Exploring Glasgow for free, Scotland

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, and a great place to start a trip to Scotland. Despite overshadowed by the famous Edinburgh, this city is at least equally amazing. I need to say that in the end of my visit I was totally in love with this city, that once was a former industrial powerhouse, but now is a cultural hub, with lots of interesting things do do and see.

Glasgow is today a cosmopolitan city, with a rich history,  and a national cultural hub, home to many great museums (most of them free). The museums and art galleries have superb collections, that will surprise you as much as surprised me.

We landed at Glasgow’s airport and got the connection to the city center, using the bus 500, that takes 30 minutes to be on the Queen Street, close to George Square, in this short trip it’s already visible the historic sandstone buildings and modern architecture.

For my surprise Glasgow serves very weird food from deep-fried piza or even fried Mars, but the vegan options just kept surprising me. I need to say that the claims that Glasgow is the mecca in Scotland for vegan food lovers may be very true!

We visit the city by walking around, without taking any public transports (what was probably a mistake, at least is what my legs and feet were saying).

We started our trip, walking around the city centre without a plan towards George Square, that is the heart of the city, and has impressive Victorian buildings and statues paying homage to the Scottish greats. From there we went to the Gallery of Modern Art,  where is the famous statue of the Duke of Wellington wearing a traffic cone as a hat.

While walking around, we just did a stop at Glasgow Central Station, not to take a train but to have a look at the arquitecture and its glass roof. Here you can also join a tour that supposedly  reveals some of the station’s hidden secrets 🙂 I can’t say that’s true, because I haven’t done it.

From the train station it’s only a couple of minutes’ to the Lighthouse, on Buchanan St. This place can be a bit difficult to find but deserves the effort. The building was designed by the Scottish architect Charles Mackintosh back in the 19th century, and is an exemple of Art Nouveau. Today is the centre for Design and Architecture, and has many different exhibits and galleries.  Including a free exhibition on Mackintosh’s work. From the lighthouse, you have an incredible skyline view of Glasgow.

We kept walking till we got to the river side that has a path along the River Clyde great for a walk or even cycle, from where you can see modern buildings like the Clyde Auditorium (known as the Armadillo) and the titanium-clad Glasgow Science Centre.

Then was time to visit one of the city’s most famous museums, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This museum is definitely a must see. But not before a lovely man invited us to take a coffee and some biscuits at a local church, the Sandyford Henderson memorial church.

The Kelvingrove is an immense place with a great a collection, that you will enjoy even if your are not an art person, because part is a art gallery and part history museum. Essentially, it’s an art, life science, and cultural museum rolled into one, with plenty to see, housed in a beautiful historic building.

From here across the park is the  University of Glasgow, an imposing gothic-style buildings that reminds vaguely Harry Potter.

The Glasgow Botanic Gardens are located in the heart of city’s West End by the River Kelvin, and are a short walk from the university, and a must go if you are a nature lover like me. The gardens are lovely and the glasshouses looked like they were straight out of the Victorian Era revealing exotic ferns and tropical plants as you go.

The Riverside Museum,with its Zaha Hadid-designed sinuous curves, is another must. The museum is dedicated to transport and travel. the exhibition is very interactive and even has a recreated street taking you back to 1890s Glasgow, where you can pop in into different shops. From here you can take a tour of the Glenlee, a restored tall ship, If you fancy something like that.

Once in the city center we went to visit the the 15th century house, Provand’s Lordship, the oldest in Glasgow and the magnificent Cathedral.

The  Necropolis, it’s right behind the Cathedral, and it’s a cemetery with distinctive, decorative tombstones which are works of art in themselves designed by major architects and sculptors of the time. The necropolis is located on top of a hill and has great views to the city and the Cathedral.

The People’s Palace and the Winter Gardens are a great museum to have an insight about Glasgow’s history, and t’s located in southeast Glasgow.

Glasgow’s street art is visible over the city, Smug One is an Australian born street artist based in Glasgow that has painted enormous murals.

If you are planning your trip bare in mind that the weather can be very unpredictable so just pack clothes for each of the 4 seasons 🙂 I suggest at least 3 days if you want to visit Glasgow properly but I recommend 4, for the sake of you legs and feet 🙂

If you have the time, away from the city there are plenty of remote places to explore.. be happy and have fun..

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Cambridge, where to go?

You have many reasons to visit this extraordinary university town.  Cambridge has a unique beauty and will amaze you with it’s history, architecture, and natural beauty.

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When visiting cambridge you can’t miss the colleges and it’s gardens, the  riverside, all the green meadows surrounding the city and the Backs (gardens and parks line up beside the river behind the colleges). Walking and cycling are the best ways to visit the city.

The town is full of cyclists, students and tourists, but has a nice vibe and it’s far away from being a big chaotic city.

The Colleges are truly amazing even if you only contemplate them from the outside,  you should check in the internet if the King’s College Chapel or the Trinity College are not hosting a concert during your visit, is an excellent away to visit this two emblematic places for free and has a bonus you can listen to some great music.

Museums are free in Cambridge, if you have time you should visit them all, if not I recommend  the fabulous Fitzwilliam Museum, the Kettle’s Yard and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

If you are a fan of Sir Isaac Newton´s stop at Trinity College to see the famed apple tree where it was said to be the inspiration for his theory of gravity after being bopped on the head by one of the fallen fruits. 2015-01-09 23.58.30.jpg

If the weather invites for a piquenique the Botanic Gardens are a must, or a punting session  through the river Cam.

It’s always something happening in Cambridge so make sure you do your research and don’t miss what this city was to offer

Hope you can visit this breathtaking city and be prepared to fall a little in love with this university town.

Cambridge is very accessible by bus or train from London.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

🍜 More about vegan food in Cambridge 🍜