The Christmas season upon Glasgow shines brighter than ever. Christmas trees and fairy lights sparkle everywhere. The shops are full and people look happier than usual. However, alongside the bright streets and the smiley faces are also the homeless people, the beggars reflecting the contrast that is Glasgow.
It is a city of opposites, the city of extremes, the city with two faces. And to know Glasgow is to know both.
The motto of the city is ‘People make Glasgow’ and indeed people are the best part of the city. Friendly and boisterous, Glaswegians transform the city into a vibrant and fun place to live in. Glasgow is one of these cities you cannot help but fall in love with. It has history, it has culture and it is so much fun.
It is a city of variety. There is something for all. Shopping, music, art, sports, you name it. It is not surprising that the city was named ‘a must visit attraction’ by National Geographic for 2016.
The number of museums and art galleries in Glasgow is staggering. And what is even more impressive is the fact that most of them are free for everyone! You can see a Dali, learn about Scottish history, or contemplate on modern art without a pinch in your wallet. I was amazed by the sheer number of masterpieces that await you. Dali, Van Gogh, Monet, you name it, Glasgow probably has it in one of its museums.
Alongside the museums and galleries, you ave numerous concert venues.
Glasgow is Scotland’s music capital and every night there are gigs, open mic nights and of course the street musicians. My all time favorite is a good open mic night. You get to see people who really love music. Most of the time they are not famous, they just enjoy playing and entertaining a crowd. And what’s more, most of these nights are held in pubs.
Sometimes I think that there are more pubs than people in Glasgow. If you are done with the museums by day, spend an evening in a pub. Taste some Scottish beverages, listen to some new talents and meet the friendly people of Glasgow. Just like the people in the city, its pubs are different, accommodating to make everyone feel welcome.
Theatre lovers – welcome to Glasgow. The theatre can be expensive but it is worth a visit. It provides a huge range from Shakespeare to independent Scottish plays and as my English literature teacher used to say ‘Always go to the theatre. Good or bad, it expands your mind.’ Having seen an amazing play, you can always roll down the city centre and go shopping. Shops are not the most interesting part for me when it comes to Glasgow. However they are worth mentioning because there are so many of them, with such variety of items that it is mind blowing. Especially, around the festive seasons, the shops are full to the brim with customers and stock. Glasgow is always buzzing, there is always something happening in the city, making it colorful and exciting.
Still, like most cities, Glasgow has its problems, creating a divide in the heart of the city that people need to witness and deal with. There is poverty and homelessness, addictions and criminality- that is the other face of Glasgow; the face that needs to be tackled and improved. The city is number one in Scotland when it comes to crimes. A lot of things do happen in Glasgow covering the whole range of inhuman crimes, from theft to rape and murder. To be honest, some parts of Glasgow especially after sunset are proper scary and better be avoided.
Another huge problem, that the city faces, is homelessness and poverty. The National wrote an article stating that the city council is failing to meet legal obligations to the homeless, meaning that those with the greatest need are let down by their city. It is sad but there are homeless people and beggars on every corner of Glasgow. Some are there by choice but the majority is in this situation because of circumstances that are not always in their hands.
A lot of the homeless people also have addiction problems which makes it even harder for the council to allocate them homes. There is a serious heroin and meth abuse in Glasgow. All of these problems are linked to the social class division. Glasgow has major poverty issues. Unemployment and poverty lead to homelessness and addictions in some cases, painting Glasgow in a different, not so colorful way.
Amidst the glamour of Glasgow and its darker and sadder side are the people who try to make Glasgow better. The city is no longer top of the criminality rank in Scotland. There are plans to open a drug addiction clinic that will treat addicts as patients rather than criminals. Food banks can be found in a number of shops gathering clothes, food and everyday necessities for the poor.
Charities are working towards integration of the poorer classes,trying to give them a fairer chance in life. And this is why, for me, Glasgow is different. You get these problems everywhere but in Glasgow people are trying very hard to make their hometown a better place to live in. So, whether you come for the glamour and highlife of Glasgow or to witness the darker parts of the city, do not forget to look at the people who make Glasgow.
Written byGalina Miteva
Galina is a recent graduate from Glasgow University with a double major in English Literature and Religion. A proper book junkie, when she is not buried in her books, she works, writes and spends time with her friends, her partner and their cat Chicken.