Meaghan's Guide to: Glasgow
GLASGOW, Scotland has received a bit of a bad rap in pop culture. Trainspotting depicted it as an overcast metropolis of reckless youths and junkies, while the British media loves to paint it as a city of violence and drunken hooliganism.
I lived in Glasgow for four months in 2013, and no other city in the world has made as deep of an indent upon me. I still can’t put a finger on what was so enchanting and charming about the city; perhaps it was the rust-orange tenements, and the way that they glowed in the Northern afternoon sunlight. Perhaps it was the sleepless nights spent in intimate nightclubs, surrounded by eccentric, colourful youths. Perhaps it was the weekend road trips, where an hour’s drive would place you amongst rolling, insurmountable hills and placid, gargantuan lakes. Perhaps it was the people; nowhere else have I encountered people who were so genuine, warm, and charming than the locals of Glasgow.
If you’re looking for a flashy, decadent city of rooftop clubs and beachside resorts, then Glasgow is not the city for you. If you’re looking for an city that is saturated with culture and captivating in its own humble manner, then Glasgow is a hidden gem awaiting your visit.
What to eat and drink
Buckfast Tonic Wine is an infamous fortified wine that you can find at any corner store for a couple of pounds. One bottle has more caffeine than six cups of coffee and it has caused so much controversy that Scottish politicians have tried to ban it for decades! I think that it tastes pretty awful, but is a cultural novelty that every visitor should at least sample.
Irn Bru is Scotland’s most popular soft drink. The bright orange fizzy concoction vaguely tastes like bubblegum and has now become a national icon, with Irn Bru taxis and popsicles popping up all over the country. To taste it in its full glory, purchase the non-diet, glass-bottled varieties.
Glasgow has a huge South Asian population and a range of delicious, authentic, and cheap dining options as a result. I guarantee you that a Glaswegian curry will by far exceed anything you can find in the States!
Where to party
Sub Club is a tiny basement venue; is the pride and jewel Glasgow and is unfailingly named as one of the best nightclubs in the world. Its consistent bookings and top-notch sound system (including a responsive vibrating dance floor) have transformed it from an underground haunt to a venerable industry institution.
The Arches is a venue unlike any other in the world - it’s a stunning and vast sprawl underneath Glasgow’s Central Station. Pressure, a monthly house and techno bonanza that consistently books names like Ben Klock and Maya Jane Coles, is an incredible event that is not to be missed.
Looking for a more lighthearted experience? Every Saturday night, the O2 ABC has an event called ‘Love Music’ which was a favourite amongst my friends. From The Smiths and Nirvana to TLC and the Spice Girls, all of the music they play will make you sing along, feel nostalgic, and most importantly: dance!
Where to relax
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a sunny day in Glasgow, be sure to spend it in Kelvingrove Park or the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. The city's green areas are gorgeous in any setting, but they truly are breathtaking when the sun is out.
The West End is a gorgeous (and very affluent) student neighbourhood littered by dirt-cheap thrift stores, quaint little cafes, and delicious and quirky food joints. Check out the campus of The University of Glasgow; you will feel like you just walked onto the set of Harry Potter!
The Necropolis is an impressive, lavish Victorian cemetery overlooking the city. It can be the site of a romantic picnic or an awfully terrifying prank!
Some (not so) common sense
The West and Central areas of Glasgow are fairly affluent areas that are extremely safe. You’ll encounter drunk people and beggars often, but rarely do they ever approach you or pose any threat to your safety.