April is a sad month in Glasgow for students studying here. I've worked with Internationals for ten semesters now and every single time it never gets any easier. You get to know people, you play a big part in each others lives and then suddenly it's all over. For many this month is the beginning of the end (if it's not already). Thankfully our pub night is still going strong until the end of May.
So with four weeks left you have plenty of chances to drown your sorrows in a good ol' Glaswegian manner - with your friends!
Trip Review: Glencoe and Fort William (April 2012)
Touching the Highlands
Glencoe is one of those places I could die happy. It is just such a wonderful place. Getting to share why it is so wonderful with 57 other people just makes it all the more special. I really love showing off Scotland to people and when they see Glencoe and see how amazing the place is I get a warm feeling inside.
Treking everyone up the start of the Three Sisters path always leads to hilarious banter - people complain and want to leave - but when they finally get there ... well let's just say it was all worthwhile.
The history, the feeling of raw emotion in the air, you can feel it all. Glencoe is a wonderful place. You need to visit there before you leave Scotland. No excuses.
Glasgow has several country parks: Darnley Mill; Pollok Country Park; Cathkin Braes but now it has a fourth one: Dams to Darnley (which incorporates Darnley Mill). Travelling here from Glasgow Cenrtal station is a trek in itself but totally worth it. The park is amazing and still being developed. As you walk up towards the dams and resevoirs you really don't know what to expect. I really recommend this walk. Join us next time.
With only a few weeks left of the term our weekly pub night is back (after a three week break). If you are still in Glasgow then come along and join us on Monday nights (note the change from Thursday) in Trader Joes once again! See you there.
No where in Scotland does it feel more like England than in the Scottish Borders. Thankfully this is not a bad thing here as it gives the area a unique charm. Today's tour consisted of ruined abbeys and pretty little towns. We only managed to squeeze in Melrose Abbey and the town of Peebles but I did manage to get everybody on a long walk from the centre of Peebles to the ruins of Neidpath Castle - which they say is haunted.
It's always nice to feel appreciated and so it was nice to have Berengere and Ellen back - two regulars who left Scotland some time back. It was nice having you on the tour guys! The abbey in Melrose is haunting but beautiful. I wish I could have seen it complete!
Glasgow is alive 24 hours a day. It might not have the feel of Paris or any other European city but there is something always happening here. After dark the buildings are illuminated in a yellow warm glow. Over the years however the city has installed some awesome light installations across Glasgow. When the sun goes down the lights come on.
This walking tour took our wee team around some of the more accessible light displays and also related some of the history of the various places we visited as we passed. Often this history explained why the lights were show in the way they were.
Sadly it's a tour I can't really run over the summer period as we get so much light but come winter I'll run it a few times.
Trip Review: Isle of Cumbrae and Largs (April 2012)
Every tour with Student Tours Scotland there is a moment where I end up saying "this is my favourite place in Scotland". It might not be my single most favourite place but the Isle of Cumbrae is certainly one of the best. I love every minute of it. It's just so much fun to spend time in.
After getting everyone safely onto the island (despite some lunch related mishaps) we split up on our bikes and cycled around the island. I managed to lose pretty much everybody (well done ginger!) except the Americans, a Pole and the Canadians. We had fun trailing the island and trying to find all five of the Sensory Trail points as we did so. We succeeded in getting the whole way around in time for heading over to Largs. It's not a hard island to cycle around but it certainly offers some great photo opportunities as you go. The hardest part is choosing which ones to stop at on a time constraint!
Largs is a cracking wee town. Only an hour from Glasgow by train there is wealth of Viking history here. The Battle of Largs fought here effectively led to the end of the empire in Scotland for our Norse brothers. There is even a museum here dedicated to it.
There are no excuses for missing out on such an awesome place while staying in Scotland. Get over and give it a cycle!
Glasgow is a great city but it also has a darker side. The modern city was built on the wealth of tobacco lords. This sadly also meant it was built on the backbone of the slave trade movement. A walk around the Merchant City of Glasgow Centre is great. You see a great deal of architecture that impresses even those from the continent but what you don't see is the history and blood that literally went into every stone. There is a grim history here as well as a positive one. This tour gave both sides to those in attendance. Most were along just for the photos which is fine but I think they took something away with them as well.
Glasgow really needs to "big up" it's history more. There is so much to learn from it.
I'm very biased to the West Coast of Scotland. I don't hide this fact. As a Glasgow boy born and raised I feel connected to this part. it's hard for me to travel East without a general feeling of unease. Thankfully St. Andrews and Fife is a part I feel comfortable in.
St. Andrews is always an easy trip as everyone is generally really interested in going there. It trancends the idea of Scotland. People know about it before they even get here. I like St. Andrews - it has a pleasant charm to it. Despite the fact it's the home of golf (a sport I despise) it still keeps my imagination running wild.
After some tales of the Reformation near the Castle Ruin and Cathedral itself we headed into the town for lunch. I like the lunch hour as I get to wander around aimlessly while everyone else eats. Means I can plan for future visits as well. St. Andrews is captivating. Lunch at the beach is a highlight of coming here and there are plenty of beaches to choose between.
In the afternoon, before heading home, we stopped by Ravenscraig Park near Kirkcaldy, a town I have rarely visited. The park however is more than worth some time. Not only are there some great views across to the Lothians but there is even a kids playpark designed to essentially destory kids. It's the most insane park ever. The "amusements" are more like contraptions designed for a gym. Nearby there is also the ruins of Ravenscraig Castle, also associated with Mary Queen of Scots - Student Tours Scotland feels that everything in Scotland is associated with her in some way.
All in all, this is a great trip - it runs itself and keeps everyone amused. Certainly one to do again and again.
Charing Cross is one of those areas of Glasgow that has seen a lot of change over the years. I'm too young to know what my elders talk about but you can still feel like this is an area that is missing a lot of it's heart. The M8 Motorway ripped the heart out of Charing Cross and the nearby Anderston districts in the 1960's - a stupid move by the Glasgow Corportation if ever there was one.
Anyway now we have to live with it and it sadly exists whether we like it or not. So with a squad in tow I headed over the M8 and into Charing Cross. Since we weren't too big a group we walked through the Mitchell Library for a wee gander around. People were impressed - it is an impressive building after all.
But it wasn't Charing Cross we were interested in, it was Park District we were aiming for. Many Glasgow areas have hilarious names: Plantation comes to mind, but Park has to be the best. It's the area behind the West End of Sauchiehall Street and Woodlands Road. It essentially covers the nearby Park Circus and well...the park. Kelvingrove Park to be exact. After a whirlwind tour of the beauty that is Kelvingrove we headed into Park Circus for some of the history and plenty of photo opportunities.
The Glasgow walks are going from strength to strength. Hope to see you at one soon!