For years, I had heard mixed reviews about Glasgow – and was expecting a version of Gotham City. Nothing could be further from the truth – what awaited was a cheerful landscape accentuated by pink banners proclaiming, “People Make Glasgow.” Join me in knowing the city better – in 36 hours.
Check In at Grand Central| 13:00
Train from London Euston to Glasgow Central departed at 08:30 to arrive at 13:00. The journey was uneventful and comfortable. I travelled second class but should have upgraded myself to manage a snooze – I was a tad jet-lagged after a full day flight from India. But the excitement of the trip provided the necessary adrenalin.
Checked into the Grand Central – a heritage property located within the station itself. Saved myself a cab ride and did not have to drag my luggage. A recent 20 million pound refurbishment showed – my suite was exquisite and charming to say the least.
Hop-On, Hop-Off | 14:00
Dropped the bags, freshened up, grabbed a sandwich and a coke from Greggs, and went looking for my red City Sightseeing Glasgow hop-on, hop-off bus. Got on at George Square West and sought an upper deck seat for better photographs. Figured this would be the best way to get acquainted with the city in one go. I was tempted to hop off at all 28 stops of the bus – but the shadows were getting longer and entry to many attractions about to close for the day. And this was not a timeless trip.
The Tall Ship | 15:00
My first stop took me aboard The Tall Ship berthed on the river Clyde. The name of the boat itself is the Glenlee, a three-masted barque (a sailing ship) – the names are a tad confusing because the Tall Ship is the name of the exhibit of which the Glenlee is a part. Let’s just leave it at that. It first set sail in 1896 as a bulk cargo carrier. I walked around the ship, expecting characters from times gone by to appear and get about the job of cleaning, cooking and navigating the boat. The early evening skies were experimenting with stunning hues of blues and yellows, casting a golden glow on the ship. It was also time to put on a jacket.
The Riverside Museum | 15:30
Alongside the ship is the Riverside Museum, home to some of the world’s finest cars, bicycles, ship models, trams and locomotives. Interactive displays and the hugely popular historic Glasgow street scene bring the objects and stories to life. If there is one collection I would want to invest in, it is vintage transport that I saw at this museum, regarded as one of the best in Europe. I had to rush through the exhibits before the gates closed.
University of Glasgow | 16:30
With a checklist awaiting tick-offs, next stop was the University of Glasgow campus. I spent half an hour looking at exhibits in The Hunterian, Glasgow’s oldest public museum. The Hunterian Art Gallery houses one of the most important collections of the work of Scottish architect, designer and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) and his artist-wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (1864-1933).This family name seems to be synonymous with Glasgow. The Mackintosh House, located close by, is a meticulous reassemblage of the principal interiors from the Mackintoshes’ Glasgow home. Pity I could not visit it as it was undergoing renovation.
Dinner | 18:30
When you are in Europe, attractions close early – I had to leave Glasgow Cathedral for the following day. I got off at George Square, had an early hot dinner of minestrone soup and vegetarian pizza, and was in bed early.
Pollok Country Park | 10:00
I did not rush out in the morning – had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel before catching a local train to Pollok Country Park – reminding me of Glasgow roughly meaning ‘Dear Green Park’ (from Celtic ‘glas’ and ‘cu’). It is truly a city of parks, with over 90 of them – the largest being Pollok located about three miles from the city centre. With over 360 acres of woodlands, open countryside, paths, trails and streams – I could have stayed on for a few more days at least. I had cows to play with (safer with a fence separating us), and endless tea and carrot cake (and lots more) to savour in the tea rooms of the Pollok House- a grand country home with rare art collections showing how the affluent lived in times gone by. Located close by is the Burrell Collection housing over 8,000 objects donated to the city of Glasgow by Sir William Burrell in 1944.
If I didn’t have attractions to tick off, I would have spent the whole day at Pollok. And probably joined in a game of cricket in the greens as the joker in the pack – but I promised to be back in Glasgow sometime soon in the future.
Glasgow Cathedral | 14:00
A taxi ride took me to the Glasgow Cathedral, a stone structure going back to the 12th century. Its relatively new, post-war collection of stained glass is a work of art in itself.
Tea Rooms | 16:00
I left the cathedral to explore the rest of the city by foot. Starving by now, I expected to find an eatery soon – but it would be an hour before I found my way to The Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street – one of the four designed and owned by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early 1900s. A hot pot of tea with traditional English tea cakes smothered with butter and cream cheese made for a lunch cum afternoon tea. When in the UK, I can drop everything to be in one of the numerous tea rooms.
Shopping | 17:00
The rest of the afternoon was spent looking at shops in the area including those of Merchant City, the 18th century quarters boasting cool boutiques, bars and restaurants. I would have loved to pick up stuff but needed to keep my bags light – I had many more days to explore the UK.
Sunset | 18:00
Sunset is best spent on the bridges over the river Clyde. For a busy city, it was very quiet along the riverside. I spent an hour walking along and across the river as darkness descended and the lights came on.
Dinner and Walk | 20:00
I finally allowed myself a relaxed dinner at Café Andaluz with its smacking tapas with a fine selection of red wines – I was lucky to get a table without a reservation. I dawdled and lingered over dinner, admiring the décor and enjoying the buzz of the restaurant.
I walked around till late into the night – the city felt very safe. Finally slept off after midnight – despite needing to wake up early for a morning train to the Lake District.