Glasgow is definitely a cheeky city! Where Edinburgh is classic and historical like a refined lady, Glasgow is rough and tumble, historical but with many, many modern elements and a humorous vibethat takes a little while to appreciate. We took a taxi from the train to our hotel, Malmaison, on Wednesday evening. This hotel is modern and young. We had large comic book panels as framed art in our room! We left our bags and headed out right away to check out the historic center of the city George Square. The square was named for King George III, but he was declared insane by the end of his reign, so it’s not his statue on the column in the center of the green, but Robert Burns’! There are statues of famous figures surrounding the entire space.
|The City Chambers at the head of George Square & below Burns' column in the square's center|
|Queen Victoria and prince consort Albert.|
The menu was hilarious, too, with descriptions like this for their steak: “Sir Sirloin steak certainly is a handsome catch for a princess, with his dedicated followers mushroom, tomato and lord peppercorn sauce and chips. Price: 17 smackeroos 95p. Add prawns for 2 squids.”
The first full day was beautiful weather-wise. In full sun we walked to the city’s major park, Kelvingrove by way of a very ritzy neighborhood of Glasgow’s equivalent to NYC brownstones, or so it seemed with all the BMWs, Aston Martins, Jags and other fancy cars parked in front of them!Kelvingrove itself is massive with miles of walkways, a skateboard park, formal gardens and fountains, and lots of people out enjoying the day.
What was really fun was the sound of bagpipes everywhere we went. It was like Scotland actually does pipe “Scotland the Brave” everywhere all the time. It turned out there was Bagpiping Championships taking place in the city, and the park was filled with designated practice areas for
|The sign is designating bagpipe practice areas.|
|They actually tune bagpipes! This man is checking the frequency.|
|Bagpipes are cool.|
|St. Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow|
|The floating heads at Kelvingrove have been there since 2006--they all have unique expressions.|
|Christ of St. John of the Cross--not the original here :-(|
We left Kelvingrove and wandered along the very pretty River Kelvin, through part of the University of Glasgow and finally made our way to one of the stations for Glasgow’s small subway system. The train literally runs in one circle under the city and you choose the inner counter (anti) clockwise circle or the outer clockwise circle. We rode the long way around to our stop, chatting with James and his grandmother who were out just for a little joyride. They’d chosen the Glasgow subway because Grandma didn’t want to end up in Edinburgh and run into Fringe Festival traffic!! We chatted about Glasgow and growing up there and how things have changed. She was a very cool lady!
We spent some time in Glasgow’s huge pedestrian shopping
district—Buchanan and Sauchiehall Streeta, visiting shops and the huge
Buchanan Shops mall. We ate at a little chain restaurant called Pret A
Manger, and then the
|Glasgow's subway--James is just visible on the left!|
afternoon found us wandering several miles to the Merchant City section of Glasgow and the Glasgow Cathedral, built in the late 12th Century. Glasgow’s patron saint St. Mungo, who died in 614 and is almost a figure of myth and legend, is entombed there. It is still an active church but is no longer officially a cathedral because a) there’s been no bishop seated there since 1690 and b) it’s now a Church of Scotland.We also walked the Necropolis cemetery where hundreds of very ancient prominent Glaswegians are buried. It’s a weirdly interesting place—decrepit and ostentatious. It was built as one of the first places to bury the dead in a more hygienic way than was previously the case.
|Glasgow's Necropolis-a cemetery on a hill.|
|The Glasgow Cathedral, aka St. Mungo's Cathedral.|
|Beautiful unusual blue stained glass windows.|
Glasgow is full of building murals, too. We found quite a few examples.
Back in Glasgow city center we ate at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant. Jamie, a popular British chef, is well known to Food Channel fans. The food was inexpensive and delicious.
To wrap up the night we walked to the River Clyde that divides the city into upper and lower halves. There are approximately 13 or 14 bridges across the Clyde. We only had time to walk four of them, but it was lovely to see the city from that perspective. We even came to one bridge closed off to all traffic while police stopped a potential jumper. We saw him being led from the bridge and placed in an ambulance. No big fuss or bother—they took down their crime scene tape and life went on!
|Lovely pedestrian bridge over The Clyde|
|Glasgow from the riverfront|
|Jan on the bridge our would-be jumper tried to leap off of.|
|Sunset on The River Clyde|
Back at Malmaison we sat at the posh little bar and drank beer and mojitos—free from the hotel—and felt very ritzy indeed! Then it was bed to get ready for another bucket list item in the morning: a trip to a genuine Scotch distillery!
|Glasgow's slogan "People Make Glasgow" is everywhere--even the buildings.|