Travel has become a big focus for us in 2017, and, whether that’s longer trips further afield or little ones closer to home, we’ve been soaking up all the opportunities that have presented themselves to us. As our kids get that bit older it’s becoming easier and easier for us to be a little more spontaneous with our plans, and when Stena Line and People Make Glasgow challenged us to visit Scotland in a day, we jumped at the chance to see somewhere new and to test out the family friendly facilities on offer, both on board the Stena Line Superfast, but also in the city too.
We’re always tempted to look further afield when planning a city break, but I was really interested to visit Glasgow, and particularly so in a quick twelve hour jaunt. We arrived at the Stena Superfast for our 7.30am crossing, and walked straight on board with the minimum of fuss. So much more efficient than flying – no delays, fewer security queues and precious extra minutes in bed too. It was a winner before we even set foot on board! 😉
We’d been kindly given use of one of the Superfast suites for the duration of the journey, and I was really taken with just how lovely this type of ferry travel can be now. Long gone are the days of crowded lounges and cafeteria food. With a comfy bed, complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits, an ensuite bathroom and even a TV and magazines (we all piled on the bed and watched X factor on the return journey!) it was the height of comfort. I’d thoroughly recommend paying the little bit extra for one of these if you can, particularly if you have a family with you. Just having that private little space, particularly on the later return journey when everyone is a bit sleepy, is a real bonus.
After having some breakfast and leaving our coats in the room, the girls and I headed to the Pure Nordic Spa on board for a little pampering. Offering all sorts of treatments from massages to reflexology, as well as use of the on board Jacuzzi and Saunas, we opted for a speedy nail file and paint (glitter topcoat as standard!) The girls really loved the princess treatment, and Noah and Andrew investigated the cinema, games arcade and family zone whilst we were having some girl time.
The journey was so speedy, made even moreso by the fact that the kids were thoroughly entertained during the two and a quarter hours. I think it’s crucial, if you’re going to make this sort of trip in a day, that you view the transport as part of the experience rather than just a method of getting there. Our three had never been on this type of ferry before, and so everything was a novelty to them (to us too!) It’s definitely a world away from the Belfast/Cairnryan experience that Andrew and I had as children!
We arrived in Cairnryan at around 10am and hopped straight on to the waiting Glasgow coach. Everything was so straightforward and the coach was really clean and comfortable, making the two hour journey pass really quickly too. A snack and a little bit of screen time, and we arrived in Glasgow city centre at around midday, just in time for a bite of lunch at Baffo, close to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This newly opened Italian restaurant was total interiors goals, with its exposed brick, industrial fittings and quirky wall art. We ordered their signature half metre pizza to share, and it was delicious.
From there we hot-footed it to the Kelvingrove. I was excited to see it after so many had recommended it on Instagram. It really didn’t disappoint, and particularly when we were greeted by the daily organ recital in the main foyer. The scale and grandeur of the place was just overwhelming, and we enjoyed a quick thirty minute kid’s tour of some of the main exhibitions.
It would have been so lovely to have had a little longer in this beautiful Glasgow institution – I can totally see why it is so popular for so many communities in the city – but our next destination called us, and we were whisked off to the Glasgow Science Centre and Planetarium.
The kids absolutely loved it in here (so did their dad!) The perfect mix of things to see and things to do, all based around movement, gravity and space. We managed to catch the We Are Aliens show in the Planetarium and I’d thoroughly recommend it. Narrated by Rupert Grint, it’s a twenty minute child friendly look at life in our solar system, projected on to a huge dome above your head. It was fantastic, as were the reclining chairs you sit in. I honestly did contemplate a quick nap, but it was too gripping to miss any of it.
From here we headed to Buchanan Galleries, home of the Lego store, and Noah’s main reason for coming with us! 🙂 We spent a quick half an hour in here and he parted with some of his birthday money for a special set that was exclusive to the store. The girls were in stationery heaven in Smiggle and we had a few extra school supplies with us by the end of the day too!
And then the coach back was calling us. It left super promptly and we arrived to catch our return ferry in plenty of time. After grabbing some dinner in Taste restaurant we all retired to our little cabin with tea and chocolate, and rested our sleepy bodies for the rest of the journey home.
It was the best day, and has really opened my eyes to the possibility of UK day trips. So often we never really seem to achieve too much in a weekend, and yet we feel like this one was full to the brim of time spent together. Glasgow has so much to offer families – there were so many other places that we’d like to go back and explore in the future. It is vibrant and historic and beautiful, definitely well worth a visit. We are totally taken with travelling by boat now too. It is so much less stressful than flying, and such an efficient use of time as well. In this case the journey was definitely half the fun!
Scotland, you are a beauty and definitely so accessible for a brief taster. We’ll definitely be back!
** We were sent on this trip by Stena Line UK and People Make Glasgow for the purposes of writing this piece and producing social content. All words, opinions and images are entirely our own. Thanks to Stena Line and People Make Glasgow for sponsoring this post.**