Glasgow took me by surprise; Trainspotting had perhaps tarnished my outlook on what I had until recently assumed was a run-down neglected city, populated by an overwhelming majority of drunks and art students. How wrong I was.
For I did not see any such heroin dealers or back alley discos (clubs, yes); perhaps the roughest part my lucky self came across were the banks of River Clyde, which runs south of the affluent centre and the particular bars and cafes I visited. And so over the course of a chilling September weekend over the hills and not so far away, in true Glaswegian style I set upon a quest to drink my wee self to glee.
Many may have a misconception about Glasgow, but it without a doubt one of the most impressive and upmarket cities I have visited in the UK; with the hilly Kelvingrove Park connecting the West end to the Hogwarts-esque University, and intertwining lanes laced with fairy lights and scrubbed up beer houses, Glasgow has the grandeur of London and the culture and gothic architecture of continental Europe.
Fittingly it was the city centre’s Transeurope café where our café hopping began. Serving sandwiches named after European cities at reasonable prices, you get to sit in old train seats eating top grub whilst being entertained by the ever present owner’s Glaswegian charm. How Berlin came to be so associated with Bacon that it decided to name a sandwich after it is neither sensical nor important; for it was delicious as was the group fave the Madrid (chorizo) sandwich which came out on top. Impressive evening menus are available to accompany your beverage and its delightful ambience gives a very Amsterdam feel, only with a much nicer smell.
Next we ventured to Nice n Sleazy for cheap pints in a band poster splattered alternative set up on the otherwise commercial and very ‘freshers’ Sauchiehall street. It’s a welcome venue for students seeking a bit of live music or wishing to fill their ravenous bellies, as the Mexican themed menu made my mouth water despite my Berlin butty, leaving me gawping enviously at a nearby burrito. The cocktail prices are reasonable and the pop plastered walls suggest many a sweat fested mosh pit, showing its promise for future piss ups, and so we left watered and a step further to beer fuelled euphoria.
Next up was vegan hangout The Thirteenth Note. I would not normally spare any time for vegan food however this bar which doubled up as a music venue was something to be relished; the Budvar & burger deal went down a treat with my affiliates, as coincidentally did the house sweetcorn relish and the table football which we noticed was a standard accessory in most bars, perhaps testament to the football crazy-lager mad Scots. The ‘Glasgow mega death’ v hot sauce was however my favourite feature, nothing like near death tongue torture to spice up your veggie burger. Unfortunately we didn’t catch any bands that evening but The Thirteenth Note is known for showcasing ‘ones to watch’ shows- definitely worth a visit.
The student haunted West end of Glasgow is host to yet more charismatic bars and to my delight an amazing pasta takeaway, something that could only have originated in this Italian occupied city. Big Slope also stood out for its ‘Po’ boy’ lunch deal and yet more table football. I could go on for days but Glasgow is somewhere you must see to believe. It’s hard not to be charmed by; each establishment has its own backstory, infused character and of course Glaswegian regulars. Its allure will without a doubt have me back for a Christmas visit; why seek festive spirit overseas when you’ve got the magical village of Hogsmeade right here?
Trains from Manchester Picadilly: from £10.55 single (with railcard)
For music/club night listings: