Saturday, December 22, 2007


I went over to Aberdeen Wednesday evening. I'd promised Jamie that I'd worked with in Kyleakin that I'd come visit him at some point (and I had a book to return to him anyway), and there were people who worked at the Aberdeen hostel that I'd met before that I figured I could visit with as well. Also, I'd never been to Aberdeen or even that region of the country before, so it was worth a little visit.

Pictures are up now below, but you can still have a look at the Undiscovered Scotland page on the city if you'd like.

I arrived after dark, so the grey granite buildings all looked shiny in the light of the street lamps and Christmas lights. The youth hostel there is in a rich-looking area of big old houses that seem to be mostly office buildings now. I walked by the office of Petro-Canada in one such house, and puzzled over why it would have an office in Aberdeen for a few moments until I recalled that Aberdeen is the centre of the oil business in Scotland, and I guess Petro-Canada's getting some oil from here.

I met up with Jamie at his place of work, the Prince of Wales bar, and we went to a few places around town, having chips and cheese from a chippy where the salt and vinegar was applied from a spray bottle (a fact that I found novel but the employees there did not seem to share that sentiment) and leaving a 10 cent Canadian Tire bill at a bar called The Moorings where they had world money posted on the wall (I'd brought Jamie some Canadian Tire money since he'd thought it cool when I'd mentioned it). I could tell that there's a few universities in town just by the type of young people that I spied out and about in unusual clothing and hairstlyes that only city students can pull off, as you would get mocked in a small place like PEI (or Kyleakin or Dunoon for that matter).

I wandered around downtown Thursday morning. It's a busy place given that it's the thrid largest city in the country, and of course people were Christmas shopping. The architecture I would describe as nice, solid buildings - there's a few exceptional ones, but most aren't ones that jump out at me as being spectacular, but they also don't make me cringe, and I appreciate that in a city. Most of the buildings conform well with my senses of symmetry and proportion. I've heard lots of complaints about how grey Aberdeen can be - the buildings and the sky both - and that it can feel gloomy for that. I didn't mind it; I found the colours that were there stood out more because of the uniform, grey backdrop, but I didn't spend weeks there so I couldn't say how it would be after a long time.

Marishal College (owned by University of Aberdeen now) - this is just a section of it that would fit in a picture; it's the second-largest white-granite building in the world, I was told.

More average-looking granite buildings.
There was snow along the banks of the river, or perhaps very white ice that was accumulating from the floes on the water, as I was told that it hadn't snowed in the city. In fact, it was warmer in Aberdeen than in Inverness, contrary to my manager's warning as I headed there.

Cemetery at St. Nicholas Kirk in the town centre. The horizontal stones have inscriptions on them as well, and I'm guessing the caskets are encased in the stone above ground. Just a different way of burying than I'm used to.
I met up with Jamie again for lunch that day, and then hung out with some of the youth hostel staff in the evening: Rob that I know from Skye, Tina and Gareth who came to Kyleakin for a visit in October, and Sarah who I met just in Aberdeen.

I headed back to Inverness Friday afternoon on a very crowded train, so it was a pretty short visit but I imagine I'll end up visiting again and see some more of the city.

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