Sunday, August 11, 2013

Free People Contest: Glasgow West End's Hotspots

So, Free People wants British bloggers to show them their local spots. Of course, I'm jumping at the opportunity to represent Glasgow-based bloggers.

I had a hard time thinking about which hotspots I should blog about; Glasgow's West End is a thiving community with tons of hidden gems. I could write about the vegetarian teahouse Tchai Ovna, the hidden vintage boutique Starry Starry Nights, the famous used bookstore Voltaire and Rousseau, etc, places that I think are... Free People. 

But I would be lying if I called them my local hotspots, because I hardly hung out at those places. Instead, I'm going to share places within the West End of Glasgow that may not be as 'hippie', but truly have a place in my heart. Sometimes, I think people try a little bit too hard to be alternative that they lose track of who they are, so I am going to stay true to myself and write about what I know.

Favorite Hangout / Eatery/ Pub: The Grosvenor Cafe, Ashton Lane

Main Eating Area
The Grosvenor Cafe has to be my favorite hangout; it's a two-minute walk from campus, located in the famous Ashton Lane, but tucked away in the upstairs of an old (but still functioning) cinema, it's a real hidden gem. Once upstairs, you will be surprised by the open space of the cafe! It's got cosy booths lined up on both sides, long tables for big groups and a mezzanine area for private bookings. The general atmosphere is quite casual, you won't get weird looks from staff if you only want to get drinks and desserts, which I absolutely love.

This is where I hang out with my friends between classes and after classes, where I have date nights with my boyfriend, where I had my graduation lunch, where I had drinks with loved-ones, etc. So many memories of mine are within these elegant high ceilings of the Grosvenor!

View of Ashton Lane from Balcony

Another view of Ashton Lane from Balcony

The Bar (on the left) with Long Tables in front

The Menu
My favorite thing on the menu has got to be the ice cream sundae: they give you a card where you can check off your favorite sundae combos! How cool is that? Being a picky eater, it's hard to find a sundae that I love without scrapping off something to the side. This is the perfect setup!

If you order a water, they give you strawberry and cucumber flavored water!
Another favorite of mine: Smoked Tomato and Basil soup with homemade bread
Me on a date with my boyfriend
They use CLOTH napkins here!
You can't beat a nice fish and chip!
Favorite Reading Place: The Quadrangles, University of Glasgow

The West Quadrangles

The Quadrangles are essentially two courtyards within the main building of my university, seperated by the Cloisters, which are an architectual masterpiece. The Quadrangles area is always dubbed as 'the Hogwarts Grounds', because you will feel like you are at Hogwarts when you are there. The benches around the two counrtyards are the perfect place for reading; the architecture is just amazing to be around.

The Cloisters

The Rear of the University Chapel

 This is also where my graduation photos are taken!

Favorite Coffee Shop: Cup Byres Road

Cup is located on the busy Byres Road, which is in the heart of Glasgow's West End. Cup isn't big. It has got five tables downstairs and a tiny mezzanine area, but its tea menu is bigger than any other tea house / cafe that I've been to in Scotland. They also hand-blend their teas in-house and their Coconut Cream Tea is second to none. When you order scones, there is always a ten-minute wait because they freshly-bake your scones and they are always served warm and straight out of the oven.

They also serve breakfast and brunches. Their Morning Tea Stand for two is by booking-only, but it is to die-for. It's served on a traditional afternoon tea stand, but filled with breakfast goodies. If you are a breakfast junkie like me, you will want to have this every day!

If you are gluten-intolerant, they have gluten-free bread for sandwiches and soy milk is provided in drinks with no extra charge (it usually cost 30 - 40p more in other coffee shops!), which I really appreciate.

Shabby Chic Decor
The Extensive Tea Menu (A whole book of it!)

My favorite Coconut Cream Tea

Hand-blended Loose Tea Leaves are used

Freshly-baked Plain Scone served with butter and jam

White Chocolate Mocha and Chocholate Cake

Favorite Place to Take a Walk: River Kelvin Walkway

This is truly the hidden gem of Glasgow. This pathway is tucked under the West End of Glasgow, underneath its busy roads and sandstone tenement buildings.The River Kelvin Walkway has so much history attached to it. There are old railway platforms, an old mill, two parks (Kelvingrove Park and Glasgow Botanic Gardens), etc, along the walk (the beautiful river view is a given). It also links Glasgow to Milngavie, which is the start of the West Highland Way.

This is where locals go jogging, take walks, cycle and walk their dogs. I love walking along it and chatting with friends on the way, I always feel like I'm in another world when I am there and the hustle and busle of the city is the furthest thing on my mind.

Me on a walk with my best friend

Favorite Museum: Riverside Museum

The Riverside Museum is not so much hidden, but it's one of my favorite places in the West End. It is located on the banks of River Clyde, just a 15-minute walk from the busy Byres Road. It's a modern museum filled with exhibitions of Glasgow's past, particularly on its transportation.

It has a motorcycle gallery, old buses and trams on display, an old street model with back-in-the-days shops, ship gallery, etc. My favorite exhibit has got to be the subway model, where you enter the 'subway station' off the old street display. There are two subway cars on display, one first-class and one standard class. The exhibit also features recordings of conversations between the two groups of people, it is a real eye-opener (or should I say ear-opener?).

The Museum is also the new home of the Tall Ship (also called the Glenlee). While there's tons to see and do at the museum, the cafe is a must-visit for me every time because it's got a gorgeous view of River Clyde.


I was so excited to go in!
A model of the current (but historical) Glasgow subway

Gotta love the subway!
The typical entrance of a Glaswegian Tenement Building

Old Streets of Glasgow
Back Entrance with reflection of the Tall Ship

 Me with the Tall Ship

There you have it, my favorite five local Glaswegian hotspots. I hope you guys have as much fun reading this entry as I did writing it!

And don't forget to check out Free People's amazing August Collection!

Free People,

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