My eyes almost popped out of their sockets when I received an invitation from British Airways to go to the U.K. for a long weekend. First stop was Glasgow for the night to check out what’s happening there as they get ready to host the Commonwealth Games.
As you can imagine it was a whirlwind of a trip. I landed in London at 6:30am and my flight to Glasgow wasn’t until 10am. Fortunately, I had a pass to BA’s Galleries lounge which takes all the pain out of a long layover as they have really good food, plenty of drink options (including free booze), WiFi, loads of newspapers, addictive cookies and private bathrooms with showers. There’s also free massages but I’ve never been able to get an appointment – you need a REALLY long layover to secure one or fly off peak. I did take a shower which helps immensely with jetlag (and body odor!).
When my group landed in Glasgow we were greeted by a Scottish bloak with a kilt which the ladies (and some guys) on my Facebook page went gaga for). He was from Rabbies Tours and drove us in a comfortable van that had USB ports (all the iOS users really appreciated this). It was a 45 minute drive to Andy Murray’s new hotel, Cromlix, where we took a tour and had a lovely lunch.
I was so tired that I dozed off on the drive to Cromlix and then on the hour drive to Blythswood Square our luxurious Glasgow hotel for the night. We only had 45 minutes before our tour so I just checked emails and watched part of the U.S.A. vs Germany World Cup match. Then I met the group for a one-hour walking tour of the West End of the city.
Cottiers Theater, Bar and Restaurant
Our guide was Ann Laird from Friends of Glasgow West. She showed us the Hillhead Underground (highlighting interior mural artwork of Glasgow artist/writer Alistair Gray). We then met with BBC Broadcaster Colin McKay at Cottiers Theater, Bar and Restaurant so he could share his own personal highlights of the West End. We learned and saw that Glasgow’s West End is home to the historic University of Glasgow (Glasgow has the most college kids in the UK), the picturesque Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park and the buzzing Byres Road and Ashton Lane where you can find a wealth of great vintage and design stores.
There’s also a fantastic range of cafes, bars and specialist delicatessens can also be found in this bohemian quarter of the city. We had pre-dinner drinks at Kelvingrove Café (1161-1163 Argyle Street, G3 8TB T: 0141 221 8988) which offers a menu of mixed drinks that changes seasonally. All the ice is produced in house with tools and techniques used by cafe owners in 1930s Glasgow. Behind the bar you can see the large copper sinks used to hold the ice blocks and the 14-inch Japanese ice saw used to portion it.
Ox and Finch
After my Ginger beer we moseyed to a new nearby restaurant called Ox and Finch (920 Sauchiehall Street, G3 7TF) for dinner. It’s kind of set up like Spanish tapas but with British food. We were all encouraged to order two dishes (here’s the menu) and a dessert. I went with the Buffalo mozzarella campana, clyde valley tomatoes and basil £5.50 ($9.43) and the confit chicken leg, peas, bacon and girolles £7 ($12). For dessert I had the charred baby pineapple, coconut parfait, passion fruit and mango £5 ($8.50). It was all very tasty but by the time we left it was 10:30pm, the sky was still light (gotta love summer) and I was beat. My body didn’t know what to do so I just went to the hotel and took a hot shower in the dark and crashed.
Glasgow School of Art student guides
I woke up at 7am to have breakfast, do some work and then go on a private walking tour by Glasgow School of Art student guides. The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) has aimed, throughout its long history, to produce innovative, creative and successful artists, designers and architects. They’ve had six Turner Prize winners (Martin Creed, Douglas Gordon, Simon Starling, Richard Wright, Susan Philipsz and Martin Boyce); eight Turner Prize nominees (Christine Borland, Phil Collins, Nathan Coley, Jim Lambie, Cathy Wilkes, Lucy Skaer, Karla Black, Luke Fowler and 2013 nominee David Shrigley) and three Beck’s Futures winners (Roderick Buchanan, Rosalind Nashashibi, Toby Paterson) have hailed from, trained in, or worked out of the city in recent years.
We saw much of Glasgow’s contemporary public art, architecture and design to reveal their remarkable creative regeneration. We explored artworks installed down hidden lanes, new architecture in the city and discovered Glasgow’s booming creative industries. Glasgow’s transformation from post-industrial to leading contemporary arts and culture hub is explored through the places, spaces and faces that led this change, a phenomenon described as “The Glasgow Miracle” by Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obris. Journey through the city from the 1970’s to present day. I had no idea that Glasgow had such an internationally acclaimed arts scene. Did you?
We then had a 30-minute coffee break at the A-listed Hutchesons’ Hall in the Merchant City since it recently underwent a £1.3million ($2.2 million) transformation by independent restaurateur James Rusk. I had a hot chocolate.
We finished Glasgow by hopping in a couple cabs to take 10-minute (no lie) tours of The Mackintosh House, Riverside Museum and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. All museums were free to enter.
My favorite was the Riverside Museum which won European Museum of the year in 2013 and I’ve could’ve spent hours in there as they have 3,000 objects that detail Glasgow’s rich past from its days as maritime powerhouse to a glimpse into daily Glasgow life in the early to mid 20th Century. Amongst the objects on display are everything from skateboards to locomotives, paintings to prams, velocipedes to voiturettes, vintage cars to a stormtrooper, there really is something to delight visitors of all ages.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Same goes for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which had a live exhibit! See photo above of the dude just lying on the ground attached to an oversize electrical plug. According to Wikipedia “The museum’s collections came mainly from the McLellan Galleries and from the old Kelvingrove House Museum in Kelvingrove Park. It has one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world and a vast natural history collection. The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks, including works by the Old Masters, French Impressionists, Dutch Renaissance, Scottish Colourists and exponents of the Glasgow School.”
Special thanks to the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau for hosting me!