It is already becoming a year of revisiting cities that didn’t endear themselves first time around including Liverpool, Paris and now Glasgow. The first two were refreshing surprises and fortunately so was Scotland’s city of style on the banks of the River Clyde.
A packed itinerary had been planned ensuring there wasn’t much time to explore. However travelling through “The Dear Green Place” it is impossible not to notice how much has changed.
Glasgow reinvented itself and has made being a European “City of Culture” fashionable, with cities now queuing up to be awarded the title and “do a Glasgow”. All hoping to replicate the makeover success story of Scotland’s second city.
It is built on a grid system which makes navigating the one way system remarkably simple and getting around on foot seems equally painless. Most of my experience was from the seat of a taxi cab, however in areas that were once run-down there are now chic restaurants and bars. Where once disused and derelict buildings scarred the cityscape major accommodation providers have moved in, including several very fashionable and ultra-modern boutique hotels. Independent and large retail outlets alike have rediscovered the city returning or redeveloping to provide a shopaholic’s paradise.
The shopping centre is recognised as second only to London for top fashion lines, available from independent boutiques or designer outlets and flagship stores for the major brands are also present. The “Style Mile” is where the fashion conscious browse the unique retail outlets of “Buchanan Galleries” or “Merchant City” spending their hard earned and ‘maxing out’ their credit cards.
A city which has made a point of promoting it’s cultural credentials requires a variety of museums and art galleries to back up the claim as well as somewhere to take a break from all the shopping. Glasgow has extremely rich civic collections to which entry is free. The city is also relatively inexpensive and this is one reason it has become attractive to the creative; numerous artists, writers and musicians now call it home.
There are apparently around 300 live music performances on any given day in the city. Although there wasn’t the opportunity to experience this vibrant scene during my visit I did get to hear some of the talented Glasgwegian musicians. On the final evening there was a small gala where we were treated to classical guitar, a stringed trio and the celebrated rap band “La Fontaine”.
The itinerary allowed for a visit to nearby Loch Lomond. With an overnight stay at the quintessentially Scottish Cameron House hotel a great break from the city. It may not be as chic as the boutique hotels of the city but it is luxury on a grand scale and is located in the most beautiful countryside. Our group was fortunate enough to be able to take a seaplane flight over the nearby hills of the Trossachs and the River Clyde.
A small Cessna flies several times a day providing passengers with breath-taking views of isolated sandy beaches, saltwater lochs churned by barely visible waves and numerous warships, fishing and pleasure craft that patrol the channel. An overturned shipwreck is clearly visible through the plexiglass window as is the jetty of the submarine depot. The land gradually rises as the lowland fells blend into the hills that mark the boundary of the highlands, spectacular scenery is everywhere.
All too soon the floats of the plane were splashing down again in the loch and our exciting journey was over coming to an end. All of those present departed wearing a huge smile but also wishing the flight could have been much longer.
These are a few of the highlights on this whistle-stop tour of Glasgow and Loch Lomond, including foraging for food and experiencing the Commonwealth Games 2014 tour. This is just a taster however with a few teasing images to whet your appetite for more Scotland with style.