I am a freelance travel writer born in Glasgow and bred on deep fried Mars bars and Tennent's Lager. I have visited 80 countries and I have written for Esquire, Time Out, The Herald, The Scotsman, Sunday Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Geographical, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Sun, News of the World, Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, Business Traveller, CNBC Business, Holland Herald (KLM), Bangkok Post, Silver Kris (Singapore Airlines), South China Morning Post, TNT, Portfolio (Emirates), Etihad Inflight and Aspire (Etihad Airways), The National (UAE), Oryx (Qatar Airways), Fah Thai (Bangkok Airways), Gulf Life (Gulf Air), Discovery (Cathay Pacific), Premier (Barclays Bank), Zoo, Fall-Line Skiing, Seabourn Club Herald (Florida) and Get Lost (Australia) to name quite a few. I also used to write for The Times and The Independent.
A true Scottish patriot in every sense of the word – you won’t find any underpants beneath my kilt – I have wandered around Glasgow for 32 years spending every restless minute trawling the best bars and restaurants of the Merchant City and the West End, getting sweaty at the country’s best music venues (King Tut’s and the Barras for the uninitiated or inebriated) and shaking my head in disbelief while watching the national team play at Hampden. If I cut myself, I would bleed a sweet electric orange hue as my arteries are clogged with Scottish soft drink Irn Bru.
Where I always grab a beer – Glasgow specialises in dark music bars pasted in posters and crammed full of rock’n’roll credentials, heavenly jukeboxes and bohemian clientele. In the city centre Nice’n’Sleazy, Republic Bier Halle, Brunswick Cellars, 13th Note, Moskito, Mono and King Tut’s are the places where you are most likely to find me nursing a pint of Belhaven Best.
My favourite stroll - Kelvingrove Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens in the West End of the city are perfect to clear your head from the night before or to laze around with a picnic before the night ahead. St Mungo’s Cathedral, Castle Street, and the nearby Necropolis are also recommended for contemplating God.
Fiction for inspiration – Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark” may not be light holiday reading but it’s one of Glasgow’s most praised literary works. For something a little more light-hearted, Christopher Brookmyre’s Glasgow crime novels are hard-boiled Raymond Chandler yarns deep fried in Scottish wit and banter. I’d opt for some of the late great Edwin Morgan’s stunning poetry.
Where to be seen – Princes Square shopping mall off of Scotland’s style mile Buchanan Street represents the Pearly Gates for those carrying a branded handbag but for student types and culture vultures, Byers Road (and its surrounding streets) is the Scottish equivalent of the Parisian Left Bank.
The most breathtaking view – Pointing into the sky like a shoddy compass needle, the Glasgow Tower at the Glasgow Science Centre will have a cracking view if it ever opens… The panorama from Park Terrace across to the Gothic spire of the University and the Kelvingrove Museum is also a cracker.
The best spot for some peace and quiet – The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) on Royal Exchange Square is my favourite rainy day retreat. When the sun shines, go rummaging through the undergrowth with the wildlife in Pollock Park on the south side of the river.
Shopaholics beware – Glasgow has the largest concentration of shops of any city in the UK outside of London – so hold that credit card tighter than a hand grenade. Particular gems include humourous wallpapers from Timorous Beasties, vintage clothing from Felix and Oscar (both on Great Western Road), lost LPs from Mono (King’s Court) and designer fashion cuts in the hedonistic Princes Square. The Golden “Z”, encompassing Argyll, Buchanan and Sauchiehall Streets, has more gifts and goods than you could stick in your luggage in one trip, so it may be a better idea to just buy another suitcase while you’re at it. Bag and Baggage (Royal Exchange Square) should do nicely.
City soundtrack – As the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow has first class indie pop credentials and over the years has produced a multitude of top class talent. Take your pick from Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, Simple Minds, Del Amitri, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, Texas, Lulu, Paolo Nutini and Deacon Blue to name just a few. Belle and Sebastian’s “If you’re Feeling Sinister” is the perfect soundtrack for wandering around the tree-lined backstreets around the University of Glasgow. “Like Dylan in the Movies” used to soundtrack my walk from Hillhead station to early morning lectures.
Don’t leave without... visiting Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the Art School, wandering through the cloisters of the University of Glasgow, taking tea at Tchai Ovna, having an Irn Bru picnic in Pollok Park, watching an Old Firm football game at Ibrox or Celtic Park, eating fish’n’chips past midnight on Sauchiehall Street, taking in a gig at the Barras or King Tuts, seeing a show at the Tramway, feasting on fresh seafood at the Two Fat Ladies, sailing on the Tall Ship, exploring the House for an Art Lover, greeting Walter Scott on George Square, riding the Clockwork Orange…. In second thoughts, maybe you should just stay for a bit longer?
My expert information
600,000 Glaswegians can't be wrong
Is this the greatest city on earth? You bet. Despite the demise of the Commonwealth, two World Wars, the closure of the shipyards, the birth of the deep fried Mars bar, the departure of Alex Ferguson to Manchester and Billy Connolly to Los Angeles, Glasgow is still smiling. Yes, Glasgow is smiles better and the locals won't have any problem telling you about it in great detail.Read more...