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CITY PICKERS – Glasgow or Edinburgh? by RICHARD JONES

Ah, university. Sweet, sweet university. You’d think even the mere mention of another looming semester would see young people all over the country quivering in their bedrooms, terrified they’ll soon be suffocated under a pile of shockingly overpriced textbooks.

In reality, however, what university beginning again really means is copious amounts of clubbing, lazy Tuesday mornings watching Jeremy Kyle and the resumption – or the start – of some of the greatest times you’ll ever have.

Unless of course you happen to be studying law, in which case the textbook thing really does apply.

Every silver lining has a cloud, however, and with all the bright-eyed optimism of another year at uni comes a genuine fear that you might not be getting the most out of your #unay experience.

Don’t worry though, RICHARD JONES has quite cleverly come up with a whole host of amazing things you can get up to when you go back to – or begin – university or college.

Now, because he refuses to be responsible for another West Coast / East Coast feud (RIP Tupac), he has opted to break this down into two sections, namely Scotland’s two largest cities; Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Simples!

East Side is de Best

IF you have opted to set up camp as a student in Edinburgh, then you’ve made a phenomenal choice.

Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the UK, filled with coffee shops, culture, and more tourists than you could ever possibly explain the phrase “I’m not exactly sure where that is” to in a lifetime.

And the Edinburgh accent is hilarious, a fact you’ll acknowledge just as soon as you find yourself saying the word ‘ken’ once every three seconds. While you’re a student in the capital, you have zero excuses to ever be bored. And here’s why;

BEAN THERE, DONE THAT

One of the best things to do in Edinburgh is go for coffee.

Even Edinburgh University’s Freshers Week hosts coffee crawls for new students. Yeah. That’s how many coffee shops there is in Edinburgh.

And I’m not just talking about Costa and Starbucks. One of the best things about the east coast is the apparent popularity of independent businesses.

As a student in Edinburgh, you have a responsibility to support these many coffee shops by spending a full day in the back of a one drinking mocha after mocha while you read a textbook cover to cover.

Getting hammered is an option everywhere

IF coffee isn’t your thing (it will be eventually), then another of Edinburgh’s top notch intricacies is the relaxed and diverse bar scene.

On George Street (sooooooo posh) you’ll find piano and jazz bars, filled with happenin’ young professionals slowly sipping their £11 cocktails.

On Grassmarket, just below the Castle there’s a line of brilliantly old fashioned pubs to choose from.

Edinburgh also plays host to a variety of themed bars and pubs – think along thelines of Frankestein’s Pub and you get the idea.

The capital also has a few hidden speakeasies – pubs which are hidden from the public by having a fronted entrance disguised as another building.

A mate of mine recently reviewed one which you enter through a barber shop. I have no idea where the place is, but I imagine hunting it down is part of the fun.

 

I don’t care that I look like a tourist

IF you ever tire of spending all your money on beer/wine – and I’m starting to wonder if anyone ever has – then Edinburgh is a haven for the sightseeing kind.

Some of the city’s churches are beyond-words-beautiful, and even after three years I can’t quite believe how much fun exploring random boutique shops and book stores is.

The best way to enjoy Edinburgh is to wander aimlessly around for hours, every so often forgetting you haven’t accidently entered a Harry Potter novel.

I recently completed the final touristy thing on my list – climbing Arthur’s Seat. The hill (I think that’s correct? It’s hardly a mountain) rises right above the Parliament buildings of Holyrood and has some truly special views of the city.

If nothing else it’s a good excuse to finally use panoramic mode on your

iPhone’s camera. Totally worth the extra £5 a month with 02 to upgrade.

 

Did someone say road trip?

If you want to get out of the city and do some exploring around about Edinburgh, then pay attention now.

Rosslyn Chapel is – predictably enough – in Roslin (don’t question the spelling, just go with it), just a few miles outside the city.

The Chapel is apparently connected with the Freemasons and Templars, which for some reason meant it had a whole page devoted to it in The Da Vince Code. History isn’t really my strongpoint but I’ve heard it’s worth the £2 for the bus.

Recently, my flatmates and I took a daytrip out to North Berwick in East Lothian.

It only took us about 20 mins by car from our flat in the city centre, and by god it was amazing.

It was 26 degrees or so, and we got fish and chips and had a handstand competition on the beach.

Think Brighton but fancy. The East Coast is really nice.

 

G-Town

SO you go to University in Glasgow? Brilliant choice. Fun fact: Scotland’s top  nine most dangerous streets are all in Glasgow!

I joke, though. Glasgow for many is still the best city in Scotland and it’s not too difficult to see why.

All you had to do was take a glance at how great this year’s Commonwealth Games were to see all that the West Si-ide has to offer.

Check out these amazing things you can do as you blatantly ignore the ever growing pile of essay assignments clogging up your e-mails:

 

Free Culture, you say?

ASK someone who isn’t from Glasgow what springs to mind when they think of the city, you’ll probably get one of a few pretty standard responses.

The whole football issue we’ve got going on will likely be pretty high up on the list.

Failing that it’s hard to imagine many responses that aren’t to do with violent crime or that cone on top of the Duke of Wellington statue in Royal Exchange Square. Those images are iconic for a reason – but what most people don’t realise about Scotland’s biggest city is the incredible amount of free culture on offer.

And I’m not even talking football culture here. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the West End is a free and outrageously massive venue which you could spend days in and not see everything.

My friend and I once spent a hungover morning/afternoon lounging around on (surprisingly comfy) couches at an art exhibition at the gallery.

If you’re feeling slightly less broken, however, they also have a dinosaur section and a bit with swords.

And the free learning doesn’t stop there. The new(ish) Riverside Museum down by the Clyde is about 7 million times better than the old transport museum it replaced.

All shiny metal and glass, it makes for a decent place to visit, if only just to see the 50 or so cars they have hanging way above head height on the wall.

Other touristy/cultural expeditions in the city include the stunning Glasgow Cathedral.

Right next to the Cathedral is the quite scary Glasgow Necropolis, which has an underground network of tombs just like in the Da Vinci code. I’ve never actually been but I’m informed it’s brilliantly creepy and just like being in A Nightmare Before Christmas.

 

What is this fresh air and where did it all come from?

Glasgow isn’t renowned for its outdoorsy attitude. We’ve worked hard for that reputation – in no other city on earth can you find more chip shops than people.

However, if you’re willing to travel ever so slightly (which of course you are) then there’s plenty of options if you want to go all Into-the-Wild about it.

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park is around a 30-minute drive from the city centre. My friend has the greatest job ever driving people around the Loch on speedboats, and I can attest to it being a seriously fun daytrip.

Glasgow also happens to be surrounded by tonnes of mountains and hills. The Campsies are aren’t particularly big hills, which is good because if you’re like me and alarmingly unfit after years of vodka then you should be able to make it up alive.

Plus, you get to view the city from way up high like you’re on a first date in an American teen film.

 

There’s always getting hammered

Going to University is a great place to learn new things and improve yourself. It’s a place where you meet lots of new friends, mature and set yourself up for a successful career.

Uni is also a wonderful opportunity to go out almost every night of the week. For me, nightlife doesn’t get too much better than in Glasgow.

Sauchiehall Street is pretty much the only street in the world outside of Ibiza which is busier at 3am than at 9 in the morning.

Aside from all the clubbing, there’s also a seemingly endless list of independent venues in G Town. Most notably King Tut’s in the city centre hosts both big and small artists throughout the year.

While you’re a student in the city, The Sub Crawl is a legendary challenge you can’t shy away from. As the name somewhat suggests, it’s a subway pub crawl.

Glasgow’s underground has 15 stops, which means 15 pubs. Finding a worthy establishment close by each stop and consuming 15 pints in one night could prove a logistical and physical challenge, but just like my granny always says; nothing worth doing is ever easy.

I’m not sure if she necessarily meant the phrase to apply to pub crawls, but I like to think it did.

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