A weekend in Glasgow
t2 chalks out an itinerary if you plan to fetch up at Glasgow
If you ever happen to be in Scotland for a couple days, you better drop by Glasgow.
Forget about Edinburgh or St Andrews, the city on the River Clyde is the place to be. Think of it as a mini Scottish version of Calcutta: You can visit the sights, but you will remember the people and the atmosphere. And with a population of 600,000, it is much smaller and easier to navigate than the Bengali capital.
One thing that brings the two cities together is their history. They both share a colonial past that contributed to the city’s expansion. Indeed, Glasgow was the shipping centre of the British Empire. It produced up to 40 per cent of the empire’s total shipping tonnage in the 19th century. The Glaswegian upper class made a fortune off colonialism, building immense palaces and throwing flamboyant parties.
And this brings us to the first sight you must see on your weekend trip to Glasgow.
When to arrive: Friday (early afternoon) to Sunday (early morning).
Season: October is best for the autumn colours, but if you want to witness the Scottish flowers blooming, visit in April or May.
If you arrive by plane, take a taxi and ask for George Square. If you arrive by train, alight at the Central Station or Queen Street and walk to the square, then across to the palace on its eastern side.
The City Chambers, George Square Queen Victoria inaugurated the Glasgow City Chambers in 1888.
The palace was built as a symbol of the city’s massive expansion under the British empire. Its marble interior and impressive mosaics testify to Glasgow’s embrace of global trade in the 19th century. Get there by 2.30pm for a tour of the building. If you miss that, be sure to arrive by 5pm so you can at least admire the staircases in the lobby.
If you’ve booked an accommodation in the city centre, you should think of dropping your bags off and resting for a while. If you are sleeping in the West End, you can take the subway (metro) from the Buchanan (pronounced biukanan) Street station.
Dinner in the West End
The city centre is renowned for its many shops and malls. But where Glasgow really lives is in the West End. On Friday evenings, the whole neighbourhood teems with joyous friends from the nearby University of Glasgow, older pals from the city or young lovebirds on their first dates. The main street for restaurants and bars is Byres Road (pronounced buyers). Be sure to drop by Ashton Lane, a cute little street with a dozen bars and restaurants, as well as an old movie theatre. If you are up for a drink, you can try Jinty McGuinty’s, a typical Irish pub, or the Hillhead Bookclub, a bar-lounge that plays live DJs and has an indoor ping-pong table. If you want to meet a student crowd, go to the infamous Beer Bar in the Glasgow University Union. Sticky floors, dancing crowds and loud fun will greet you alongside the cheapest pint in the West End.
Stay in the area for dinner, picking from below, depending on your appetite.
For a Scottish meal go to Bothy, but make a reservation.
For a good Vietnamese street food restaurant, try the Hanoi Bike Shop.
The Little Italy Pizzeria will satisfy any pizza/pasta cravings you might have.
Kember and Jones provides hearty freshly made meals for a good price.
If you are homesick, the best curry in town is at The Little Curry House.
For the vegans (and all the meat eaters too!), stop by The 78. It’s a bit farther away but well worth the trip. Go for nachos to share and a burger or the quesadillas. Trust me!
Wake up early, and have Scottish breakfast at a local pub. Then head out to the West End.
The Univer-sity of Glasgow is one of the oldest English universities in the world, founded in the mid-15th century. It moved out of city centre to the the new West End in 1870. Visit the old Main Building, nicknamed Hogwarts by the students. Ask to see the old lecture theatre of the Southwest corner and Bute Hall. Just across from it is the Hunterian Museum, free to visit with rotating exhibitions.
Then exit through the south doors to admire the view.
At this point, you can either head straight for lunch at Di Maggio’s on Byres Road for fish ’n’ chips, or walk down through Kelvingrove Park towards the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This Victorian-era red-brick exposition hall was originally built for the 1901 International Exhibition. You can roam its halls and galleries for a total sum of zero sterling pounds!
Be sure to see the museum’s centrepiece, Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross. The painting was so controversial that a visitor almost ripped it apart in the mid-20th century!
There is a daily organ recital that starts at 1pm.
If you haven’t eaten by then, head to that fish ’n’ chips place... Di Maggio’s. If you have, then stroll up Byres Road to The Botanic Gardens.
The Botanic Gardens is at the corner of Byres Road and Great Western Road. This colonial era park features a white round glasshouse and adjacent newer glasshouses that reproduce everything from tropical climates to deserts. Visit the park and ask for the river path towards Kelvingrove Park. Alternatively, head to the Oran Mor, an old Church reconverted into a pub!
When you reach Eldon Street Bridge, leave the river trail and follow directions for Park Circus. This is one of the city’s most expensive neighbourhoods, and features some of the prettiest buildings in town. By then, you will probably want to have another pint, followed by dinner, followed by another pint (or two)! Follow your instinct!
Music lovers, have a look at what’s on at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on St Vincent Street to finish the night dancing.
The writer is a University of Glasgow student who interned with t2