I went for a city break in Glasgow.
“Walk past the wee ‘cheese-grater’, beside the ‘squinty’ and under the ‘big dipper’ and you will see it on your left” was the response I received when asking directions to my city break in Glasgow. I was walking from the Scottish Exhibition & Convention Centre (SECC) to the EURO HOSTEL GLASGOW. As if the Glaswegian accent is not tricky enough for Sassenachs to decipher; locals like to give a nickname to everything in Glasgow, which not only raises a smile to ones face but gives an insight into their character. The ‘cheese-grater’ refers to the external cladding of a brand new multi-story car park, the ‘squinty’ is the arching and attractive ‘Finnieston Bridge’ and the ‘Big-dipper’ is one of the feeder roads that sweeps round, roller-coaster style, and connects with the motorway heading out of Glasgow.
I followed the banks of the Clyde and eventually made it to the hostel, to be greeted by the friendly pairing of Jennifer and Anthony, who quickly checked me in. There are three fundamental things that strike you when you arrive at the Euro Hostel Glasgow; these are LOCATION, LOCATION and the BAR. Positioned a moment from Central Station and even closer to the river, the hostel is prime real estate in every sense! And anyone arriving at the reception desk will have their attention drawn to a very well stocked and stylish bar. This is the pulsating heart of the hostel buzzing 24/7 and is the automatic meeting point for everyone whose tiered bunks are stacked on several floors above their heads.
With only two nights to get a taste of one of Europe’s trendiest cities, I ventured out in to the late evening and into a wall of noise. Glaswegians know how to party and they do it at maximum decibels, whether it be groups of revellers moving from bar to bar or buskers in the main thoroughfare, strumming, drumming and singing to their hearts content mobbed by eager listeners. By night Glasgow is beautifully illuminated, most of the bridges spanning the Clyde shimmer in the water in hues of red or blue, whilst a walk along the city’s main artery ‘Buchanan Street’ will showcase a master class of bringing the buildings to life through light.
Rod Stewart was in concert over at the new venue ‘The Hydro’ which forms part of the modernist cluster of buildings that has spearheaded the regeneration along the banks of the Clyde. Flying into Glasgow International, it is the ‘armadillo-shaped’ SECC roof, the Hydro and Finnieston Bridge that draws your eye and dazzles on a sunny day. I did loiter outside the Hydro in the vain hope of getting a ticket until one of the stewards told me ‘you would have to sell your mammy to find a ticket for Rod’, so I wandered back into the centre of Glasgow.
For all the hard partying of a weekend, there is also a very elegant and cultured side to Glasgow, one that time prevented me from fully exploring, but tilt your head upwards and Victorian edifices of yesteryear come into focus. Admire St Enoch’s or Blythswood Squares, walk beneath the Merchant Arch to find some fine restaurants, an area whose history is all in the name; as one of the oldest quarters of the city it has been home to both monks and traders.
For lovers of design and architecture, then Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s ‘Scotland Street School’ museum built between 1903 and 1906 is a shrine to the art nouveau movement and one attraction not to be missed. Similarly, the ‘Gallery of Modern Art’ should definitely be part of any visit to Glasgow. Housed in the iconic 18th century building with a colonnaded façade, the acropolis-style venue is right in the heart of Glasgow and is home to contemporary art collections.
By Sunday, I had only scraped the surface of what Glasgow has to offer to a weekend visitor, but it had showed me enough to entice me back for more. That could be as soon as next year when the city will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, so I will need to have a look at Independent Hostels maps of Glasgow or get my booking in early for the Euro Hostel. Somewhere with such a ‘location, location and stylish bar’ will be in much demand!