Glasgow – Mini City Guide

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So called problems: when you’ve barely finished sorting out the photographic remains – and washing – of your last trip when a new one rolls around… I was in Glasgow this week for work, and decided to come up ahead of the rest of the crew and spend my bank holiday Monday in Scotland.

Luckily for me it was the most glorious three days – bluebird skies and sunshine warm enough to make everyone strip off in the park. As I was there on a mission to find out what visitors to the city would enjoy, I thought I’d share my discoveries with you too.


SLEEP

  • Citizen M is a hotel of the future. Think cool iPad controlled lighting, windows, media and sound for you room, plus the biggest (XXL), comfiest bed ever. Even while making a starfish shape I only took up around half of it.
  • I also stayed at the centrally located Z Hotel – which had some delightful touches: bacon rolls at breakfast and a free cheese and wine buffet for guests each evening.

Citizen M hotel


SEE

  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery/Museum (below, a photo of the Floating Heads by Sophie Cave) – is a free cultural attraction with beautiful architecture. Make sure to take a detour through Kelvingrove Park, too!
  • The Necropolis and Cathedral area in East Glasgow.
  • The Lighthouse – Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Climb up to the top of the tower to be rewarded with a great view of the city.
  • If you’d like to see a Highland coo (that’s a cow to everyone outside of Scotland), head to Pollok Country Park on the south side of the city.
  • There’s loads of great large-scale street art to be found throughout the city too, so keep your eyes peeled.

Kelvingrove

Street Art Glasgow

Glasgow view

lighthouse-glasgow

Downtown Glasgow


EAT

  • Riverhill Cafe serves great coffee and their restaurant next door is a nice place for breakfast. Check out my vegetarian feast – complete with tatty scone!
  • Venture down a grubby alley in central Glasgow to find Stereo, a performance space with an interesting vegan cafe/bar above. I thoroughly enjoyed my quesadillas! The 78 in Finnieston also comes highly recommended by vegans and non vegans alike.
  • The Willow Tea Rooms were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1904 in his distinctive Art Nouveau style, and serve traditional fare. A good place to take your mum.
  • The Ox and Finch served up a fantastic dessert – my pistachio ice cream was eagerly devoured, and the setting was just right for hours of conversation…
  • Head to the Ubiquitous Chip in the West End for fresh Scottish produce (like flowers from their rooftop gardens) and innovative takes on traditional dishes.

veggie-breakfast-scotlandUbiquitous chip

For more Glasgow tips, make sure to visit Dianne’s blog – it’s her spirit city and she is far more clued up than me on what’s good. People Make Glasgow is the official city brand and also worth a gander.

To the Highlands II

Nessie!

After a fabulous night in Inverness (including an entertaining chat with some other travellers who thought we were locals at the Hootananny bar) we hit the road again. However, despite creeping around the entire edge of the loch, there was no Nessie – save this fibre-glass beast. (Located right next to a portrait of Mel Gibson as William Wallace at Nessieland.)

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laura

Fort Augustus

I loved everywhere we went in Scotland, but the Glen Affric nature reserve was extra special. There’s a moss there (snot-green that hangs like a beard off trees) that only thrives in the purest air. Near the car park it was just sort of hanging there, but the deeper into the hills we walked, the shaggier and healthier it got. I spent a lot of time breathing deeply and sighing contentedly while there – marveling at the Jurassic Park-like landscape. The temperature was below zero, and as you can see below, everything was encrusted with ice.

Glen Affric

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Glen Affric

From Glen Affric we rolled back across the east of Scotland, passing through rugged moors and beautiful mountain ranges, before heading back down to Edinburgh as night fell. I would love a recording of Peter, our guide, rolling the words “Forth Rail Bridge” over and over. His accent was amazing!

Valley

leaf

I’m not sure if it’s because Scotland reminds me of home, but I can’t speak highly enough of the experience. The wonderfully warm people, the glorious landscapes, and the quirky little moments we enjoyed (if you ever get the chance to drink beer made from heather and honey, do so). Having experienced winter, and now autumn, I want to go back for another season. I hope spring comes soon.

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Forest

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All photographs taken on 35mm with a Canon AE-1 camera.

To the Highlands I

Our Scotland adventure got off to a weird start. Laura and I flew to Edinburgh on Monday night, staying for the night in a hostel. When we checked in, the lackadaisical receptionist keyed in our details, looked up, and declared me a pineapple, and Laura a mushroom. Our spirit produce? All would become clear as we got to our room, which was pizza themed. Not exactly the Gaelic experience we were expecting!

It was fine for the night though, and the next morning we were up bright and early. We jumped into our tour van, and headed towards Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.

Stirling Castle
stone & rock

After waving at Hamish the Scottish coo, we crossed over the fault line from the low lands into the Highlands taking in the majesty of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart.

loch

From there we headed north to Rannoch Moor and into gorgeous Glencoe. Jagged rocks, seeping earth and high hills the colour of mustard.

Glencoe

highland mustard

icing sugar

Finally, live fish at a truck stop. No idea what kind, or where the wee fish were going, but it made my day:

Live fish

All photographs taken on 35mm with a Canon AE-1 camera.

Dreaming of Scotland

Next week I’m off to Scotland for a couple of days with my friend Laura. We’re flying to Edinburgh, with enough time for a pint and to rest our heads, then we’re travelling to Inverness, via Glencoe and Loch Ness. Yes, we’re going on a monster hunt!

scotland
sheep
mossy
Loch Lomond

I’ve been to Scotland once before, in 2009. It was February, and so cold the water was freezing over. These are pictures are all from The Drover’s Inn, Loch Lomond. Apparently I didn’t take a single snap in Edinburgh, so perhaps it was all a dream? I do remember it was the first place I ever saw a squirrel, and had chips ‘n’ cheese. With vinegar. Now that’s a memorable moment in a young woman’s life…

UK ADVENTURES PART 2

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. This time Scotland! Post the Loch Lomond extravaganza, we nipped down to Edinburgh for a romantic Valentines Day with Bryan, a poor lad trying to carve out a career as a half-assed theatrical tour guide. He was to take us through the dungeons of Edinburgh and did so with not-entirely-positive panache. It got a bit chilly however and we we forced to flee into the night.

One thing I did get out of the experience was an understanding of just how ancient the settlements of Albion are. Such beautiful old buildings everywhere!

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edinburgh

Other highlights of Edinburgh: the Hilton Club Suites and bar, eating cheese and chips, mildly enjoying a crepe from a street vendor (people kept pronouncing it “crap”, which I found hilarious).

dot

The next morn we awoke and cruised to Glasgow in the Transit van. 62mph was our top speed at all times. Glasgow is a mixed land – a day of beautiful buildings and parks, special op-shops and of course, teaspoon adventures.

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glasgow university

Glasgow University

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Then conversely – a night of scandalously interesting people and glorious clubbing at Optimo until the wee hours (read Duncan’s take on our experience over at Alt Albion). Who knew?