From our different trips to Glasgow, we came back with a great number of photos and unforgettable memories.
We never stayed long enough, alas, to be able to visit all the treasures hidden in the rich and fascinating Scottish metropolis but it did not take long for us to feel the sense of place there and to love it. Glasgow speaks with a very specific accent which mixes with many other ones due to its cosmopolitanism. A harsh accent, not easy to understand for foreigners!
I never saw a town singing in the rain as Glasgow does with its coloured umbrellas. “Can I help you ?” will say the Glaswegian to the drenched visitor desperately looking for his way on a map. For that and for many other reasons too, we do love Glasgow and it was love at first sight when we got out of the plane, at Paisley, one wintry day, in may 2000.
As we generally focused, during the day, on monuments and museums, we were left with little time to wander about the streets, but let me tell you that if you have the opportunity to visit Glasgow by night don’t miss it. It’s magical…
In Buchanan Street, for example, as soon as the street lights are on, the whole area becomes blue and of a most beautiful kind of blue. I had never seen such a thing before. Quite exciting to walk in such strange atmosphere!
Is blue going to replace black up the hierarchy of colours generally used to describe the town? Industry blackened the city but it had been green before, as its names indicates, and now, in the post-industrial era, it is gaining new colours. Indeed, blue is a colour which is not restricted to the city centre, as we shall see in our next posts about Glasgow. Our vision of the Scottish metropolis is vivid and multicoloured though it has its grey and black shades too.
So let us walk about the street and try to discover some of its secrets.
On the road to Scotiana’s ‘Glasgow Top Ten’ we’ve begun our virtual visit of the city at St Enoch Square, one of its busiest districts. In our last two posts, we’ve taken the subway and visited St Enoch centre with Janice, as our guide.
Let us cross Argyll Street now to walk up Buchanan Street and, following our map, from St Enoch Station in the south to Buchanan Street Station in the north.
It’s a long walk to go, about one kilometre. Not so long however, I would like to add with a French “clin d’oeil”, as “La rue Sainte Catherine” in Bordeaux which, with its 1.25 km is reputed to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe. I can’t help comparing the Scottish and French streets as they seem to share a number of features as do indeed Glasgow and Bordeaux as a whole. I’ll try to widen the comparison in my next posts.
On rue Sainte Catherine you even happen to fall upon a son of Scotland… tall stature, tartan, and… a smile! Many thanks to the gentleman for the photo!
Back to Buchanan Street now. No need to say it has undergone big changes since the 18th century when the street was called Virginia Street after a house belonging to Andrew Buchanan, a rich tobacco merchant. If he came back today this “tobacco lord” would certainly not recognise his estate nor the street to which he had given his name. Most of these changes are quite recent, in fact. A whole process of refurbishment seems to have begun in the area after the demolition, in 1971, of the old buildings of Buchanan Street Railway Station which had been closed in 1966. The street was then entirely repaved with beautiful pink granite cobblestone and equipped with that blue neon lighting which gives it, at night, its strange and blue atmosphere. For all that, together with the construction of new buildings mixing rather harmoniously with the old Victorian architecture of the place, Buchanan Street won, in 2008, the Academy of Urbanism “Great Street” Award. Quite deserved!
There are a number of very interesting places to visit in Buchanan street for the Art Lover as well as for the shopper. For the first one let us mention the Gallery of Modern Art and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall which are highly reputed. The Lighthouse, this artistic temple which stands like its ocean counterpart amidst the city flow and which is parlty devoted to Mackintosh sublime art, is not very far either.
We did not have time to do our shopping in the very attractive stores we found on our way but if we only passed in front of the famous Buchanan Galleries we did not fail to enter Princes Square which had appealed to us at once with its superb modern style roof ornamented with a stylized wrought-iron peacock that has become one of the emblems of the street.
I would not leave Buchanan Street without paying my tribute to Donald Dewar, this great Scottish politician whose statue stands just in front of the Royal Concert Hall. He was the first holder of the office of Prime Minister in the new Scottish Parliament which opened in 1999. He is often considered as the “Father of the Nation”. Unfortunately, he suddenly died in 2000, while in office. Dewar’s funeral service was held at Glasgow Cathedral and his ashes were scattered at Lochgilphead in Argyll.
On the above photo, behind Donald Dewar statue, on the wall of the Royal Concert Hall, the coat of arms of Glasgow is clearly visible. The famous Scottish rhyme goes :
This is the tree that never grew.
This is the bird that never flew.
This is the bell that never rang.
This is the fish that never swam.
And why not end our walk sharing a delicious cup of tea and a few delicacies in the famous Willow Tea Room, at number 97, which happens to be situated next to the building where Mrs Cranston’s original Buchanan Tea Rooms were located. Chin Chin ! A bientôt. Mairiuna.