Park Circus

Glasgow in a Cup

Originally posted on October 12, 2012

Over the past three years since I studied in Glasgow, Scotland, I’ve seen the whole gamut of reactions to the name. Folks tend to laugh or apologize or mistake it for Edinburgh. Did I miss something? Were we talking about the same Glasgow that swept me up, changed me, and sent me home with wilder eyes and an ache to get back? Maybe I’d romanticized her or been blinded by all the newness and independence.  This time around it only took a sunrise cab ride and about three minutes back in the West End to know that Glasgow deserves every bit of my longing. I’ll take her, in all her Scottish brogue and blue collar splendor. Here are some full circles and sights that I’m holding on to ’til next time.


Cup | Apple-mint tea at Tchai-Ovna

Now this was a place I had idealized since I left Glasgow but only because I never went. And I never went because I could never find it. I heard legends of tea walls and a garden and floor seating from friends and local musicians, but it was down Otago Lane which I could never pinpoint. I was determined this time; the hookah circle and the prayer flags tangled in trees told me I’d found the right place. I wrote postcards while I enjoyed a personal pot of apple-mint tea at a table outside. I was torn between that, sleepy Chai, or “Faerie’s Blood” (chamomile, berries, mint, kiwi). Tchai-Ovna is that dirty, crunchy soul-warming spot that you can’t help but be drawn to. It oozes inspiration, a travel writer’s candy, so you can bet it will appear in freelance projects to come.

Plate | Sultana scones at Kember & Jones and Artisan Roast

Where did our American scone recipe go awry? And our pastry presentation?! These dense, not-too-sweet biscuits dappled with raisins were halved, warmed, and always served with thick cuts of cold butter and red berry or rhubarb jams. Kember & Jones on Byers Road was one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve been in with a wall of cookbooks and curated kitchen goodies. I was there early and opted for a seat at the end of the central family-style table so I could watch the morning bustle and bread delivery. On the other hand, Artisan Roast was a bit more edgy but boasted an attractive barista, a whimsical vibe, and the all-too-rare pour-over option! (I went Tanzanian.)

Table | Reunions: Flat time and meals at Sonny & Vito’s and Bar Gandolfi

And this is what it’s all about–the main reason for my trip back to Glasgow was to reunite with old friends. I stayed with Lauren, my closest friend during my semester, and she epitomized hospitality. I had a cup of earl grey in my hand as soon as I arrived, my own room for the week, and she’d planned a day trip to Edinburgh (below). I was also able to meet Amy, a Florida/Washington State transplant, for dinner at a spot we’d wined and dined before– Gandolfi. And my last morning in Glasgow, I met ex-hallmate Gabby for breakfast and an arm-in-arm walk through Kelvingrove Park. She’s a magnetizing person, someone you can’t get enough of, and we were reminded of our rare friendship.

Sight | Kelvingrove Park & Park Circus

I was quite a sight running at 7 a.m. in shorts, hiking shoes, and a down vest, but I couldn’t resist! Jogging is one of my favorite ways to sightsee, and especially as the town’s waking up. There’s few things more authentic than the groggy gusto of a place– a city’s morning breath, if you will. I criss-crossed Kelvingrove Park a few times and was determined to find the base of a hilltop spire that ended up being a corner of a modern set of flats in Park Circus. If I ever move to Glasgow, I decided that Park Circus, a neighborhood overlooking the uni and park, will be home.