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Did You Know…?
- Glasgow Green is Britain’s oldest open public space (from 1450).
- Glasgow was the first British city to establish a professional police force (1800).
- TV pioneer John Logie Baird transmitted the first long- distance TV pictures from Central Hotel, Glasgow.
- The rubberized raincoat, the mac, is named for Glaswegian Charles Macintosh, its inventor.
- Residents are entitled to dry their laundry in the Glasgow Green, which has poles for washing lines.
Of Macintosh and Mackintosh
Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city with more than half a million people, was long the little-noticed stepsister to the more popular Edinburgh with its dramatic and easily recognized Castle Hill. However, with a purposeful push on the part of the Glaswegians and — beginning from the late 20th century — an improved economy, the city has made itself more attractive for tourism.
For starters, Glasgow has many appealing features just because it is Scottish — think of the pubs and local whiskey; kilts plus Celtic music and dance traditions; golf courses galore; access to Loch Lomond and to the Highlands, and, not least, hospitable locals.
Glasgow is distinguished from other cities by its particular architectural history, its commitment to music and a vibrancy in its daytime commerce and nighttime play. Besides, while it hosts music and theater on the edgy side, it — not the capital — also is home to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.
About the architecture, Glasgow is noted for stunning examples of Victorian buildings and for the work of Glaswegian Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a modern architect of the early 20th century (not to be confused with Charles Macintosh of raincoat fame).
As for music, in 2008 Glasgow was named a UNESCO City of Music. The designation recognizes the city’s deep involvement in music education, performance and production and the fact the music touches all genres, from country to classical, Celtic to contemporary. The city also boasts fine museums to round out the cultural offerings.
After a period of post-war industrial decline, Glasgow redefined itself, brought in new business and made tourism a key pillar in the turnaround.
Today’s tourists can sample a range of shopping options (even stores that sell kilts of silk and leather — as well as everything from flea markets to upscale boutiques); fine dining as well as pub meals, and late-night encounters with extreme (or merely creative?) music.
The city provides options for cycling, golfing and horseback riding. For more choices, Glasgow is close to a national park; several lakes, including Loch Lomond; and the islands off Scotland’s west coast. There is enough to satisfy widely varied touristic interests.
Things to do for Venturers
- In late summer, compete in a charity event, the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run, which encompasses a half marathon and a 10K race.
- Enter or leave Glasgow on foot, following the West Highland Way, a 95-mile footpath between Glasgow and Fort William, traveling via Loch Lomond.
- There are music festivals to attend. Choices include an early-summer jazz festival, but the later Electric Frog Summer Weekender celebrates all things electronic.
- Rent a bike and cycle the 10-mile Glasgow-Paisley Route.
- Check out the club scene in the city center. For a well-rounded experience, start with the cafes and pubs first as pubs must close by 11 or midnight. Then, work in a few more hours on the town by heading to the clubs and sampling their choices for underground music.
- Get thee to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, about 20 miles west of Glasgow, for an active day with choices like a climb up Ben More (3,852 feet), kayaking, mountain biking and windsurfing. Explore Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest lake but only one of 22 largish ones in the park.
Things to do for Centrics
- If bagpipes appeal to you, schedule your visit to coincide with the Piping Live! — the Glasgow International Piping Festival, which in turn coincides with the World Pipe Band Championships. Also, see the Piping Centre, a bagpipe museum. Then, buy a kilt made from Chinese silk – or leather!
- Have a drink or two in one of the city’s traditional whiskey pubs.
- Try your luck at one of several area fisheries. Harelaw Fishery is a sport fishery used for training.
- Give your sightseeing an architectural focus. Search out buildings designed by favorite-son architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, such as the Glasgow School of Art and the Scotland Street School. Then, visit the Tenement House, a late-Victorian apartment that reveals how middle class Glaswegians lived in that era.
- Attend a soccer game for the action on the field and the enthusiasm in the stands.
- Take a walking tour that looks on the dark side of Glasgow history. These tour names are suggestive: Sinister City Tour and Horror Walking Tour.
Things to do for Authentics
- Attend a performance at Bard in the Botanics, Glasgow’s version of Shakespeare in the Park. Productions are staged in the city’s botanic gardens.
- Take a full-day or evening cruise on the River Clyde.
- Dine and shop in the so-called style mile, a square mile in the heart of Glasgow featuring a high concentration of shops, eateries and even late-night spots. Download a free style mile app from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad to get the latest information about what is available in the area.
- It’s Scotland. Play golf. There are dozens of choices.
- Head to Rogano, the oldest restaurant in Glasgow, to eat seafood pulled from Scottish waters.
- Tour the Glengoyne Distillery north of town and sample 10-year-old malt. Buy whiskey, as well, remembering you cannot carry it into an airplane cabin with you.
For more information, consult the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau at https://peoplemakeglasgow.com