From a fabulous bubbly and fruit send off, to soaring over the verdant patchwork of the English countryside, to a quick plane change at Gatwick airport just outside London, my arrival in Glasgow was the culmination of many months of anticipation. Both my friend, Viv, and I had many moments of wondering if finances would fall in place and our health cooperate, but on October 20th we finally met.
Viv took a cab to the airport and escorted me to the West End where her adorable Victorian flat in nestled on a hill just above Glasgow’s Great Western Highway and Byres Road. The neighbourhood is a short stroll away from the gorgeous Botanic Gardens and Kelvin River. Miles of paved walkway parallel the water. In late October, an autumnal splash of colour paints the trees.
The Kelvin walkway along the river of the same name is welcome respite in bustling Glasgow. Bright autumn foliage and the shush of rushing water soothe.
Ashton Lane’s famous Ubiquitous Chip graces the entrance to this charming restaurant and boutique-dotted street. Along the high street grocers are stocked with Scottish fare ranging from dozens of cheeses, to sausages, Scottish Eggs and, of course, haggis.
A few subway stops away is City Centre where major departments stores lure customers with their gleaming interiors. Glaswegians gather to access some of the best restaurants in town. Downtown “City Centre” shopping pedestrian-only area is full of large name shops. Side streets trendy boutiques.
Princes Place is a beautiful multilevel shopping mall every bit as high fashion as any in Europe. “I Love Glasgow”—indeed.
It is the local shops that provide daily needs and are as charming as they are colourful. Yes, fishmongers nudge up beside cheese shops and pubs. The bakers and butchers live in the area of the people they serve. There is a true, old fashioned feel of neighbourhood.
Glasgow reputation of grit, soot and working class is but a memory that has made the city strong and diverse.
A couple blocks from Viv’s flat is Glasgow University. Higher education is a Scottish right, enrollment free to all who meet scholastic entrance qualifications. Architecture the stuff of Harry Potter and dreams, the campus impressive inside as out.
Viv’s Victorian tenement’s ten-foot ceilings were the stuff of our disdain as we teamed together to paint her cozy living room. Redecorating is foremost on Viv’s mind as she strives to make her place truly her own.
We spent an afternoon in the City Chambers downtown. It has functioned as the headquarters of Glasgow City Council since 1996, and of preceding forms of municipal government in the city since 1889, located on the eastern side of the city’s George Square. An eminent example of Victorian civic architecture, the building was constructed between 1882 and 1888 to a competition winning design by Scottish architect William Young a native of Paisley.
Short days and long cold nights lent well to good conversation and film festivals at home. The days flew by, the best of which were spent with some of Viv’s family over a curry dinner. Thank you uncle Thomas and godspeed.
From humorous taxi drivers, to the firemen who arrived on our doorstep within minutes of a call about smoke in our close, to the girls serving at the ‘chippy’ round the corner (fantastic fish ‘n chips. Dare I say outshines London’s?) to a pair of street workers who sang to us as we passed…”lovely ladies”… the character of a people comes out in their everyday workers and interactions. Glaswegian accents vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, not all the standard Billy Connolly/ Gerard Butler variety. Some even sound very close to standard American. One thing remains constant across the board–the warmth and good nature of the people of this city by the Clyde.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world and a vast natural history collection. The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks, including works by the Old Masters, French Impressionist, Dtch renaissance, Scottish Colourists and exponents of the Glasgow School. The gallery is located on Argyle Street in the West End of the city, on the banks of the River Kelvin. It is adjacent to Kelvingrove Park and is situated near the main campus of the University of Glasgow on Gilmorehill.
Natural history displays that speak to adults as well as children, are set low to the smaller set’s stature with interactive features and hundreds of amazing paintings make a visit to the museum a must. Free organ concerts, examples of Macintosh house furnishings and the gorgeous paintings made for an awe-inspiring afternoon.
The sun made an appearance, so high tea in the museum coffee shop topped off the day with delicious sandwiches and treats.
Autumn in Glasgow–a precious month filled with color, new people, places and good friends. What can be said, but….