If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know we’re huge fans of Hostelling Scotland. Their accommodation is affordable, clean, comfortable and always slap bang in the middle of Scotland’s most scenic locations. To date, our stays with them have been in rural locations or small towns, but that changed recently on a Hostelling Scotland Glasgow City break.
Day one: A Glasgow city break
It took us around forty-five minutes to drive to Glasgow from Edinburgh. When we arrived, we parked outside Glasgow Youth Hostel and set off to explore.
A visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Glasgow Youth Hostel overlooks Kelvingrove Park and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a short walk away. We made the museum our first itinerary stop of the weekend and took it in turns (no dogs allowed) to visit three of our favourite artworks inside.
The first was ‘Floating Heads’ by Sophie Cave. The installation consists of over fifty floating heads with comical expressions. Some people find them creepy, but I think they’re fun.
Next, was Sean Read’s ‘Return to Sender’ – a cartoon like sculpture of Elvis, wearing a light up halo. It’s super kitsch but always makes me smile.
The final piece was Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of Saint John of the Cross’. It’s a beautifully evocative painting and the most famous in the museum’s collection.
Lunch: The Dockyard Social, Finnieston
After art it was time to eat. I’d booked tickets for The Dockyard Social – a dog friendly indoor street food market housed in a warehouse. Tickets cost £5 and get you entry to the hip hangout and a drink on arrival. I chose a refreshing watermelon daiquiri and Mr G an ice cold beer.
Inside The Dockyard Social are a number of street food stalls and bars. There are rows of benches and some smaller tables too. We were first to arrive, so managed to bag the best seats in the house – two wicker thrones inside an open fronted shed with a fire and soft furnishing. It was a braw people watching cubby.
As soon as we sat down the boy was given biscuits, water and lots of compliments. The staff were amazing with him and lovely to us too.
After studying the menu, we ordered cheesy garlic bread, Milano salami pizza, fries, jalapeño poppers and crispy chicken nachos to share. The food was delicious and the portion sizes perfect for sharing.
I’d read great reviews about The Dockyard Social before our visit and they were spot on.
Walk: Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow University
After lunch we wandered back towards Kelvingrove Park to visit The University of Glasgow’s famous cloisters. The university was founded in 1451 and is one of Scotland’s four ancient seats of learning, along with the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews. Famous Glasgow alumni include the economist Adam Smith and author John Buchan.
The cloisters are an architectural delight and popular with photographers and film crews alike. Outlander fans might recognise them as Harvard University from season two.
Accommodation: Glasgow Youth Hostel
We’d had fun exploring on day one of our Glasgow city break. Now it was time to check out our digs at Glasgow Youth Hostel and enjoy some down time.
The hostel building is a Victorian townhouse, located on a quiet street in Glasgow’s affluent West End.
The interior boasts beautiful period features, including ornate cornicing, high ceilings and a wooden staircase carved with cherubs.
We received a warm welcome at check-in and were given a run down of the hostel and directions to our room – an en suite double on the top floor. The room had an amazing view of some iconic Glasgow landmarks. We could see the Finnieston Crane (a reminder of Glasgow’s industrial era), the Hydro arena and squinty bridge. By night they’re a photographer’s dream. There was Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum too and the spires of the university.
We spent a lazy night curled up on sofas in the residents lounge, before heading upstairs to bed.
We slept soundly, as is always the case when we’re guests of Hostelling Scotland.
Day two: A Glasgow city break
We woke the next morning looking forward to spending another day exploring Glasgow. Before heading out we tucked into a Hostelling Scotland ‘breakfast in a bag’. It was healthy, filling and would easily see us through to lunchtime.
The forecast was for heavy rain all day, but it wouldn’t dampen our enthusiasm – we had a city to explore. We’d initially planned to follow a walking itinerary, but decided to take the car to keep us dry in between stops. It would also allow us to fit more in and explore further afield.
Exploring Glasgow Necropolis
Our first stop of the day was Glasgow Necropolis – a Victorian cemetery where the great and the good of the city lie in eternal slumber beneath monuments designed by the likes of Charles Rennie Macintosh and Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. The first burial in the multi-faith cemetery was that of Jewish jeweller, Joseph Levi in 1832.
There’s one monument in the Necropolis that causes you to sing when you see it. It’s dedicated to cabinet maker William Miller. Miller died destitute and was buried in an unmarked grave in Glasgow’s Tollcross Cemetery. Besides cabinet making, he also wrote poems. After he died, of his poem became known the world. You might know it. “Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toun, up stairs and doun stairs in his nicht-gown”. You’re singing now, aren’t you?
In the middle of the cemetery, a statue of John Knox stands on a towering plinth. He has a fine view of the city and Glasgow’s medieval cathedral. Ironically, Knox is buried under a parking space behind Edinburgh’s St Giles cathedral.
Despite it raining heavily, we enjoyed our wander and the quiet calm of Glasgow Necropolis. The brooding sky only seemed to enhance the beauty of the monuments.
We’re Still Game, even in the rain!
In recently years Glasgow has been used as a filming location for a number of Hollywood blockbusters, starring the likes of Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt. On the other end of the budget scale, the city was used as a filming location for the popular Scottish comedy series Still Game. Still Game follows the shenanigans of pensioner pals Jack and Victor and their cronies. Scots love the characters, as Jack, Victor and co are the grandparents, aunties, uncles, friends and neighbours of yesteryear that we miss dearly.
We decided to visit one of the most recognisable filming locations from Still Game – the tower block where Jack and Victor lived, in the fictional Glasgow suburb of Craiglang. The real life “Osprey Heights” can be found in Maryhill. It looked exactly as it did in the show, which ran from 2002 to 2019. The only thing missing were the auld lads.
After leaving Osprey Heights we visited another filming location, this time in the Townhead area of the city. Navid’s shop, Harrid’s Convenience Store, was instantly recognisable, even sporting its real name.
We popped in to see if they had any stoorie Midori (if you know you know). They did, although it wasn’t stoorie (dusty). Shop owner Ralph is used to fans visiting and has turned his shop into a Still Game shrine with photos and memorabilia from the show everywhere. He was happy to chat about the show and even invited us behind the counter to pose with a cut-out of Navid.
Needless to say we were hyper when we left “Navid’s”.
Lunch: Drygate Brewing co
Seeing as we were all drookit (wet) Drygate seemed an aptly named place to have lunch. The micro-brewery is located next to Glasgow Necropolis. It has a restaurant that looks into the brewery, so you can watch the magic happen as you eat.
As Mr G was driving, he wasn’t able to try any beers. I’m not a beer fan, but in the interest of research took one (ok two) for the team. I chose a 1/3 pint of Orinoco milk Stout 6% (dark malts, chocolate, coffee, vanilla and lactose sugar) and 1/3 pint of Disco Forklift Truck Mango Pale Ale 5.1% (loaded with tropical fruit flavour, zesty bitterness and rich caramel malt). I loved both, especially the stout, which surprised me. It was smooth, full of flavour and easy to drink.
On the food front I had tattie and leek soup, followed by pan seared chicken supreme served with goose fat roasties, tender steam broccoli and wilted green. To finish I opted for chocolate orange cheesecake. All three courses were superb.
Mr G had veggie haggis and potato croquettes with peppercorn sauce to start, followed by oven-baked hake with wilted green, sautéed potatoes and lemon and caper Beurre Blanc. He skipped dessert to polish his halo. He raved about both of his dishes.
Visit: Glasgow Cathedral
As we were on the doorstep of Glasgow Cathedral we decided to pay it a visit. We parked in the cathedral car park and took it in turns to visit the historic gem which is in the care of Historic Scotland.
I’m not religious but I love a good cathedral, especially a medieval one. I’ve visited many on my travels, both at home and abroad and Glasgow Cathedral is way up there with the best of them. It’s breathtaking inside and feels like you’ve travelled back in time. I half expected to see monks dressed in robes, gliding silently past me.
The cathedral is the oldest in mainland Scotland and is dedicated to St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint. His remains are buried in the cathedral’s crypt.
Amongst the other treasures inside, is an early version of the King James Bible. Looking at it, I couldn’t help but wonder who first leafed through its pages over 400-years ago.
St Mungo: Glasgow Mural Trail
A short hop from Glasgow Cathedral are a couple of murals by street artist Smug One. They’re part of the Glasgow Mural Trail, which is a great way to explore the city on foot.
The murals are a modern day interpretation of Saint Mungo, and his mother Saint Enoch. The detail on them is incredible, given the scale. The saints look so lifelike, that you almost expected them to move.
Chilling at Glasgow Youth Hostel
Day two of our Glasgow city break had been brilliant, despite the weather.
It was now time to unwind back at Glasgow Youth Hostel.
This time we decided to forego the comfy sofas to hang out in the games room. Mr G played pool and polished off a couple of beers he’d bought from the Drygate Brewing Co earlier, while I watched from the second great wine drinking cubby of the weekend.
Day three: A Glasgow city break
The sun finally made an appearance on day three of our Glasgow city break.
We enjoyed breakfast with a view in our room, before packing and heading downstairs to check out.
We’ve stayed in loads of good accommodation in Glasgow over the years, but from here on in Glasgow Youth Hostel will be our new base. We loved our stay there. The location was unbeatable – quiet, leafy and close to popular attractions and good eateries.
And there was a certain funny wee statue too. Lobey Dosser the Sheriff of Carlton Creek in his steed El Fideldo. The cartoon characters were created by newspaper artist Bud Neil in the late 1940s and were firm favourites in the Evening Times for many years. Despite the comic strip being set in Arizona, the characters were unmistakably Glaswegian.
Public artworks in the Gorbals
Leaving the West End we headed to the Gorbals for a bit of a sculpture trail.
The first one we visited was Liz Peden’s ‘The Gorbals Boys’. It features three boys playing in their mother’s heels. The Gorbals Boys is based on a photograph taken by Oscar Marzaroli in the Gorbals in 1963. Both the photograph and the sculptures perfectly capture the innocence of children at play.
Another gorgeous sculpture in the area is Oatlands Girl by Rob Mullholland. It represents youth and hope for the future. Fluttering around the girl’s head are pages engraved with memories recounted by older residents living in the area. It’s such a nice way to remember the past, while looking to the future.
Then there’s Smokestack. A rotating puff of smoke on top of the chimney of an old industrial building. Whoever thought that one up, has some imagination and head for heights.
Relics of St Valentine
Leaving the sculptures behind, our next stop was a local church. Inside the foyer of the Blessed St John Dun Scotus are relics belonging to Saint Valentine. Did I mention it was February 14th?
The foyer had been decorated for the occasion with roses. Apparently the spot is a popular one for Valentine’s Day proposals.
Visiting Saint Valentine (well a wee part of him anyway) on Valentine’s Day isn’t something I ever imagined doing, but Glasgow is the city that keeps on giving and each new visit unearths more cool finds.
Staying in the Gorbals, we turned our attention from saints to vampires.
In 1954 a terrifying tale spread round local children like wildfire. It was claimed a seven foot tall vampire with iron teeth had eaten two local boys. The vampire was thought to live in the Southern Necropolis.
Being Glaswegian the children were made of stern stuff. Instead of cowering at home they decided to take matters into their own hands. Brandishing sticks and with family dogs in tow to protect them, they stormed the cemetery to hunt down the child eating vampire. Despite a thorough search their search proved to be fruitless.
Was that because the vampire didn’t exist, or was he just really good at playing hide and seek? We didn’t linger too long, just in case it was the latter.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
The final itinerary stop of our Glasgow city break was the dog friendly Glasgow Botanic Gardens, located in the West End.
The gardens are one of many green spaces in the city. Glasgow isn’t known as the Dear Green Place for nothing.
Inside, we followed a trail that meandered along the banks of the River Kelvin. It was a quiet green oasis in the middle of a bustling, busy city.
After exploring various trails we headed to the stunning Kibble Palace, one of two large glasshouses in the gardens. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the glasshouses, so we took it in turns to visit them both, starting with the Kibble Palace. The boy wasn’t fussed about seeing inside anyway, after discovering the Kibble Palace was made of glass, not dog biscuits.
Inside, the Kibble Palace is filled with elegant marble statues. We caught it looking its best, as the contrast of white marble, blue sky and green foliage was stunning.
The second glasshouse was huge and filled with a vast array of exotic plants from around the world. There were cacti, ferns, towering palms and creeping vines. It was hot and humid, and with sunshine streaming in, felt positively tropical.
My Glasgow city break had started with a tropical cocktail and ended in a tropical climate. We’d had such a lovely time exploring the city, but it was time to say goodbye to Glasgow – for now.
We stayed at Glasgow Youth Hostel on a complimentary bed and breakfast basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time ….