Francis Macdonald’s Favourite Places in Glasgow, Scotland

The drummer for Teenage Fanclub shares his favourite spots in his hometown.
 

Francis McDonald, photo by Niall Webster

As a solo artist, classical composer and drummer for the Scottish indie rock band Teenage Fanclub, Francis Macdonald spends a lot of time travelling the world, but, for him, there’s no place quite like his hometown of Glasgow. The musician shares a few of his favourite places in the Scottish city.

Favourite café

“The Saramago Café Bar at the Centre For Contemporary Arts, on Sauchiehall Street in the centre of the city. It’s a lovely, open space; relaxing, but with a kind of buzz. The food menu is vegan, but carnivores should find lots to enjoy, including tofu tempura and splendid hand-cut chips.”

Music hangouts

The Horseshoe Bar on Drury Street is gritty, but in a good way. It has legendary karaoke. There’s also a great selection of venues to see new bands: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on St. Vincent Street, 13th Note on King Street, Nice N Sleazy on Sauchiehall Street and The Glad Cafe on Pollokshaws Road.”

Best music venue

Glasgow Barrowland. I saw some memorable gigs there when I was young: Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Aztec Camera, The Pogues and Bob Dylan, who gave the audience a rare compliment for their backing vocals on the chorus of ‘Just Like a Woman.’ Teenage Fanclub played on a Saturday night last December. It was our first home gig in a while and the atmosphere was amazing in a Roman ampitheatre bear pit kind of way.”

The perfect day

“I’d suggest a bike ride or stroll from the back of the beautiful Glasgow Botanic Gardens down to Kelvingrove Park, then down Kelvin Way—the prettiest street in the city—to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Here you can see works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Salvador Dali’s iconic Christ of St John of the Cross, all for free.”

Italian food

“I’m a big fan of Sarti, a brilliant Italian restaurant on Bath Street that’s worth a visit for the fresh Parmesan cheese alone. But my other favourite Italian is slightly under the radar: Don Costanzo on Woodside Crescent, a stone’s throw from Charing Cross. The Don himself is now retired, his daughter runs the kitchen, but he still pops up: teasing customers, berating them for eating too much bread and talking up the delicious Italian sausage. And he’s right; the sausage is delicious.”

Architecture

“Glaswegians tend not to look up enough to appreciate our amazing edifices. Maybe we’re too hunched over and getting rained on. My favourites include Glasgow Central Station, Glasgow City Chambers and the Mitchell Library. I’m also glad that Glasgow boasts a building by the late, brilliant architect Zaha Hadid; the striking Riverside Museum, which sits on the River Clyde.” 

City icon

“Glasgow’s subway is pretty easy to negotiate. It’s just a circle. Visit Hillhead Station and take a few minutes to look at Alasdair Gray’s mural of Glasgow’s West End.”

Getting there: WestJet flies to Glasgow once a day from Halifax.

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