A few months ago, when Michael got his basketball schedule, we both panicked a little. Every year when the season starts, we realize we have just a handful of weekends between September and April to escape. This year, we decided we’d book a few trips with the weekends we knew we had free. We’re going to Barcelona in December, possibly Croatia in the spring, and then we had this weekend with one day free for which Michael found €20 flights to Glasgow. So we went to Glasgow for the day!
It wasn’t our most amazing trip, but we had a nice day together and enjoyed a break from the daily distractions we’d normally have if we were at home. We left our car at the parking lot at the airport for €7 for the day, and took the 40 minute flight over. My friend Julie went to university there, so she gave us some recommendations for exploring the city. And another friend pointed us to a Glasgow-based blogger who had just done a post on coffee shops. Between those two, Michael made a plan and I went along for the ride!
When we arrived at the airport, we took a twenty minute bus into the city. We were trying to wrangle our way onto a tour of the city train station, but it was booked…until January. No luck there! So we headed straight for our first of several coffee stops of the day!
I think McCune Smith might have been my favorite stop of our visit. It’s a cafe named for James McCune Smith, a famous abolitionist and the first African American to earn a medical degree – from the University of Glasgow! I loved learning about his life and I loved the front of the cafe. I didn’t love my sausage roll (literally just sausage on a bread roll – where are all the other ingredients?!), but I loved my coffee enough to make up for it. Michael ordered porridge with blueberries and I had breakfast envy.
After caffeine, we walked over to the GOMA – the Gallery of Modern Art and explored the four floors of exhibitions after stopping, of course, for a quick selfie in the jaggedy mirror in the lobby.
I was fairly obsessed with this stunning open balcony that ran throughout the gallery and was wallpapered with a custom design based on the idea of bravery. It was beautifully graphic and I wish somehow my future home can have iron railings and wallpaper like that.
Our second favorite in the GOMA was this exhibition by Nathan Coley called the Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship in Edinburgh. He recreated all of the places of worship from the yellow pages using cardboard. I could have stayed for hours (and taken a lot more photos) but there was a very strange security guard walking very quickly and loudly around in circles and messing up the vibe.
Next, we went over to the Lighthouse, a huge gallery and exhibition space that was, unfortunately, mostly closed because of a wedding. So Michael and I did what most normal visitors would do and totally broke the rules and snuck up to the top of the building to see the view! I paid for our crime in serious overexposure of the Glasgow skyline.
For lunch, we stopped at Riverhill Cafe where Michael had the coolest salad that I’m dying to recreate – brussels sprouts, kale, roast pumpkin, cranberries, bacon and chestnuts!
Then we headed over to the west side of the city on the Clockwork Orange circular subway tube. It was just as teeny and loud as we had heard! We had a few museums and more coffee stops planned on the west side of the city. We started with the Kelvingrove Gallery and Art Museum and it was categorically the weirdest museum I’ve ever experienced. I think the curator was likely on psychedelic drugs when he or she designed the sequence of exhibitions. It was a free for all! One minute you’re in the jungle, and the next minute you’re in 19th century Scotland. Michael wanted to see a propellor plane in one section, which turned out to be suspended over a bizarre selection of safari animals. And all the while, there was a man giving a live organ concert that resounded throughout the building. It felt like the twilight zone. But! It was free, as are all the museums in Glasgow, which was great.
And here is where the photographic evidence of our trip abruptly ends because it started pouring rain. We braved it to walk over to Glasgow University and actually caught part of their graduation! We enjoyed the museum at the university and learned a lot about gems and magpie nests (did you know they use coat hangers and things?), but once we left, it was just too soggy to explore much more. We hunkered down in Artisan Roast (another awesome hippy coffee spot) for a while, and then hunkered down at Thai Siam (not inexpensive, but seriously good Thai food), and then hunkered down for the long haul in a pub to watch the Scotland rugby team (and also the people watching the rugby team – some in kilts).
And that, my friends, is 12 hours in Glasgow. Four museums, three coffee shops, a graduation, some green curry and a rugby match. Needless to say we were exhausted when we got to the airport!