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Glasgow: The Verdict

If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I blogged about my forthcoming trip to Glasgow. Well, my visit to Scotland’s biggest city has been and gone, so as promised I’ll tell you a little bit about how it compared to my expectations.

Arriving into the stunning Glasgow Central station you feel that here is a city of style and substance.  Compared to London, the city centre has an almost American feel to it, due to having been built on a grid system, and having slightly higher buildings than is usual in Britain.

But our stay at the hotel got off to an embarrassing start.  You see my better half had won a three-night stay at a hotel at his work Christmas party.  What the travel company hadn’t done was provide him with the necessary vouchers.  For a few toe-curling moments it really looked as if we’d be getting the first train back or trudging the streets of Glasgow for the weekend.  The way the very lovely receptionist dealt with this delicate situation set the tone for the weekend – everyone we met was friendly and welcoming, which rather belied the city’s hard, gritty reputation.  As a tourist sticking to the city centre it’s easy to gloss over this grittiness and ignore the fact that the poor areas of Glasgow have one of the lowest life expectancies in the UK.

As you know, one of the things I was really looking forward to was Glaswegian food.  Unbelievably, we managed to have a very disappointing curry – posh décor couldn’t make up for overpriced, mediocre food.  The other big disappointment was my utter failure to locate a single chippy serving deep-fried chocolate bars, let alone manage to eat one.  I couldn’t help wondering whether the whole thing was an urban myth propagated by Londoners in an attempt to sneer at the northern city.  Guess I’ll just have to batter a Snickers in the privacy and comfort of my own kitchen.  Having said that, everything else we ate was of a really high standard, including the best tapas I’ve had in Britain.

Heading out at night to the famous Sub Club, the first thing a Londoner notices is how much less ‘too cool for school’ the crowd is than in London.  This includes punching the ceiling to show your appreciation for the DJ!  For my money though, Glaswegian pubs can’t compete with those of many other British cities.  The nightlife seems more based on clubbing or eating out than just sitting around in pubs.  It’s more enthusiastic than that!

Another thing I appreciated was the range of galleries, such as the Kelvingrove Museum.  Sadly we never made it to the Burrell Collection or the Rennie Mackintosh house, although we did admire the Mackintosh-designed Glasgow School of Art.  His influence seems to have pervaded the city’s interiors in the way that every bar and restaurant is thoughtfully decorated.

What was my highlight?  It probably sounds a bit strange but during my visit to the park and Botanic Gardens I managed to get a squirrel to eat out of my hand!  So if you’d like to experience friendlier service and tamer wildlife than in London, Glasgow is the place to go.  

By Laura

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