So, how many of you moved to Glasgow, with the ambition to explore that vibrant, exciting city and beautiful surrounding countryside described in the prospectus? And how many of you have actually left the West End this semester? Apart from the occasional jaunt to Topshop in the city centre, or a Saturday night stumble down Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow University students can become rather complacent when it comes to taking full advantage of their surroundings. And so, we are here to give to you a regular guide to places you may want to visit in Glasgow, and beyond.
Today I’m going slightly further afield than Glasgow itself. Less than two hours away is St Andrews, and while a day trip to a seaside town may not sound like your sort of thing – something your granny might prefer, perhaps – I can assure you this town is uncharacteristically lively for its size. There is something quite surreal about it; it’s a slightly bizarre and insular place, referred to lovingly as ‘the bubble’ by its students for this reason. The University is of course integral to the town, and because of this, many weird and wonderful traditions have been preserved. The town in steeped in history, the town centre is comprised of beautiful, ancient buildings, and the ruined cathedral overlooking the sea is definitely worth a visit, as are the surprisingly interesting University museums.
As well as the historical aspect to the town, the student population also ensures that there are plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars – there’s even a Starbucks – so you’ll feel right at home. Aside from the tall cobbles, a stroll down Market Street isn’t dissimilar to your daily walk down Byres Road.
And St Andrews students really are something to behold. If you thought Glasgow was pretentious, then just wait. While you won’t find any hipsters here, there is still plenty of people-watching fun to be had. In the past, friends and I have played a sort of designer garment bingo; whoever spots the most Barbour jackets/Mulberry bags wins.
After you’ve finished gawking at the locals, you really should explore the eclectic selection of shops and restaurants on offer. Girls should definitely visit La Boutique, a beautiful little shop full of unusual clothing and trinkets. South Street offers a vast array of unusual shops and restaurants, and you should make sure to sample from Bibi’s bakery while you’re there. The town even boasts a cinema, although the films tend to be somewhat dated.
Being this seaside town, there is, unsurprisingly a beach. Burn off your Bibi’s cupcakes with a wind beaten walk down the shore in the Scottish sunshine. If you’re up bright and early on a Sunday, then the Pier Walk is something to behold. One of the University’s very bizarre traditions, every Sunday it sees students donning crimson gowns and parading down the pier.
If you’re staying the night (if you have a friend at the University, best crash with them, hotels are outrageously expensive), then forget what you’ve been told about St Andrews’ lack of nightlife. There are actually some good pubs and bars to be found. The West Port on South Street – while a little pricey – is worth a visit for its amazing cocktails.
For after, you don’t really have any option but to go to the Lizard Lounge, the best (and only) nightclub in town. I am not saying it is good, but it definitely not like anywhere you have been before. The dance floor can only hold about 20 people at a push, but the resident transvestite DJ (yes, that’s right, fishnets and all) is particularly entertaining, making endless shout-outs to just about every person in the club. Plus, you should keep in mind that this was our second favourite Prince’s local nightclub, so if you’re lucky, that random you pull in the queue for the cloakroom, might well be royalty. I feel this should be reason enough for you to visit this charming little town.
So it seems only right that we begin our tour of the Glasgow Subway system with Glasgow University’s local stop, Hillhead. I’m not sure I can add much to your knowledge of the area, but I believe the wonderful Alasdair Gray, one of Glasgow’s finest writers and artists is currently painting a mural there, so the station itself will soon become a tourist attraction in itself. So that’s about all I can say about Hillhead, but you’ve over the course of this feature, we’ll be exploring the a variety of stops around the city, in particular you should look forward to the likes of Partick and Govan – and the various delights they have to offer.