Since the age of fourteen, Rachel, I, and our friend Kathryn have been obsessed with Lana Del Rey. There aren’t many artists that I love, and although I’m constantly listening to music and singing along (badly) in my car, you wouldn’t find me at a gig every weekend. But Lana is different – we’ve waited over six long years to watch her perform live so when she announced last minute dates for Glasgow and Liverpool, we knew we couldn’t miss out.
It didn’t take us long to decide between the two cities – although we would love to visit Liverpool (leave any recommendations you might have in the comment section below), Glasgow is closer to us and after our amazing day trip to Edinburgh earlier this year, we were desperate to see the sights of its counterpart city. Within minutes we had secured tickets with amazing seats (thank God for the pre-sale), booked our train, and organised a hotel.
The day soon came around and despite having dedicated many hours to outfit planning, I left all of my packing until 5:30am – just a few hours before we were due to catch the train. It took us all a bottle of Lucozade, Lana’s Lust for Life album, and endless speculation about that night’s setlist to wake ourselves up and forget about our serious lack of sleep. We caught the Virgin East Coast train from Durham to Edinburgh Waverley, before transferring to a ScotRail train that would take us to Glasgow, Queen Street station.
We stayed in the Travelodge hotel on Queen Street, just a three minute walk from the train station (or fifteen minutes if you can’t work Google maps like me). Trusty Travelodges never let you down when you need a cheap one night stay but we were particularly impressed with the our corner room on the newly renovated business floor. Situated on the tenth floor, we had two large windows which offered a fantastic view of the whole city. Not bad for £81! After a few makeup touch-ups, we ditched our bags and headed out for some much needed cocktails and food at All Bar One – another favourite of ours, thanks to their £7 lunch menu and £5 Happy Hour cocktails. Rachel and I opted for the chicken quesadilla with a Cosmo whilst Kathryn went for a Steak Sandwich and the Orchard G&T. The quesadilla was fab and came with the most unique and delicious pineapple & habanero ketchup. It was super tasty and just what we needed after a long morning of travelling.
Before heading back to the hotel room to begin the endless pre-concert preparation, we headed to Sainsbury’s to buy our favourite bottles of rosé and plastic flutes (we were feeling classy and didn’t think that drinking wine from the Travelodge’s mugs would have much Instagram appeal). After what felt like a lifetime of blending eyeshadow and carefully applying false lashes, we took our last few gulps of wine, snapped several hundred selfies, and crammed in as much last minute Lana listening as possible before heading to the local Wetherspoons for some quick food and even more rosé. The SSE Hydro Arena was uber modern, super spacious, and very-well staffed with lots of security and helpful attendants. We grabbed yet another glass of rosé (£6 for approx two mouthfuls – cry, cry) and headed to our seats.
The concert itself exceeded all of our expectations. The staging was beautiful – a simple neon sign reading ‘del Rey’ hung in the centre of the stage and, along with the band, only two dancers surrounded Lana. This backdrop perfectly suited Lana’s raw and organic vibe. I wasn’t prepared for how good she sounds live – it’s enough to give you goosebumps, smile, scream, sing along, and (if you’re Rachel) cry. After years of singing along to every single word of her Born to Die album (I’ve had it in my car for so long that my boyfriend is ready to frisbee it out of the window), hearing it live was simply surreal. I’m pretty sure those within a close proximity hated us by the end of show as our throats were bleeding from singing so loud (I don’t have a single recording that isn’t tarnished by the sound of my own tone-deaf voice), but it was hands-down the best concert that I have ever been to. Her interaction with the crowd was endearing and engaging – she talked about the inspiration behind her new songs and even revealed that she once lived in Glasgow and still has ‘special people’ there. She took 10 minutes during the instrumental of ‘Off to the Races’ to leave the stage and visit the people standing at the barrier. It was the sweetest but most envy-inducing moment to watch as she hugged, kissed, and took selfies with crying fans. After working her way along most of the front row, she took her paintings, flowers, and other gifts back up to the stage before promptly leaving the venue. She was so good that we have all agreed that no matter the destinations on her world tour, we are going to at least one show – we’ll make sure of it.
There’s nothing like the comedown after a concert – I lay awake until 3am that night scrolling down Lana’s Twitter and stalking her Instagram back to the very first post. The three of us woke up the next day very tired and, consequently, very late. We had 45 minutes to shower, pack up our mess from the night before, and check out. This resulted in us venturing to the Debenhams at the end of the road to apply the remainder of our makeup in the toilets. Classy. I don’t think half an hour went by that day without Lana being mentioned or stalked on Twitter to see if she had been spotted anywhere in Glasgow (I felt like a 13 year old Belieber).
Feeling slightly hungover and just downright sad that we no longer had the Lana gig to look forward to, we decided to head for brunch and some well needed coffee. We found the most lovely place called Cup Merchant City just off Virginia Street. The interior of the restaurant was beautiful- it had the most fragrant aromas of flavoured tea and the staff couldn’t have been more lovely. Kathryn and I ordered buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and streaky bacon while Rachel opted for waffles and syrup. There was so much choice but our hungover selves needed a quick sugar fix to help us through the day and Cup gave us exactly that.
Following our brunch, we mooched around the streets of Glasgow, particularly George Square, Buchanan Street and Princes Square. We stumbled across the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre on what is known as the Style Mile and had a thorough try-on session in Mango, seeing as our local Metrocentre store is no longer there (petition to bring it back, anyone?!)
Following a recommendation from one of the lovely sales-assistants in Mango, we visited The Lighthouse – Scotland’s centre for design and architecture with a free viewing platform that has been voted as ‘Scotland’s best window with a view’. In true History student style, I took the time to read about the history of Glasgow, its buildings, architecture, and design, before regurgitating the information back to Rachel and Kate who were preoccupied (probably still chatting about Lana Del Rey.) The view of the city was lovely and there was even a man playing a piano up there, which created a really warm atmosphere and broke the usual awkward silence that museums and the like often possess.
The bumpy lift journey up to the top floor took its toll on our still fragile selves so we decided to head for more food and this time it was Mexican. A quick Google search of ‘best nachos in Glasgow’ led us to Topolabamba and I’m so pleased it did. The menu was extensive and after much deliberation Rachel and I decided on a spicy chicken Chimichanga (a deep fried burrito), salt and chilli fries, and tortillas with a guacamole dip to share whilst Kathryn opted for some chicken Tinga Tacos and chorizo and spicy cheese Tostadas. If you’re a fan of spicy food, I would definitely visit Topolabamba next time you’re in Scotland – they have restaurants in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Glasgow. It was authentic Mexican food but with a cool, cosmopolitan twist. The menu offers nibbles and ‘street food’ to share, giving the place a casual vibe whilst retaining that city restaurant feel through its bold yet sleek interior. The portions were beyond generous and I only wish that I wasn’t too hungover to try one of their Frozen Margaritas.
After the most amazing couple of days, all I can hope is that Lana makes another stop to Glasgow on her world tour. I get the feeling that we haven’t discovered all that this city has to offer just yet and we’re desperately looking for any excuse to come back!
Let us know if there are any other UK cities that we should visit, we love hearing your recommendations.
Lauren & Rachel xx
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