Final Pub Night of Semester

Thank You and Good Night

So that's it folks! It's all over for another semester. No more pub nights until September. We had fun this semester in Trader Joes and I'm looking forward to some chilledn ights. But it won't last - it never does. I'll be seeking some pub fun soon enough. Watch this space for some more information soon about our next pub!

Trip Review: Galloway Forest Park

Scotland's Dark Sky Park

It's a great part of the country and one that is rarely explored by the tourist trade in Scotland. Galloway Forest Park is a fantastic day out in this fine country. Our squad headed to Girvan for some fun at the beach and then headed in land. After some tower house stories and some hilarious fun in Glentrool Forest (almost lost some French people in the trees) we took lunch in the rather fun little town of Newton Stewart. The river running through it provided a nice back drop for some outdoor lunch. The poor little newsagents might need a new door after I accidentally slammed it though! Sorry!

On our way to Clatteringshaws Loch we stopped at Murray's Monument and after slowly working out who Murray was we had some amazing views from his monument and enjoyed the small waterfall nearby too. I think it was at Clatteringshaws though where we had the most fun. The man made loch here offers some great views and the nearby Bruce Stone was the source of great amounts of laughter as our students tried to re-enact how Robert Bruce would have lent against the stone itself. 

All in all a great wee trip!

Rummaging through Linn Park Glasgow

Linn Park, Glasgow South

Glasgow has over 100 parks and gardens but Linn Park is one of the best. It's actually Glasgow's second largest park (beaten only by Pollok Country Park in the South West). The name itself derives from the Scottish word Linn which means waterfall - a stunning feature of the park itself. Student Tours Scotland enjoys this park walk more than most of the others as Linn Park is just so awesome. With it's woodland trails and the White Cart River following through it there is just so much to draw your attention away from the hustle and bustle of the City of Glasgow all around you. Even the pathetic ruins of Cathcart Castle (pulled down by Glasgow District Council in 1980) have a haunting quality to them. There is a lot of history with Mary, Queen of Scots here and the Court Knowe area has a nice monument to her and the nearby Battle of Langside monument. Everyone seemed to have fun on this one and I'm glad - as it really is a fun place. Join us next time when we visit!

The (Almost) Final Hurdle

Everything's Backwards in Americana

It's the second last pub night but we still had fun. Always sad to say goodbye to folk but with some whiskies in tow we had a jolly old night. If you're still around then our last Trader Joes Pub Night is this coming Monday from 2100 hours at 325 Hope Street, Glasgow. See you there!

Trip Review: Loch Ness In A Day (May 2012)

Nessie Hunting!

It started with a simple idea - find the monster. It never quite worked out however. We had around 50 monster hunters when we left Glasgow, each one prepared for the dangers that awaited us. We knew this could be last time we ever saw Glasgow. Our loved ones were in tears but we could not turn back, not now that we so close. Nessie was within our grasps.

Travelling up the A9 our weary travellers found it hard to stay awake. A tough road at the best of times, this particular journey was taking it's toll. Two of the French found it too much to bear and were taken by sleeps gentle grasps. 

Aviemore and Pitlochry found themselves swamped and overwhelmed as we descended into their peaceful villages but it was Urquhart Castle where the real fun began. This was the site of so many sightings of Nessie over the years and this was where we were going to get our chance to see her. Every inch of the castle was occupied by our team and our eyes scanned the water of the loch. From our Spanish and French contingent on the roofs to our Norwegian and German group on the loch bed to our Americans and Nigerians on either side we had the loch completely covered. Alas Nessie had outwitted us. She was no where to be found.

Moving our search further south we found ourselves in the town of Fort Augustus. Again we gave our best to cover the loch but all we found was a wire mesh statue of the legendary beast and her child. Outwitted again but at least we had fun.

The legend of Nessie is strong to this day. Perhaps we never found her this year, or maybe Haroon was correct and she dwells not in the water but on the land, watching us as we search for her in vain. Whatever the story, one thing can be certain, I will be back Nessie and next time I'll be better prepared.

Lena Points #1: Glasgow City Chambers

Lena Points: A New Way to Experience Glasgow

Lena is a woman lost in Glasgow. Coming from her native France she found herself awestruck at the drab Glasgow architecture and felt out of place amongst the people. However after discovering the art of pointing she soon found Glasgow exciting and fresh. The people were friendly and there was so much to see and do. Student Tours Scotland has teamed up with Lena to present a new regular blog article: Lena Points. Join Student Tours Scotland and Lena as we point our way acros Glasgow. Lena will begin our tour of Glasgow with a look inside the famous Glasgow landmark of the City Chambers.

Built between 1882 and 1888 and designed bby Glasgow architect William Young, Glasgow City Chambers stands proudly on the eastern end of George Square. It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1888 and the first meeting was held here in 1889 (that is, if Wikipedia is to believed or not). There are regular tours of the inside of the building and Lena and I were treated to a sneak peak at where all the world's supply of marble has ended up! There is so much of the stuff. 

There is a lion statue on one of the stairs that has a rather cool story about it's nose: apparently if you rub the nose you will get good luck. Sadly so many folk have done so over the years that the nose is pretty much gone. No moreluck for Glaswegians now.

Outside the Chambers on the roof of the main doorway (high up) is a miniature Statue of Liberty and at night the building exterior is lit up in a brilliant white and yellow light combination.

Truly the gem of the city centre of Glasgow, City Chambers is home to the council but you don't have to feel intimidated by the work that goes on in there - just go inside and the awesome staff will give you a great look around - don't leave Glasgow without checking it out!

Twenty Fives Years of Erasmus Exchange Programme

Celebrating the Erasmus Exchange Programme

Twenty five years ago a programme allowing freedom of movement to study abroad was created in Europe. Now in 2012 more people than ever from across Europe (and beyond) study abroad. it is the Erasmus Exchange Programme however that allows so many people each year to come to Glasgow and it's various institutions and have an experience they will never forget. 

Studying abroad is an experience I never had a chance to take up. However working with so many amazing people over the last five years has shown me the importance of schemes such as ERASMUS. On Friday evening past we celebrated the scheme in style at City Chambers in Glasgow City Centre near George Square. With around four hundred students and staff in tow we listened to some amazing talks from people of all walks of life who were involved with the Erasmus Scheme.

However it was ESN Glasgow's own Luis (from Spain) that finished the night with a passionate speech on the importance of getting involved in more than just your studies. Luis even gave Student Tours Scotland a wee mention in his talk. Cheers buddy!


Another Week, Another Pub Night

The Home Stretch

I won't keep harping on about the fact that it's now May - I've done that enough in person lately. 

So our pub night is almost over for the semester. Initially we were going to keep it going over summer but with the pub changing hands etc we've had to move it. Regardless though, we've had a lot of fun this year. I hope you guys have had fun too. 

See you next week if you are still around, otherwise, see you in the future!

Trip Review: Isle of Arran (May 2012)

In the Hall of the Mountain King

I cannot believe it is May. After getting over the initial shock of April I'm now faced with May. Where does the time fly? This weekend saw our fourth last trip of the semester, and what a trip it was.

Despite a few last minute cancellations we had a loaded coach and headed off to the great wee port town of Ardrossan (the castle ruin here is apparently haunted by Sir William Wallace). It's the ferry journeys that really make these trips. Everyone loves the feeling of being at sea. it was nice to know it was a lot of students first time ever on a ferry. They were simply happy with this part of the trip - the rest was just added extras to them.

Arran is a stunning island. It's another of those places everyone already knows about before they get to Scotland. Arriving in Brodick we split into four teams: Alpha team (Pippa and Liz) headed for their prepared hire car to tour the island at their leisure; Beta team (Sidra, Hamza and Shaira) took to the roads on bikes; Gamma team (Petra, Jitka and Radka) took on the blight of the local buses and Delta and Omega teams came with me.

The highlight of Arran is trying to take on the Goatfell mountain. Not quite high enough to be a Munro (hills over 3000ft) it's still worth the trek. With the group in tow we trekked through the town of Brodick, into the beaches of the bay, over the golf course and through the woods (although to grandmothers house we did not go sadly). It was at this point that Delta team shyed away and headed on their own walk.

Only Omega team were left to face the challenge of the Goatfell. Anni and Mirva of Finland boosted on ahead as they had heard that the last four times I've been here there has always been a Finn at the summit - they were not about to change that tradition. The rest took it more leisurely with me. Sadly we went a little too slow and had to make do with the fake summit we call "Student Tours Scotland Checkpoint" - which was still stunning in it's own right with great views over the Cumbraes, Bute and the mainland.

After reaching Brodick again I took a well deserved tea break with the Dutch girls in a quaint wee cafe and before we boarded the ferry again discovered only Anni and Mirva had made the summit - tradition was preserved. For their efforts they each got a Highland Cow teddy - well done girls! You have done Suomi proud this day!

Back on the ferry we learned Gamme team - the bus one - had a rough day. Not quite running smoothly the local buses had let them down. They had however stumbled upon a lovely couple and accidentally insulted them by saying they were Scottish (when they were in fact proudly English) - although the couple still gave them a lift to catch the ferry on time.

Another great tour and another tiring one. I fell asleep immediately on getting back home. See you all next time!

Battle for Glasgow

Scottish Local Elections

So it's another election in Scotland. You might wonder why Student Tours Scotland cares about the local council elections and I suppose I can understand why. However I've been working quite closely with people from Dumfries and Galloway; Scottish Borders; Argyll and Bute and Glasgow City Council over the last year or so in coming up with day trips and walking tours.

For me investment is needed in tourism. There is a huge gap in the tourism market for more exploration in the towns and cities. Glasgow for example gets a great deal of tourists but many of these are only exposed to the City Centre and the so-called 'West End' (despite the city going further West than Byres Road).

Student Tours Scotland strongly hopes that those elected today will pay close attention to the potential all across Glasgow City for tourism. The history of the Gorbals; the beauty of Hogganfield Loch; the Highland Cows mooing away in central Pollok; the castle ruin at Crookston; Mary Queen of Scots connections across the south side and the myths and legends all across Glasgow are but a small sample of what's on offer.

Most Glaswegians have never seen the Lady Well hidden away behind the Tennents Brewery or ever passed through China Town in Cowcaddens and Saracen. Most have never ventured East beyond High Street into the history of Bridgeton, Calton and Dalmarnock. Few have ventured to Darnley Mill or watched the heron fly past in Rosshall Park. Only a handful have seen sunset from Ruchill, Springburn or Cathkin Braes and fewer still have walked the White Cart Way.

I hope that todays elected council can put aside their party politics and really make a different in Glasgow. They say that this election was for the Battle of Glasgow. I say that the battle has only just begun.

Glasgow Walks to Crookston Castle

Crookston Castle Rocks!

There are parts of Glasgow many local folk don't know about and Crookston is one of them. Considered to be a far flung part of the west of the city, many Glaswegians don't give it a second thought. What they don't realise is that there is a fantastic piece of Glasgow history - Crookston Castle - waiting for them, for free nonetheless.

Crookston Castle really amazed our students this week, not least of all because of the awesome sunny weather which meant a great deal of sun bathing was done - something rather alien to them in their time in the city so far.

Rosshall Park and Gardens nearby also offered a haven from the city centre. Lazing next to the pond and it's resident heron everyone pretty much chilled the afternoon away. 

It's a real shame more people don't visit these great places. Perhaps Glasgow would have a better name than Edinburgh if they did!