Sightseeing tours of Glasgow

Exterior of the Glasgow City Chambers. (IAN ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

Exterior of the Glasgow City Chambers. (IAN ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

ILONA KAUREMSZKY, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

Q: Is there a sightseeing tour of Glasgow that takes people around the city?

-- M. Garner, Whitby

A: Most of Glasgow's main attractions -- including George Square, the Riverside Museum, the Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and the city's theatre district -- are all on the route of a cherry-red double-decker hop-on hop-off bus. Run by Glasgow City Sightseeing Bus Tours, it is a fun affordable way to see the city with excelent commentary narrated by Neil Oliver.

In total, the two-hour tour highlights 24 stops. A pass is valid for two consecutive days, giving plenty of time to hop off and visit the many sites.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a jewel that warrants a few hours. The palace-like red sandstone building has some fine collections such as furniture pieces designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and renowned paintings from Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French masters. Stop by Dali's eerie Christ of St. John of the Cross and learn how the gallery acquired the piece and the fall-out when it was first displayed. See Van Gogh's poignant portrait of Alexander Reid (once believed to be the artist's self portrait) and observe the jewel of Dutch collection -- Rembrandt's A Man in Armour.

Of course Scottish heritage has its own galleries such as Scottish Art to 1960, and the Scottish Decorative Arts and Design. Recently the gallery added a new permanent gallery called the Glasgow Boys showcasing the works of homegrown artists. This installation was the result of a 2010 temporary exhibition -- Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900. More than 120,000 visitors came to see the exhibition, which broke all visitation records to date. Be sure to see the popular painting, The Druids -- Bringing in the Mistletoe by Henry and Hornel.

Over at the Riverside Museum, this state-of-the-art structure designed by "starchitect" Zaha Hadid had 1 million visitors in its first six months of opening. A superb museum on transport and technology, the artifacts recount the social history and early days of Glasgow. See streetcars, a steam train engine from South Africa, vintage cars, antique fire truck, model ships, and of course the Dalzell bicycle. The two-wheeler -- the world's oldest pedal-driven cycle -- was invented in Scotland in 1845.

All civic museums and galleries are free to enjoy.

Tour tickets can be purchased at the bus or online at citysightseeingglasgow.co.uk. An adult fare is 11£ (about $18), students 9£ ($15), children 5-15 years 5 £ ($8) and children under 5 are free.

Q: We're interested in wine tours in Virginia. Do you know of any good wine routes there?

-- B. Terrance, Pickering

A: With more than 190 wineries, Virginia is America's fifth-largest wine producing state behind California, Washington, Oregon and New York.

One wine route you'll want to explore is the Loudoun Wine Trail. Located minutes from Dulles International Airport, and within an hour's drive of the White House, this county boasts the largest number of wineries (more than 20) where visitors can stop drop in for tastings.

Also be sure to visit Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg. Run by dot-com millionaire-turned-vintner Jennifer McCloud, Chrysalis is the largest grower of the Norton grape, which was first cultivated in Virginia.

For travel information on Loudoun County, visit visitloudoun.org. For more on Virginia's wine regions, see virginiawine.org.

Q: Are there any fall walking tours in Collingwood?

-- S. Gray, Etobicoke

A: Lined with 19th-century buildings, downtown Collingwood is a designated Heritage District. The Collingwood and District Historical Society has published a free brochure -- A Walking Tour of Collingwood -- that is available at Collingwood Station Museum and Georgian Triangle Tourist Centre (1-888-227-8667) both at 45 St. Paul St. The self-guided tours highlight two routes around town.

In addition, a local organization will conduct a unique Gaslight Tour from Nov. 1-4. On this tour, participants walk to four homes to see five different 20-minute performances. Bill Barclay -- proprietor of Beild House Country Inn and Spa -- also wrote one of the plays with a theme of hearth and home.

"We are performing in four grand old homes and the playwright had to come up with a story based on the people who lived in these homes. We were given some historical information from the genealogist at our library that is a fantastic resource for historical stuff," Barclay said. "I have also been selected to perform in my play. There are so many amazing people who are involved. The costume lady has a house full of vintage clothing. Last year she did not have a vest for me to wear that satisfied her so she made me one and a cravat to match. It's the same attention to detail as Holt's," he said with a chuckle.

For more details, see gaslighttour.com.

Send your travel questions to Ilona Kauremszky at mycompass.ca


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