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Travel Essentials Glasgow: Concise travel report with visitor information

Glasgow has changed. Once a place of shipyards, tenements and smoke-blackened buildings, today's Glasgow is a city of culture, a bustling and friendly metropolis which offers visitors lots of great things to see and do. Here is some information and opinion following my May 2003 visit to the city.

My journey to Glasgow was on one of Virgin's ultra-modern Voyager trains. The route wends its way to Glasgow through spectacular scenery. For the best fares book in advance via www.virgintrains.co.uk.
The First Class Upgrade on the outward journey provided a wider seat and includes refreshments, but unless the train is very crowded, Standard Class is fine.

HOTEL: I stayed at the Premier Lodge, Glasgow City Centre. I booked via www.octopustravel.com and got a rate of £43.50 per night. See also www.premierlodge.co.uk. The converted office building now makes an excellent hotel with fabulous views from the rooms higher up. Mine was on the 12th floor facing east. The hotel is ideally situated next to Charing Cross Station, one stop from Queen St Station. The room, service and buffet style Scottish breakfast were top class.

Walking is easy in the central area, though the hills might wear you out a little. Take a day ticket on Glasgow's Subway system - Small trains running on a single loop will take you to many places of interest. Great value at £1.70 for a day ticket. A £4 day ticket gives you the run of trains in the Strathclyde area. £8 buys you day-long use of the tourist buses, one of which is a classic model in original green and orange Glasgow Corporation colours. As in other British cities, buses are operated by various independent operators, each of which has a cheap day ticket. There are cycle lanes along roads and through parks, so riding a bike is another option, but watch out for those hills!

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh tour at the Glasgow School of Art is a must-see. Experience the world of CRM on a guided tour around this unique building completed in 1909.

The pedestrianised area from Sauchiehall St and running south down Buchanan Street is the bustling heart of Glasgow, with many shops, cafes and restaurants. The St Enoch shopping centre, on the site of the old station of the same name, is of striking and unusual design with a vast sloping glass roof.

The Lighthouse centre is a contemporary style five-level arts centre built onto the rear of the Mackintosh-designed former Daily Herald building. There are rooftop views from a newly-built viewing room and from a repurposed water tower.

The University area in its wooded setting, with the Kelvingrove Art Gallery (see advisory below), Kelvin Hall and Museum of Transport with thought-provoking displays on the Lockerbie disaster and Glasgow's shipbuilding legacy.

The Glasgow Science Centre provides a state of the art attraction with a highly successful Imax theatre and revolving tower (see advisory). This is just a sample from a larger number of places to visit in and around Glasgow, European City of Culture 1990, a well deserved honour. More information via www.visitglasgow.com

Once considered drab and unattractive, Glasgow now offers photo- opportunities at every corner, both along the city centre streets with their San Francisco-like hills, along the river and in the parks and green spaces around the university. Especially recommended is the vista (left) from the end of Hill St, near the School of Art, and the views from the Lighthouse Centre. Central Station is a photographic subject in its own right.

At the time of writing (mid-2003) the revolving tower at the Glasgow Science Centre is out of action due to a faulty bearing. Bosses hope to have it back in operation soon. Check www.glasgowsciencecentre.co.uk.

The Kelvingrove Museum is closed for major refurbishment until 2004. A selection of works are on display at the McLennan Galleries on Sauchihall Street.

Glasgow's night life is lively, and retains a reputation for brawls, and bloody noses. Club-goers should mind how they go, so as not to add a 'Glasgow Kiss' to their list of experiences - find out the funny side of Glasgow from celebrated Glaswegian actor and comedian Billy Connolly.

I was expecting the best and wasn't disappointed. I was very sorry to have to get on the train home but will be back soon.

©Aidan O'Rourke 12 May 2003

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2004-06-03

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