With its students and well-to-do leafy streets, Glasgow's West End was always going to be hip.
A few things have changed since I arrived as a fresh-faced fresher at Glasgow University back in 1997. The Safeway is now a Waitrose, the greasy-spoon Grosvener Café on Ashton Lane has been re-incarnated, and there seem to be dozens of new cafes and shops scattered around Byres Road.
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But I was pleased to see The Curler's Rest still going strong - I recall drinking some of my first pints of beer there, and coming in for a stiff drink after an emotional screening of Titanic at the Grosvenor cinema. The 'rustic' sign to Starry Starry Vintage still points up a little cobbled alleyway, The Ubiquitous Chip dominates Ashton Lane and there's Tinderbox in all its chrome American-diner glory.
The West End is a place to enjoy taking the time to explore and soak up the relaxed, bohemian atmosphere, walks by the River Kelvin and past grand Victorian mansions and tenements. Cresswell Street is a narrow lane that runs to the back of Byres Road, and has a Mediterranean vibe on a sunny day. De Courcy's Arcade has quite a few gift and vintage shops, as well as the Cup and Saucer Vintage Café with rockabilly staff serving up the tea and cakes in a 1940s fashion tearoom.
Here are my picks but if there are any gems you feel I have left off the list, please add to the comment section below.
Starry Starry Night, Dowanside Lane
Follow the sign to this shop just off Byres Road which has been selling vintage and antique pieces since 1986. Some items even date back to the Victorian era. Dress up like Sergeant Pepper with one of their military coats and there are tweed jackets, 1970s hippy dresses, 1940s brooches, drawers filled with lace, fabric and ties, and old dress patterns.
Oliver Bonas, 243 Byres Road
Okay, so it may be a chain shop, but this Byres Road branch is one of only two in Scotland, and has a real French feel to it. They stock beauty products including Korres and Dr Bronner's, dresses, knitwear and scarves by brands including Poem, Vera Moda and Sugarhill, and plenty of luxury homeware with a retro or kitsch theme. It's all very light, airy and Boden catalogue, and the sort of place to buy the interiors for a country-inspired décor.
Miss Lottie Lou, Upper floor De Courcy's Arcade
For some really unique pieces, try Miss Lottie Lou, where you can get made to measure 1950s pieces stitched from vintage and recycled fabrics. You choose the style, such as halterneck tops and circle skirts, the fabric and the budget, and seamstress Lottie will make it for you. There are also handmade flowers, headscarves and jewellery to browse.
The Littlest Boho, Upper floor De Courcy's Arcade
This gift shop is like an enchanted forest, with wooden silhouettes hanging from branches, jewellery inspired by insects and spiders, silver stags heads on the wall, painted elephants, pop art badges and Marilyn Monroe print scarves.
Halo boutique, 133 Dumbarton Road
For some extra glitz, Halo does dresses for special occasions including prom night, graduation and weddings. It offers a relaxed surrounding for taking the time to try on different gowns, and as a family run business can offer advice on the accessories and shoes to match.
Pink Poodle, 181-183 Byres Road
With lots of lovely colourful prints, funky dresses, purses, bright chunky statement necklaces and this cool metallic porcupine bag (pictured), Pink Poodle is the place to go for some unique pieces by independent designers and good advice from the friendly staff.
And for after…
The Hanoi Bike Shop, 8 Ruthven Lane
I just like the old bikes parked outside this café and restaurant, like one of those South East Asian backpacker bars, but serving up more than banana pancakes. The menu features special homemade tofu, French colonial style Banh Mi filled baguettes for lunch, steaming Pho, and delicacies such as Jelly Fish salad.