Thursday, July 14, 2016

Local's Secrets (7) : Sarah's Glasgow

The Basics

What do people have to know about your city’s transportation? 
There are two good ways to get around in Glasgow. Anyone coming to the city from the airport should take the airport express bus, the First 500, a city centre <> airport bus that only makes stops once it gets off the M8 in the city centre on Bothwell Street. Black cabs are expensive, usually upwards of £30 from the airport to the anywhere in the West End or City centre, and private cabs cannot pick up within the airport proper. 
Once in the city, buses are the best way to get into the outer reaches. However, travellers looking to get about in the city centre/west end circle should absolutely take the subway. Known locally as the Clockwork Orange, the subway loops the West End with the South Side and the western City centre. A single ride is £1.60 and a day pass is £4. Recently Glasgow introduced a subway Smartcard which offers serious discounts on travel, so its worth it to put some money on that if you’ll be taking the subway around town. This is THE way to travel for locals so expect crowds in the evenings and on weekends. If you can, avoid using the subway when there is a Rangers game at Ibrox. The subway will be insanely crowded, but of course, sometimes you can’t avoid it.

If someone is new to the city, which website should he check for daily or weekly free events? 
I love Time Out . I would definitely say that is a big resource for visitors. The other is People Make Glasgow .

Tell us about the food scene! 
Haggis, Scotland
Haggis. image via

Signature dish and where to get the best servings: 
Glasgow isn’t really known for its food, unfortunately. It is British, and therefore food has up until recently been almost a necessary evil. Since we’re talking Scotland, let’s say Haggis is the signature dish. Or whisky, and luckily those two things go hand in hand. For a unique haggis, head to Stravaigin on Gibson Street or The Ubiquitous Chip in Ashton Lane. For the best whisky, head to any bar: even the down and out dives will have a decent selection of single malt scotches.

Wackiest food in town and where to try them: 
The wackiest food is definitely a deep-fried Mars bar. A proper heart attack wrapped in newsprint. I got one once with some friends of mine - five of us split it. It was insanely rich, all gooey chocolate melt with beer batter around it. I reckon its close to deep fried ice cream, but I’ve never had that so I can’t say for sure.

Everyday food that foreigners might find exotic? 
Weird, everyday food… I’d have to go back to haggis. Except that its not really an everyday food for most Scots. It does make the “weird food” lists quite often though. Basically, its delicious - its no longer cooked in a sheep stomach, so you don’t have to worry about that grossness, and there are actually veggie haggis now.

Hidden Gems/ Sarah's Secrets! 

Sell us the one or two "things you should experience before you die” in your city. 
Two things that any tourist to Glasgow should do, and both are pretty touristy! The first is eat dinner at Rogano. It’s the oldest restaurant in the city and gorgeously Art Deco. They also serve some phenomenal oysters as well as have a great wine list. For people not looking to spend a fortune, Rogano does have a bar that serves lighter fare earlier in the evening. 
The second thing is to do the Pubcrawl. A pub crawl through Glasgow will really show off the human side of the city and you’ll get a chance to go to some of the oldest bars in the city that you might not otherwise get to. Its 18 stops on the subway make for 18 pubs, but you don’t have to do all of it.

Hidden gems in the city that tourists tend to overlook:
1. The Necropolis. It doesn’t have the most amazing view of the city anymore - there are too many tall buildings in town now - but the sculptures up there are amazing and many are done by famous artists. It’s leisurely too, don’t rush it. Many a day you’ll find students up there lounging with books and cigarettes + cider.
2. The Botanical Gardens is another overlooked destination. The greenhouse is lovely on a chilly day and on a nice sunny day, the lawn is packed with students. 
3. I also really like the quayside. It’s been revamped in recent years and the views of the Armadillo and Science Centre are really cool. The new Riverside Museum is there too, another architecturally interesting building. There’s a pedestrian bridge that would have to be a good spot for that photo.
4. Right, so this one I haven’t even been to but I hear the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall is fantastic. It’s the worlds oldest surviving music hall and still operates. Definitely on my list for when I go back.

Let’s talk about the best festival in the city, and how to participate! 
The summer in Glasgow is the best. Both the West End and the Merchant City host smashing festivals - fashion, food, drinks, parades, music, etc. Most events are free to get to, especially the outdoor ones, but you may have to pay for a music event or a fashion show. In my experience they don’t overlap and the West End Fest is definitely quirkier than the MC one. I’d recommend going to Glasgow in the summer anyway, as winter can be quite cold, rainy, and sad. 

Tell us your favorite photo spots in your city and how to get there 
Kelvingrove Museum
Kelvingrove Museum
Glasgow doesn’t really have an iconic skyline, unfortunately. The most photographic building is the University’s Gilbert Scott building, and you can get a great photo of that from a bridge along Dumbarton Street, just past the hospital. The Kelvingrove Museum is also an iconic building and you can get a great view of both buildings (they are adjacent) from the opposite side of the road looking toward the Uni and Museum. 
One spot I loved for photos of the city centre is the Lighthouse. Smack in the middle of the city, it has a 360ยบ view of the city centre rooftops. The other spot that I loved is inaccessible: the Hen Run at the Glasgow School of Art. I have several photos from there while I was a student. Casual visitors were never allowed up there, and now the building is under restoration from the devastating fire in 2014. 

Tell us about the best day trip destination from your city and why is that your choice? 
Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond
The best day trip from Glasgow would have to be Loch Lomond. It’s super easy to access from the city centre - trains run direct to Balloch. From there, you can take trips out on the lake or do a day hike along the lake edge. For travellers keen to drive up, you can make Fort William and Glencoe in a day. I don’t recommend trying to visit the Isle of Skye in a day from Glasgow, that’s definitely an overnight trip, but well worth it. Other day or overnight trips include many of the Inner Hebrides islands, like Arran, Mull, and Islay. Stirling Castle is nearby, accessible from either Edinburgh or Glasgow for a day trip, and so is Roslyn (the same-named church from the Da Vinci Code).

(BONUS Tips) 

Meet the people!! Glaswegians are famous for being (mostly) friendly. Be careful of wearing green and blue in certain parts of the city, but in the city centre you’re fine… you’ll just get asked about your football allegiance. It’s an amazing city. Have fun!

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Sarah is the girl behind the travel blog "The Girl With The Map Tattoo". She is currently in New Zealand. Dunedin. She've travelled to more than 20 countries, lived in three, and have so many more adventures up her sleeve. Interested to follow all her adventures? What are you waiting for? Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

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