|Photo by Freeimages.com/manus murphy|
by Telegraph, The Daily Telegraph, April 8, 2016
I’m a proud Glaswegian. I really, really am. Born, educated and still living there after 41 years, I’m as attached to the Dear Green Place as it’s possible to be.
Don’t get me wrong. I have visited other cities in the world over the past four decades but it’s just that I can’t stay away from my home town for too long.
I am passionate about the place and if you were thinking about visiting us Weegies, the investment in sports infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games means that you are just as likely to visit us to watch the British Swimming Championships or a triathlon as you are because you fancy a touch of culture or some excellent food and drink.
To properly provide a picture of Glasgow I’m going to guide you around the city in sections. Each part has its own particular flavour and each should be experienced before departing. In fact, and I’d never normally recommend such a touristy thing to do, but I went on one of those open-top bus tours of Glasgow recently and loved it.
Most people will suggest that one of your first stops in the city should be the West End and I wouldn’t disagree. It’s beautiful to wander round, full of leafy streets with eclectic boutiques, independent coffee shops and gourmet restaurants. It’s also considered the centre of the student population – hence the second-hand shops and retro fashion.
If you take a wander down Byres Road do make sure to visit the university itself. I may be biased as I graduated there but the quadrangles are hauntingly exquisite, and if you wander through them to the back of the main building you’ll find one of the best views of the city.
Right beside the university is one of the jewels in the city crown in the shape of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Not only does it contain some of the most exciting art you’ll see but also it has two other things that I’d encourage you to enjoy. First, there’s a giant, stuffed spider crab that’s displayed above one of the doors in the natural history section. It’s been there for as long as I can remember and my brother used it to terrify me when I was young.
Second, the Art Gallery has a large atrium that’s filled every day with music from the magnificent organ that has been in place since 1902. Get a cup of coffee, find a seat and relax. Finally the Stand Comedy Club, where I started my comedy career, is tucked away beside Kelvingrove Park and, if you’re at a loose end of an evening, is open every night to cheer you up.
Travelling to the city centre along the Clydeside Expressway you’ll journey past the fairly recently completed Riverside Museum, which is home to more than 3,000 objects from locomotives to vintage cars. The riverside area is still undergoing a huge amount of regeneration and the SECC and the new SSE Hydro arena help cement Glasgow’s reputation as one of the best venues for live music.
The city centre is the hub of shopping, clubbing, theatres and nightlife. If you’re a fan of movies take a wander down to George Square. It doubled as a zombie-filled Philadelphia in the film World War Z. Apparently Brad Pitt loved his time in Glasgow. He’s a very intelligent man.
The Southside of Glasgow is often ignored by travel writers and it’s true that it’s less showy than it’s northern neighbours but it has much to recommend it. Attractions include the Burrell Collection, works of art presented to the people of Glasgow by Sir William Burrell in 1944. And in Pollok Country Park, where it’s situated, there’s Pollok House, an 18thcentury mansion filled with art and antiques, plus an abundance of gardens and woodland to stroll through, all just minutes from the city.
The Southside is also a growing hub for culture, food and the arts with cafés and galleries springing up regularly. I live there and, believe me, it’s worth investigating.
Before I leave you, I want to include some random Glasgow activities and events to enjoy all year round. First, and I know it sounds morbid, but the Necropolis is one of my favourite places. Built adjacent to Glasgow Cathedral it’s a large Victorian garden cemetery and a walking tour gives a fascinating insight into the history of the city and its people.
The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens on Glasgow Green is an exciting museum where, among its exhibits, you’ll find oral histories provided by Glaswegians and even Billy Connolly’s big Banana Boots. And the Britannia Panopticon, sitting above an amusement arcade at the end of Argyle Street, is the world’s oldest surviving music hall where, legend has it, Stan Laurel discovered his clowning abilities.
Take a trip on the Subway! Known as the Clockwork Orange it’s different to the London Tube, mainly because it simply goes round in a circle. Also worth seeking out is the Glasgow Women’s Library that has found a new home in the East End of the city. They have everything from suffragette memorabilia and 1930s dressmaking patterns to rare 1970s Scottish Women’s Liberation newsletters.
All in all, Glasgow has a vibrant, loud, brash, gentle, artistic, poetic soul. And I’ve never experienced anywhere quite as magnificent. Jump on the next train or plane and come see us.
By Susan Calman
See Susan Calman at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in her new show The Calman Before The Storm from 3 to 28 August at 6.20pm (for more information, go to pleasance.co.uk/susan-calman ). She will also be appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival talking about her first book Cheer Up Love which is released on 5 May 2016.
For more information and inspiration, and to discover the true spirit of Scotland, go to visitscotland.com
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