Have a layover while on a flight to some exotic location or business trip with several hours or even a day to kill?
Well, you don’t have to spend that time sitting around the airport waiting for your next flight said The Travel Guy.
“Take advantage of the time that you have,” says Frank Greco, host of the TV show, The Travel Guy.
Before taking the time to explore a city, be it for a day, or longer, Greco said research is key.
He’ll check out a city online and find out as much as he can, like where the main tourist areas are, whether there is a tour bus that goes through the city, places to eat, hotels and shopping centres.
That research includes checking out hotels online before arriving at the layover location, especially if you have a full day in a location.
“You can book online ahead of time and search out any deals. Once your at the hotel, you can always ask for a deal … the best rate is not always made public.”
If you don’t have a full day, then luggage can be an issue.
“You don’t want to be hauling all your luggage with you on a tour bus. Some airports have lockers where you can store your bags.”
Another tip, said the Port Colborne, Ont. native who is set to start filming the third season of his show, is to check with the airline you flew in with.
If your next flight is with them, have them check your bags over for the next plane. If you’re flying with another airline, see if they are a partner airline with the one you flew in on. Many times they’ll check your bags for you so there are no issues with customs officials.
Even if the next airline you fly is not a partner with the one you came in on, see if they’ll help you anyway. Greco said it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Once the issue of your luggage is settled and you’ve found a way into the city, whether by bus, train, subway or cab, it’s time to ride a tour bus, if the city has one.
“Tour buses take you around the whole city, to all of the major tourist sites. You ride the bus around, noting which sites you want to visit and then head back and check them out.”
Knowing the tour bus schedule can help you plan how long you spend at a particular site, he said.
With tour bus tickets usually being good for the whole day, all you have to do is wait for the next one to come along and hop on to your next destination.
“Tour buses are much cheaper than a cab, and you can really see each site better.”
During a recent one-day layover in Glasgow, Greco and his wife took a double-decker bus tour of the city, making notes as to which locations they wanted to visit. Once they completed the loop, they made their way to a few stops.
One of those stops was at a kilt shop, Slanj Kilts, right in the heart of the Scottish city.
“Many kilt shops will only be too happy to let you try on a kilt outfit,” said Greco.
It wasn’t the first time he’s worn a kilt, but as part of the deal, he had to be a live mannequin in the store window. His wife took a photo of him standing in the window, as people walked by.
The kilt he wore was an authentic one, but he didn’t wear it in the true Scottish manner.
“I could not bring myself to wear the kilt in the traditional way even though it was not windy that day.”
With Glasgow being touted as the best shopping city outside of London, the two stopped at an area called The Style Mile located in the central part of the city.
The Style Mile, said Greco, is an area that houses a variety of shops, from designer shops to flagship stores. There are, he said, cafes, galleries, cocktail bars and much more.
“It’s the place to go if you want to shop.”
Part of the attraction to the mall, in addition to it being on a closed street, are the buildings in which the shops are housed. Many are quite old and have unique architecture.
“The Style Mile gets quite busy during holiday times, but it’s a great feeling sitting at one of the decedent cafes, sipping a local coffee and watch as people walk by,” he said.
During the layover in Glasgow, Greco said one of the other places he and his wife saw was the Clyde Auditorium — also known as The Armadillo.
“It is certainly an impressive structure to visit. It acquired its nickname due to the similarity of its shape to that of the armadillo. Many also compare it to the iconic Sydney Opera House,” said Greco.
He added its become Glasgow’s most iconic landmark and is one of the leading conference venues in Europe.
“The Armadillo reflects the rich shipbuilding heritage along the Clyde River, where it’s located, and the roof is made of a series of interlocking ship’s hulls.”
A “must see, must photograph” attraction in Glasgow, Greco said, is the statue of the Duke of Wellington in front of the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. The Duke of Wellington is famous for defeating Napoleon Bonaparte at the battle of Waterloo.
“What is unique about this statue is that it can always be seen with a traffic cone on his head. The cone was never intended to be part of the sculpture and no one really knows how the cone gets on the statue’s head. Police and city workers have many a time taken the cone down only to have it mysteriously placed back on the head of the statue overnight.”
What started as a joke has now become an icon, so much so that the Glasgow tourist office, said Greco, has developed an app called “Glasgow Cone Challenge” to see if anyone can cone the Duke.
In addition to seeing the sites, Greco likes to take in the local food. During his layover, he visited a restaurant called the Ubiquitous Chip.
“This restaurant has been named Scottish regional winner in the Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the Year Award. It’s known as ‘The Chip’ locally, it is run by chef and owner Colin Clydesdale. Colin’s father opened it in 1971 and it has grown to be a Glasgow icon. This restaurant and Colin are an institution in Glasgow.”
It was at the restaurant, which has a menu of locally grown fare, Greco ate haggis, made from a very tried and true Clydesdale family recipe.
“The haggis is not served in the traditional way, although the key ingredients remain the same, it has a few secret ingredients that Colin will not divulge. It gives the haggis a very unique taste.”