Back in Glasgow: Solo travel adventures.

Welcome to Glasgow and my first solo travel trip for 2022. This blog post is not a complete overview of my trip but rather a place for me to chat through some of my favourite things that I did and would recommend, as well as some general information about travelling in Glasgow. I did a solo trip to Glasgow last year too but I was 3 weeks post surgery so my mobility was quite limited. So hoping to get some more done this time. As soon as I arrived in the city I was reminded how much amazing architecture it has. So many varied buildings. It also just has a very happening and friendly vibe. Don’t get me wrong Glasgow is quite mixed with a lot of different areas. There is beautiful historic architecture, funky modern buildings and some quite run down parts all right next to each other. But that’s part of what makes it so interesting to visit.

One of the highlights of my holiday was the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Before this trip I have to admit I had not even heard of the Gardens but I am glad I spotted them on the map! A big advantage of solo travel is that I can go totally on my own timetable so when, like right now. I stumble across something amazing or unexpected, I can just take as long as I like to wander, take photos and generally soak it all up. Being alone means you can get more immersed in places too I think as you are dedicating your whole mind to the experience (okay I admit the experience and capturing the experience). Back to the gardens though. The first selling point is they are totally free to get into and that includes the stunning 19th century Kibble Palace glass house. Built with an intricate wrought-iron structure with the glass supported by cast-iron beams and held up by aesthetic pillars. The whole effect is very impressive. The frame was built in Possilpark and then the completed parts were taken by boat up the River Clyde before being constructed in the Botanic Gardens and completed in 1873. Know it is a temperate house full of luscious green plants and interesting historical information boards. You can even learn about the mysterious 1857 Madeline Smith murder investigation or the 1914 Suffragette attack! There are several sculptures around the walkway too. Some of which I admit I liked better than others. My favourite one was ‘Stepping Stones’ by William Thornycroft in 1978. Okay that’s enough about the glass house but I really hope I have convinced you to check it out!

There is a little takeaway booth in the gardens but the main cafe was closed when I was there and I am unsure when it may re-open. If you want to sit in somewhere there are quite a few little independent places near by. I went to ‘North Star Cafe’ which I would really recommend. I went for an oat milk cappuccino and sourdough toast with avocado and vegan sausages. Finding new cute independent cafes is one of my favourite parts of travelling. Being away allows my brain to give me a wee bit of a rest. So I can sit with my book, drinking coffee and not be in a rush. At home I struggle to do that and feel pressure to always be doing something.

Accidentally missed my stop on the bus home because I didn’t realise quite where we were and I thought oh no worries the next stop won’t be far at all but sadly this was not the case. I considered waiting for another bus back again but in the end I just thought that I want to get home and I know how to walk home from here so I’ll just do the 15/20 mins back again. But in silver linings it meant I came home past ‘The Glasgow Central Mosque’ I personally am not religious but I find going to religious buildings and learning about other faiths and their associated traditions fascinating. I only saw the outside of the Mosque as I didn’t think bursting in at 18:00 just because I was interested would be particularly respectful. It’s a huge building though and on a quick Google I can tell you it was completed in 1983 and has a capacity of 2500. I have seen a lot of churches in my time, quite a few Hindu temples and a couple of Buddhist shrines but I don’t think I have ever been inside a mosque. That’s something definitely to keep my eye out for on a doors open day or something.

Then the second silver lining was crossing over the River Clyde and there being some absolutely beautiful light reflections on the dark water. So all in all it could have been worse. I will say though, as I like to keep these blogs honest that I feel slightly on edge walking round central Glasgow on my own after dark. I think I mentioned that in my last Glasgow solo travel blog too. Even by 18:00 the streets seemed to be more full of people on nights out and a lot of drunken behaviour. I am sure it’s one of those things where I am just being hyper aware and there is nothing untoward at all. But it’s a feeling I don’t get after dark in Edinburgh. But I did get a bit in Dundee. It’s not enough to stop me walking round after dark but I probably would more carefully consider where and how far I was going.

The plan for Sunday was to meet up with my old school friend Chloe and her adorable cocker spaniel Lola. It was absolutely pouring with rain but we still had a really nice time together. We have been friends for 13 years now so have been through a lot together so it’s great to get the opportunity to spend some time together. The day was spent living our best middle aged lady lives to be honest! We started off with coffee and cake at Singl-End Café just off George Square. I have been there before and their items are really good. It can get very busy though so I would recommend booking a table if you can. After realising it wasn’t going to stop raining anytime soon we made a dash for the car and headed back to Chloe’s flat for play time with the puppy. Then we spent the afternoon at garden centres: Silverbirch and Dobbies. Although Silverbirch, where we also had a scrummy lunch, is only really a garden centre in name. Alongside the cosy cafe there is a huge furniture shop full of all sorts of wonders. It’s a pretty magical place to walk around and admire the things I want to own but definitely could not afford (and some things that I definitely did not want to own!). However I will admit I did buy an acorn pot for my room. Not sure what I am going to store in it but I have no regrets about buying it.

In the interests of honesty Monday morning was spent at my Air BnB. I had a medical appointment and then I meant to leave but I was so invested in watching ‘Inventing Anna’ on Netflix that I had a chill morning instead. I am slowly learning that it’s okay to relax on holidays, I don’t have to be cramming everything in and going non stop. That is a tip from me for anyone who is planning a holiday, be it solo or not, a holiday is supposed to be enjoyable so don’t spend the whole thing being pressured to always get to the next thing. You don’t have to ‘make the most of every second’ (whatever what means). You can just stay home and watch a film and have a breather.

Once I left the flat though my main focus for my final day in Glasgow was to the visit one of the most well known attractions, Kelvingrove Gallery. A lot of it is quite standard big Victorian museum exhibits like natural history, Dutch art etc. So I wanted to focus on the parts more connected to Glasgow. But as I was pretty tired and sore, chronic illness life, from my mid day walk, I started with a quick coffee and fruit scone in the Café. It is your classic basic museum family cafe, nothing amazing but nothing bad either. I will say the staff were lovely though (although might just be saying that because one of them complemented my pink jumper.)

Fuelled by caffeine and a mission to learn about the city I started off at the ‘Glasgow Stories’ exhibition. One thing I always find fascinating is to look at maps of a city through time. One that caught my eye was a map of Glasgow from 1775. The surveyor James Barry mapped a much smaller Glasgow to show the new streets and the path of the River Clyde just before the start of the American War of Independence later that year. The urban centre shown in the map is almost unrecognisable when compared with modern Glasgow. The display next to the map went on to talk about commerce in the city at the time. In the 1700s Glasgow merchants raised huge sums from the trade of Caribbean sugar which was then refunded in the city. The increased availability of sugar ran alongside the growing popularity of tea drinking. Tea sets and other crockery were specially designed too. ‘Nippers’ were used to cut lumps from sugar loaves (blocks of sugar) and then tongs were used to put the sugar into the tea. However here it is important to acknowledge that this immense wealth could not have come into Glasgow without the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. As trade that needed slave labour and resulted in millions of Africans being transported across the Atlantic to work as slaves on plantations.

The Gallery closed at 17:00 and I had to think a bit what to do next. Most attractions shut at 17:00 which can leave with you with this awkward bit of time before dinner. Sometimes I am ready to go home and have a rest but on this day I wasn’t ready to go back to the Air BnB but I also really didn’t want to lay to sit in another café and spend money on a drink I didn’t really want. It was time to use one of my travel top tips and head to a library. The main Mitchell Library is open until 20:00 so that was perfect. I found myself a quite seat amongst the shelves and read my book in peace for about an hour. I would love the Mitchell Library to be near me, it’s a huge building with lots of places to sit and work or read. There is a cafe (open 10:00-17:30 weekdays and closed at weekends) and a theatre in the complex too. In general though when you are travelling libraries are a great option as you get the interest of exploring them, they are free and you can have some time away from your accommodation.

It was back to the cinema that evening for my third film of the trip! I love a solo cinema date, after all you don’t talk during a film anyway. Plus it gives me something to do in the evening away from my flat and for £6.99 a ticket for around two hours it is the same cost, if not less, as having a cocktail. The films I saw were: Belfast, Uncharted and Death on the Nile. Of the 3 Belfast was by far the best. It was a film that was genuinely different to most movies and told an important story. The cinematography was brilliant. Yes it definitely glamorised life in Ireland during the troubles so I wouldn’t give it top marks for historical accuracy but it got its message across well.

In classic Morag style before taking the train across to Edinburgh, where I was going to visit family, I squeezed in one last independent cafe. It was absolutely hammering with rain and I had all of my stuff having just checked out of the Air BnB so I pretty much just dived into the first nice looking place that I saw which was ‘Cranberry’s Glasgow’ a family run cafe in Glasgow’s Merchant Quarter. The staff were really friendly and the coffee and sourdough toast was just what I was after.

On that note it was time to wrap up my trip and go and get the train. The sun had come out to wave me off and I even managed to get a selfie outside the ‘Forbes’ offices in Glasgow (sadly I am not connected to Forbes magazine in anyway unless a very distant relative is about to pop up and change my life Princess Diaries style.) So there you have it, my solo trip to Glasgow. I hope this post has inspired you to give solo travel or indeed Glasgow a go. Happy travels everyone.

2 thoughts on “Back in Glasgow: Solo travel adventures.

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve only been to Glasgow one and that was a week after splitting up with my ex, so perhaps not the best time to take things in. I really should visit again!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s