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  • Writer's pictureLucas Friesen

Glorious Glasgow

Glasgow was never on my travel bucket list. I never understood the appeal and, frankly, I was ignorant of what Scotland could offer. Upon making the trip, I’m glad to report that Glasgow is a wonderful place to visit. It’s full of history, unique architecture and friendly locals.

Glasgow is a little idiosyncratic. This is evident in how Glaswegians decide what football club to cheer for. There are two football clubs in Glasgow: Rangers and Celtic. The line for fandom is drawn on religious grounds. Catholics cheer for Celtic while Protestants root for Rangers. I don’t care much about religion, and I attended a Rangers game because they were playing at home while Celtic was on the road. I took the early train to Ibrox and went to Louden Tavern. A Rangers fan’s haven, this tavern’s blue walls were lined with pictures of Rangers legends. Meat pies were handed out for free, presumably to stop everyone from drinking on an empty stomach. In the backyard area, heaters, tents and TVs were set up. As kickoff neared, the Rangers’ faithful fans snubbed their darts and downed their pints before walking across the street to Ibrox Stadium. It turned out, the tavern had more energy than the game. This match did not have the fanaticism that I often associate with European football. The polite Glaswegians watched their team in an almost studious manner. The rare moments of crowd energy were often caused by mistakes made by the Rangers. Although different, the game was a memorable experience.

A green field with a wire fence and a large tree. Lots of green on a cloudy day. A little bit of the road in the corner of the picture.
Farm roads near Balloch, Loch Lomond.

Glasgow is surrounded by Scotland’s inspiring nature. Take the one-hour train via ScotRail to Balloch, a village at the foot of Loch Lomond. From there, you can walk north into the Scottish Highlands. The hiking can last hours or days, depending on your prerogative. My afternoon hike covered Balloch Castle and farm roads lined with inquisitive sheep. All the while, the views of Loch Lomond, green landscapes, and quaint roads and homes gave my eyes a grandiose feast of beauty.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is adjacent to the University of Glasgow, is free to visit. Its great collection includes exhibits on taxidermy and medieval weapons. There is also a massive organ in the gallery that gets played at certain times during the day. The University of Glasgow is one of the oldest universities in the world. Its influential alumnus includes Adam Smith and James Watt. Walking its campus felt like walking through Hogwarts, with its Gothic and Victorian architecture.

If you enjoy the Gothic elements of Glasgow’s architecture, take a walk to the beautiful cemetery by Glasgow Cathedral. This hillside necropolis gives a panoramic view of Glasgow. There are many eerie tombstones and a grand statue of John Knox, the key figure of the Scottish reformation.

Of course, while in Scotland, it’s recommended that you try the whiskey. The Pot Still in downtown Glasgow has a selection of over 800 whiskeys, which can be daunting for us non-afficionados. However, the pub’s friendly staff are quick to suggest reasonably priced and tailored options for the uninitiated. With the hundreds of options, a flight of four whiskeys is a good way to try a spectrum of flavours.

The inside of a bar. Empty booths and multiple band posters. A red sign advertising the bar.

King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is a dive bar in Glasgow that has live music nearly every night. Outrageous name aside, this small and cozy hole in the wall is a great place to have drinks with friends. Even if you catch it on a night where there isn’t live music, like I did, there are still music posters and a pinball machine to keep you entertained, as well as a trivia night.

With so much to do, it’s hard to have a bad time in Glasgow. This city, full of character and friendly locals, is worth going out of your way for. It’s a wonderful spot for people that like the great outdoors, bar culture and lively events. The next time you’re in the U.K., be sure to swing up north and visit the Glaswegians. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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