City Focus - Glasgow
Sharon McKinley explores Glasgow and discovers Scotland with style. Photography by Ian Jacobs
First opened in 1901, and reopened aft er a three-year restoration in 2006, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum contains one of Europe’s greatest collections of civic art, holding over 200,000 items. The red sandstone exterior is equally impressive, set against the backdrop of Kelvingrove Park.
WANDERING THROUGH GLASGOW’S WEST
End it’s hard to imagine that the city once harboured a reputation for tough living and hard drinking. Leafy parks sit beneath a skyline dominated by stunning Victorian architecture, and laid-back coffee shops provide respite from a host of designer boutiques and funky vintage outlets.
As far as transformations go, Glasgow’s has been pretty exceptional. The marketing campaign in the mid-1980s, “Glasgow’s Miles Better”, was one of the earliest and most successful city re-branding exercises. People wondered what Glasgow was supposed to be miles better than, but to those living in the city the answer was obvious: Glasgow was miles better than it used to be.
Today, it’s “Glasgow: Scotland with style” – a slogan that pretty much sums it up. Glasgow is a visual feast with enough art and architecture to satisfy even the hungriest culture vulture. Glaswegians are compulsive shoppers and proud trendsetters in the fashion world, and the city is awash with ultra-hip bars, restaurants and hotels to rival any European metropolis.
Start your stay by checking into the new kid on the design hotel block, Saint Jude’s (1 on map), and appreciate the Victorian exterior coupled with cutting-edge interior design. Every room is unique at this award-winning boutique hotel, and the penthouse has a massive soaking tub for total relaxation. Rooms also boast coffee machines, iPod docking stations and cocktail bars complete with recipe kits.
From St Jude’s, it’s only a short stroll to the iconic Glasgow School of Art (11 on map), where you can take a tour of the 100-year-old building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and see his original interiors, furniture and artwork. Tours start at 11am and 3pm in winter, and are led by students or graduates of the school.
Continue your Mackintosh experience at The Willow Tea Rooms (6 on map) on Glasgow’s most famous thoroughfare, Sauchiehall Street. Designed by Mackintosh in 1904, every inch of the exterior and interior reflects his personal style, from the teaspoons to the waiting staff’s uniforms – and many of the original features still exist today.
After indulging in tea and scones, wander down to Buchanan Street and strut your stuff around the “Style Mile”. Glasgow is the largest UK retail centre outside of London – and the city centre is a heady mix of high street stores, designer boutiques, and cheap and chic outlets. To really appreciate Glasgow’s fashion flair, head to the sixth floor of Argyle Arcade and Che Camille (12 on map) – a workshop and showroom for contemporary fashion, and home to The Glasgow 10, a collective of local designers. Shop for cool clothes, music, furniture and art you won’t find anywhere else.
Take a break from treading the high street and wander into the Merchant City quarter to sample some art and culture. Trongate 103 (13 on map), Glasgow’s newest centre for contemporary art, boasts six floors of studios and exhibition space. Grab some lunch at Art Bar (7 on map), an exhibition space that doubles as a restaurant and wine bar, and check out Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) (14 on map) – housed in one of Glasgow’s most impressive neo-classical buildings. Don’t miss the Duke of Wellington statue outside – rarely seen without a traffic cone atop his head.
Just around the corner you’ll find Glasgow’s oldest and most iconic cocktail bar and restaurant, Rogano (16 on map). Opened in 1935 while the Queen Mary was being built on the river Clyde, the restaurant was fitted out art-deco style to match the great liner and remains one of the city’s 1930s gems. Enjoy fresh local seafood, or indulge in oysters and Champagne at the oyster bar. Nearby, Babbity Bowster restaurant (8 on map) is more down to earth, with traditional Scottish fare served up in a rustic, living-room-style interior.
Finally, take in a gig at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (17 on map), the venue that helped launch the careers of bands like Travis and Manic Street Preachers. Still dedicated to finding new music, King Tut’s regularly hosts both new bands and established artists.
For those who want to bed down back in the leafy, laid-back West End, at the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor (2 on map) you can wake up to views of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens. After enjoying a full Scottish breakfast at the hotel’s bobar (9 on map), enjoy a little vintage shopping at Circa Vintage (15 on map) and Starry Starry Night (19 Dowanside Lane, +44
(0)141 337 1837). Both are packed full of retro gems – as is the recently opened De Courcy’s Antique Craft Arcade (5–21 Cresswell Lane).
Glasgow is home to the world’s largest burlesque club, Club Noir (www.clubnoir.co.uk), and the city has had a long-standing love affair with the scene. This is reflected in the vintage shopping scene too, and at Betsy LaBelle (57 Byres Road, tel: +44 (0)845 838 8457, www.betsylabelle.co.uk) you can find sexy 1940s-style pin-up lingerie and burlesque outfits.
Next, make your way to Oran Mor (top of Byers Road, tel: +44 (0)141 357 6200,www.oran-mor.co.uk), a huge converted church where you get “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” – a lunchtime theatre programme that combines a play by a local writer, a cold pint and a hearty pie in the downstairs bar’s cosy surroundings, all for just £10 (€11).
Next, head in the direction of the Victorian spires of Glasgow University, and walk through Kelvingrove Park. Glasgow has more parkland per capita than any other European city – earning it the nickname the “Dear Green Place”. Kelvingrove is undoubtedly one of its most beautiful green places, and is also home to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (Argyle Street, tel: +44 (0)141 276 9599, www.glasgowmuseums.com), which houses one of Europe’s greatest civic collections. From Sir Roger, the great elephant who guards the forecourt, to the masterpieces of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Dali, Kelvingrove has something for everyone, and entrance is free.
Finally, as daylight fades, make your way to Ashton Lane, Glasgow’s favourite drinking spot. The cobbled lane strung with fairy lights is home to a host of quirky, trendy and traditional drinking establishments. Sample some world beers from Brel’s extensive menu (18 on map), or take in a little Irish music at Jinty McGuinty’s (19 on map) before heading to The Ubiquitous Chip (10 on map), an award-winning restaurant that uses fresh, Scottish ingredients and has a huge selection of wines and over 150 malt whiskies.
After you’ve sampled the likes of West Coast langoustines or Perthshire pigeon roasted in bacon, round off your night at the eatery’s Wee Pub (20 on map). The clientele at this very “wee” (small) bar range from ages 18 to 80, and if you can squeeze in you can involve yourself in some local banter or heated debate (see box on previous page). To finish your stay with an authentic taste of the city, ask staff to recommend a single malt from their list, find a corner to perch and tune your ear to the Glasgow patter.
WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?
Glaswegians are renowned for having the gift of the gab – if you can understand them that is. Irish immigrants, passing seamen and the native Scots from the Highlands have all influenced a dialect which has evolved into Glaswegian. Here are some of the most commonly used words and phrases to help you get by in the city.
AYE = Yes
NAW = No
NAE BORRA = You’re welcome
GESSA = Can I have a…?
HOOSITGAWN? = How are you?
HUNNERSNHUNNERS = Lots and lots
AUFURF*KSAKE = Expression of frustration or anger
BLOOTERT = Drunk
PURE BALTIC = Bloody freezing
STOATIN’ AFF THE GRUN = Raining very hard
WEAN = A child
THE MORRA = Tomorrow
A DINNAE KEN = I don’t know
AM FAE GLESGA = I’m from Glasgow
YA DANCER! = That’s fantastic!
TAK A DAUNER TAE THE TOON = Take a walk to the town
TEUCHTER = Term used to refer to anyone from the highlands
1 / SAINT JUDE’S
190 Bath Street, tel: +44 (0)141 352 8800, WWW.SAINTJUDES.COM
2 / HILTON GLASGOW GROSVENOR
1–9 Grosvenor Terrace, tel: +44 (0)141 339 8811, WWW.HILTON.COM
3 / RAB HA’S
81 Hutcheson Street, tel: +44 (0)141 572 0400, WWW.RABHAS.COM
4 / THE BRUNSWICK
106 Brunswick Street, tel: +44 (0)141 552 0001, WWW.BRUNSWICKHOTEL.CO.UK
5 / HOTEL DU VIN
1 Devonshire Gardens, tel: +44 (0)141 339 2001, WWW.HOTELDUVIN.COM
6 / THE WILLOW TEA ROOMS
217 Sauciehall Street, tel: +44 (0)141 332 0521, WWW.WILLOWTEAROOMS.CO.UK
7 / ART BAR
The Old Sheriff Court Building, Brunswick Street, tel: +44 (0)141 552 1810, WWW.ARTDECAF.COM
8 / BABBITY BOWSTER
16–18 Blackfriars Street, tel: +44 (0)141 552 5055
9 / BOBAR
1–9 Grosvenor Terrace, Great Western Road, tel: +44 (0)141 339 8811
10 / THE UBIQUITOUS CHIP
12 Ashton Lane, tel: +44 (0)141 334 5007, WWW.UBIQUITOUSCHIP.CO.UK
11 / GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART
167 Renfrew Street, tel: +44 (0)141 353 4500, WWW.GSA.AC.UK
12 / CHE CAMILLE
Floor 6, Argyll Chambers, 34 Buchanan Street, tel: +44 (0)141 221 9620, WWW.CHECAMILLE.COM
13 / TRONGATE 103
Trongate 103, tel: +44 (0)141 276 8380, WWW.TRONGATE103.COM
14 / GALLERY OF MODERN ART
Royal Exchange Square, tel: +44 (0)141 287 3050,WWW.GLASGOWMUSEUMS.COM
15 / CIRCA VINTAGE
37 Ruthven Lane, tel: +44 (0)141 334 6660, WWW.CIRCAVINTAGE.CO.UK
16 / ROGANO
11 Exchange Place, tel: +44 (0)141 248 4055, WWW.ROGANOGLASGOW.COM
17 / KING TUT’S WAH WAH HUT
272a St Vincent Street, tel: +44 (0)141 221 5279, WWW.KINGTUTS.CO.UK
18 / BREL
39 Ashton Lane, tel: +44 (0)141 342 4966, WWW.BRELBARRESTAURANT.COM
19 / JINTY MCGUINTY’S
23 Ashton Lane, tel: +44 (0)141 339 0747, WWW.JINTYS.COM
20 / WEE PUB
12 Ashton Lane, tel: +44 (0)141 334 5007
1 / FRANZ FERDINAND CD
Glasgow is renowned as a hub for new musical talent producing an inordinate number of groups that have achieved world fame – from Franz Ferdinand to The Fratellis, Travis and Glasvegas. So well worth picking up a record while you’re in town, starting with the legendary Ferdinand boys. £10 (€11)
2 / DIALECT COASTERS
“Weegies” (Glaswegians) are notoriously difficult to comprehend – calling everyone “Jimmy” or “Big Man”, and expressing disbelief through the phrase “Away ’n bile yer heid” – so the city can feel like a linguistic minefield for tourists. These cool coasters should be a big help then. £2.50 (€3) each
3 / LOCAL DRINKS
Irn-Bru’s distinctive orange hue and sickly-sweet taste have made it a Glasgow institution, famed for its ability to quench a thirst and cure a hangover and all for just 60 pence. Buckfast or “Buckie” is the tipple of choice for the budget drinker, coming in at £5 for a 750ml bottle and 15% alcohol. £5.60 (€6)
4 / OLD FIRM SCARVES
The Old Firm is made up of Celtic and Rangers, whose long-standing football rivalry is notorious around the world. Nobody’s quite sure why they’re collectively called the Old Firm, but passions run high between fans, and team colours can be seen around the city during games. £7 (€8) each
5 / BAW BAGS UNDIES
What do Scotsmen wear under their kilts? Well, in Glasgow it’s these garish, windproof briefs called baw bags – you can guess what that means in the local dialect. Not only does buying a pair support your privates, part of the fee also goes to testicular cancer charities. (www.slanjkilts.com). £10 (€11)
6 / DISCOVERY TICKET
Glasgow has the largest urban rail network in the UK outside London, and the subway is by far the easiest and fastest way to travel around the city. The Discovery ticket will give you unlimited travel all day, and is essential for seeing the city’s sights. For more details, visit www.spt.co.uk £3.50 (€4)
7 / MACKINTOSH CHAIR
Charles Rennie Mackintosh studied at The Glasgow School of Art, and his influence can be seen in buildings across the city. A collection of his signature high-backed chairs can be seen on a tour of the art school, and this miniature (much cheaper) version came from the gift shop. £14.50 (€16)
8 / TUNNOCK’S
Thomas Tunnock Limited has been the mainstay of Glasgow’s confectionery landscape since 1890. Favourite treats include Caramel wafers and marshmallow-filled Tunnock’s Teacakes – as illustrated on this funky tea towel from the Gallery of Modern Art gift shop. £10 (€11)
9 / SEE YOU JIMMY HAT
Made famous by the Russ Abbot character, “See You Jimmy”, the tartan bunnet complete with ginger hair is Glasgow’s most popular novelty headwear, and can be found in countless shops. Jimmy is also the name generally attributed by a Glaswegian to any stranger they wish to address. £4 (€4.50)
10 / TAGGART
Detective Jim Taggart’s gravelly catchphrase “There’s been a murder” has been repeated on the hit TV show Taggart for more than 25 years. Today, with the 27th series on its way, the show is translated for worldwide consumption into languages including French, German and even Japanese. £13 (€14)
“I STUDIED PAINTING AND DRAWING AT The Glasgow School of Art in the 1960s, and was making pop art at the same time as Andy Warhol. I studied alongside mods and rockers when flower power was rife, and students were rioting and protesting. I can’t remember what the protesting was for, but I do remember that people were very passionate about the issues of that era.
“Glasgow itself was a black and grimy city, the buildings were covered in thick soot, and at that time the city’s creative vibe was nowhere near the scale it is today. After graduation, I left Glasgow for eight years to do my postgraduate degree in Brighton and then to work in Newcastle. Ironically, it was around the time I left that Glasgow’s creative scene really started to thrive. A scheme was also introduced to clean up the buildings, and the whole face of the city changed within a matter of years.
“I returned in 1979, in time to see a set of artists known as the ‘New Glasgow Boys’ emerge. Peter Howson, Steven Campbell, Ken Currie and Adrian Wiszniewski emerged as the city’s ‘big four’: a set of artists whose talent really put Glasgow on the map as a place that was producing really exciting work.
“Steven Campbell got a scholarship to study in New York and was an overnight success across the Atlantic. All of a sudden everybody wanted to study art in Glasgow and everybody wanted to be a part of that scene. Artists from London and across the UK couldn’t get a look in. It changed the city’s artistic landscape forever.
“This creative influx was helped immensely by the fact that around that time a lot of the big council-owned buildings became vacant. The old fruit market and the cheese market both moved location, as did newspaper offices in the city centre such as the Express.
“These buildings were too big to let out, so artists took them over as cheap studios and exhibition spaces. As a result, a new generation of artists thrived here and, through projects like Trongate 103, they continue to do extremely well.”
TRONGATE 103 IS A SIX-STOREY CREATIVE SPACE IN MERCHANT CITY, HOME TO CREATIVE ORGANISATIONS SUCH AS GLASGOW PRINT STUDIO, PROJECT ABILITY AND TRANSMISSION GALLERY. WWW.TRONGATE103.COM