Dear Green Glasgow: Custom House Quay Gardens

Like a phoenix from the ashes: Custom House Quay Gardens is back in Glasgow!

We were promised, in Glasgow, a makeover of Custom House Quay Gardens in the St. Encoh area at some point in 2012 over summer. It didn't happen. Student Tours Scotland has long thought that this was a particularly sad state of affairs considering it is one of the few parts of the River Clyde accessible from the City Centre and Merchant City. It was considered one of the Glasgow District Council Local Parks in the 1994 list but was delisted after the millenium due to lack of interest on the part of the now, Glasgow City Council. 

With much attention on the tourism of Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Student Tours Scotland was happy to hear that Custom House Quay Gardens would be given a makeover. It was particularly heart breaking when it didn't happen. Thankfully, in 2013, the work has finally been done. What was once a junkie-ridden, litter-strewn mess has now become a lovely little green space in the St. Enoch area. With the sun shining on our tour there in July 2013, we were surprised to see so many Glaswegians enjoying themselves at the park.

Custom House is situated at the end of the street here (Clyde Street) near St. Enoch Square and it is from this building that the Quay and its gardens take the name. Hopefully Glasgow City Council have finally got things right here and this lovely place will become something special to more Glaswegian and not just Student Tours Scotland attendees.

Lena Points #15: Blythswood Square, Blythswood Hill, Glasgow

When is a Park, not a park?

Blythswood Square in the business district (old part) of the city is situated on Blythswood Hill to the immediate West of Glasgow City Centre and north of Anderston. It used to be Student Tours Scotland's favourite escape from the hustle and bustle of modern, every day life in the city. Sadly, it's been fenced off, once again hiding it from view.

As a private park in Glasgow, it is owned by the tennants around it. It's not there for the public, despite it's intended intial use to be the new centre of the city (that never quite happened). After the Occupy Glasgow movement took over it last year and after many years of littering, the square is now not accessible for most of the year. Which is a real shame. It's a lovely wee place.

Lena, who is pointing here in the photo (discreetly) for Student Tours Scotland is not a fan of this elitist approach and is therefore unhappy in the picture. There is also a wee wedding taking place in the background. She is not amused about that either.

Glasgow Sem Fronteiras #03 - Guilherme

Every week, Student Tours Scotland is speaking with a student in Glasgow who is from Brazil and is studying on the Science Without Borders (Ciência Sem Fronteiras) programme. It's a great chance for them to experience studying in Glasgow as well as getting a chance to see what life here is like. This week we interview a student from the Univeristy of Strathclyde.

Student Tours Scotland: Hello, so, who are we talking to today? Name, age, where you come from in Brazil, your home place of study?

Guilherme: Hello! My name is Guilherme, or just Gui to make it easier to pronounce for my English speaking friends. I am 21 years old and I come from a city called Santo André, in São Paulo, where I study in Brazil.

STS: What was your FIRST experience in Glasgow after arriving?

G: My first experience here was a visit to Glasgow Cathedral with my friends. I remember seeing that amazing building while going from the airport to my university and it happened to be really close to my accommodation. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient castles and cathedrals, places where you can almost feel the history they hold. That’s when I realized that Glasgow was perfect for me because even being one of the most modern cities I have ever seen it also holds a very classical air. A walk through Buchanan Street and anyone can understand what I’m saying by seeing a very modern commercial area with very classical and beautiful buildings.

STS: Are you enjoying your time in Glasgow? What aspects of life in the city are you most enjoying?

G: Absolutely. The city is amazing and full of life. People are friendly and always in a good mood. There is always something happening, somewhere to go and something to do. It is impossible to be bored in Glasgow.

STS: Have you managed to do any touring around Scotland while here with Science Without Borders (UK)?

G: Whenever the university life allowed I tried to visit and explore a little bit more of Scotland. I visited some really fantastic places like Edinburgh, the famous Loch Ness that I have to say it is absolutely awesome, Loch Lomond and others.

STS: Would you encourage other students from Brazil, who are thinking of going abroad with Science Without Borders (UK) to study in Glasgow? If yes, why?

G: Definitely yes. Glasgow is a city that has something to offer to all kinds of people. No matter what you like to do, what you like to eat or what you like to listen to, Glasgow has something for you. It is a place where you can study in some of the best universities of the UK and also live in a fantastic city.

STS: What will you miss the most from Glasgow when you return to Brazil?

G: The easiest answer would be 'everything'. It’s really hard to pick just one thing when there are some many things to like about Glasgow. One that I will surely miss is the street performers. Walking on the streets in Glasgow is always a musical experience; you can find very good artists playing all kinds of musical, from the traditional bagpipes to rock n’ roll. I find it absolutely amazing.

STS: What one thing would you tell an incoming student that they HAD to do in Glasgow?

G: I would certainly recommend a day walking through the city centre, taking a picture with the horseman and his cone hat, of course, a visit to Kelvingrove Museum, a meal in one of the nice restaurants of the city and, if they are not too tired, a pint in one of the many cool pubs.

STS: Would you come back to Glasgow in the future?

G: Yes, definitely. If I ever have the chance to return to Europe I would certainly include Glasgow in my list of places to visit, not only for all the fantastic memories I have of this place but also because of the welcoming environment of Glasgow and Scotland.

STS: Cheers for chatting with us Guilherme!

G: Cheers! Good bye!

The Geek Retreat, Glasgow

Cafe Culture in Glasgow takes a Geekier Turn

Student Tours Scotland's very own ginger guide, Gary Robert Brown used to work in a cafe in the city centre of Glasgow on Renfield Street. Sadly this cafe is now gone. It was called Hub Internet Cafe (previously That Internet Cafe and before that an Oxfam store) and was open from pretty early to pretty late at night. This was rare in Glasgow so it catered for a niche - it was also home to the best hot chocolate in the city. Since 2006, when Hub Internet Cafe closed, Glasgow has been without some awesome wee cafes. However that has all changed.

The Geek Retreat has opened on Union Street near Glasgow Central Station and I have to say, it's awesome. The coffee is great, there are comics (new and back issues) and some awesome sofas to relax in. A particular highlight has to be the chalk board wall in the toilet where you can add geek-related grafitti. I couldn't help but add The X-Files motto, 'Trust No1' to the mural myself.

So, geeks unite and head over to The Geek Retreat. I just might make it into the new Student Tours Scotland regular hang out!

You can also like them on FACEBOOK and follow them on TWITTER (which I highly recommend).

The Sauchiehall Centre, Glasgow

The Sauchiehall Centre, Glasgow

Student Tours Scotland is taking a detour from regular blogs to bring you something that's puzzled me for a while now - what happened to The Sauchiehall Centre? When I was a kid (and it wasn't THAT long ago) there was a wee shopping mall along Sauchiehall Street. It was strangely enough called, The Sauchiehall Centre. 

I have fond memories of the Wimpy cafe inside and sitting people watching as a kid. I think me and my cousin David had one of our classic fights in there. There was John Menzies too (now WH Smith) and even that awesome wee store Our Price. So what happened to it? Well, it turns out that TK Maxx and Primark is what happened to it.

The Sauchiehall Centre lives on as The Sauchiehall Street Centre, a block containing Pure Gym, a car park and RBS (plus a new store as well) on the Bath Street side and several smaller shops plus Primark, WH Smith and TK Maxx on the Sauchiehall Street side. I've got to say, I miss The Sauchiehall Centre. I remember it having a lot of cool wee fountains and water features. Something lacking, in my opinion anyway, in the Glasgow City Centre malls. 

There was, until recently, still a sign for the mall on the Bath Street side - but with the redevelopment of the unit under Pure Gym it has also now gone.

So it is with great sadness that Student Tours Scotland says goodbye to the last vestiges of the old Sauchiehall Centre and welcomes it's new use as a weird hybrid unit of shops.

(photo copyright of nearthecastle from

Forever Student Tips #04: Reflections on Glasgow

Alisa frequently blogs for Student Tours Scotland. She sadly left Glasgow two months ago but we've kept in touch (mostly because we know she'll be back) so she can keep on giving us updates from Canada.

As some of you might know from my previous articles, Glasgow is pretty much my second home. After studying there two (ish) years ago, I returned this year for ten months and have only recently made my way back to my official homeland, Canada.

While it is always great to be home, there are still so many things I miss about Glasgow. So here is a list of some of the things I miss that maybe you guys will too, or for those of you that are there right now, some things to appreciate:

- the beautiful architecture that the United Kingdom has to offer. I even miss those lovely cobblestone streets that I cursed many a time trying to walk to the clubs in heels. Canada is a great place to live, but it is very modern and the design just isn't the same.

- I miss Witherspoons, for all its cheap food and drink glory. And on the subject of drinking - nothing beats the Glasgow nightlife. Truly you haven't seen drinking until you've come out of a club around 2 -3am in Glasgow and taken a look at all the slobbering messes out and about - always something new to see, that's for sure! I miss ABC, and Garage and Kushion and Sugar Cube international nights. Neon Face Painting, themes, beer pong tournaments. I miss it all.

- I miss being able to walk everywhere or take advantage of the awesome public transit system. I miss knowing there is something new to discover or some really cool place to go to nearby that I've never been before. I miss picnicking at Loch Lomond, touring the beautiful streets of Edinburgh and most of all, the cone head statue in front of GOMA!

- I especially miss being so close to the rest of europe, and the cheap Ryanair flights that allowed me to really take advantage of my time over there.

- I even almost miss the Glaswegians! While that accent might just haunt me for the rest of my life, I can't deny it does my heart good to hear the odd 'Scottish Twang' here in Canada.

- So for all you that have left, I hope I have reminded you of some of the things you loved about Glasgow - and for all you just arriving, you have so much to look forward to.

Keep living the dream for me.


Glasgow Sem Fronteiras #02 - Rodrigo

Ciência Sem Fronteiras comes to Glasgow

Last week, Student Tours Scotland featured Lucianna, our first student from Brazil who is on the Science Without Borders year abroad scheme. We work with a lot of students across Glasgow and Scotland. The Science Without Borders (Ciência Sem Fronteiras) scholarship lasts one year and has seen over 100 students from Brazil descend upon Glasgow. We at Student Tours Scotland have been proudly hosting them on each and every tour. In fact, I don't think there has been a single walk or coach trip where there was not at least one student from Brazil. So folks, welcome to a new regular blog introducing you to the many faces of Ciência Sem Fronteiras in Glasgow!

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Hello, so, who are we talking to today?

Rodrigo (R): Hello, I am Rodrigo from Curitiba (around 400 km southern of Sao Paulo), where I was born, raised and study. I study at the university of technology of my state (Parana).

STS: Why choose Glasgow, Rodrigo? What made you decide it was the place to go with Science Without Borders (UK)?

R: My first idea was Germany, but I didn't have enough time to apply for the language test. As I already had an English test (IELTS), I applied to the UK. Glasgow was the city with the program that matched the best with the one in my home university - electrical power engineering.

STS: What was your FIRST experience in Glasgow after arriving?

R: On my first day in Glasgow, there was an event organised by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in which we were asked to find places in Glasgow and take pictures of them. The last place was a pub, where everybody met for a small celebration. That was an important day, because as I didn't know anyone, I didn't have a 'team'. I met some other people without a 'team': a guy from the United States and three girls: one finnish, one german and one swedish. Coincidently - or not - they became my closest friends here.  

STS: Are you enjoying your time in Glasgow? What aspects of life in the city are you most enjoying?

R: A lot. I like the wind, the never coming summer and the possibility of having a very comfortable life without transport, I can do everything I need just walking.

STS: Have you managed to do any touring around Scotland while here with Science Without Borders (UK)?

R: Yes. Four kinds of tours: 1 - I did tours by myself around Glasgow with my tour guide; 2 - with my friends, hiking by ourselves; 3 - with my parents, by hired car; 4 - with Student Tours Scotland, which are the only ones that I could have a very detailed and rich explanation about each and every place we've been.

STS: Would you encourage other students from Brazil, who are thinking of going abroad with Science Without Borders (UK) to study in Glasgow? If yes, why?

R: Definitely. From Glasgow you can reach all of Scotland very easily either by train or bus and start ticking scottish Munros (hills) from your list. There are three very close airports (Glasgow International, Prestwick and Edinburgh) from where people have easy access to the main places in Europe. Not only because of that, but Glasgow is a very developed, industrial and technological city. That's important when you choose a place to study. GCU is very developed and I believe the other universities are as well.

STS: What will you miss the most from Glasgow when you return to Brazil?

R: The possibility of doing everything by walking, the welcome feeling of the streets and being among international people every day.

STS: What one thing would you tell an incoming student that they HAD to do in Glasgow?

R: Go to the Necropolis (graveyard) at night.

STS: Cheers for chatting with us Rodrigo!

R: Cheers, man.

Where Are They Now? #010: Heloise (France)

Student Tours Scotland hasn't gotten in touch with a former client in a long time so today we show you what one of our Frenchies has been up to. She was on Erasmus in 2008! So it's been some time since we last heard from her. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Heloise!

Student Tours Scotland (STS): Thanks for taking part in the 'Where Are They Now' interviews. It's been around five years now since you started studying in Glasgow, Scotland. Introduce yourself for us: name, where you are from and one random fact about yourself.

Heloise (H): I'm Héloïse, from Paris. I love music festivals and drinking - not Irn Bru though sorry, but Strongbow.

STS: What do you miss the most about Glasgow and Scotland?

H: The landscape! My time in scotland was very rewarding by seeing the different places and the beauty of Scotland.

STS: What one place in Scotland was your favourite?

H: Only one? That's really hard to do. I think Isle of Skye or Isle  of Arran.  Both very different but essential to see!

STS: Do you think it's important to get out and about in Glasgow and Scotland when you study here?

H: Definitely yes, get out and discover the scottish culture, people and landscape. There's too many things to do but it's a waste to stay home.

STS: But enough about Scotland. What are you doing with yourself now?

H: I'm working in Human Resources Information System, dealing with data and people.

STS: Have you been back in Scotland since you first left?

H: Yes, one year after leaving. But I want to come back and to show my friends the great places as soon as possible, and maybe travel by bike for a trip.

STS: If you could offer any one piece of survival advice to someone about to study in Scotland what would it be?

H: Organize your week and weekend in order to enjoy Scotland but do not forget your homework!

Dear Green Glasgow: George Square

A Tour of Glasgow's Green Spaces and Parks: George Square

Welcome to a new blog by Student Tours Scotland. This week we're looking into George Square in the first of our Glasgow's parks and green spaces feature.

You may already know that Glasgow has more green space per head than any other place in Europe. This is a fact not to be underestimated. In the City Centre of Glasgow there is very little in the way of green space. In fact, most of the parks in the city centre actually fall under different areas altogether: Garnethill People's Park is in Garnethill; Custom House Quay Gardens is in St. Enochs; Glasgow Green is in Calton; Glasgow Necropolis and Cathedral Square fall under Dennistoun; Cathedral Street Gardens, Rottenrow Gardens and Sculpture Gardens (all within the remit of the University of Strathclyde) come under Townhead and the majesty of George Square is technically the start of the Merchant City. For talkings sake though let's include this as the City Centre as well - many do.

George Square is a fantastic place - it's rich history should be respected as well as enjoyed. It's the centre of the city's public life - the City Chambers is where the council meets; it is home to Remembrance Sunday celebrations; it's seen more protests and strikes than anywhere else in Glasgow and on a sunny day it sees many of the locals flock to sunbathe. 

George Square, Glasgow was laid out in 1781 and is named after (but does not feature) King George III for many reasons. Glasgow loved him but he cost us dearly - a story for another day. At some point the square was decimated. The lovely grass taken up and replaced by horrid red asphalt flooring. Thankfully in 2013 we are finally taking this up and replacing it. But at what cost? You'll have seen from our Facebook and Twitter feeds that this process has not been without it's problems too. After a pathetic competition for a new square look and design it was decided to have a mere overhaul. The square is now currently (July 2013) closed to the public at the sunniest time of year. A fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by the Glaswegian public.

However, hopefully, when the facelift is done, we'll have a square we can love in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. But George Square is so much more than it's look. Next time you're passing through stop by and say hello to Robert Burns, our famous national poet. I also share a birthday with him! Take the time to locate the ship on the globe or to discover the unique layout of the buildings on the west side. Try and find the Statue of Liberty and fear in the knowledge my gran passed to me when I was a child - that the lions of the cenotaph come alive at night and eat the homeless people of the city! I still can't pass by them without showing some form of respect.

There is a surprising amount of hidden monuments in the square all around. The top of Queen Street Station archway peeks out over the horrid building of the hotel in front. There is also the set of olden measurement units lying around the place too. Hopefully when the grass is relaid and the red tarmac is lifted we can finally enjoy George Square as the way it was intended. Until then, you can read more about the square from the PDF on the Glasgow City Council Hertitage Trail pages HERE.

Lena Points #14: Wallace’s Well, Wallacewell, North Glasgow

William Wallace in North Glasgow

Student Tours Scotland loves Lena Points. It's a great wee way to see some hidden places in and around Glasgow with our favourite pointer, Lena from France. She's a great lass who enjoys discovering places around this fair city and showing them off to you, the loving, touring public. This edition, we present to you, Wallace's Well. It's a hidden gem (literally almost impossible to find) in the north of Glasgow in a area, curiously named, Wallacewell in the Robroyston area of the city.

The story goes that this is where William Wallace took his last drink as a free man before being betrayed and captured. Shockingly, this fantastic piece of history in Glasgow is no longer listed as a historical monument. Student Tours Scotland thinks this is a travesty that Historic Scotland  and Glasgow City Council should sort out as soon as possible. William Wallace is considered by many to be one of the most important figures of our past. This well, recently refurbished, is a visual memory of one of the many historically important moments in Glaswegian and Glasgow's history. We must, as a city, do everything to ensure it's there for future generations to see.

That said, getting to Wallace's Well is not easy, it's not even easy to park nearby, but it really is worth the hunt. For more information there leaflet available in the Glasgow, Buchanan Street branch of the Tourist Information Centre.