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Too early in the morning on Saturday 11th March, my brother, sister and I boarded the coach to Glasgow. I was feeling queasy as I buckled in, given that I rarely force myself on adventures. Davey Garland, in loco parentis for the day, announced that it was ‘too late’ if we were supposed to be on the coach to Liverpool. That made me smile, but my heart sank when I remembered I had left my MP3 player in my bedroom.
A music-less and cramped three hours later, we disembarked near the famous Buchanan Street. It was raining, of course. After donning waterproofs, my siblings and I decided that hitting the shops on this thoroughfare, although tempting, would not be an effective way to explore a new city. As we meandered, I spotted the entrance to The Lighthouse, also known as ‘Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture’; we were mostly interested in climbing to the top of the tower’s winding staircase, to see the city’s skyline.
Glasgow Cathedral was up next. After a twenty-minute walk, it stopped raining and we spotted the Cathedral’s imposing architecture. Admiring the beautiful stained glass windows, visiting the tomb of St. Mungo (who died in the year 603!), and seeing some of the day’s clouds disperse, vanished my frazzled mood. And what better place to calmly ponder than a graveyard?
The ‘graveyard’ next-door was the magnificent Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery straight out of a Gothic novel. It felt wrong to enjoy wandering through a burial-ground, but the size and grandeur of its eerie monuments, silhouetted against the sky, was awesome to behold.
A tip for aspiring explorers: wear hiking boots! Glasgow is rather hilly and, if you’re anything like my siblings and me, you’ll get lost at least once. On the other hand, losing our way on the return to Buchanan Street caused us to discover the University of Strathclyde. We sneaked into the pretty Campus Village to eat our sandwiches as Glasgow could do with more benches, for those of us who don’t love busy cafés. The University of Strathclyde could do with more ducks.
A mysterious, green glass entrance in the middle of Buchanan Street leads to Glasgow Subway. Call me sad, but I thought this small underground system was charming. Impossible to lose one’s way, as the line is circular with only fifteen stops, I would have happily visited every station available. Mindful of the time, the station we chose was Kelvinhall.
Next to Glasgow University, Kelvingrove Park is lovely. Impressive statues abound (although my physicist brother had to remind me of Lord Kelvin’s significance) as well as the greenery and peace you would expect. The River Kelvin also passes through, meaning we found our ducks, but I wish we had stayed longer to spot wildlife – apparently there have been otter sightings. Of the wonders inside Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, I enjoyed the paintings best. In particular, Salvador Dalí’s ‘Christ of Saint John of the Cross’. Google Images does not do that painting justice.
Back on Buchanan Street and after a quick trip to Paperchase (because who can resist such a huge stationery shop?), the three of us returned to the coach, careful to sit at the back so we could avoid listening to Mr. Garland and the bus driver’s three-hour chatter. Their gossip that morning, when we left Lancaster, had revealed that trips to Glasgow are unpopular with students compared with trips arranged to Edinburgh. I think that is a shame. Scotland’s largest city should be given the chance to shine, lack of benches and all.