Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

TRAVEL GUIDE: Glasgow

Glasgow is second only to London in the UK shopping stakes and with P&O operating the quickest and shortest route to Scotland, it’s very easy to get to.

It’s a real Aladdin’s cave full of labels like Versace, Hugo and Calvin Klein, with department stores such as House of Fraser, Debenhams and John Lewis, and a range of local boutique outlets, as well as all the usual high street stores. For designer brands, look no further than Princes Square in Buchanan Street or The Italian Centre in the Merchant City area of Glasgow.

The St Enoch Centre, off Argyle Street and Buchanan Street, offers a wide range of high street shops under a single roof — ideal for when the weather is unfavourable, which it was when I visited. Sauchiehall Street, Buchanan Street and Argyle Street also offer a good spread of high street stores and fashion labels, as well as coffee shops and restaurants.

It is the perfect option for a shopper who is not in a rush, who has time to browse the shops and stop for coffee or a drink.

We travelled over on the P&O ferry from Larne to Cairnryan. It’s a two-hour sailing but they also offer a faster ferry which only takes an hour.

I took my car and the drive into Glasgow takes only an hour, although the railway station is a couple of minutes from the harbour so it’s easily accessible to the foot passengers.

I stayed at the Hilton Glasgow which is walking distance (10 minutes) from the city centre. The rooms are spacious and airy and we had a wonderful view of Glasgow. The hotel has two restaurants and one bar and a spa with a swimming pool. The staff are pleasant and knowledgeable and helpful to tourists.

The Red Onion on West Campbell street is a hidden gem. The food was excellent and I enjoyed a reasonably priced lunch. The atmosphere is buzzing and it’s very much a place to watch the world go by.

For dinner, the restaurant Roganos is a favourite although a little more expensive with lobster and caviar on the menu.

And for something a little more laid back, TGI Fridays offers excellent food, a decent cocktail list and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

The city is soaked in history and stunning architecture by style revolutionaries such as Charles Rennie Macintosh, and there are many different sightseeing tours to go on.

The most popular is the one-day Glasgow sight seeing tour by bus. The pace in Glasgow is quick and mimics a mini-London but the atmosphere and people are extremely friendly, it’s impossible to get into a lift and not have a conversation with a Glaswegian.

Your only problem may be understanding the locals’ rapid chat and accent, but they are very happy to slow it down for you.

The nightlife is similar to our scene in Belfast but maybe slightly busier during the week. Popular venues among the student community include the Garage night club (Sauchiehall Street), boasting four floors, seven bars and five different music rooms providing a range of genres from Hip-Hop to Indie-Rock and cheesy pop.

Nearby is the ABC (Sauchiehall St), an equally large and popular venue, which also frequently hosts concerts. Or if you fancy something a little more exclusive, Candy bar on Hope Street is a firm favourite, especially with Scottish Premiership football players.

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