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Glasgow is a very popular port of call for cruise guests sailing around Britain.  It is the second city of Scotland and has a rich and proud heritage to rival any British City.  It is situated on the River Clyde just 28 miles from the cruise port of Greenock.  


Glasgow is also known locally as the Merchant City, because in the 18th and 19th centuries it was one of the richest cities in the British Empire and one of the busiest ports in the world.  As you go around the city you will see lots of evidence of this wealth and power.  Glasgow in the 19th and right up to the mid 20th Century along with Belfast was a major ship building city.  Today sadly only one shipyard remains from this once thriving industry but there are plenty of reminders of the rich maritime past of this city.


A great way to get an overview of this great city is to take one of the open top bus tours operated by City Sightseeing.  These will visit all the major sights and places of interest in the city and give you lots of useful interesting background to the city.  The buses are hop on hop off and operate a regular schedule and your ticket is valid all day.  So my advice is to do the full tour on your first circuit and choose where you want to visit then hop on and off after that.  It is worth knowing that City Sightseeing Buses are wheelchair accessible.


While the city has always had an undeserved reputation for being tough and rather rough and ready. So the visitor may be pleasantly surprised to find a fiercely proud cultural city, with a friendly and vibrant atmosphere.  So be prepared to be surprised and be prepared to fall in love with the city and its people.


A great place to start any visit to Glasgow has to be at George Square.  This is the main city square of Glasgow and regarded as the meeting place of the city.  It is where the city comes together to celebrate the great events like Hogmanay.  The Square is dominated by the grand 19th Century City Chambers, where the City’s Lord Provost (Lord Mayor) has his parlour and is home to the city council.  From the outside this imposing building may look dour and austere, however in contrast it’s interior is stunning and lavish.  On weekdays there are tours at 10.30am and 2.30pm.

It is worth taking the tour just to see the magnificent ballroom.  A ballroom that must have seen some pretty impressive soirées.


In nearby Ingram Street you will find the Italian Centre, it is easy to spot from the statue on the roof.  The building’s design is based on an Italian Palazzo with a courtyard surrounded by high end Italian designer shops including Versace’s first UK store and Emporio Armani as well as Italian cafes, bars, officers and very expensive flats.


The main shopping streets of Glasgow are the famous Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyll Street.  Here you will find all the main high street stores and bargains galore particularly in the Buchanan Galleries.  


Just as Gaudi heavily influenced Barcelona, in the early 20th Century Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald were the heavy influence in Glasgow Architecture and Design.  You can find their influence in several places around the city.  One of the most famous is the Willow Tearooms.  The first of the tearooms that Mackintosh designed for Miss Kate Cranston was in Sauchiehall Street.  You can take a tour around the tea rooms and visit a fascinating visitor Centre in the adjacent building.  If you want to experience what it was like why not take an afternoon tea at another of the Kate Cranston Willow Tea Rooms in nearby Buchanan Street.  Other great places to see the genius of Mackintosh is the Lighthouse, a tall narrow building that is a blend of stone, glass and steel.  The building is a true hidden gem designed by Rennie Mackintosh and can be found tucked away down Mitchell Lane just off Buchanan Street.  If you really want to indulge in the great man’s style then a visit to The Mackintosh House attached to the Hunterian Art Gallery.  It is a faithful reconstruction of the first house Charles and his wife Margaret bought and gives you an insight into how their styles were born.


Glasgow has a fine array of museums to visit and cover the whole spectrum of life and the passions of this great city.  Probably the most famous is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  This beautifully restored Victorian red sandstone edifice houses a real eclectic treasure trove with a wonderful diverse collection from natural history to modern engineering icons like the Spitfire.  It also houses one of the great art collections of the world including Salvador Dali’s masterpiece Christ of St John of the Cross.  If you happen to visit Kelvingrove at around 1pm then you will be in for a musical treat with an organ recital.  Another of the city’s museums worth visiting if you are interested in the city’s social history and character is the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green which house a rather quirky collection that charts the social history and character of Glasgow from the 18th Century through to the present day. The palace was built by City Engineer Alexander MacDonald and opened in 1898 so the citizens could use it to enjoy reading, art and culture.  In the park you will find a large conservatory called the Winter Gardens filled with palms and exotic plants.  Inside the Winter Gardens you will also find a cafe.  One of the newer museums is the Riverside Museum a fascinating transport museum that looks at all forms of transport that have been used in the city from skateboards to all forms of motorized vehicles and even a tall ship is moored up outside.  If you are a lover of modern art you will not want to miss the Museum of Modern Art.  The gallery is a vibrant place with some exciting exhibits.  It is easy to find the museum, all you need to do is just look for the statue of the Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head.  The city council have removed the cone several times but the cone reappears within hours.  So it has become one of the sights of the city.  


The Duke’s statue is just one of the quirky sights of the city. Other quirky things you should look out for are the old blue Police boxes that you half expect Dr Who to step out from and it is worth taking a trip on the Glasgow version of the underground with its orange coloured trains, that locals call “The Clockwork Orange”.  


Glaswegians love their food and it is fair to say you have lots of food and drink choices from local delicacies such as deep fried haggis and deep fried Mars Bar from a fish and chip shop to fine dining.  The choice is endless.  So here are just a few of my recommendations.  As I said earlier in the article if you want a traditional afternoon tea the place to go is the Willow Tearooms in Buchanan Street, if you want to sample the delights I recommend you either book ahead or turn up early as it does get very busy.  Another foodie institution worth a visit is Rogano, the oldest restaurant in Glasgow and serves classic fish and seafood dishes in a rather dark Art Deco dining room that was inspired by the dining rooms of Cunard’s classic liner Queen Mary.  Cafe Gandolfi is the place to head for traditional Scottish cuisine such as Cullen Skink and haggis.  Glasgow is a multicultural cosmopolitan city reflecting its  maritime and mercantile past.  So you will also find some amazing Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants.  


You cannot come to Scotland and not take a wee dram.  But don’t panic.  You don’t even need to leave the city limits to find a whisky distillery.  There is a distillery in the Southside of the city on the banks of the Clyde in a former pump house.  You can find the Clydeside Distillery at 100 Stobcross Road.  You can enjoy both a tour and a tasting session.  If however you are more a beer lover then why not take a tour around Tennents Brewery, Tennents are to Glasgow what Guinness is to Dublin.


Glasgow like Manchester and Liverpool is a football mad city as anyone who has been in the city on an old firm derby day will tell you.  The city has 2 football teams, Rangers and Celtic whose rivalry is legendary and you can take tours of both their stadiums.  There is also The Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park.


These are just some of the amazing places I love in Glasgow and why it is one of my favourite cities.  There is so much to see and do in the city.  So I am sure you will have a lot of fun and never be bored on a visit to this city.  


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