I visited Glasgow primarily to go to the Scottish Expo - the main travel trade event for Scotland which brings Scottish suppliers together with companies like ourselves who offer tours into Scotland.In recent years my visits to Glasgow have been very brief, to an evening event or working there for a week many years ago, so I was interested to see how the place has changed and most importantly what there is for the tourist coming to visit the city.
In many ways Glasgow has suffered as a poor relation to its neighbour Edinburgh - which is one of the most visited cities in Europe never mind Scotland. Glasgow on the other hand has been frequently left out of Scottish itineraries with a reputation of being rather industrial, unattractive and just lacking the historical and architectural beauty of Edinburgh. Previously Glasgow has been more well known for its sporting prowess, with Scotland's two biggest football clubs Celtic and Rangers located here. Scotland's national football stadium Hampden Park is also located here. This year Glasgow will continue the sporting theme by hosting the Commonwealth Games in around 6 weeks time as over 70 nations will compete in 17 sports over the 12 days of the games.
But I was intrigued to know what else there was besides the sport, which makes Glasgow somewhere worthy of a visit. On arriving in Glasgow Central railway station I was pleasantly surprised to find a modern spacious station terminus which certainly gave a good welcome to the traveller arriving by train. Leaving the station into Union Street, I made a visit to the Grasshopper hotel - a relatively new luxury hotel which uses the top floor of the Caledonian Chambers literally above the Central Station. The hotel's 30 rooms blend contemporary with traditional and all have great views over the city, with the reception and dining areas occupying space in the middle with corridors to the rooms on either side.
1. The Shops
Back on the ground again and I wanted to explore some of the city centre. The main shopping areas are in Buchannan Street and Argyll Street. Both are pedestrianised and offer a range of chain and independent shops in a very pleasant environment. Next I meandered over to George Square. This impressive square, shows off some of Glasgow's best architecture including the City Council offices and the Tourist Information centre.
2. The Riverside Museum
Next I took a bus out to the Riverside Museum. The city's hop on hop off bus also has the museum as one of its stops and in my opinion, well worth a visit. The museum is free (although donations accepted) and is the city's Transport museum which is home to over 3,000 objects that detail Glasgow's rich past from a transport perspective. The museum documents the life of the city in a fascinating and interactive way with plenty of sound bites and video to supplement the transport vehicles themselves, and plenty of personal stories woven in, as well as displays on fashion, and cutting edge technologies from the past present and future. Outside the main futuristic building is the Tall ship Grenlee, which also forms part of the museum. On this particular day although sunny, the wind was particularly strong, so as I stood onboard this impressive ship, it was hard to keep my feet! You can explore the different decks which have been laid out as they would have been and there's a cafe on board too!
3. The Kelvingrove Gallery
From here I walked to the Kelvingrove Park, where the free to enter Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum offers a wealth of superb paintings and scultpures inside a building with a truly impressive building and facade built in red sandstone in a Spanish Baroque Style. The central hall is no less impressive, and was refurbished in 2006 in order to accommodate more exhibits and a new restaurant.
4. The Huntarian Museum
Just close by is the Huntarian Museum which is Scotland's oldest public museum and includes some fascinating artifacts from the lesser known Antonine Wall. The wall was built by the Romans to be the northern most border of the Roman Empire, but lasted only around 20 years as the Romans failed to conquer the Caledonians and were forced back, to the more well-known Hadrian's wall.
Following this I had a pleasant walk back to the city centre through the Kelvingrove Park, which on a nice day is a relaxing way to make your way back to your hotel.
5. Gateway to the Highlands
It's fair to say the city has a lot going for it for the discerning visitor and I can certainly recommend a visit. The city also has an international airport, so it provides a good entry and exit point for a tour around Scotland, and with the beautiful scenery of Loch Lomond and the Trossochs less than an hours drive from the centre, and the mouth-watering views of Glencoe and Loch Linhe and the Scottish Highlands within 2 hours reach. With a frequent and fast train service to Edinburgh, it also provides an alternative base for seeing Edinburgh, especially if you're only looking at spending a day in Edinburgh. Glasgow can also be reached in just 4 and a half hours by train from London or 3 hours from Manchester.
For more information about the city of Glasgow click here
By Andrew Lancey
Date: 2017-11-28 13:17:45