city! 

Both the GoMA and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery are free along with the The People's Palace which 
we battled against the wind and rain to get to. But I'm so glad we did!

Not only is the museum set in a beautiful old Victorian palace with stunning grounds
(well what I imagine are when they aren't covered in snowy slush ) it offers a really interesting look 
into the social history of Glasgow. 


                     
                       ^and a nice greenhouse.

Now trust me, even if you aren't a huge museum fan - I'm not ecstatic about looking at hundreds of 
clay pots either- you're going to like this one.  Its just the right size to give you a detailed account of 
Glasgow's past up until present day without the endless reading of meaningless facts.

There's lots of interactive exhibits like a life size teeny tiny flat that families used to live in, 
photographs and interesting anecdotes - everything from how they did the washing to the
1960's version of da club.

I definitely learned a lot about the city so would really recommend a visit if it's a bite-sized and entertaining version of Glasgow's history that you are after. 


Shopping

And from that high - brow stuff of art galleries and museums we move to shopping . Ha. 
Normally I wouldn't care less about shopping opportunities when visiting some place new. I mean a Topshop in Glasgow is going to be the same as Topshop in London and I think Westfield is pure hell on earth but this time it was different.

IT WAS THE JANUARY SALES. And since I pretty much only buy my clothes in the sales I didn't want to miss my chance.

My friend promised me Glasgow was great for shopping and she wasn't wrong, with two topshops , three H&Ms and two shopping centres at either end of town Glasgow is a shopping heaven.

Not to mention the completely insane out of town shopping centres - Westfield - you aint got nothing on Glasgow.

We headed to one particular shopping centre on a wet and rainy New Years Eve that was a mini microcosm of everything that you could ever want in life and I'm not just talking about the cinema  and Primark.

Oh no, I'm talking about a rock climbing wall suspended in the air , adventure golf , laser tag, those huge foam trampolining places , bowling, arcades, indoor sky-diving and go-karting! 

Sadly no pictures because you know, that would've looked weird in a shopping centre so you'll just have to go to see what I mean! 


Subway 

No, not the sandwich shop - Glasgow's version of the tube, just don't call it that!

It's essentially a mini mini version of the circle line with 14 stops and one route around the city clockwise and the other going in the opposite direction. 

I can't help but feel it might have been designed that way on purpose - what with the scots being so good at drinking and everything. If you fall asleep after a night out you won't end up in the middle of nowhere because it just goes round and round.



So why is this surprising? I think just because I haven't been to any other cities in the UK that have one and mostly associate it with going abroad to Europe. 

Also this was really just a way of telling you about the Subway bar crawl which is an official thing. As you may have guessed , it's a bar crawl around the stops on the subway line - hopping off and stepping into the nearest available pub. 

I recently saw an article by London on the inside who tried to make the circle line bar crawl a thing. Can't help but think they got the idea from somewhere hmm... Also that's definitely never going to be a thing so just leave it to Glasgow yeah? Stop trying to make everything about you London ok? You.

The City is Pretty!

Industrial, grey, not like Edinburgh - all things I had in my head before seeing the city for myself.
And sure it's big and lacks the cutsey charm of a tourist hotspot like Edinburgh but Glasgow has it's own. It's wide streets and looming Gothic buildings exude power and strength giving Glasgow grandeur and a slight eeriness.

Parts of it reminded me of Vienna and Eastern Europe and other parts of my dear old uni city - Bath, with Georgian architecture and that soft yellow stone.


^ Bath?
^ Vienna?

Oh and then there are the gorgeous Victorian buildings.

So don't ever let anyone tell you Glasgow isn't pretty.

Hipsterville

Rough around the edges but interesting and lively, it was inevitable that the world of the "hipster" would one day infiltrate the city. We didn't venture that way but apparently the majoirty of it is concentrated over in the "West End" which perhaps unsurprisingly is the area where the main uni is located. Because students are always the coolest.

The East London in me was itching to check it out - mainly for the coffee shops because every "best coffee in Glasgow" list seemed to direct me over that way. I didn't feel like it was fair to drag my friends over there just for that though so maybe next time.

However we did stumble upon (hunted down) a more central venue that was dipping it's toes into the ironic world of 90's washed out denim and beards and glasses.

This was Flat 01. decked out in your Grandma's finest furniture with sinking sofas, embroidered carpets and that ugly beige wallpaper someone in the 80's decided actually looked good. The lighting is dim , illuminated only by the frilly lampshades, giving that grungy, dingy feel needed for a hip, cool hangout such as this.


Drinks come from a shelf lit by fairy lights served to you over a cheap kitchen work top also in that lovely 80s-era orange and somewhere, somehow there is a bed. The thing I was most excited about because it was the most ridiculous. Sadly it wasn't there on that occasion (maybe Saturday nights get too rowdy for that) but I did however sit in a bath -tub swing and that more than enough satisfied my novelty craving.



It was trying that little bit too hard to be truly "edgy" but I loved the concept and the fact my Gin and Tonic was only £3.50 (bear in mind I live in London).

Just don't ask if they do cocktails, have a menu or serve ginger beer and rum. You might get a funny look.

Posh chains

Sometimes , just sometimes I'll give in and swap the nice, independent restaurant for a chain. Sometimes because its just easy but mostly because I can get half price food...or free food in the form of Tesco Vouchers.

Unfortunately on this occasion it didn't quite work out that way (we didn't check they were accepting them over Christmas did we) but I think it's a small price to pay for the sheer grandeur of the place.

I mean have you ever been to a Zizzi's like this??



Unnecessarily grand, Zizzi's wasn't the only one pushing the boat out with the levels of fancy. We also paid a trip to the Wetherspoons (please don't judge) the one called The Counting House which was just as majestic. So if you want to feel classy whilst still being cheap  (always my goal in life) Glasgow is your city!



So visit Glasgow in 2018 and you might be surprised by what you find!

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