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How to Feel Like a Tourist in Your Home City.

So...I've taken the plunge and started my #midlifeadventures and so far, so good! In fact, I feel spurred on as so many people have said they can relate to what I talked about in my last post:

For May, I had a great afternoon wandering the streets of Glasgow exploring the many fantastic murals around the city. There are a few reasons I fancied doing this:

  1. Always been interested in art and design

  2. Genuine interest in finding out more about the thinking behind Glasgow's street art

  3. Practising doing something just for me, no one else, and supporting a local business at the same time.

  4. Trying to improve my health and fitness

If you're not from Glasgow, I should let you know that any form of lengthy walk is somewhat risky weather-wise. However, as quoted on the tour by the one and only Billy Connolly:

"There is no such thing as bad weather-only the wrong clothes" So I donned my sexy raincoat and decided to live a little.

Feeling a little worried I'd be the only one on my own, I needn't have worried as there were a few others on the tour alone, and in fact, it really didn't matter, as being part of a group with an informative and engaging tour-guide soon pushed any concerns about that away. On my tour there were people from Germany, Australia and the US, as well as a few fellow Scots. Part of these midlife adventures is to push myself out of my comfort zone, so I made the effort to try to speak to one German lady, but my accent proved a bit too challenging. (Her daughter did however manage to translate Glaswegian).

Many of the murals we visited are commissioned by Glasgow City Council, an exciting way to breathe new life into parts of the city that are a bit run down, and to place an emphasis on true street life artists rather than the graffiti wall we walked past beside the river Clyde. Some of the messages within the tangle of artwork and tags brought a smile to my face with typical Glasgow humour thrown in:

I was disappointed I hadn't heard about the Yardworks Festival at Glasgow's SWG3 which had recently been held. The yearly event is an opportunity to watch talented street artists in action. I will keep an eye out for it next year and find it inspiring that SWG3 are providing dedicated space for up and coming street artists to practise and hone their talents.

I found it interesting being part of this group, secretly enjoying the curious stares of "locals" wondering where these tourists were from, knowing my own answer is 20 minutes down the road. As I spent the afternoon putting on my jacket, and taking it off again in the ever changing spring temperatures, I challenged myself to pretend I was a tourist in my own city. For the most part I would have been impressed, but then again I guess it's hard not to be biased. I later asked our guide Liz if many Scots did join the tour, and was pleased to hear that more locals are catching on, that it's interesting to learn more about what's on your own doorstep. Scots with people visiting from other countries also find the tour a great way to entertain visitors to Glasgow, and the Scottish accent has not caused problems to foreign guests. Conscious of health and safety, Liz also threw in some interesting Glasgow centred traffic light trivia, as we waited patiently for the green man to cross the road on our travels.

The tour lasts around 1.5 hours, and I counted (not personally) almost 10000 steps, so as well as an interesting way to spend the afternoon, you can hit your steps target at the same time in an environmentally friendly way. In fact, a few of the murals have an eco message. The very first one we saw, called Windpower, is an effective transformation from the seeds of a dandelion, to the blades of wind turbines.

On Mitchell Street we admired the colourful image of The World's Most Economical Taxi by Glasgow artist Rogue One. The car being lifted in the air by multiple balloons is a reference to Glasgow making the move to be more eco with electric taxis. Fun fact, the driver is the artist himself. In fact, that was one of the most interesting parts of the tour for me...the secrets in the art which you would otherwise miss if not told by an expert. I could tell you more, but you should go on the tour yourself to find out!

Another mural which made an impression on me, was one found on the side of a building called Falling in Love by the Rebel Bear. This work was not officially commissioned, but has been allowed to remain as the building owners themselves enjoy the piece. I find it romantic, dramatic and perfectly fitting to the location. The Rebel Bear remains anonymous, and always wears a bright pink bear costume when making his/her art. In fact via Instagram, he/she teased they were going to reveal their identity, only to remove the iconic bear costume to reveal...another bear costume underneath.

Liv and Jenny founded the Walking Tours in Scotland (now UK) company in 2017 after realising Glasgow didn't have any walking tours. I am so pleased that this small company has built up to offer tours in other cities, and wish them continued success. As a small business owner myself, I know how hard it is to keep the momentum going, particularly with the added challenges the last few years have brought. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough, and if you build up an appetite afterwards, you can always order some food via time2dine ;)

Take a look at Walking Tours in the UK website and if you use code CAROLYN10 at the checkout, you will receive a 10% discount. adventure down, 11 to go! I've juggled things about a bit so this street art tour was not the adventure that reduced my mum to shocked silence on hearing about it...that's next month's blog! Watch this space....

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