A Glaswegian Staycation

So you’re staying in Glasgow for the summer. A somewhat depressing prospect, as all your friends disappear on far-flung trips across the globe, taking selfies with elephants, sunbathing in places you can’t even pronounce and ticking endless European cities off their travel bucket lists. But this is Glasgow: the place you chose to spend your student years. Despite its reputation for gloomy summers (hey, at least it isn’t raining!) and its definite lack of exotic appeal, all hope is not lost.

Regardless of where you’re spending the next few months or how many sunny afternoons you have to sacrifice to serving grumpy customers, summer is a time to enjoy yourself – to act like a tourist in your own city, to finally visit that museum you’ve always meant to explore, and to blissfully do whatever you want without the looming guilt of an essay deadline.

There are lots of fun activities and events throughout the summer, ranging from the West End Festival (replete with street parties, galas and loads of cultural exhibitions) to Bard in the Botanics, a series of open-air performances which this year uses the theme of ‘Vaulting Ambition’. One particular highlight of this summer’s West End Festival is its three day music festival at the Kelvingrove Bandstand at the end of June – a comparatively cheap and promising alternative to T in the Park. Rainy days are covered by the Glasgow Film Theatre’s exciting programme of events, including their Studio Ghibli Forever season, and also by the Glasgow Women’s Library, who run fortnightly heritage walks around the city about women’s role in shaping Glasgow.

If you’re fascinated by Glasgow’s artistic and cultural heritage, then step beyond the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and discover the wealth of amazing museums that Glasgow has to offer. I’m always surprised to realise just how little Glasgow students pay attention to the fantastic museum right under their noses – the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery. Boasting William Hunter’s own impressive collection and offering tours of Mackintosh’s house (a perfect way to find out exactly why that door on the library hill doesn’t actually go anywhere), the Hunterian offers a great way to spend a Glaswegian summer afternoon. And, if you’re keen to continue the Mackintosh trail, there’s the hidden gem of the Scotland Street School Museum.

Alternatively, if you’re confused by Mackintosh’s popularity, then check out Tenement House for an authentic representation of life lived in a real early 20th century flat. Embrace the cringey tourist that lives inside us all and opt for a hop-on, hop-off bus tour around the city: you might learn something new and you can feel superior to the naïve sightseers gawping at the cone on the Duke of Wellington’s head as you pass by sitting at the front of the double-decker. Or, visit the Necropolis to meander among creepy Victorian gravestones and mausoleums (the stunning view next to John Knox’s monument is well worth the trip alone), and then walk down to Glasgow Cathedral for a glimpse of some gorgeous stained glass.

If you’re still craving some time away from the familiar, well-worn streets of the city, then the West of Scotland has an abundance of gorgeous sights to visit only an hour or two away. Head to Troon on the Ayrshire coast for a glorious sandy beach and plenty of 99 cones – a less popular and crowded option than nearby Ayr, it’s still fairly quiet even on the sunniest of days. Hitch a train to Largs and a ferry to the Isle of Cumbrae (commonly known as Millport) and spend an afternoon cycling around the entire island, picnicking on the rocks and basking in the beautiful views. Even closer to home, there’s a multitude of country parks such as Cathkin Braes, or day trips to nearby towns such as Stirling, which has a castle with an impressive history of its own.

Who says a staycation has to be boring? Dedicate your summer to getting to know your city inside out, and you too can dazzle your jetsetter friends with your invaluable insider tips. If none of that inspires you, though, and you still find yourself turning to Netflix on your days off, then you know what to do: write for qmunicate and turn some of that summer malaise into journalism.

[Rachel Walker]

Image: Hunterian Art Gallery

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