The Scotland Diaries: Waking Up in Glasgow


Written by: Anne Gavin


Editor's note: This post is a continuation of Anne Gavin's first post about returning to Scotland after a wonderful first visit last year. Read about why she, like Claire, had to go back. And if you want to relieve Anne's first trip last year, here's a link to get you started. Let the virtual travel begin!

Despite an overnight flight, I felt none of the usual haze one usually feels after a long transatlantic journey. Just the opposite. I was in Scotland again and was ready to start what I knew would be an incredible three weeks of experiences with some wonderful people and in some extraordinary places.

It had been a year since my last trip here and so much had happened in that year. Another season of life, another season of Outlander and another very joyful year writing for the Outlander Cast Blog, building new friendships. Many of these new friends I had planned to meet this trip while also renewing bonds with others with whom I share some multiple interests—Scotland being the main! But, it was all to start in Glasgow, a city I had glazed over on my last trip to Scotland but only because of lack of time. However, this trip, I knew I needed to explore this colorful city and its history and experience some of what makes Glasgow such a wee jewel. Come along with me on my trip!

The very best way to get to the heart of a place is to put on your trainers and go for a “wee wander” as my friend Dave Lawson says. Dave is from Fife —just outside of Edinburgh —and is my guide for my “wee wander” around the Isle of Arran. More on that later. But, for now, I had the whole day ahead of me, places to go and people to meet.

After checking into the gorgeous Blythswood Square Hotel, I headed out after being told that the city is essentially a large grid and almost everywhere you go can lead you back eventually to where you came from. Ummm. OK. How lost could I really get? Surprisingly, it was a warm and sunny day! I was catching the tail end of a fortnight of beautiful spring weather in Scotland. I knew the weather forecast for the majority of my trip was dire, so I knew I needed to make the best of it. I had a coffee date with a famous pair from Glasgow.

I set off down “the grid” at a brisk pace in the direction of Kelvingrove Park to meet up with one tough little Cavalier Spaniel named Oscar and his human, Steph. What a delight these two were and also a font of knowledge about Glasgow and this stunning green space.



Part of Kelvingrove Park

The park sits behind the Kelvingrove Art Museum and below Glasgow University. Both of these buildings are works of art themselves. We walked and walked and talked and talked. I heard the story of how Oscar went from being a country/farm dog to a city slicker and how almost everyone in any of the six Glasgow parks he frequently visits knows who he is. It’s not hard to see why. That’s one little dog with one big personality. When we happened upon some of Steph and Oscar’s friends and Steph apprised them of my obsession love for Outlander, I was shocked at one lovely lady’s reaction. She hugged me and spent several minutes talking about how much she loves the show. Unusual since so many Scottish people don’t know about or haven’t heard about Outlander. She also pointed out a few places in the park where she knew some of Season 3 had been filmed including a pub up the street, The Grove, where scenes were filmed with a certain Minister’s son. It was an enchanting start to the day with Oscar and Steph and his welcoming friends. The Outlander magic had definitely kicked in. After a quick pint at aforementioned pub, I said my goodbyes to Oscar and headed back up the grid to meet another Glasgow resident and friend of the Outlander Cast Blog.

Morag Wright, one of the New Glasgow Girls, graciously penned a guest post for Outlander Cast Blog back in March of this year. She braved Baltic temperatures at Dunure as Outlander filmed some of the last scenes filmed in Scotland prior to the cast moving to South Africa. She and I had corresponded closely about her guest post but had never met. It was such a treat to meet her, and in an eclectic little spot called The Pig & the Butterfly in Central Glasgow. As always, it is so nice to spend time in the company of another Obsessenach. We had a great time catching up and I loved hearing about her family and her dogs. Turns out we are both dog-obsessed as well!


Anne and Morag meet in person finally! 

Just as quickly as our chat flew by, I was off and back to the hotel to change and get ready for dinner. I had planned to meet up with a work colleague who I met last year on my first trip to Scotland. He and his wife and another friend of theirs I had met in the States a few months ago joined me, my fellow adventurer, Doreen, and another late add to the trip, my friend, Maryann, who decided just two weeks previous to jump aboard the Scotland train and come along for the Glasgow and Arran portion of the trip. So admiring of a person who truly embraces the “You Only Live Once” mantra!!! I knew Maryann would be a great add to the group and definitely fit enough to take on all we had planned on Arran.

The six of us had a wonderful dinner at Two Fat Ladies just down the street from my hotel. Doreen arrived late afternoon, suffering the effects of a very long trip from California. She limped into dinner and almost fell asleep in her Cullen Skink soup. But, she soon discovered a little Scotland secret. Scottish tablet is a great cure for jet lag! A couple of pieces of tablet and she was a new person! Butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk and you are wide awake! So much so that we decided to head out for a quick night cap and my first whisky in Scotland. It was 10 p.m. local time, I was still awake and it had been a great first day!

In the morning, we met my favorite Scottish tour guide, Catriona Stevenson from Slainte Scotland, for a quick City Tour of Glasgow before heading to our Ferry to Arran in the afternoon. We started with the Glasgow Cathedral and the adjacent Necropolis. The Cathedral is truly magnificent.



We did go downstairs to see the spot where Outlander filmed much of Episode 2.07, “Faith.” We saw the nook where Claire lay after she gave birth to her stillborn baby. What many Outlander fans may not know is that his particular nook of the cathedral is dedicated to nurses. I doubt Outlander Starz knew this either when they chose this spot to film. More Outlander magic, I suspect!



And, while we enjoyed our visit to the cathedral, it was the Necropolis that captured my attention. There is a short bridge to one side of the cathedral that takes you over to this very old cemetery, which sits atop a conical hill overlooking the entire city of Glasgow. The views are spectacular from every direction.




We made a large loop around, stopping occasionally to look at some of the many very old grave stones. So much history, including a stellar view from atop the hill of the Royal Infirmary, christened by Queen Victoria many years ago. It sits quite near the cathedral and looks alternately regal and slightly morose. The Infirmary—still in operation today—looks every bit the same externally as it did when Victoria opened it. Don’t judge a book by its cover, I said to myself, but hopefully the interior has kept up with the times!

I highly recommend a visit to the cathedral and the Necropolis, in particular, if you are in Glasgow and able to make the short walk uphill. On a clear day, which we had a bit of, the city views are beautiful and you might even comprehend the notion of the city grid that everyone talks so much about!

After another trek around the grid, we made our way to George Square. In Outlander parlance, it’s where Claire and Frank impulsively got married. A spacious park makes up the bulk of the square, which is anchored by Glasgow’s municipal hall. It was lunchtime, the sun was peeking through the clouds, and people and pigeons alike were enjoying the day. It was fun to see the filming location at the back of the municipal building and to note the entrance —#45—where Claire slid through the door to her life with husband #1. Outlander geek-out on full display amongst the three of us.



After grabbing a quick bite, we headed out of town for the ride to the ferry to Arran from Ardrossan. Doreen and Maryann were fast friends by now and it seemed as if we had been laughing and joking amongst the four of us all day. Such a serene and beautiful ride along the coastline passing many seaside towns. By now, the sun had really started to shine and in the distance, we could see Arran and its tallest mountain, Goat Fell. We would attempt to climb this mountain in a few days. Were we ready? I wasn’t sure, but there was no going back now. We said our goodbyes to Catriona and laboriously wheeled our suitcases onto the ferry for the 6 p.m. sailing. We found ourselves sitting in the “pet section” (of, course!) with a darling Italiane Spinone named Alfie who lives on the island. His humans were very friendly and talked at length about Arran and life there.

Although we dashed through this day, we saw some wonderful sites and got Catriona’s usual helping of Scottish history along the way as well. I absolutely loved my time in Glasgow. It is a vibrant town with the most friendly people. Good vibes all around. Next stop... the Isle of Arran. Not sure I am ready for it and for the physical challenges ahead, but time to take the leap... I'll let you know how I do in my next post.

    Have you been to Glasgow? What was your favorite part? 




Join the Outlander Cast Newsletter email list so you won’t miss any Scotland Diary entries or any of the other terrific content from the Outlander Cast Blog and the Outlander Cast Podcast.

You can read the rest of Anne's travels, too: Trekking Up Goat Fell; The Arran Coastal Way, Part I; The Arran Coastal Way, Part 2: Succeeding at Survival; and Farewell Arran, Island Hopping, and an Outlander Surprise!

Subscribe to Outlander Cast here. And follow Anne on Instagram here.



16 comments

  1. What a lovely start to your adventure, Anne. Can't wait to hear all about Arran! One vivid memory of my 2009 visit to Glasgow is driving alongside a bright pink taxicab. it was the prettiest cab I had ever seen❣️

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I feel so fortunate I got to spend more time in Glasgow this trip. It's got a great vibe!

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  2. LOVED the Glasgow Necropolis. Incredibly beautiful in all its decrepitude. I also found the Pig and the Butterfly on my one day in the city. Anxious to return and explore some more! Thanks for some good info.

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    1. Jane Southey -- I didn't expect to love the Necropolis as much as I did but it's really fantastic. I always love a good ancient cemetery and then to find one with those views. Perfect! I hope you get back to Glasgow soon. Thanks for reading and commenting. Love hearing from you!

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  3. OOOHHHHH! This post just got me all excited since I, too will be going back to Scotland/Glasgow in September! Visited for the first time July 2016 and was mesmerized and planning trip number 2 almost immediately! Looking forward to reading more of your posts! On a side note, we also took a tour with Slainte Scotland (our guide was James and he was fantastic!)and are taking a tour with them again this trip!

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    1. Laura Palese -- I am so excited for you and your return to Scotland in September. That's a lovely time of the year to be there. You pretty much did the same thing I did -- went to Scotland, returned home and immediately began planning a return trip. It has that effect on you! I hope you will think to use Slainte Scotland again. They are terrific. One of the best tour companies in Scotland. Thanks for reading and commenting. And, best wishes for your upcoming trip!

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  4. Thanks for the very informative info for those who only have a few days in Glasgow which is what I will have in June. Staying in the
    Theatre District and have a good city map and will check out the places you mentioned that are filming locations. Starting the trip
    with 3 nights in Edinburgh, one night in Falkland at the Covenanter
    Hotel, 3 nights in Inverness, 1 night in Loch Rannoch, and 2 in Glasgow.

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    1. Mary Celi -- I am excited for you and your upcoming trip. That is an ambitious travel agenda! Definitely check out the Glasgow Cathedral if you can. And, while you are there -- the Necropolis. So much to see there. Enjoy. And, thanks for reading and commenting. Love hearing from readers!

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  5. Thanks for your insight of Glasgow I was born there lived 20 years I walked the streets when I was working in this city. It was wonderful to see the places I walked when I lived there. I went home 3 years ago to find how much it had changed I had not been home in twenty years to see my family. The changes where great,but glad to see the old buildings still standing and beautiful.Glasgow lite up at night time is beautiful in the heather colors.

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    1. Mary -- lucky you - born in Glasgow. It's a wonderful city. So much to do, so much green space and lovely, lovely people. I hope you are getting back there more often now. I would find it hard to stay away! Thanks for reading and commenting. Come back and see us again at the Blog again soon.

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  6. Reading what I wrote it did not sound good I work in an office and I did deliveries for the company.

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  7. My first ever trip to Scotland will be in 2018. Not knowing how I will handle the flight (I live in Florida) with arthritis, please tell me what was in the tablet you gave to Doreen? I will need all the help I can survive the trip. The farthest I have flown was to NYC with 2 stops in between. No stop across the Atlantic.

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    1. Miccosukee -- I am so excited for you and your trip to Scotland next year!!!! I know you will love it. As for your question about "Tablet" -- Tablet is actually a sugary confection. It's made of 3 things -- sugar, condensed milk and butter. It's cut into squares kind of like fudge. Because of the high sugar content, it really woke Doreen up and hence helped her from falling asleep too early and contributing to jet-lag. My best advice for jet-lag, however, is to try and get on the local time as quickly as possible. So, if you arrive in the early morning on an overnight flight -- DO NOT go to sleep when you arrive. Stay up, walk, tour and try to go to bed at a normal hour -- 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. Trust me. This will help. You will do fine. The excitement of being in Scotland will also help. Appreciate you reading and commenting. Come back and see us again soon at the Outlander Cast Blog!

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  8. What a lovely adventure Anne,also meeting great friends & thanks a lot for the post & pictures!♥

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    1. zsuzsip -- Thank you! Yes, it's been an AMAZING trip. Very grateful. More travel posts to come...

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  9. Do you need free Twitter Re-tweets?
    Did you know you can get these AUTOMATICALLY & TOTALLY FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?

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