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Glasgow: A city on the up

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While Edinburgh regularly tops charts polling the finest cities in the world, with its history and annual festival pulling in millions of visitors every year, just an hour or so down the road lies one of the most buzzing cities on the planet right now for those who like their breaks to have a bit more of an edge to them.

Indeed, for me the choice is something of a no-brainer: bagpipes, military tattoos, unbearable numbers of American tourists and over-priced shows versus the live music and drinking capital of the UK.

Far from being the home of Rab C Nesbitt, the average reveller out in Glasgow at night is more likely to be a chic young professional or art student with a taste for fine cuisine, contemporary culture and cocktails rather than cheap larger and deep-fried Mars bars.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however, and on my first trip to the city, I arrived with the usual preconceptions of a Londoner, preparing myself for a weekend of shopping and drinking and little else.

How wrong I was.

Of course, shopping is now a big part of a visit to Scotland's second city but not due to the fact that there's nothing else to do.

In fact, the area around Ingham Street and Princess Square is home to labels which wouldn't look out of place in Paris or Milan with the added bonus that they're interspersed with local retailers, allowing for a totally unique retail experience.

Best of all is the chance to see local designers at work, as I found when I stumbled upon a jewellery shop-come-artist studio squeezed in-between a pair of chic boutiques in the heart of the Merchant City.

As hip as London's Notting Hill or Sloane Square it may well be, but Glasgow boasts much more attractive prices, obviously meaning there's more money to spend on the real reason behind a trip to the city, namely going out at night.

As is my attitude in London, when in doubt, head to the West End and such a policy certainly served me well in Glasgow.

Considering the size of the city, I never thought I'd spend a Saturday night staying in an area the size of a small village but, with the cobble-stoned Ashton Lane boasting more watering holes than I could shake a stick at, this is exactly what I did.

From traditional old-man pubs rammed full of drinkers who have occupied the same seats for decades to contemporary cocktail bars similarly packed with cool young professionals, it's impossible not to find something for every taste here, while the clubs of Jamaica Lane and Great Western Road ensure that the party can carry on into the wee small hours.

While it may well be true that Glaswegians currently suffer from some of the worst health in all of Europe, a weekend visit to their city shows that they have a good time in the process and certainly look good while doing it, though some travel insurance may put your mind at ease when you tuck into that deep-fried Mars bar and final pint of lager.


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