Festive day trip to Glasgow by Melanie Chadd
We asked Scottish travel blogger, Melanie Chadd from Perth, to sample what Glasgow has to offer this Christmas. Here's what she has to say about it...
I’m not a fan of stretching Christmas out BUT when ScotRail invited me to use their service for a festive day trip to Glasgow I jumped at the chance.
You see this vibrant, friendly city and I have history and I don’t really need any excuse to go back. It made a nice change to only drive the few miles to Perth station and then let the train take over. The platform was busy and I am glad we had reserved our seats as the carriages were already quite full. Although, once aboard the train we discovered someone had sat down not realising the seats were reserved for that journey. After some confusion, the lady who was sat in “our” seats moved across to another empty single seat. Sorted.
It was great that both of us could admire the views out of the window, normally when one of us is driving we can’t just look at the scenery. During our train journey we saw roe deer in the fields and more geese in the sky than we could count! Much better than staring at a smart phone or a tablet for the entire time.
Arriving at Glasgow Queen Street meant we were right next to George Square, which is currently being transformed into a Christmas market and opens on 26 November. Our main focus from here was to visit the Glasgow City Chambers for the 10:30 tour. If you have visited George Square before you may not have even realised that it was open to the public and how magnificent it is inside. The tours are free and are about thirty minutes long. Sadly, we were unable to see some of the rooms because they were in use but if I am honest the staircase in it’s own right is worth the tour!
You see what I mean? You could be mistaken that it is a palace in Italy. Our tour guide told our small group that the City Chambers are quite often used as film sets as it is so grand. The mosaic floors and ceilings are also not to be missed. As soon as you walk in off the street you are taken a back by the intricacy of the designs.
Well worth a visit the next time you are passing or if you plan to visit Glasgow.
Next stop for us was the Christmas market next the to the St Enoch Centre, which has already been open for two weeks. Even though the traders have been braving the cold Scottish weather everyone was smiling and cheery. I have to admit my main aim for markets at this time of year is to eat brätwurst and drink glühwein and this time was no different! The atmosphere is always good, even when it is freezing. There were plenty of goodies to choose from: delicious smelling coconut macaroons, pick n mix sweets, jewellery, baklava, olives, hot cider, cheese, personalised tree decorations – please note I did throw in a couple of non-food items too! But it’s mainly about the food - for us anyway! Oh and I forgot to mention THE biggest rocky road muffins I have ever seen.
After filling our faces we thought we ought to walk it off and as the St Enoch Centre is right next door to the stalls we ventured in there first. From Hamley’s toy store to Debenhams there are plenty of shops to explore and find a bargain, this week especially as most shops have a Black Friday offer. The only down side to these big shopping centres are the lack of independent shops but on the upside it is nice to browse in shops that Perth doesn’t have and also admire the decorations.
By now the light is starting to fade and the magic really starts to happen – Christmas lights come on! Frasers' on the corner of the “style mile,” Buchanan Street were really impressive and all up the pedestrian area the lights sparkle as far as the eye can see.
By the time we had meandered up the street, in and out of shops, including going into Princes Square and Buchanan Galleries we were all shopped out! Time for another drink and we find ourselves less than ten minutes' walk away from the Pot Still, a bar that boasts more than six hundred whiskies and some great cask beers. I am not a fan of the Scottish dram I’m afraid so I sat this one out with a less exotic orange juice and lemonade (but I did have ice and a straw).
After warming up we did a bit of a general wander and people watching (after all that is what a photographer does for a living) and we decided it was time for dinner before our train home. Merchant Square is where we end up, a nice al fresco style of dining, except it is all under one roof and the restaurant fronts are open as if in the Mediterranean (minus the sea view). There are plenty of places to choose from around the city so you never have to think too hard about where to go. I am making no apologies for my choice of ham and pineapple pizza, it was delicious but could have done with a bit more fruit and the calzone the Dude ate was crammed with huge chicken and pepperoni pieces.
Sadly, shortly after this we had to make our way back to Queen Street train station for our return journey back to Perth. We had had a brilliant day and what's not to love. We spent time in an amazing city, checked out the shops and the Christmas market, did our fair share of eating and drinking. The sun was out and we didn’t have the hassle of driving into the city and trying to find a parking space. If you want to see more of my ScotRail experience take a look at my Instagram.
We enjoyed our festive day trip to Glasgow and being “delivered” almost door to door made a nice change for us and we shall definitely be using ScotRail again soon.
Melanie Chadd is a Scottish travel blogger based in Perth. Here is her blog Full Stop Next Chapter