Sunday, 15 May 2011

Glasgow, the Scottish creativity city.

Merchant City
  Always I am going to Scotland i feel I trespass a magic frontier and I get in a mystic land, with a fairy-tale landscape and cities that show us the opulence and decadence that the Scottish had suffered.
But after years of poverty, Scotland has become a risen economy thanks to the petroleum, the tourism and the attractive of their culture.
Edinburgh is the aristocratic capital of the country but Glasgow for centuries has been the “ugly one” but luckily like in Bilbao, the city had found its way to be an architectural and cultural stand out and the place to go shopping in Scotland and north England.

The best way to arrive to the city must be by train but unfortunately United Kingdom has forgotten its old railways glories and to travel 400 miles by train takes you about 4:30 hours, at least they still doing good weddings.
So we arrive at the windy airport of Glasgow in uncommon hot sunny day. After our check-in the first walk is the Merchant City, the old rich merchant district that flourish with the lords that make fortune with cotton, tobacco and textile industries. After 1750 until 19th centuries the merchant city get rich and develop beautiful buildings like the Trades House, the Hutcheson’s Hall, Tobacco Lord´s House and another grand Victorian buildings and neo classical like the actual Modern Art Gallery.  At the moment the historical buildings with their clean facades,  just remind me of Edinburgh, but you look more closer in the narrow alley you discover the black walls, the street musician, that is just not the typical pipe, they play songs of Texas and even the newest of Belle & Sebastian.
Before to leave the area is mandatory go to George Square and contemplate the Victorian buildings around and the statues of Walter Scott, Queen Victoria and the lions.
After a short walk you will be in the Scottish golden Z, a bunch of walking street that form a Z, and where are the most popular shopping centres, and high street shops.  Even if you are not fancy to shop some of them worth a visit like the Buchanan Galleries, Princes Square and glass structure of the St Enoch Centre. Also the Argyll Arcade built 1827 are nice to visit with their jewellery shops but if you like something more alternative you must go to the Barras Market, you will be surprised!
Armadillo by Foster

But now is time to move, and ahead to the futurist design over the side of the Clyde River that offer the Science Centre and the Conference Centre, called by the locals the armadillo, even the Norman Foster architect try to emulate a sea shell and to my taste one of his worst attempt when you are getting closer to the building. As well you can contemplate a giant ship crane that reminds us of  the historical past of the docks and the Clyde river; that I am pretty sure than for centuries has never been look so clean. And now the area has a new arrival the new spectacular transport museum (open 21st june).

Inside Kelvingrove museum
After this you are ready to back to the city and visit the Great Western Road, a posh area close to the Glasgow University, and Kelvingrove museum. The Kelvingrove  is a Victorian red palace where you can find a taxidermist elephant, French impressionist and Flemish painting, some art for the Scottish boy, Mackintosh  and even a Spitfire from the second world war. Even the display is quite chaotic in some stages, they have a lot of information to learn about what are you watching, really much better than the disappointed visit of the Modern Art Museum, a real waste of time if wasn’t for the nice interior of the buildings.
Anyway Glasgow have around 20 museum and galleries, most of them are free, the Burrell Collection is the art collection of one of the richest shipping merchant of the city and include more than 8000 pieces, including Rodin, Cézanne, Greek and Egypt object. No far you can find the Pollock house for admire Spanish painting of Goya, Murillo and El Greco.
Kibble Palace
 Much of the expert believe that the word Glasgow mean “dear green place”, we can be sure but is true that Glasgow is one of the European cities with most green space for habitants, and prove of that are thebotanic gardens with impressive Kibble Glasshouse, iron and glass in their more beautiful expression manage to keep a tropical forest inside.
Before to leave you need to explore the Charles RennieMacKintosh universe, he was an architect, designer, and artist that change the stone for the iron and glass transforming everything in more functional and simple without left the beauty and harmony with the nature. The best examples of his art are in the Hill House (Helensburgh), Willow Tea Rooms or Glasgow School of Art.
Loch Katrine
 Another good thing about the city is that Glasgow is the perfect springboard to the Scottish countryside and history, Loch Lomond biggest of all of them is a short drive, you will astonish with the lake view and charming bed & breakfast around them.  Also you are not far from the Lowlands, maybe with less fame that the Highland but they are rich in history with famous battles and heroes like William Wallace. The natural park of the Trossachs  known as the Scotland in miniature because of its stunning scenery, is home of another Scottish character the anti-heroe Rob Roy MacGregor a kind of Robin Hood but with the difference he kept the cattle stole from the rich for himself. Inside the park is the Loch Katrine, were you can make a cruise in a steamship boat meanwhile you understand surrounding for the beauty of the lake why sir Walter Scott´s wrote the epic poem “The Lady ofthe Lake”.

Maybe for the outsider to United Kingdom driving in the narrow path of the Scottish countryside is not the best option. We recommend Timberbush Tours for enjoy Scotland at its best

Where we stay.
Bedroom - Gran Central Hotel
We stayed here at the beginning of May. The former Central Hotel has had a £20 million pound refurb to restore it to its former glory. The public rooms echo the grandeur of Victorian times but with a 21st century design.
Hotel facilities are limited at the moment but will include a gym and high level terrace once the work on the upper floors is complete. There is a lovely champagne bar which overlooks the station concourse as well as many rooms for corporate conferences and functions.
The ballroom is a tour de force and very elegant and now used for social occasions and conferences/presentations.
The Grand Staircase is equally stunning with a huge chandelier which cascades down from the fifth floor.
We had a room on the fourth floor, of a largish size and a good sized bathroom. The room was well soundproofed from the station below.
However the amenities were somewhat below  for a 4 star hotel. No mini bar, no heating or towel rails in the bathroom and a poor tv service which was difficult to control with the remote.
Breakfast was of the buffet style in an elegant room with Venetian style chandeliers but coffee/ tea service was intermittent at best.
The hotel is well located for the various attractions of Glasgow and I am sure that once the refurbishment is completed and small issues ironed out, The Grand Central Hotel Glasgow will be a superb place to stay in the centre of Glasgow.

Where we eat .

The Ubiquitous Chip

Set in vibrant Ashton Lane this is one of Glasgow’s best restaurants. The building, a converted stable block is charming and well decorated with a fish pond just inside the entrance.
Opposite is a well-stocked bar with vintage wine bottles stacked horizontally below.
To eat my we had the traditional Scottish haggis as a starter which was beautifully cooked and very tasty and a salmon salad which was well presented and very satisfying.

To follow we had Venison medium rare with roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
Again beautifully cooked and tender meat and a Scottish sirloin steak served medium rare. This was possibly the best steak I have ever had..full of flavour and very tender almost melting in the mouth.

We had a bottle of a rather good California Red, Vintage 2005 to go with the food.
We shared a dessert of Scottish Oat and Vanilla Ice Cream which finished off a truly spectacular meal.
Our waiter David was welcoming on arrival and gave us a wonderful table on the ground floor.
Highly recommended for traditional Scottish dining! Price a hefty £125 for two but well worth it.

An Art Deco institution since 1935 in Exchange Place this restaurant specialises in fish dishes and does not disappoint.
We had the Fruits de Mer platter which was an orgy of mussels, oysters, shrimp and crab and a salmon roulade to start followed by Lemon Sole with new potatoes and spinach.
We had a bottle of Alsace wine with the meal which went down very easily!
Attentive service in elegant surroundings this is must for lovers of all things fishy.
Price £107.00 for two

The Grill on the corner

Situated near our hotel the Grand Central this is a trendy eclectic cavernous place popular with young and old alike. The food is not of the same standard as the above but is well cooked and presented. Service is friendly and efficient. This time our dishes were a ginormous rack of ribs which hid a mountain of chips plus a bottle of Brahma beer to wash it down and a Dublin bay scampi and chips with a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
We left both full and satisfied from the large meals we had eaten. Price around £56 for two

And finally...


A return visit to Ashton Lane for the best burgers and fries in Glasgow.

A Ketchup Burger & Ketchup interior room.

Popular with the student crowd and their teachers alike. Sitting at high tables on bar stools this place has a certain 1950s retro chic going on many different varieties to choose from best served with their own brand of tomatoes ketchup which was delicious. We washed the meal down with Scotlands favourite non-alcoholic beverage Irn Bru !


1 comment:

  1. Wow. Fantastic monster there. The urbanity monster striding forth, as it does in most cities of the world. Nice hand-drawn banner too. Something like this image, , by French painter Fernand Léger, maybe effective painted large on a wall too, acknowledged as a copy of course. It can be seen at and a canvas print of it can be ordered from there.