I may live in Edinburgh, but I’m not one of those east coasters who bashes Glasgow. Quite the opposite – I rate Glasgow as one of Europe’s best city break destinations. Join me now as I return to Scotland’s largest city and find it adding new attractions to bolster its impressive old favourites.
Glasgow Green Base
My base was perfect for fusing the old and new. My St Andrews Apartment was booked through Glasgow Green Apartments, who have a range of superbly located apartments in and around the Glasgow Green area. Ours was located right on the banks of the lifeblood River Clyde, overlooking the dramatic sweep of the St Andrews pedestrian suspension bridge. The postcode said we were in the once notorious Gorbals, but this was very much part of the ‘New Gorbals’ that has emerged over the last couple of decades.
Glasgow works well for people of all ages, as my wife and I, plus our two wee girls and my 84-year-old mum discovered on this multi-generational trip. The first stop on our itinerary was cool newcomer Loop & Scoop. This brilliant new addition to the Great Western Road opened in autumn 2017. The first churros (a type of Spanish doughnut) and ice cream eatery in the UK – it has already won a dedicated following of customers.
I loved that their bright and welcoming space offered proper food on its menu such as soup and sandwiches, as well as the sugary treats. And what sugary treats they were. They make over a dozen artisan ice creams here – the vegan Mango sorbet was my favourite. We opted for two of their signature platters. These were awash with various varieties of ice cream and churros with delicious chocolate dipping sauces. The kids loved the wee portholes that allow you to gaze into the busy kitchen.
The National Piping Centre
Next up was a visit to the National Piping Centre. There aren’t many places in Scotland where you can walk in and have a go at playing Scotland’s national instrument, but this is one of them. We were greeted by the lovely piper Amy who gave us a museum tour. After learning about the evolution of the bagpipes through the ages we got hands on. First learning about the chanter that works the notes out of the bagpipes before moving on to the full set-up. We all managed to get at least a few noises out of this fiendishly difficult to play instrument.
The Dhabba – A Merchant City Institution
Dinner that night came at The Dhabba. This Merchant City institution has offered top-notch North Indian cuisine since 2002. They were one of the pioneers in the re-emergence of this grand central quarter. I love that, like the city around them, they never sit on their hard won laurels. Instead The Dhabba regularly tweak their menu bringing in new dishes. They catered for my kids very well, suggesting some milder dishes and tempering the spice in others. My daughters aren’t normally big fans of Indian cuisine, but they left The Dhabba converts!
The next morning we headed to two of our favourite museums in the world. First up was the spectacular Riverside Museum on the banks of the Clyde. My mum enjoyed reminiscing about the old Museum of Transport at the Kelvin Hall and was delighted to see some of the old favourites, like the historic street and subway cars, have made it to the new home. The kids loved tearing around and clambering all over trams, buses and trains.
Next up was the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which like the Riverside (and most Glasgow museums) is free to enter. We walked between the two along the often forgotten River Kelvin, which only took us 15 minutes. The kids were soon checking out the multitude of taxidermy animals and skeletons in the old world museum section. They also loved the mood boards where they had to match how different colours made them feel.
Epoch – A Brand New Glasgow Eatery
We’d grabbed a quick lunch at the Riverside Museum and now went to check out a brand new eatery at the Princes Square designer mall. Epoch worked brilliantly for us as a family as it’s on the lowest level right next to a big open space where my daughters took the opportunity to let off a bit of steam.
On the menu at Epoch was an antipasto platter, which we all shared to start, with the kids tucking into salami and jamon serrano. Then they ordered from the kids menu, while Daddy opted for a ribeye steak, which turned out to be perfectly cooked rare. Adding in a bottle of South African Chenin Blanc for under £20, it proved a spot on dinner.
One of Scotland’s Finest Parks
On our last morning we took it easy just strolling across the St Andrew’s Bridge to Glasgow Green, admiring the efforts of the local rowing club as we went. Glasgow Green is one of the finest parks for me in Scotland, a wide open green lung right on the river. At its heart is the People’s Palace, a gloriously old school building whose tropical hot houses bring a touch of the exotic to the east of Glasgow.
We left Glasgow a contended party, right through from a six-year-old wee girl to an octogenarian lady. That says it all for me about this ideal city break destination. I was impressed that there were new places to try out and old favourites to re-visit that had lost none of their charm. If you’ve never been or just not been for a while I suggest you head to Glasgow to enjoy the multiple delights of Scotland’s largest city.
For more information on Glasgow see https://peoplemakeglasgow.com
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