Last weekend saw me toddling over to Glasgow to see Strictly the Show with me old chum, Lynsey. Little did I realise when I was booking that my arrival a day ahead of schedule would see me spend Brexit day in a wee hotel off George Square in the centre of Glasgow.
The day started at Belfast City Airport with a quick selfie with Graziano di Prima and Johannes Radebe who happened to be in the airport (read more here) and on the same flight!
The stress of smiling at the entire cast in a supportive way meant I was quite glad to return to the obscurity of the First Bus 500 route, which goes from the Airport to the City Centre. Whatever they’ve done since last time I was in Glasgow, this was really being sold as a cheap but fast alternative to the ubiquitous white taxis. It’s £14 return which is pretty good and the buses are snazzy, leave every 15 mins at least and have free USB chargers in every seat. Good job, Glasgow!
When I visit Glasgow, I usually stay in the West End, near where I used to live. For some reason, hotel prices had sky-rocketed, so I choose a city-centre option, Z Hotel. I’ve used this brand in London quite a lot – they take old office buildings (typically) and convert them into very small but well-formed rooms, often without a window (it makes it much cheaper). My single room was about £40 a night, versus £160 a night for a regular Hilton in the West End.
Room 503 was on the top floor, taking a lift to floor 4 and walking the rest. It was no hardship (but unsuitable for those with walking issues). The room was tiny, as expected but had everything I needed: clean linen and a comfy single bed, a power shower and loo.
Small but functional!
As you may know, I’m shopping for two upcoming events: Riverdance 25 this weekend and an upcoming wedding in Santa Barbara, which I’m SUPER excited about! I had a couple of hours of energy left to try out some options.
I love the colour of this orange coat, but it was horrific on me! Not my shade…
I thought I could do something with this funk-ified tuxedo jacket but it felt and looked very cheap. Not the right thing.
I didn’t win any fashion prizes that evening! Walking through Glasgow, I managed to grab a quick shot of the famous traffic cone on the statue of the Duke of Wellington outside GOMA, the local Modern Art gallery. It had been upgraded to a European flag cone for the night that was in it!
I grabbed a quick bite to eat at Wagamama (a mild fish curry – nice but too mild) and headed back to the room to watch coverage of the Brexit countdown. I’ve covered my views over here but it was sad to see that clock countdown end.
Next morning, I was up and at it! I had a shopping list (a new water bottle and back on the trail of some outfits!). I found a perfect water bottle at Millets, which was having a sale. Just perfect and it’ll fit in my regular rucksack pocket quite neatly.
Back to clothing stores and I found just the ticket! A Gatsby-style wool bowtie, a suitable shirt and grey flannels. Phew! So glad I got that sorted out. We’ll see that in operation this weekend!
In the spirit of minimising food intake so as to fit into the new duds, I found a little Japanese restaurant near the main shops at Buchanan Galleries. Nuku had a great set of reviews (not entirely justified as some kara aage was very fatty) but the sushi was really good. This was a spicy salmon and avocado roll and some sea bass nigiri.
I could be in the centre of Marseille, not Glasgow with a bit ‘tabac’ sign like that!
After dropping all my bags back in the room, it was time for Lynsey to arrive. She hopped, skipped and jumped in from the airport using the same bus, meaning a transfer time of less than 20 minutes. Snacks were up first and Lynsey got to try a vegan sausage roll from Greggs for the first time. Verdict? Really delicious!
Princes Street was super busy and the sun was shining for our wee stoat about.
To be fair, our wander didn’t get us too far. We had time for just one l’il cocktail before we needed to get ready. This was a gin berry smash and a strawberry daiquiri. One of us had brain freeze.
And it wasn’t me.
Back to the room and into a crisp white shirt, ready for Strictly!
That cocktail might have kicked in by now.
We met up with Lynsey’s mum, Liz and her friend Maureen for a bite at Ichiban, another Japanese eatery, this time on Queen Street. Verdict: very friendly, my katsu curry was very tasty if a little heavy. At the SSE Hydro, where the show was taking place, we had higher seats than last year, giving us a much better overview of what was going on.
A big screen nearby meant we didn’t miss out on any of the intros.
This was Alex Scott and Neil Jones doing the Paso Doble.
AJ and Saffron in full flow.
Emma and Graziano (rather than Anton – no loss).
Kelvin and Janette (rather than Oti). The crowd went WILD every time Kelvin appeared!
A group number in full flow. Great lighting!
Karim and Ami being judged. It was presented this year by Stacy Dooley rather than Ore Oduba as in previous years. She seemed very nice, but I did like Ore in the role.
It seemed like no time until we were watching the final number! What a lively night!
As at last year’s show (also in Glasgow), the traffic was at a standstill and EVERYone was trying to get a taxi. We were wise to it and stopped into a wee bar/pizza place in Finnieston (Strip Joint). Liz and Maureen (looking very jolly below) treated us to one last cocktail to round out the evening.
Taxis were at a premium, but Lynsey managed to snaffle an Uber to take us all back where we were headed.
All in all, a great wee trip over to Glasgow and only a 30 minute flight from Belfast. I’m certain I’ll be back to Scotland before long!
Lots of love,