20.11.09

Hello Glasgow

I have news for everyone. For those of you who are not American, the news is: next weekend is Thanksgiving. It's a national holiday in America where families get together, eat lots of turkey, watch American football, and take naps.

For those of you who are American, the news is: you must take advantage of the long weekend and go on a trip. Your family can make their own Turkey; they'll be fine. You must hop on a plane, enjoy 2 movies, dinner and a snack, and voila, you're in Glasgow.

Once you're in Glasgow, this is what you should be sure to do before you leave:

Buy a Sunday Herald
And I say this not for the news or opinion, but for the Magazine and the Arts section. The magazine will show you what people are eating and wearing in Glasgow (I especially like the 'My Favourite Look' feature, that lets an average member of the public discuss their favourite outfit and why they like it). The best part is the Arts section though - specifically, Damian Love's irreverent, sarcastic, cynical, and funny television reviews. Enjoyable to read and always true.


Eat at an Indian restaurant
You will be spoiled for choice on this one, and it's hard not to be overwhelmed, especially as they all seem to be owned by one of three companies/moguls. So, I would suggest either Mother India or the Wee Curry Shop for sheer quality and yumminess, Balbir for the incredible service, Shish Mahal for the amazingly huge menu, Chillies for its casual charm, or Thali for its sumptuousness and luxury.

Visit George Square
This time of year, George Square is like a huge, electric birthday cake. There are garish Christmas lights everywhere, an ice skating rink, rides, and a variety of performances and films. And the the Helter Skelter of course. It's not just a song by the Beatles, it's also a huge, psychotically decorated slide that gets erected on special occasions.


Go shopping

And I'm not just saying that because I love shopping and I write about it several times a month. Okay, maybe I am. But Glasgow is a great place to shop. Go to Che Camille in the Argyle Arcade for something unique and home grown; Fopp for amazingly priced CDs and books; House of Fraser for the perfume and handbags; Space NK for cosmetics and skincare and top notch advice on both; Cruise to gawk at the label whores; Sandalwood for the shoes; New Look and Primark for the bargains; Penhaligons and Jo Malone for the scented tissue paper and ribbons and shiny boxes; Roots & Fruits, Heart Buchanan and Grassroots for the delicious deli offerings; the Merchant City branch of Tinderbox for the coolest place to have coffee while browsing arts and crafts in the back; or for more crafty shenanigans, head to Sloans Market.

Have tea
And not just any tea, choose something exotic from the exhaustive tea menu at Tchai Ovna, while sitting out in the garden smoking a hookah. Or sit inside, play a board game, and wait for hours while the wait staff have forgotten you've ordered food. I know that last part doesn't sound fun, but it's all part of the sit back and relax and spend an afternoon doing nothing kind of vibe. They also have periodic evening performances of various genres of music.

Visit museums
I know this advice will hardly shift anyone's paradigms, but the museums in Glasgow are worth seeing and they're free. The future of the Lighthouse, Glasgow's home of architecture and design, is still unsure, but it deserves to continue on. Also be sure to visit the Modern Art museum, the massive Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum, and the eccentric Transport Museum.


See some live music
Glasgow is perhaps not as famous for its music scene as it should be. It periodically gets attention when the likes of Franz Ferdinand or Glasvegas appear on international charts and sell out gigs abroad, but there is always something going on here musically, and the quality of bands, even the unsigned ones that work away, playing gigs at clubs and pubs throughout the city, are usually worth checking out. Get a List, or visit S1 Play to find out what's going on and where.

Go to a pub
For real Glasgow atmosphere, I would suggest visiting the Intermezzo bar on Renfrew Street across from the Cineworld Cinema. Try to visit during one of their karaoke nights. It's a small, traditional pub across two floors (well, the ground floor and a sort of mezzanine) and most of the clientele know each other. Karaoke nights bring out extravagant, emotional renditions of the likes of Robbie Williams and Neil Diamond, and the atmosphere is brilliant. A great way to spend an evening. If the idea of Karaoke fills you with terror, and even just watching it is your worse nightmare, go to the Three Judges in Partick, the Ingram just off George Square, or the Captain's Rest on Great Western Road. Or, if you're of a more adventurous bent, go to the Spirit Bar at the East end of Argyle Street. Interesting, but alittle scary. Alternatively, if you are looking for stag heads and men in kilts, go to Uisge Beatha on Woodlands Road.

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