This weekend, a friend and I decided to explore Scotland by ourselves- without a guided tour. Having covered quite a bit of Scotland already thanks to the tours we had done the previous weekends, we decided it was time for the most obvious destination: Glasgow.
There seems to be an ongoing little war between people from Glasgow and those from Edinburgh- everybody you ask will always tell you how much better his/ her home city is compared to the other. Hence, we were eager to form our own (and maybe a tiny bit more objective 😀 ) opinion.
Getting there was pretty straight forward- we just got onto a bus in Edinburgh’s city centre and jumped off 1.5 hours later at Buchanan Street, which is the main shopping mile in Glasgow- could it get any more convenient?
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t that great upon our arrival- it was grey and rainy, just the way it often is in Scotland. However, we still did a tour suggested in my travel guide by Lonely Planet- as a side note, if you are ever searching for a good book informing you about whichever destination in the world, I would always recommend that brand! Every time I try out an alternative, I return to Lonely Planet.
We started our stroll in Buchanan Street, where we already had the chance to see the statue of Donald Dewar, Scotland’s first inaugured minister. We then made our way to the Modern Art Gallery, which took us quite some time as we went into many of the stores along the street (can’t help it). Buchanan Street is really pretty, with some beautiful arcades and many shops have decorated their window just as lovely as those in Edinburgh (something that I keep admiring on a daily basis).
The Gallery itself was not something I would re-visit in the future, but I guess that is mainly because I just don’t understand what exactly is the artistic aspect of clothes hanging on a rail (enlighten me if you know it please!). Nevertheless, we found something in front of the entrance which is just another proof for the humoristic, lovely character of Scotland- have you noticed anything strange about the statue in the featured image? 😀
Afterwards, we visited the beautiful George’s Square- I can only imagine how amazing the atmosphere must be on a warm, sunny day in spring!
On our way, we also saw some of the UK’s 14 last blue phone booths (apparently, they are pretty cool to see for those loving Doctor Who, but as I never watched it, I just found them quite pretty).
By the time we had passed by several other attractions, such as the Trader’s Hall, the City Chambers and the Hutcheson’s Hall, it had started to rain- a definite sign that it was time for coffee! Fortunately, there was a very cute little café with many great organic choices just next to us, and we warmed ourselves on a nice big cup of my favourite drink, before heading towards St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art, which I found highly interesting. Make sure to check it out if you ever have the chance!
Also, it is just besides some other stunning attractions, such as a grand cathedral and the Necropolis- a cemetery offering a great view over Glasgow.
At that point, the sky had cleared up, and the sun had come through, making it a lovely winter afternoon 🙂 In order to enjoy the nice weather, we chose to walk all the way to the city’s West End, passing by many beautiful (and more peaceful) streets and some nice parks. However, there are also some areas which just aren’t pretty at all and where the city’s past is fully revealed. After being very wealthy over many centuries, first due to the European tobacco trade, then because of the Industrial Revolution and later the war industry, it fell into a severe depression in the 70’s, and has only recently recovered and become a lively centre of culture, architecture and shopping.
The first destination we stopped at in the West End was the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum- and let me tell you, it was incredible! This Museum does certainly not need to fear the comparison with those in London or New York (which are by far my favourite ones). The building is absolutely stunning, on the inside as well as on the outside, and the content of the different exhibitions was definitely worthwhile.
Therefore, we spent quite some time in there, before we made our way to the Botanic Gardens, enjoying the pretty sunset. We had the perfect timing- just shortly after we entered the greenhouse, the staff shut it, as most attractions in Scotland have quite short opening times during winter.
The garden was really pretty, and it was somewhat weird to be back in more tropical surroundings after having left Singapore over a month ago. Also, I made friends with a cute little squirrel, although I suspect it liked my food more than it liked me 😀
Finally, we walked all the way back to the city centre, where we spent the time until the departure of our bus in the Buchanan Galleries, a huge shopping mall located just opposite the bus station, where we were both able to find some nice bargains 🙂
While we certainly had an amazing day, I need to say that Edinburgh has just more charm (Sorry! 😀 ). Yes, Glasgow has some amazing places, and you should definitely check it out, but Edinburgh, with its tiny, windy roads and closes is just so much more mysterious and fascinating J