Glasgow is my favourite city (after London) in the UK and last year I was lucky enough to visit twice. Both visits were for music endeavours. The first being to see Belle and Sebastian at the SSE Hydro and the most recent visit was to see The Twilight Sad at the Barrowlands Ballroom, Scotland's most prestigious venue. I'm going to put together a city guide really soon as I feel like I know Glasgow pretty well but I thought I'd share a few snaps from my weekend visit.
Steve and I flew up on a Friday evening after work, returning on the Sunday evening because we didn't have any annual leave days left. You can see a fair bit of Glasgow in a weekend but I definitely recommend staying for at least 3 nights to really appreciate the city as there's a lot to do.
Having stayed in the city centre on our first visit we decided that the west end would be the best place for our second trip as there are so many wonderful restaurants and bars in the area. Because it's bloody freezing in Scotland come December I took a gamble and left it quite late to book accommodation, thinking that the city wouldn't be too busy. The gamble paid off and I was able to book us a lovely room at Alamo Guesthouse which is situated next to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the University of Glasgow, in my option a perfect location.
We arrived fairly late on the Friday night but with enough time to have dinner at Mother India, a Glasgow institution. On our previous visit we had visited the Mother India tapas style restaurant for an afternoon snack but this time we went to the proper restaurant for a slightly more formal meal. To be completely honest I preferred the tapas style place as I prefer sharing plates.
With a fairly early start we had an excellent breakfast at our bnb and headed towards the south of Glasgow to visit some sights we hadn't had time for last time. We were joined by Lauren which was so much fun. We hadn't seen each other since she'd moved back to Scotland so we got to spend the day catching up whilst strolling around the Glaswegian suburbs. She even came to the gig and for some unbeknownst reason we totally failed to take a picture of our rendezvous, sad times indeed.
First stop on the south Glasgow tour was a visit to House for an Art Lover, a Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed building. We visited loads of Mackintosh building on our previous visit so this was an obvious place to start the day. Mackintosh designed the house for a competition but it wasn't actually built until over 110 years later as a tribute to his memory. It now functions as a multi purpose venue set in Bellahouston Park. The house was nice but I felt a little underwhelmed on leaving. I think I had been expecting more from the place and even though there were a few different rooms to explore I felt like there could have been much more. It didn't help that the guy in the gift shop didn't give us the key for the audio guides so we had no idea which buttons to press in each room.
The south of Glasgow isn't that well connected by public transport and whilst we'd been able to reach House for an Art Lover by train we had a bit of a walk to the Burrell Collection in the middle of Pollok Country Park. We got a little lost in the middle of the woods and ended up scrambling through trees and mud but we eventually made it to the museum. Sir William Burrell, a wealthy Glaswegian shipping magnate and art collector left his art collection to the city in 1944 on the condition that it would be housed in a building 16 miles away from the city centre. A suitable location was never found until Pollock Park was given to the city in 1967 and Burrell's trustees decided that it would make a fitting location despite only being 3 miles from the city centre. The museum was built after Barry Gasson won a design competition and the beautiful, asymmetric, light filled masterpiece now hosts this impressive collection of art and medieval artefacts.
Our last tourist stop of the day was a must do for Steve, visit the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park. The museum is huge and I was honestly surprised by how interesting the displays were. I'm no football fan myself but I do take an interest in Arsenal (Steve's team) so I feel like I have some basic knowledge of the game, despite my best efforts. I asked Steve what his highlights were and he said the recreation of Archie Gemmill's goal against Holland in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. If you've ever seen Trainspotting you might know what I'm talking about. He said the Hall of Fame room was great as well.
We hopped on a train back into the city centre and headed towards the west end for drinks and dinner before our gig that evening. We stopped at Kelvingrove Cafe for delicious cocktails before enjoying a wonderful modern Scottish dinner at The Gannet.
We jumped into a cab and made our way east, across the city centre, to the Barrowlands Ballroom and the reason for our trip. I'd been wanting to see a gig here for such a long time and was holding out for a local bands to play a weekend show. Steve and I both adore the Glaswegian band The Twilight Sad so when they announced a Christmas show at the iconic venue knew we couldn't give it a miss. Unfortunately they didn't play any Christmas songs but the gig was incredible and it's an evening I will fondly remember for a very long time.
The Barrowlands may not be the prettiest of venues, in fact it's pretty grubby but as soon as you walk into the main hall you can feel that the place is steeped in history. From formal dances back in the day to gigs played by pretty much anyone that is worth knowing in the music world. The sound is phenomenal and the audience, who are predominately local Scots, have so much energy that you know instantly you're in for a wild night. The Twilight Sad are a noisy guitar band who play sad songs full of passion. James Graham, the leader singer, is phenomenal to watch live as he goes into a trance like states and becomes completely absorbed in the music.
After the show we said goodbye to Lauren and head back to our bnb after a quick drink at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, another iconic venue. We had such a great day!
We kept out last day in Glasgow easy going and sight seeing free. After another great breakfast we headed to the Byres Road, a famous high street area in the west end that we hadn't been able to visit properly last time. There's a tone of great music and vintage shops here so we spent the morning shopping for records.
Even though it was freezing we popped our heads into the Botanic Gardens to check out the beautiful Victorian green house. Despite the frost outside the green house was full of luscious greenery.
We caught the bus into the city centre where we strolled around for a few hours. We went shopping for more vinyl at Love Music and stuck out heads into the Gallery of Modern Art. We found a small little Christmas market and bought a bag of over priced sweets.
It was soon time to head back to the west end for a late lunch / early dinner before catching out flight home. We went to Porter and Rye where we shared a delicious roast beef and burger. We had time for one last gin cocktail next door at The Finnieston and then it was time to grab our bags and head back to the airport for our journey home.
I love Glasgow so much and I can't wait to visit again, hopefully this year if I can find some cheap flights. We've pretty much done all the major sights now but there's a few smaller things I'm saving for one last visit such as the People's Palace and Winter Garden, and the Mackintosh Church.