So I’m going to start with an apology.
In my past couple of posts I’ve been even more self-indulgent and introspective than usual. I simply had to offload. But you’ll be relieved to know that I’ve done all the wailing I needed to for now; my chins are back up and my practical head is back on.
Thank crap, eh! So let’s get back to business and talk travel.
Having been to Cologne only three weeks prior, I’d been looking for a cheap-ish break for the August bank holiday. It’s not a bargain time of year, and I had pretty much exhausted all the options, when I spotted a reasonably-priced return flight to Aberdeen. Together with a couple of nights at the Lenny Henry Inn, three days in Scotland came in at a shade under £150.00. Couldn’t argue with that.
Of course, a lot of people asked why Aberdeen. But as you know, I’m a fan of going to under-the-radar places. Having been wowed by Hull a couple of years ago, when the City of Culture was still only a twinkle in its eye, I had a feeling that Aberdeen would be a similar kind of surprise.
I was so wrong!
It was even better. It felt calm, comfortable, fresh, familiar and yet a world away from home. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.
Sometimes things are difficult to quantify but having given the matter some thought, here are my five favourite things about Ab fab Aberdeen.
Ab fab Aberdeen #1: The people
It was apparent from the outset that Aberdonians are very proud of, and think a great deal about, their city. Literally within minutes of arriving, I happed upon Celebrate Aberdeen – a parade of thousands of people to promote, and demonstrate their pride of, their community and charitable links.
And throughout the weekend, without exception, every single person whose path I crossed, whether a true Aberdonian or not, was friendly, welcoming and completely loved up with their lot. The staff in the hotel were pleasant and helpful, as was the man in the Tourist Information office, the waitress in the restaurant I ate in on Saturday night, the guys in the comedy club I visited on Sunday night – and the afore-mentioned bus driver. Even a man I watched paddle-boarding down the River Don gave me a wave and a big grin. I couldn’t help but wave and big grin back. It was incredibly infectious. I felt so wonderfully cheerful because I was surrounded by such wonderfully cheerful people.
Ab fab Aberdeen #2: The architecture
Known at the Granite City, Aberdeen is home to magnificent buildings built from rock which was quarried locally. It is estimated that at least 50% of the granite buildings in Aberdeen came from one quarry, Rubislaw, alone.
Shimmering silver or pink in the sun, someone told me that granite doesn’t look quite as beautiful in the rain. I beg to differ. The buildings wowed me. And then some.
Ab fab Aberdeen #3: The food
Despite being the home of the deep-fried Mars bar (technically it came from down the road at Stonehaven), Aberdeen is proud of its local cuisine – and rightly so. Think the finest of fish including salmon, mussels and oysters, craft beer, local whiskies, gorgeously plump berries, and, of course, Aberdeen Angus beef. Despite being technically a vegetarian, I do partake in fish now and again, particularly if it’s local and freshly caught. I spent Saturday night at a bistro sampling some of Scotland’s finest ingredients. I wasn’t disappointed and I certainly didn’t return to my hotel hungry!
Ab fab Aberdeen #4: It felt safe
I never once felt afraid for myself or my belongings. I went out both nights in the city centre, returning at about 10:30pm on both occasions, and walked a fair distance on my own. Normally a Saturday night in any city would feel charged. There would be shouting, shenanigans and people chucking up their guts in gutters. But in Aberdeen it was all just terribly civilised camaraderie. Not that that meant I took my eye off the ball – as a solo traveller, I’m always aware of my surroundings and of who’s around me, particularly given my recent passport panic – but I’ve been many places where I’ve felt I’ve had to be back safe and sound before it got dark. Aberdeen was not one of those places. I felt the safest I’ve ever felt anywhere.
Ab fab Aberdeen #5: So much to see and do!
I am happiest by the sea, and although I had known Aberdeen was on the coast, I hadn’t been prepared for how vast and wildly beautiful its coastal areas are. And that is literally within the city environs. Walking and walking and walking for me was my favourite thing about my trip and I would honestly return to Aberdeen for that alone.
Having said that, with so much to see and do in Aberdeen and its surrounding areas, I didn’t even scratch the surface in two days. With an abundance of things to explore from culture to history to natural beauty to food and drink and more, coupled with surprisingly good public transport links, there is so much to take in in this part of Scotland.
Aberdeen, you truly surpassed the Ab fab title I cheesily gave you in my mind before I arrived.
What can I say other than thank you? Thank you. Thank you! I had an absolute ball!
And I can’t wait to return – and do it all – and more! – again. Ah bientôt, Aberdeen ;).