Glasgow: Our Second Day In The City
After a spot of breakfast, we set off on our way towards the city once more, ready to re-visit some of the sites seen yesterday (day 1 can be found here) and go a little further a field and explore what else Glasgow had to offer. Passing the station we made our way to Buchanan Street and the shops, where us ladies indulged ourselves with a little window shopping.
Our proposed destination for the morning was Glasgow Green so we turned onto Argyle Street and strolled along for some distance until we reached Trongate and the area around Glasgow Cross, the old heart of the city. Also known as Merchant City, this area houses the Tollbooth clock tower or steeple, the Tron steeple, the Mercat Building and the Mercat Cross.
After a short stop, we continued onwards, wending our way to Glasgow Green. On our way we passed the church of St Andrews in the Square and took the opportunity to pop inside and inform ourselves of its history and place in the life of today’s Glasgow. We were greeted by a friendly lady who gave us a potted history of the church and pointed out some of architectural styles involved in its construction and renovation. On leaving we were even presented with a free guide book (St Andrew’s in the Square Glasgow by Jenny Laurie) which provided us with even more information and a welcome gift.
When we finally arrived at the Green our way was blocked as the council tried to clear away any remnants of the Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately we found that most of the park was cordoned off so it was quite a walk around to the steps leading down to the People’s Palace. As we processed down the steps we were faced by the Doulton Fountain, the largest terracotta fountain in the world. This sculptural extravaganza was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887, and celebrate Britain’s Imperial achievements – the fountain is crowded with figurative groups representing Australia, Canada, India and South Africa.
The inside of People’s Palace itself was a little disappointing but the spectacular conservatory and Winter Gardens at the rear did make up for the scarcity of exhibits elsewhere. The Palace is supposed to tell Glasgow’s story but to us it fell short of its purpose!
As we left the Palace our eyes were once again drawn to the grand façade of Templeton’s Carpet Factory known locally as the ‘Doge’s Palace’. This ‘fantastic’ edifice of polychromatic brick – orange, yellow and blue – with details in moulded terracotta brightens up the skyline and with its turrets, arches and circular windows creates the scene that ‘a bit of Venice marooned in Glasgow’.
Time was getting on, so it was a short walk to the bus-stop from where we planned to head into the city and George Square to have some lunch. In our wanderings the previous evening we had spotted a little Greek restaurant (Elia Greek) facing the Square and that was to be our next destination. After enjoying a rather tasty meal and a glass of wine we hit the streets again and headed over the road and into the Square. A quick look around the marquee selling Commonwealth Games bits and bobs we walked across to the City Chambers for a look inside.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get inside due to Council business so it was a case of a climb up John Street to Cathedral Street and from there a short bus ride to the cathedral. Our intention was to explore the Necropolis. Skirting the cathedral we made our way along Church Lane, across the bridge, the so called ‘Bridge of Sighs’, and into the main cemetery. It was a slow but steady climb up the hill, but with many a mausoleum and tomb-stone to look at on the way we finally reach the summit. One stone that caught the eye was that of William Miller, the author of Wee Willie Winkie.
Like so many other early Victorian cemeteries, the Necropolis was laid out as an informal park, lacking the formal grid layouts of later cemeteries but its extent, on both sides of the mound, was impressive. At the top you could see many of the larger monuments, including that of John Knox, and also get a bird’s eye view of Glasgow’s skyline, including the cathedral and its grounds. As we followed the meandering path back down we all had plenty to think about, the history of the city and the lives of the peoples, who at one time or another ‘built’ the city and formed its traditions.
As we reached the cathedral precincts we could hear pipes in the background so headed off in that direction to see what was going on. We had earlier heard pipers in George Square as we sat eating lunch so wondered if there was something special going on, or whether it was just some locals ‘tuning up’? When we identified where the music was coming from it appeared to be a random group playing to a small group of bystanders so we were none the wiser. We later found out that the World Pipe Band Championships were to take place on Glasgow Green on the 15th and 16th August.
It was once again time to head back into the city so we hopped on a bus which took us the length of Cathedral Street and into Bath Street before turning down into the centre along Renfield Street, past the station, down Jamaica Street to Glasgow Bridge where we got off. We crossed the road to the riverside and followed the promenade back in the direction of our hotel.
Whilst resting up we planned what to do with the rest of the afternoon/evening and opted for an exploration of the West End. So, we set off once again as far as Sauciehall Street and boarded a bus that would take us out as far as Kelvingrove. Next stop was the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which although closed, provided us with yet another remarkable building to stand and admire as the early evening sunshine lit up its features. As we circumnavigated the building we were greeted by yet another sight, the University tower standing tall above the tree-tops beyond the Kelvin river below. Our tour of the park was once again cut short as the aftermath of the Games meant most of the green space had been fenced off, presumably on the grounds of Health and Safety?
Leaving the Art Gallery behind, we continued to stroll around the area and side streets. Whilst wandering around, we decided to treat ourselves to an early evening drink, so popped into the rather quaint gastro-pub The Grumpy Goat on old Dumbarton road. Unfortunately, I don’t think we made it right to the heart of the West End, known for its cobbled, narrow streets but after a full day exploring and an early start the following morning, we were ready to ‘hit the hay’ and head back to the hotel for an early night.
Glasgow had certainly exceeded my expectations and I would definitely recommend it as a travel destination. The city has plenty to offer; from history to culture, and even shopping. For those with more time on their hands, Glasgow provides a great base to visit the surrounding areas, such as the serene Loch Lomond and the Trossacs, the mighty Highlands and even the ancient Castle at Stirling. There are also a number of scenic rail journeys that you could take leaving from the city, taking you up through the highlands to Fort William, or for any Harry Potter fans out there, jump aboard the Jacobite Steam Train which will take you over the famous Glenfinnan viaduct with its 21 arches!