LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland’s oft-neglected second city of Glasgow has undergone a rejuvenation, which has transformed the former industrial giant into a dynamic and upbeat center for the arts.
Take heed of comedian Billy Connolly’s words though: “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter” and come prepared for the weather. Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in the area.
8 p.m. - A meal at seafood specialist Crabshakk will guarantee a pleasant start to your trip. The compact interior has an air of elegance and the dishes are simply prepared and presented, using ingredients sourced from West Coast Scottish waters. Crab cakes and seared scallops are firm favorites.
10 p.m. - For an after dinner tipple, cross the street to the lively Ben Nevis pub. The roaring fire, impromptu folk music performances and choice of 180 whiskies make this a cozy spot to shelter from the elements.
10 a.m. - Take a student-led tour of Glasgow’s School of Art. Completed in 1909 the art nouveau building is widely recognized as architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s greatest feat. Admire the original tile and iron work, stained glass and austere interior with its simple colours and distinctive high-backed chairs.
11 a.m. - Descend the steep hill onto Sauchiehall Street and Glasgow’s Center for Contemporary Art (CCA). Have a coffee under the glass atrium roof before exploring the temporary exhibitions.
Noon - Walk down Buchanan Street, Glasgow’s busy shopping hub, Next stop is Trongate 103, a new center for the visual arts. The five-storey converted Edwardian warehouse is home to various creative initiatives. Take your pick from Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow Print Studio and artist-run gallery Transmission. Don’t neglect the weird yet wonderful Russian Sharmanka kinetic theater. Amble among the assortment of animated sculptures, as lights and music stir them and their odd inhabitants to life, playing out humorous and tragic stories of the human spirit.
1:30 p.m. - Saunter around the exquisite neo-classical pediments and pillars of the Merchant City area. Peckish? Stop at Cafe Gandolfi — choose from fine Scottish standards-haggis, Stornaway black pudding and smoked venison.
3 p.m. - Continue on foot to the majestic Glasgow Cathedral, a shining example of pre-Reformation Gothic architecture. Go down to the atmospheric depths of the lower church area to visit the shrine of Saint Mungo, patron saint of the city. Upon exit, turn left and cross the Bridge of Sighs, entering the eerie Victorian Necropolis, a vast tumble-down cemetery. Look out for wild deer darting between the ornate obelisks, statues and pinnacles that commemorate Glasgow’s patriarchs.
4:30 p.m. - Down toward the river Clyde is Glasgow Green and the People’s Palace where you can explore the city’s turbulent social history through interactive displays. Across the lawn the Templeton building, a fantasy of red brick and gold inspired by Venice’s Doge’s Palace, is now home to the independent West Brewery. Try one of their specialty real ales.
6 p.m. - A trip to Glasgow would be incomplete without sampling some fried food. Sit yourself in a 1950s booth at the Val D’Oro, Glasgow’s oldest chippy. At this extraordinary establishment portly proprietor and accomplished tenor Luigi Corvi belts out arias between serving fish and chip suppers.
8 p.m. - Round the corner is the Tron Theater. Catch a show from its dynamic program of theater, comedy or music hailing from Scotland, the rest of the UK or abroad.
10 p.m. - Head to Stereo for a taste of Glasgow’s music scene. This bustling bar has a cavernous cellar, providing a stage for a variety of acts on an almost nightly basis.
10 a.m. - Head to local favorite Cafezique for brunch. Bloody Marys and hearty portions made from high quality organic produce will set you up for the day ahead.
11:30 a.m. - Wander up Byres Road, spine of Glasgow’s bohemian West End. Go down cobbled Ruthven Lane for a quick rummage in vintage treasure trove Starry Starry Night and antique shop Relics.
Noon - Glasgow Botanic Gardens sit at the end of the road. Visit the focal point of this picturesque park, The Kibble Palace, a vast wrought iron and glass conservatory. Originally built at Loch Long, it was dismantled and transported to Glasgow by barge in 1871. Centuries-old foliage, giant koi carp and impressive sculptures adorn the balmy, jungle-like interior.
1 p.m. - A stroll around the University of Glasgow is recommended. The blonde sandstone gothic-revival building sits on Gilmore Hill, boasting a 278-foot (85 meter) tower and twin quadrangles connected by cloisters.
For a quick perk-up, grab a coffee and cake from cafe Artisan Roast.
2 p.m. - Meander through leafy Kelvingrove Park, following the river Kelvin until you meet the imposing red sandstone splendour of the Kelvingrove Museum. Highlights are Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross and a full-size Spitfire plane.
4 p.m.- If museum fatigue hasn’t set in, take a cab to Pollock Country Park on Glasgow’s Southside. Look out for Highland cattle in the grounds as you head for the Burrell collection. This outstanding museum displays the acquisitions of wealthy industrialist Sir William Burrell. Treasures include late medieval art, Chinese and Islamic art and paintings by Renoir and Cézanne.
6 p.m. - Round off your trip with a feast at Mother India’s Cafe, champions of Indian tapas.
Editing by Steve Addison