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Aug 12 2014

Rediscovering Glasgow

As part of my interest in rediscovering the UK and Ireland, I wanted to return to Scotland this year  because it had been nigh on 20 years since I was last there.  I was originally going to do a hitchhiking race in April, which was being organised by a Couchsurfing group.  It is just the sort of crazy thing I would do.  The thing is, I ended up going to Albania.  It’s a long story!  Then, out of the blue, an opportunity came up which gave me the chance of going to Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games.

With the Commonwealth Games in full swing by the time I got there, which was at the end of July, the city was buzzing and there was a great atmosphere.

The last time I was in Glasgow, I didn’t really explore the city much because I used it as a base to travel to Loch Lomond and Arran and to familarise myself with the nightlife.  This time round, as well as seeing a couple of events at the Commonwealth Games, we had the chance to explore part of Glasgow.  Here are just a few of the things we got to see and do:

Oldest house in Glasgow

Oldest House in Glasgow

Provand’s Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow, built in 15th century.  It was originally built as part of St Nicholas’s Hospital and provided temporary accommodation for clergy and support staff working at the cathedral.  It is now a museum.  Most of the medieval buildings in the area were demolished.  This house and the cathedral are two of the few remaining buildings from the medieval period still standing in Glasgow. 

Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow Cathedral

This was built where St Mungo, Patron Saint of the City, is thought to have been laid to rest. The cathedral, as you see it now, was built between 13-15th centuries and is the oldest building in Glasgow.  It is the only medieval cathedral on the mainland to have survived the reformation.

Glasgow Necropolis

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This is a Victorian cemetery.  It’s on a hill, so you get a great view of the cathedral, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and further afield.  Not all the graves have gravestones, but those that do are pretty impressive.  There’s a monument to John Knox, a Scottish clergyman and writer, who was a leader of the Protestant Reformation and is considered to be the founder of the Presbyterian denomination in Scotland.

Merchant City

Merchant City

Near the city centre, this is where the tobacco ‘lords’ had their warehouses. Now, they are boutiques, apartments, cafes etc.  It’s a cool place to hang out and have a drink or a bite to eat.

Police Boxes

The police boxes in the UK were blue, except for Glasgow.  They were red until the 1960s when they changed to blue.  Blue police boxes were made famous worldwide by the BBC’s Doctor Who series in which the tardis (a time machine) is a 1960s blue police box.  It’s rare to see a police box in the UK these days, so I was excited to see one.  There are, in fact, quite a few in Glasgow, so you are highly likely to see more than one during your visit.

The Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art 2

Glasgow was the centre for Art Nouveau in the UK.  The school, which is apparently Scotland’s only public self-governing art school, was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and built in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Unfortunately, it was partly destroyed by fire in May this year.

Willow Tea Rooms

These tea rooms were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early 20th century.  I didn’t get a chance to have afternoon tea or a cream tea when I was there, so that is something I will have to do when I return.  It’s in Sauchiehall Street and gives you a feeling of being transported back in time.

Statue of Wellington

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On Royal Exchange Square, in front of the Gallery of Modern Art, you will find a statue of the first Duke of Wellington on a horse.  What’s interesting about this statue is that you will often find it with a traffic cone on its head.  I wasn’t disappointed because there was most definitely a traffic cone sitting proudly on the statue’s head.  For good measure, and maybe to celebrate the Commonwealth Games, the horse also had a cone on its head.  Apparently, it costs a lot of money removing the traffic cones each year, so to stop people doing this, there were plans to increase the height of the plinth.  A ‘Keep the Cone’ campaign online put an end to that plan.

Clyde Waterfront


I was only at Pacific Quay on the Clyde Waterfront one night for fireworks, but it’s pretty impressive.

Charing Cross

Bon Accord

A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the local whisky.  Now, I’m not a whisky drinker and I had never tasted a whisky that I liked.  However, I was ready to try to see if there was a whisky I actually liked.

The Bon Accord is a traditional Scottish pub, but it is a little different.  It has a selection of pub grub for vegetarians, which is always a good thing and the landlord, Paul, is a connoisseur of whisky.  What he doesn’t know about whisky really isn’t worth knowing.  He taught us how to sample whisky.  It was great learning how to do it properly and I found out that I like certain single malt whiskies.  That’s good to know.  Paul is a great storyteller.  He’s a really interesting guy to talk to so, if you happen to find yourself in Glasgow, I would recommend going to the Bon Accord to sample some of over 350 types of malt whiskies from all over the world.  You could also try some of the 800 varieites of ale he also stocks.

Drygate Brewery

Glasgow Brewery

While on the subject of ale, Drygate is a new brewery in Glasgow.  It’s a great place to sample a variety of beers and enjoy good food.  If you are there, it’s worth popping into the shop in the brewery to see all the bottles of beer they have on sale from all over the world.

Glasgow and Beyond

Glasgow is a great place to go for a few days and is also perfect for beginning or ending a trip to Scotland.  As it has turned out, Glasgow was just the beginning of a longer trip around Scotland.  Once I was there, I though I may as well continue travelling around.  You can follow my trip #scotislith on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Location

As usual, I have pinpointed the places mentioned on the map.

Have your say

What else would you suggest people see and do when they visit Glasgow?

Disclaimer

I would like to thank Visit Scotland and the Glasgow Tourist Board who sponsored my trip to Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games from 31 July to 3 August 2014 as part of Homecoming Scotland 2014.  Please note that everything I have written is just as I experienced it and are completely my own thoughts and feelings.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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