Despite being a “Glasgow girl” and still having connections with the city I decided to take the open-topped bus tour and play tourist for the afternoon. For the princely sum of £13 one can spend nearly two hours learning about one’s own city without even hopping on and off to explore the various venues. In summer the buses are every 10 minutes and we were lucky enough to get a live tour guide whose wife had found him the job once he retired to get him out from her kitchen a couple of days a week. Her foresight was our gain as he was both knowledgeable and amusing. There are other guide free buses which offer headphones in various languages but the live interjections are much more fun.
We picked up the bus at George Square which is the regular starting off point but there are various others along the way where it would be okay, I guess, to buy a ticket.
The first piece of advice I would give for Glasgow is to sit on the left hand side if you want to take photos as most of the things pointed out are on that side. The next thing to be aware of is that the bus is very jerky at various twists and turns so keep a strong grip of your camera or you will watch it falling over the side.
The Scottish summer is variable and although there were sunny spells en route there were times over the two hours where it became quite cold. Scotland doesn’t have a climate, according to my old Geography teacher, only weather. Dress in layers and have something waterproof for the sudden downpour. Of course, if you were from sunny climes normally, the rain might be an added attraction!
The route takes you via Strathclyde University, the Glasgow Cathedral, the Tennants brewery, Merchant Square (unless it is closed off for a food festival etc) and the first place of proper interest for me was the People’s Palace. This would normally be where you would go to see a history of Glasgow People such as what life was like in the tenements, Billy Connolly’s big banana feet etc and is well worth the hop off. It is also across from the site of the former Templeton’s Carpet Factory which was once the biggest carpet factory in the world. My gran worked there in the 60s as a weaver and her sister worked there too. Chenille carpets were their specialty apparently.
Next stop of interest to me is the Science museum – the only museum which has an entry fee – and here children (of all ages) can explore and create using investigation. My favourite last time I was there was a harp which worked by breaking the electrical connection with the movement of one’s hand. Producing sound without using strings was interesting.
The exhibition centre is close by as is the Riverside museum where exploring transport in a specially created venue is a must.
The tour does, of course, take you past Glasgow University which is open in certain sections and this is near the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I could happily spend hours inside exploring this area and if dinosaurs and spitfires are your thing, or you want to see spectacular artworks hop off here.
When you get to Hyndland make sure you keep an eye out for Paddington Bear at the window of a first floor flat. He receives postcards from children around the world and these are proudly displayed in the window with him. Article
You will also see the Phoenix-like rise of the Clutha Bar. Recently reopened following the tragic helicopter crash it is easy to spot with a commissioned mural of famous artists with a connection to the bar.
Seriously, this tour is the best £13 you will ever spend in Glasgow particularly if you visit all the free points of interest en route.