A Compass Tour of Glasgow
Finding the hip spots in the north, east, south and west of the city.
Housing a vibrant community of creatives due to the infamous art school (the one that has burnt down not once, but twice), Glasgow still very much stands in Edinburgh's shadow when it comes to tourism. Although it lacks the picturesque architecture and overused tartan, Glasgow is a city to be experienced, as opposed to being seen.
To the naked eye, Glasgow can be understandably unattractive. From the dirty looking streets, to the pungent odor coming from the city center's dark and wet lanes; the city's industrial past may have faded but remains deeply etched into the city's walls. The weather doesn't help either; the town is swallowed into darkness at about 4 PM on ice-cold winter afternoons, making it a city to be appreciated in the dark.
Despite this, the magic of the city lies in its raw, unfiltered beauty. From the charisma of its habitants to the events it hosts and the opportunities it brings, Glasgow is a hidden gem with no intention of polishing itself to get sold.
It's a 20 minute venture out of what one might consider the ultimate heart of Glasgow city center to reach the Barras Market. Hidden amongst the sellers which have been stationed there since its early days stands BAaD, recently prized as Scotland's most stylish venue. Sitting amongst well curated-graffitis, indie pop-up stores, vintage flee markets and the remnants of a once fervous market, it is impossible to not compare the place to London's hip shoreditch. Slowly but surely, BAaD is gaining momentum thanks to the art students promenading with their film cameras strapped around their necks, skateboards beneath their arms and vintage carhartt trousers. It's this crowd of young thinkers, who seem to have an eye for the true essence of a place—as opposed the superficial—that is keeping places like this alive.
Nestled amongst the usual hang-out spots of the art students is also Tramway—a part cafe, exhibition room, and theatre in the south river side. Hidden within an old tram station, the venue holds the same alternative vibe as BAaD and acts almost as an entrance gate to a series of shops and stores nearby. Not easy to spot, but a joy to bump into are some of the south-side's most underrated retail stores, selling all sorts of creations from independent artists; a breed of people that Glasgow does not seem to lack.
Heading west and not too far from the delimiting lanes of the M8, one stumbles upon Finnieston—an area for the foodies and mystical adventurers. Although the town center has plenty of options for the culinary expert, Finnieston provides a more exclusive ambiance and selection of locales. Arranged in a strip-like fashion, Finnieston also houses hidden nooks of antique shops, tarot readers, art studios, and independent shops.
With the opening of the art school's new campus building located in the northern ends of the city center, the areas around the canal in Glasgow are sure to expect a sudden growth in popularity in the coming years. Currently, the one spot not to miss is the Whiskey Bond; mainly occupied by artists, visualisers, architects, and creatives, the industrial brick building towers by the canal imposingly.
The places that have been reclaimed and transformed in Glasgow are plenty, but their beauty lies in being known to a select few. They are by no means exclusive, but a lot of the time lack advertisement to make them well known to the general public, attracting as such only those who seem to have their eyes on the ins and outs of artsy Glasgow.