Amy Mulvaney, a journalist from Dublin, shares her favorite spots from a recent trip to the Scottish city of Glasgow.
I visited Glasgow for a weekend in mid-October with my boyfriend and friends, arriving on Friday afternoon and returning home on Sunday night. A flying visit, sure, but by the end of our three days there, I was impressed with how much we did — while also making a mental note of the things I’d like to see and do on our next trip to Scotland.
In October, the city wasn't overwhelmingly busy. The droves of Christmas shoppers had not yet hit the streets, leaving the regular buzz of Glaswegians and off-peak tourists to ebb and flow. On our first day, I was struck by the great selection of shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars that we came across within a short stroll. There were large chains and small businesses intertwined throughout the city and I had to stop myself more than once from looking on Google Maps to see what other interesting places awaited me next.
The group I was traveling with made no advance plan for how we’d spend the weekend, but we found that Glasgow had no trouble presenting us with plenty of fun things to do.
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I usually start the day in Glasgow with…
A hearty breakfast in Sorriso Cafe. Located on a quiet road among redbrick buildings, it felt like we’d ventured off the beaten track and found a hidden gem, despite being less than five minutes from the center of the city. After being seated beside a beautiful flower wall, I immediately chose a dish from the menu that focused on the famous Scottish black pudding, Stornoway, served on two potato rostis with poached eggs, red onion marmalade, and crispy pancetta (all for £10.75).
While we were waiting for our food, our coffee was served with a piece of homemade white chocolate and cranberry fudge on the side. The decor and menu selections made it seem like this was a luxe spot, but the comforting food and friendly staff make Sorriso a charming and welcoming spot for breakfast or lunch.
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Whisky. With more than 100 whisky distilleries in Scotland, you could say that there’s a whisky to suit everyone’s tastes — even the self-proclaimed non-whisky drinkers like myself. On Sunday afternoon we headed to The Piper Whisky Bar on George Square, a bar with live music that claims to stock whisky from every distillery in the country.
After telling the barman what kind of whisky we’d like to try (and our price range) we were presented with two glasses of GlenAllachie 2006; a whisky with sweet notes.
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Our trip to Glasgow was in the middle of October so we were prepared for rain, wind, and cold. Luckily, the city offers no shortage of indoor activities. One of the newest spots is Level X in St Enoch Centre.
On the top floor of the shopping center, the entertainment venue offers bowling, crazy golf, a VR zone, and arcade games. It was easy to lose track of time here as we tapped our wristbands to pay for games as we went, while the inclusion of the bar was greatly appreciated after a heart-racing, zombie-killer VR experience.
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Motel One. After leaving the accommodation decision to the rest of the group, I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at our hotel. Once we walked into the lobby, however, each of us was pleasantly surprised by the stylish, modern, and eclectic decor that awaited us. Right in the center of the city, Motel One is located right beside Central Station — and we enjoyed views of the historic train station from our room.
We chose the hotel for its location, but the highlight actually turned out to be the fantastic bar where we easily enjoyed a few too many G&Ts after dinner on Saturday.
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Sunday called for large coffees and lots of fresh air, making Glasgow Botanic Gardens the perfect spot to clear our heads. We headed away from the city center via a 10-minute taxi ride to the gardens (which are free to visit), where the sight of a regal-looking glasshouse, called the Kibble Palace, greeted us.
Although the gardens themselves weren’t in full bloom, walking through the various glasshouses throughout the grounds was more than enough to keep us occupied on a breezy October morning.
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Glasgow gets a lot of rain (about 170 days of rain per year) so no matter when you visit, you'll need a pair of shoes that you don’t mind stepping through puddles in.
I was glad to have brought a pair of Dr. Martens that could withstand Glasgow's uneven roads and could help my feet stay dry and warm as we wandered around. I have the Pascal style, which doesn't require any breaking in — an important considerationd for any city break.
Photos: Amy Mulvaney