Known for Irn Bru, deep fried Mars Bars and Billy Connolly, the Scottish city of Glasgow could well be re-invented by the Commonwealth Games 2014. Sporting action will take place between July 23 and August 3 and see a host of Olympic athletes from 71 nations compete in 17 sports. Stars including Usain Bolt, Tom Daley, Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicola Adams and Mo Farah will battle it in the city’s shiny new stadiums. Here’s five top things to experience while in town, in between the sporting pandemonium…
1. Eat curry
It’s not all black pudding and haggis in these parts; the cultural city of Glasgow is a haven for spice. Dozens of ‘curry hooses’ are scattered around the city, including the humorously named Wee Curry Shop on Buccleuch Street. Drop into Akbar’s, on Sauchiehall Street, for some tasty tandoori chops and try the inventive Buckfast Curry at the House of Shah, in Hamilton, made with the famous tonic wine from Devon.
2. Step aboard the Tall Ship
The Riverside Museum, Scotland’s National Transport Museum, sits on the site of Glasgow’s historic shipyard. Here, visitors will find the three-masted, 245 feet long Glenlee ship – which was built right here in the 1800s. She’s a well travelled vessel, surviving 15 storms in Cape Horn and being used by the Spanish navy in the early 1900s. Luckily, she was brought back to her homeland in the ’90s, and now represents the fine craftsmanship of boatbuilders from the area. The museum also showcases transport in other forms, from the past to the modern day.
We all know the Scots like to drink whisky in their boozers, but some also like to bring along an instrument and play folk music in live sessions. The Avant Garde, on King Street, hosts a weekly acoustic session, as do the Babbity Bowster on Blackfriars Street, the Lauriston Bar on Bridge Street, and the Ben Nevis on Argyle Street (this cosy pub also does a Gaelic pub quiz too).
4. Go to Loch Lomond
Just 20 minutes away sits Britain’s biggest stretch of open water, and a beach (yes, near Glasgow!). While you may not see the Loch Ness monster, you may well spot otters, osprey, deer and water voles in these scenic parts. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from lots of activities to get their blood pumping, from mountain biking and trekking on the rolling lowland landscapes to climbing, horse riding and sailing.
5. Tour the cities secret police phone boxes
Doctor Who fans will be in their element in Glasgow; many of the original police phone boxes (aka TARDIS’) have been preserved in these fair streets by an entrepreneur named Ward Westwater (who bought the remaining boxes and restored them). They can be visited any day of the week, some have been turned into coffee shops and ice cream stalls in the past. Find a handful in the following areas of town: Buchanan Street, Cathedral Square, Wilson Street and Great Western Road.