“ Aberdeen, often called The Granite City or The Silver City, is Scotland's third largest city, with a population of approximately 202,370. Aberdeen is the chief commercial centre and seaport in the north-east of Scotland. The city is often referred to as the Oil Capital of Europe thanks to becoming, in the 1970s, a major service base for the extraction of crude oil in the North Sea. The city forms the Aberdeen City unitary council area, and it is surrounded by the Aberdeenshire council area. It mostly stands between the mouths of the rivers Don and Dee. „
I'm going to talk about important aspects of Archaeology in Aberdeen. This is one of my favourite aspects and is a must for anyone interested in Archaeology or history in the North of Scotland.
The site with the most archaeological importance in Aberdeen I feel is Recumbent Stone Circle in Echt. It is currently the biggest, oldest, and best preserved stone circle in Aberdeenshire. It dates from between the 2nd and 3rd Millenium BC, and was excavated in the middle of the 19th Century after several burnt bones were found at the site.
The recumbent contains at least 28 cup marks (as shown in picture A), which is indicative of many other stone circles. It also faces South West which is also indicative of other recumbent stones. The size of Sunhoney is very impressive especially when you consider who moved the large rocks, and why. Firstly, the rocks would have required a large amount of people to move them, especially when the main recumbent is over 30 tonnes in weight.
According to Aberdeenshire Council, Sunhoney as well as other various Stone Circles were used as burial areas. This was ascertained after the discovery of the aforementioned burnt bone remnants. This may not have been the sole reason for the construction of Sunhoney, but it certainly offers some insight into what it might have been used for. Some have even suggested that Sunhoney has an astrological importance, but there is very little evidence for this. This is a fairly decent suggestion, because presumably the people who had it had a certain belief system, which maybe could have been twinned to astrology.
The cup marks are very visible on the picture below. A)
Some people have suggested that Sunhoney, like its name was used to see the stars or the sun rising. This has been ascertained by the fact that "the long recumbent stone [was] generally between two of the upright stones of the circle itself and to obtain the direction of the sun or star by sighting across the circle at right angles to the length of the recumbent stone" This is a suggestion made by historians from the early 1900's, but it isn't a known fact, it is simply a suggestion at what it was possibly used for.
Whilst Sunhoney does not give us any direct indication as to what it was used for, its age and size certainly throws up lots of questions as to what Stone Circles can be used for. It certainly was an important structure at the time. The fact that people moved the large rocks and put such an obvious amount of effort into it at the time signifies its importance to the society at the time. Its increasing archaeological importance will be reflected in the future when we have established exactly what it could have been used for.
Certainly on the day, Sunhoney was by far the most important archaeologically. On a global scale at the time? Maybe not. But it's clear that the structure meant something big to the people that created it, and that cannot be ignored, especially when we still don't know why or what they used it for. Sunhoney gives us a decent insight as to what our ancestors were prepared to do for their beliefs and for that reason is the most important site visited on the 2nd May.
Situated on the north east coast of Scotland is the city of Aberdeen, it has a population of just under 250.000 inhabitants & is Scotland's third largest city.
It's about 120 miles north of Edinburgh, 150 miles north east of Glasgow & around 100 miles south west of Inverness. It is sandwiched in between two rivers, in the north of the city by the River Don & in the south by the River Dee & has the Cairngorm National Park about 45 miles west of the city.
Its main industry is oil, making it now the oil capital of Europe which has turned the city into a more cosmopolitan place than ever before.
For tourism in loses out to the larger city of Edinburgh & misses out when people travel further north to the Highlands, but the city & its beautiful surroundings have much to offer tourists regardless of age.
With aid of just ten photographs & a little description please let me review Aberdeen for you.
HISTORY OF ABERDEEN
It is believed that hunter gatherers settled in Aberdeen around 6000BC, mysterious stone circles were erected around 2000BC & 400BC saw a substantial Celtic migration. The Romans arrived around the time of the birth of Jesus Christ & fought & won a battle in 84AD with 40.000 men against the United Army of Caledonia.
Fast forward to 1136, when the development of Aberdeen north of the River Dee began. In 1319 the Great Charter of Robert the Bruce changed Aberdeen into a property owning and financially independent community. He had a high regard for the citizens of Aberdeen who had sheltered him in his days of outlawry & helped him to win the Battle of Barra against an English garrison at Aberdeen Castle. He also granted Aberdeen the nearby Forest of Stocket, the income from this land has formed the basis for the city's Common Good Fund, which is still used to this day for the benefit of the local population.
The city was badly burned by Edward III but was soon rebuilt, but the attacks on the city continued. In 1497 a blockhouse was built at the harbour mouth as a protection against the English. In 1647 Aberdeen was hit with an out break of bubonic plague which wiped out 25% of the population.
By the 18th century a new elegantly furnished Town Hall was built, around this time also saw the beginnings of a new road system & social services for the infirmed. From the 19th century the fishing industry, ship building industry & granite industry became established. Sadly the ship building & granite industries ceased in the late 20th century giving way to oil which was first struck in the North Sea in the mid 1960s & stared to be pumped on shore by 1975. With the expanding needs of the oil companies the fishing industry was squeezed out somewhat with much of it transferred to nearby Peterhead & only a small number of regular boats left using Aberdeen as a regular base.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are no shortages of ways to travel to Aberdeen, it really all depends on how much you're willing to spend & what is the most cost effective way of travelling.
AIR: Most of the commonly known airlines fly to & from Aberdeen such as British Airways, BMI, Easy Jet, Fly Globespan, KLM, Fly Be, Ryan Air & many others. There are direct flights from London, Luton, Southampton, Birmingham, Belfast, Dublin, Amsterdam & so on.
The airport is not huge but easily navigated with the necessary facilities. The cost of a taxi from the airport would be around £15.00 - £20.00 travelling to the city centre. An airport bus service is available at a much reduced cost. Despite the fact there is a rail station at the far end of the airport, there is no link between the airport terminal building & the station. You would need to get a taxi to get there which defeats the purpose on cost.
RAIL: Aberdeen station which has just been renovated to make it more user friendly is in the centre of the city. There are numerous direct links to most major Scottish cities all day & numerous trains each day heading south down the east coast line to London Kings Cross stopping at Newcastle, York, Doncaster & Peterborough.
COACH: Much the same as the train in as much as the same direct links to all major Scottish cites & to London via the west coast / M6. There are some great deals & it works out the cheapest way to get to & from Aberdeen. The bus station is next to the train station & it too has recently been renovated.
FERRY: There is a direct link daily to the Orkney & Shetland Islands; the ferry port is walking distance form the bus & train station.
ROAD: If you intend to drive to Aberdeen there are dual carriage ways all the way from the south into Aberdeen. From the north (Inverness road) it's a mixture of dual carriage ways & normal 'A' roads. From the west (most scenic) it's all 'A' roads, as is the north east link to Peterhead & Fraserburgh.
From Manchester road travel is 355 miles, from York 350 miles, Newcastle 250 miles, Birmingham 428 miles & London 544 miles.
GETTING AROUND ABERDEEN
Once in Aberdeen a comprehensive bus service covers most of the city, run by First Bus (An Aberdeen company) & is reasonably cheap to use with special deals on multiple tickets at a reduced cost for one day. Stagecoach operates out with the city.
If you are staying on the boundary of the city, they do provide a 'park & ride' service on the north & west sides. You pay around £2.00 to park your car all day & includes the bus fare to & from the city. Watch out though it only runs from early morning until early evening & the routes don't operate on a Sunday.
CAR PARKS: There are numerous multi storey car parks in the city centre & electronic information signs telling you how much spaces available on routes entering the city. They cost from around £2.20 for two hours. On street parking is charged until 6pm & limited in time & it works out more expensive the closer you are to the city centre.
Beware traffic wardens operate until 3am in the morning, the night shift drive around in cars looking for their victims!!
CAR HIRE: There are numerous places to hire a car & all the big companies are represented up here as well as local ones, some even deliver & collect.
Now that you've arrived, where do you stay? If you are watching the pennies Travelodge & Premier Inn have a number of hotels in the area. Travelodge is right in the main street with parking in a multi storey car park underneath.
Premier Inn is situated just off the main street but both have numerous sites on the outskirts of the city. Holiday Inn Express is situated just off the main street in Chapel Street & do some good deals & two further Holiday Inns are situated at Westhill (Tel 01224 270300) & next to the exhibition centre on the north side (Tel 0870 400 9046).
Thistle Hotels have three sites, one close to the airport (Tel 01224 725252) & one on the south side close to the industrial centre at Altens (Tel 01224 877000). The also run the Caledonian Hotel in Union Terrace which dates back to the early part of the last century & is well recommended (Tel 0870 333 9151).
Radisson are currently building a new hotel just off the main street but its going to be a while before its ready.
The Northern Hotel in Great Northern Road (Tel 01224 418098) has a 1920s art deco look from the outside & has been renovated inside in recent years.
The Hilton Tree Tops Hotel (Tel 01224 313377) is located on the west side of the city, its not cheap but is rather good. Another good one recently bought over by the Mercure group is the Ardoe House Hotel on the South Deeside Road (Tel 01224 860600).
For upmarket customers or if you want to celebrate in style, consider the Marcliffe Hotel at Pitfodels, situated on the west side just out of Aberdeen. Among the people who have stayed here in recent years include The Sultan of Brunei, Donald Trump & Alex Ferguson.
However there are loads of great hotels to suit all budgets scattered all over the place & easily found on the Internet.
During big events such as the bi-annual oil exhibition which attracts thousands from all over the world, hotel accommodation is in short supply & thus becomes expensive.
They are loads of guest houses too; many of the good ones are located on the Great Western Road which is just walking distance form the city centre & are reasonably priced.
OBSERVATIONS AROUND ABERDEEN
Probably one of the first things you notice as you travel into the city is the silver granite buildings; the granite was sourced from the local quarry at Rubislaw until around 1970 & used on many of the local buildings. When the sun shines they sparkle, however on a dull day, they look......dull! The hole they extracted the granite from ended up being the biggest man made hole in Europe & has since filled up with water. The council have never come to an agreement of what to do with the hole although I would have a few suggestions like putting the local council members in it & filling it in!
During the summer months the place is awash with flowers, Aberdeen has won the 'Britain in Bloom' competition more times than any other city in the UK, despite being banned for winning it too many times. It certainly makes the place look good & all the displays are created 'in house' by local council gardeners.
You have to accept that you don't visit Aberdeen with the weather as the main attraction. It is always going to be that bit cooler than the south of England or the west coast of Scotland.
When it gets cold temperatures plummet & it's not unusual to see snow in October or even early April. However summer is pleasant & rainfall is much less in the east coast then the warmer west coast. Be prepared for cooler weather & anything else will be a bonus.
Sunny days in the summer attract the 'harr', a fog that creeps in from the North Sea & blots out all the sunlight, travel a few miles inland & your back to normal sunny weather. It rarely last longer than a day.
WHERE TO EAT
Aberdeen has a large selection of places to eat for all budgets, if you want a family friendly place to eat there are plenty offering children's portions at reduced prices. Many are attached to Premier Inns such as the Beefeater chain & many pubs cater for families too.
All over the place there are the fast food outlets if you just want a 'fast snack' but Aberdeen does offer traditional Scottish fare particularly in hotels & some traditional restaurants.
You can also eat Greek food, Hungarian, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Turkish & French. Here is a brief list of five of the best:
NARGILE & RENDEZVOUS @ NARGILE (Tel 01224 636093 & 01224 323700), an award winning Turkish restaurant & one of my favourites, they offer high standards, the owner sacked his chef one day because he used vegetables that were a day old! Expect to pay around £60 - £70 for a three course evening meal with wine; however two courses without wine will work out considerably cheaper. The food is delicious & authentic, service is great & there is a great atmosphere.
Well recommend is the selection of starters for two, you get a selection of hot & cold Turkish dishes for two people such as humus, taziki, aubergine, filo pastry with cheese, spiced chicken sticks & much more.
They have two restaurants in town plus a small take away where you can also sit in & eat but no alcohol is available here.
SHAHBAAZ TANDOORI (Tel 01224 641786 / 648196), an Indian restaurant off Union St on Rose Street, this is another place with high standards with prices similar to the one listed above. The food is really excellent with a huge choice on the menu, service is fast, maybe too fast at times as you are under the impression they want you out quickly & get someone else in your table a.s.a.p.
I have never seen this place empty & never had a reason to complain about the food, it is well recommended.
CHRISTOS TAVERNA (Tel 01224 636320), this little Greek restaurant in John Street is worth a visit, again prices are similar to the previous ones, service is good, food is delicious & the atmosphere is great.
During the evening Christos himself used to come to the middle of the restaurant & do a little dance to Greek music to his customers & break a few dishes as part of his act. It added to the atmosphere & was very popular until the health & safety got here about it & I believe they have tried to stop it. Shame on the Health & Safety killjoys!!
MILTON OF CRATHES (Tel 01330 844566), situated about 20 minutes out of Aberdeen on the Banchory road this is another award winning restaurant & a little expensive. Great for the special occasions or just a snack at lunchtime. It offers traditional Scottish fare & many other popular dishes. It's classy, casual without being stuffy with a great atmosphere, an ideal place to go on a summer's evening.
SILVER DARLING RESTAURANT (Tel 01224 576229), located at Pocra Quay on the North Pier, this is a French style seafood restaurant which is recommend by the 'Good Food Guide' & the 'Michelin Food Guide', I have never been in it but have never heard a negative comment about it in all the years its been open. Prices are in line with the ones listed above.
PLACES TO GO & THINGS TO SEE
I have broken this section down into separate groups to make it easier to find what you are looking for. It covers Historic Sites, Sport, Child & Family friendly places & other attractions.
To make the location easier to locate, look at an Aberdeen map & you'll see the one mile long main street named Union Street running east to west in the middle of the city centre with King Street at the eastern end running north & the Queens Road running west of Union Street.
If you are just in Aberdeen for a 'hen party' or 'stag party' there are loads of pubs, night clubs & lap dancing establishments in the area open to the early hours.
For other types of entertainment there is The Lemon Tree that often features local & national up & coming bands as well as established names. The local Music Hall in Union Street often features more famous bands / artists & comedians & for shows & plays there is the rather attractively decorated Her Majesty's Theatre just off the main street.
The large exhibition centre on the north side of the city will house bigger concerts & national sports events.
Annual events include an International Music festival, International football event, highland games, student's parade & hogmanay celebrations.
Half way up King Street & almost running parallel is Old Aberdeen dating back hundreds of years. To the locals Old Aberdeen is the ageing suburb in the city which in its day was classed as a burgh of barony & not a royal burgh. It was run by its own town council free from interference from Aberdeen until 1891 when the two communities amalgamated.
Whilst independent it had its own town house, college, cathedral, coat of arms, loch & the Scottish equivalent of a mayor called a provost. The old town house still stands with the original coat of arms above the town house door.
There was continual friction between the two communities during the 17th & 18th centuries but in the end it was silly disputes that brought them together.
Old Aberdeen's water supply from its loch was becoming inadequate & sharing the services of a policeman with 'new' Aberdeen due to lack of funds caused many problems.
The final straw was the street lamps, people living in Old Aberdeen wanted the lamps lit at night during the winter but the council could only afford to light them when the moon wasn't shining!
Today you can walk around Old Aberdeen & you can just imagine how life was all those years ago. Many of the building are still intact & the street names are rather interesting like the Spital, College Bounds & the Chanonry.
There used to be a Lepers Hospital in Old Aberdeen which led to the patients walking into the city begging for alms swinging hand bells to warn the people & crying out 'Unclean! Unclean!'.
As you walk over the Spital Brae towards College Bounds you'll see the town house as you approach the main road. Built in 1788 this Georgian style structure features solid granite walls & a clock tower, part of the building was used as a library containing the council minutes form the 17th century. It is believed that the top floor was used as a Masonic lodge.
Old Aberdeen features many narrow streets called wynds, which all add to the atmosphere of the place. Legend has it that at night (when the street lamps weren't on) witches & warlocks would stalk the narrow streets & ghosts would chase each other around the grave yard. Locals would walk the streets at night fearful of seeing something & constantly looking over their shoulders.
The Kings College is situated in Old Aberdeen & dates back over 500 years. It is interesting to walk around it today & see the bronze & marble monument of William Elphinstone who founded the place in 1488. Walk to the Chanonry, it's a lovely cobbled tree lined street with impressive period buildings set back from the road. At the end of the street is the equally impressive twin spired St Machar's Cathedral, this church was originally founded in AD580 & there are tombs in the graveyard that date back to the 16th century. Originally there were three spires but one collapsed in 1688.
BRIG O' BALGOWNIE
Walking from Old Aberdeen down the Chanonry past the afore mentioned Cathedral & through the Seaton Park & you'll come to the Brig O'Balgownie. Before the bridge was built locals would cross the river by a ford on their way north of Old Aberdeen. Built in the late 13th century by Richard Cementarius it fell into disrepair in the mid 16th century it was extensively renovated in 1605. In 1830 a newer bridge was built five hundred yards downstream which now bears that name of the Bridge of Don.
This lovely old bridge is constructed of granite & sandstone, its gothic arch has a span of 12 meters & at low tide the apex of the arch lies over 17 metres above the water line.
The bridge is now used just for pedestrians & cyclists & is delightful walking over it in summer looking at the old period cottages at either side still lived in by locals. You can step down from the bridge & walk along the river side towards the mouth of the River Don just a short distance away.
THOMAS GLOVER HOUSE
Thomas who? I hear you ask, well if you ask a local who he is chances are they won't know. However, ask someone in Japan & they will probably tell you.
Thomas Glover was born about 45 miles north of Aberdeen in Fraserburgh in 1838 but he made his name in Japan. He is renowned for the crucial role he played in the 19th century of the modernisation & industrialisation of Japan. He was instrumental in the creation of Mitsubishi Industries & created the massive Kirin brewery. He was a massive influence in a country which was closed off to Western society at the time.
After leaving school in Scotland, Glover & his brothers worked for an Aberdeen based shipbuilder. Many of the ships built in Aberdeen found there way around the world & it wasn't long before Glover travelled on behalf of the company. In 1859 Glover travelled to Japan & established himself in the port of Nagasaki importing British coal & exporting Japanese goods.
He became very influential, he developed coal mines in Japan & the brewery. He even had an influence in the Meiji government & helped young Japanese students travel to Scotland in order to study the latest technological developments. He lived the later part of his life in Japan & even providing the basis for the story of the opera 'Madam Butterfly'.
Braehead House in Aberdeen was actually purchased by Glover's father in 1862 after he retired form the Coastguard station in Aberdeen. Thomas Glover would stay in the house when he frequently sailed back to the UK.
It has recently been renovated, thanks in part from many fund raisers including the Mitsubishi Corporation in Japan who still consider him a national hero.
The house is open between May & October & it's an ideal opportunity to see how they lived during the Victorian era. The house is full of period artefacts many local & many taken back from Japan by Glover on his travels.
Notes: Glover House, 79 Balgownie Road, Aberdeen, AB22 8JS, Tel 01224 709301. Allow 1-2 hours to view the house.
Just off Union St at the east end on Broad Street is the second largest granite building in Europe, namely the Marischal College. This neo-Gothic façade has its critics as well as admirers, it still remains an impressive building with its numerous pointed spires which look stunning against a blue sky.
The original college was founded in 1593, it featured a number of buildings grouped round a courtyard at the rear of the street. In 1837 a new quadrangle was designed by Archibald Simpson & at the end of the 19th century the Mitchell Tower & Mitchell Hall were added.
Today it is currently being renovated to allow it to be used as a new headquarters for the local council so access is denied but it is still worth making the effort to see it.
Notes: Marischal College, Broad Street, Aberdeen.
CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS
It's not so much the church that gathers attention to this place but the beautiful façade on the main street. Locals take it for granted as they walk past it each day but it is one of the most striking features of the main street.
It was designed in 1830 by John Smith & features an arched gateway & twelve tall Doric columns. Behind all this is the kirkyard of St Nicholas where many of Aberdeen's most noted citizens are buried. Before the façade was erected the site would used by visiting circuses!
The church itself is divided into two places of worship, the East & West churches. The latter was rebuilt in the 18th century & the impressive spire is a familiar site in the city.
Notes: Church of St Nicholas, Union Street, Aberdeen. You are free to walk around the churchyard.
Torry, is an area of Aberdeen on the south bank of the River Dee & was once a royal burgh. It was incorporated into Aberdeen in 1891, after the construction of the Victoria Bridge which spans the river to this day along with two other bridges.
In Torry over looking the harbour is the Torry Battery last used defensively in World War II & is now classed as an ancient monument, protected as a place of historical interest of national importance. It is well worth seeing but be prepared as it can be a chilly place even in summer.
Close by & along the coastline is a disused but preserved foghorn & the lighthouse designed by Robert Stevenson.
PROVOST SKENE'S HOUSE
It dates from 1545 & is one of the few surviving examples of early burgh architecture. It's not in its original location having been moved when the nearby shopping centre was built but you would never know.
Inside visitors will see an intriguing series of religious paintings in the Painted Gallery & changing fashions in the Costume Gallery. There are also local displays such as coins and archaeology which are situated on the top floor.
At Christmas they often open the place up & re-inact Christmas celebrations from many centuries ago which are very entertaining.
You can enjoy a light snack in The Cellar within Provost Skene's House.
Notes: Provost Skene's House, Guestrow, Aberdeen, AB10 1AS, Tel 01224 641086.
Ask a local for Footdee & you'll confuse them, they know it as Fittie. It was a small fishing village can be found at the mouth of Aberdeen harbour and can be accessed via the Beach Esplanade. It comprises of two areas of fishing cottages built in two squares. In olden days the cottages would have housed fishermen and their families.
Although some fish families still live in the cottages, you can just imagine the atmosphere many years ago with fish wives sitting outside repairing nets whilst having a good gossip.
What does remain though are some picturesque fishing cottages and some well maintained gardens set away from the hustle and bustle of the city & only a few minutes walk distance from the busy harbour.
STONE CIRCLES AT EAST AQUHORTIE
There are stone circles all over Aberdeenshire & the ones situated at East Aquhortie are 5000 years old dating back to 3000BC. They are situated outside Aberdeen on the north side heading towards Inverness. They are easily found, drive to Inverurie & the brown tourist signs will lead you there.
The stone circle is known as a 'recumbent' because of its single horizontal stone, these circles are unique to the area & studies reveal that they are made from various types of materials. The stone circles were used to observe lunar cycles & to establish seasonal calendars before they became communal centres of ritual.
Apparently the circles have good acoustic properties so maybe the locals 5000 years ago enjoyed a good old sing song on a Saturday night!
THE CASTLE TRAIL
Just like the rest of Scotland, Aberdeen & its surroundings have many famous castles. Using Aberdeen as a base you could spend days visiting them all, here is a brief selection.
This castle is owned by the National Trust & worth a visit, the original 13th century keep has an adjoining Jacobean mansion house & there have been additions made by various Victorian lairds. It offers woodland trails & a garden of historic roses, all within the grounds.
At Christmas they have special events including craft stalls, carol singing & they provide mulled wine & mince pies for visitors.
Notes: Drum Castle, Drumoak, Aberdeenshire. Tel 01330 811204.
About 20 minutes driving time west of Aberdeen is this wonderful location. It is owned by the National Trust & suitable for all the family, expect to spend the day here. You can visit the castle itself & relive its history, walk round the gardens with its impressive topiary displays. Walk your dog for miles around the land that surrounds the castle seeing the local wild life & countryside.
Eat at the café next to the castle, shop next door for local delicacies & goods, climb the mountain frame outside, great for children or visit when the castle grounds is used for music concerts.
You can cross the main road & visit Milton of Crathes & eat at their excellent award winning restaurant. Shop for local gifts & pottery in the converted barns, view the art gallery or simply walk by the river bank.
Still want more? How about boarding the old train & taking a short run along the countryside thanks to the Deeside Railway Preservation Society efforts of the reopening part of the historic line once used by royalty & now based at Crathes.
Notes: Crathes Castle, Crates, Aberdeenshire. Tel 01330 844525.
This castle is reckoned to be one of the finest examples of Scottish Baronial architecture, built by William Forbes in 1626. It is though that Disney's famous castle was modelled on Craigievar Castle.
Notes: Craigievar Castle, Alford, Aberdeenshire, AB33 8JF, Tel 01339 883635.
Kildrummy Castle is partly a ruin with magnificent gardens to wander around & a hotel all within the grounds. It dates from the 13th century & was dismantled after the first Jacobite rising in 1715. Some of the domestic buildings are still intact including the hallway, kitchen & chapel. It is located west of Aberdeen & about an hours driving away.
Notes: Kildrummy Castle & Grounds, Alford, Aberdeenshire, Ab33 8RA. Located off the A97.
The five towers of Fyvie Castle enshrine five centuries of Scottish history; each tower is named after the five families who owned the place. Dating from the 13th century it's another fine example of Scottish Baronial architecture.
Notes: Fyvie Castle, Turiff, Aberdeenshire, AB53 8JS, Tel 0844 493 2187, located off the A947.
Originally built for Queen Victoria in the 19th century & now the favoured holiday home of the present royal family, Balmoral Castle is open to the public between April & July just before the Queen arrives for her two month break.
To say the countryside around here is stunning is an understatement, it has to be seen to believed, especially in summer. Set aside the whole day to visit Balmoral Castle, you can enter the castle but you'll be limited to visiting the impressive ballroom where the royal family end their summer breaks every summer with a big bash with their staff.
You can walk from the ballroom out towards the River Dee & stand where Lady Diana stood posing for those memorable pictures on her honeymoon in 1981.
You can visit the Queens stable & admire her horses, visit the display of period carriages or simply take a horse & cart trip around the enchanting estate. As you walk or trot around you'll see the metal figures of deer where royal members practice their target shooting.
There are refreshments available in a nearby building & the opportunity to purchase gifts including Prince Charles paintings, albeit prints, not the originals.
Holiday homes close by are for renting, check out the website listed below for more information.
If you a royal spotter, you won't get access to the castle when the family are present but stand outside the church across the road from Balmoral on a Sunday morning & you'll get a glimpse of them arriving for a church service.
Notes: Balmoral Estates, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5TB, Tel 01339 742534 www.balmoralcastle.com
With its wonderful location, Castle Fraser was built by the 6th laird Michael Fraser between 1575 & 1636. This magnificent castle contains historic furnishings, paintings & embroidery.
From the castle you will get magnificent views of the nearby Bennachie Mountain.
Notes: Limited opening times but the gardens & grounds are open all year round. Located North West of Aberdeen.
It may look small from the outside but this fully restored castle with its star shaped ramparts is located in the Cairngorm National Park in an area of outstanding beauty. West of Aberdeen close to the Lecht ski resort it would take around 90 minutes driving to get there.
Corgarff Castle dates from 1537; it played a part in the Jacobite risings of 1715 & 1745 & was once converted to barracks in 1748 for Hanoverian troops. It was also used to house the English Redcoats who had the job of combating whisky smuggling!
Notes: Corgarff Castle, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Tel 0131 668 8800.
Another ruin once known as Strathbogie Castle, it stands on the banks of the River Deveron & close to the town of Huntly about 25 miles north of Aberdeen.
Notes: Huntly Castle, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, AB54 4SH.
A great place to spend a day in the summer having a picnic, walking around the magnificent grounds or visiting the shops or tea rooms.
It maybe grand & luxurious place but it has a homey feel to it probably helped by the beautiful rose garden, Country Park & lake within its grounds.
There are often special events held here & it's quite easy to find, it is about 45 minutes driving time north east of Aberdeen.
Notes: Haddo House, Mains of Haddo, Tarves, Aberdeenshire, AB41 4SH. Tel 01651 51664, www.haddo.co.uk
This is located in the south side of Aberdeen about 2 miles south of Stonehaven. It is situated at the cliff edge over looking the North Sea & can be seen in its entirety in a couple of hours.
You'll need to be fit to access it as there are numerous steps to negotiate first plus a lengthy walk from the car park. However it worth the effort & you'll get some stunning views of the coastline.
It covers 3 acres & was a keep constructed in 1392 by Sir William Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland with many additions created over the centuries. However records make reference to an earlier building on the site pre-dating 1296. A lot of history has taken place here over the years; it was once visited by King Charles II. The castle was dismantled in 1718 after the possessions of the 10th Earl Marischal were forfeited subsequent to his part in the Jacobite Rising. The York Buildings Company stripped the place of its lead & it consequently it fell into disrepair. In 1925 repairs to the castle began by Viscountess Cowdray, whose family still own the castle today.
Notes: Its not suitable for people with mobility problems, the entrance fee is about £5.00 for adults & £1.00 for children. For more information contact 01569 762 173
It has gained a reputation for being a slightly unsettling place, thanks in part to Bram Stoker, who stayed at the castle & used it as inspiration for his story of Dracula. The front of the castle lies literally along the edge of the cliffs, while its rear, beyond what were once its gardens, is protected from unwanted guests by a deep cleft that cuts into the cliffs as far as the main access road.
Inside there is a collection of intersecting corridors wrapped around rooms now deeply carpeted in nettles. In the middle of the castle is the courtyard.
If you want to see it make it quick as Aberdeenshire Council gave consent for the restoration of Slains Castle and its conversion into 35 holiday apartments.
Notes: Located 1km east of Cruden Bay, about 30 minutes driving time north east of Aberdeen on the coastline.
Aberdeen offers a good selection of facilities for the sport enthusiast either wishing to participate or just to watch.
Using Aberdeen as a base skiing at the nearby Lecht Ski Centre is very popular in winter. Its about 50 miles away & the authorities do a good job keeping roads clear of snow to allow skiers to access it. Glenshee is also a popular ski resort but slightly further away, the biggest problem with skiing in the area is getting enough snow. I have known many winters when it's been so mild no skiing was possible so it can be a hit or miss affair.
When there is no snow, Aberdeen does have a dry ski slope at Garthdee, it's floodlit with all the necessary facilities.
Scotland is the home of golf & Aberdeen has its fair hare of courses some private & some public. As I write this review the American billionaire Donald Trump has just announced the go ahead to build what he considers to be the greatest golf course in the world on the north side of Aberdeen. He plans to spend £1 billion (that is pounds not dollars) & for that sum of money I would expect it'll be quite good. It will be open to the public & not private but I guess to get his investment back the fees maybe a little high!
While all that is happening Jack Nicholson will contribute to a new course on the south side of Aberdeen in the near future. Local championship golfer Paul Lawrie will also contribute to a new course on the west side of Aberdeen at Blairs in the near future. Thankfully no one is panning a course on the east side.......the North Sea has probably put a stop to that idea.
Nevertheless there are numerous courses in & around Aberdeen some located in very desirable areas, two public ones at the Queens Links & Balnagask close to the sea, one at Auchmill & another at Hazelhead Park.
You can of course visit many of the private ones & pay something like £70.00 - £80.00 for a round; some of their locations are stunning.
Aside form many cycle routes in & around Aberdeen suitable for the enthusiast there is a dedicated mountain bike track at Kirkhill Forest on the north side of Aberdeen. As you travel the road north towards Inverness the forest is at both sides of the main road. The mountain bike track is on the right as you leave Aberdeen.
You can park your car in the forest car park & the track is close by & quite demanding, if you choose you time carefully you may have it all to yourself.
For those wishing to play football, there are full size floodlit pitches close to the River Dee as you enter Aberdeen on the south side as well as numerous others located around the city.
If participating is not your scene, you can always visit the local Scottish Premiership ground just off King St at Pittodrie. Here is where Aberdeen FC play most Saturdays & where Alex Ferguson used to manage before departing to Manchester Utd.
A Scottish ice based sport popular further north where there are dedicated leagues. There is an indoor curling rink on the west side of Aberdeen which is proving rather popular as a corporate venue for many companies.
Aberdeen has many indoor & outdoor bowling greens & the city's Westburn Park hosts International events on a regular basis. Some of these facilities are members only but there are public ones.
Hill climbs are held at Fintry on the north side of Aberdeen at regular times but the most popular motor sport event is probably the Granite City Rally held each year around April time. It always starts & ends in Aberdeen, it is a one day event that pulls in a decent crowd each year.
Travel west of Aberdeen just outside Aboyne & you'll come to the Deeside Gliding Club at the Aboyne Airfield. It must be an exhilarating feeling gliding over the mountains in the area on a clear & sunny day. There is a large picnic area & car park close to the air strip & it's quite interesting sitting in the car park watching the gliders being towed out & gliding back.
Notes: Deeside Gliding Club, Aboyne Airfield, Dinnet, AB34 5LB, Tel 01339 885339.
There is no shortage of places for rock climbing in the area, if you lack experience there are organised lessons from a company based in Balleter about 50 miles west of Aberdeen.
Notes: Mountain Bound, Bridge Square, Balleter, AB35 5PL, Tel 01339 756113.
The same applies to hill walking, there are so many places for experienced & inexperienced walkers, the best advice is to check out the website listed below.
Notes: Web site www.visitscotland.com/walks
There are facilities for Rugby, Cricket, Snooker, Tennis, Squash, just check out the Internet for more information.
FAMILY FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS
For those who are taking young children to Aberdeen you'll need to keep them amused & there is plenty to offer.
Not just a sandy beach but an area full of things to do, Codona's is a fun packed fun fair for all the family open all year round indoor & outdoors (Tel 01224 595910 www.codona.co.uk). Next to that is a multi plex cinema usually with a good choice of films open from Midday to late evening.
Next to that is a number of family friendly restaurants including TGI Friday & Chiquito's Mexican restaurant. .
Close to them is the traditional cafes like the locally well known Inversnecky café & ice cream shops. If that is not enough just a short walking distance away is a large leisure centre will numerous facilities (Tel 01224 647647).
Just outside Aberdeen on the west side is Storybook Glen, a must for young children. It is a magical world of make-believe and fun for children as well as adults set amidst 28 acres of spectacular scenic beauty on Royal Deeside, 6 miles west of Aberdeen. You will see more than 100 of your favourite nursery rhyme and fairytale characters along with exquisite flowers and plants, majestic trees, secret waterfalls, exotic animals and fairytale houses.
Notes: Storybook Glen, Maryculter, Aberdeenshire, AB12 5FT, Tel 01224 732941. Located off the B9077.
On the south side of Aberdeen is Doonies Farm, faced with possible closure due to council cut backs (shame on councillors!!) this a great place to take children so they can interact with rare breed farmyard animals.
Notes: Doonies Farm, Coast Road, Nigg, AB12 3LT. Tel 01224 875879.
Again using Aberdeen as a base is there is no shortage of whisky distilleries to visit & taste the goods. There is a whisky festival at Aberlour each year attracting visitors from all over the world. Aberlour also has the one & only malt whisky bar in the UK serving some malts that cost as much as £250 a glass! You need to visit the Mash Tun hotel in Aberlour close to the old railway station to sample a huge selection of these famous malts. Picture # 5 shows the Mash Tun in Aberlour.
There are many famous distilleries around the area, many in neighbouring Moray / Speyside. They include Aberlour, Ardmore, Balvenie, Benromach, Cragganmore, Craigellachie, Dalwhinnie, Dufftown, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Glen Spey, Knockdhu, & Tormore. This is not by any means an exhaustive list!
Also, some of the largest cooperages in the country reside in the same area dedicating their entire stock of barrels to the whisky industry. Some even have tours available; the biggest ones are situated close to each other in Dufftown & Craigellachie.
With Aberdeen having a long association with the sea via ship building, fishing industry & the oil industry it's little wonder their Maritime Museum in Ship Row is so popular.
Located close to Union Street admission is free & this multi level museum is packed with maritime artefacts relating to ship building, fishing & oil. You could spend a whole morning or afternoon here & they often have themed displays & film shows.
Notes: Maritime Museum, Shiprow, Aberdeen, Tel 01224 213066.
GRAMPIAN TRANSPORT MUSEUM
Located west of Aberdeen in a small town named Alford about 30 minutes driving time away this is a must for transport enthusiasts. It has a decent selection of motor bikes, cars, commercial vehicles, racing cars & other motoring artefacts on display. It is partly on two levels & some of the cars are on loan form the bigger museums in England. The museum boasts a good selection of Scottish built cars from the early 20th century & often has open days at the nearby track.
Notes: Grampian Transport Museum, Alford, AB33 8AE. Tel 01975 562292.
Situated in the Duthie Park the indoor winter gardens are full of tropical plants from all over the world. It's great for horticultural enthusiasts as it give you the chance to see plants you'll be unlikely to see in this country. It is now reputed to be the largest gardens under glass in Europe with over 600 species of cactus in the huge cactus house. They even have a talking cactus called 'Spike' who is loved by children.
BIRDS OF PREY:
Wild life enthusiasts are also well catered for in the area, there is a large falconry north of Aberdeen between Huntly & Dufftown ideal for all age groups & interests.
There are flying displays at 11 am, 12:45 pm, 2:30 pm and 4:15 pm of falcons, owls, hawks and golden eagles. The handler interacts with the spectators and calls for children to come forward to stroke the owl under his supervision. Fantastic stuff.
Using Aberdeen as a base you can visit the Osprey centre just south of Granton on Spey which is about 90 minutes driving time from Aberdeen.
A little further off the Moray coast is the best location in the UK for spotting dolphins. From this picturesque area you can get organised trips by boat with experienced fishermen onto the Moray Firth. You are very likely to see Bottlenose dolphins that live in the firth chirruping away and dancing in the water alongside the boat as they play together in the water. They are often joined by porpoises and seals. In the nearby rocks you'll often see seals basking in the sun, you may also see the odd Minke whale or grey seal.
In the area you will often see Highland Cattle with their distinctive horns & the famous Aberdeen Angus cattle. The Aberdeen Angus cattle were developed in the 19th Century from the polled black cattle of the North East of Scotland (polled means without horns or cattle that do not grow horns) Over the years they have retained their black colour.
Royal Deeside just west of Aberdeen has about 80 miles of clear waters of the River Dee & is well stocked with fish such as sea trout, grilse, young Atlantic salmon & mature salmon. Fishing is allowed in most areas.
As you travel around the area you will see an abundance of wild life including deer & red squirrels.
Aberdeen has its fair share of public parks & gardens & many originated from the Victorian era. The most popular ones are:
Across the road from the River Dee & walking distance from the city centre this delightful park houses the Winter Gardens, two small ponds often used for model boat enthusiasts, a children's play area, restaurant & a lovely band stand right in the middle of the park. The Duthie Park often hosts music concerts & other in events in the summer months. There is a cycle path next to the park on the old disused railway line.
Located centrally in the Rosemount area this is a smaller park surrounded by houses. The park maybe small but its full of colourful flower displays & a fully operational period fountain. It's a great place to walk the dog or just sit for a while & admire the floral display.
Directly across the road from the above park is the Westburn Park with a burn flowing through it. Its not short on facilities providing a children's play area, children's cycle route for learning to cycle, an international renowned bowling green & loads of space to walk around.
My favourite located on the west side of the city in beautiful surroundings. A bus service to the park is provided & it has much to offer. It has a huge walled rose garden with the monument of the Piper Alpha disaster located in the middle of the gardens.
There is a crazy putting area, a maze, children playground, a small zoo with farmyard type animals, restaurant, football pitches, public golf course & acres of beautiful flowers, plants & trees. Big weekend events such as the local Highland games, steam traction engine days & dog shows are often held here.
Located close to Old Aberdeen this park is close to the River Don, it too has a truly wonderful display of flowers & grass that looks so perfect that it almost looks false.
The park has toilets, children's play area & ample space to walk around. Some of the park is on a higher level which may prove difficult for the elderly but a stroll along by the river is always a pleasure.
UNION TERRACE GARDENS
Right in the centre of the city just below Union Street lies this small but beautiful gardens. You walk around it in no time at all & admire the flower display, often the coat of arms for Aberdeen (Named Bon Accord) is displayed in flowers & looks stunning.
You can get views of the park as you walk along Union Terrace which is very pleasant on a summer's night. They have organised Hogmanay concerts & an ice rink in this park in the past & plans to convert it into a car park were thankfully defeated.
Just off the Queens Road on the west side of the city is this awarding winning gardens. It is truly beautiful & on different levels with a small pond full of ducks in the middle. There is ample seating, some sheltered & a children's play area. There is ample parking across the road & it is well signposted.
Just west of the main street you'll come to Albyn Place & as you walk along on the right you'll see two small but very attractive parks. They used to be the private gardens belonging to the 19th century built granite homes set further back from the parks but are now open for public use.
One is longer than the other, both have beautiful flower displays & one has a working fountain. Both are popular with locals & the park looks fantastic with its Christmas lights set inside the trees that line the park.
FOR RAILWAY ENTHUSIASTS
Jut like every where else in the UK old Lord Beeching axed many railway lines around the country in the 1960s & Aberdeen lost many including the famous line from Aberdeen to Balleter used on a regular basis by the Royal Family on their way to Balmoral Castle. (Shame on you Beeching!!)
If you are a railway enthusiast you'll be pleased to know there is much to see & do. The line form Aberdeen west has now been tarred over & used as a bicycle track but its complete & great to walk along. For 12 miles from the Duthie Park to Peterculter (say it Petercooter) you can walk the entire line with some of the original platforms still intact & some of the station buildings either still standing empty or converted to a home.
There is ample information boards to let you know where you are & a little history of each stop.
However, once you get to Peterculter you'll need to drive to see the remainder as much as been built over. Head west towards Crathes & you'll see the work that the Deeside Royal Preservation Society has carried out on limited funds for the past 12 years.
They have rebuilt part of the line from Crathes to Banchory, at present it just over a mile long but the plans is to extend by another two miles. Already trains are running up & down the short track for a modest fee & pulling in the crowds. They have built a new platform & once funds are found they will transfer an old disused station for Old Meldrum & relocate it at Crathes.
Head further west & you'll see the old station at Aboyne, Dinnet & what many regard as the most beautiful railway station in Britain at Cambus O'May. This old station is now someone's home but the view form the platform is simply stunning. Its about 15 miles from Balmoral Castle overlooking the crystal clear waters of the River Dee. When the local railway company held its management meetings they chose this station & would gather inside a carriage on the line overlooking the river & discuss business. Today the line is open at this end as a footpath & is a must for an enthusiast.
The old line stopped at Balleter where the royal family would be collected by coach or car & taken to Balmoral. The old station fell into disrepair but recently it was renovated & now has a royal carriage on the old platform.
It was recently opened by Prince Charles & for £1.00 you can walk onto the platform & step inside the carriage, see full size models of Queen Victoria & step inside the waiting room where she would have her own toilet & sitting room with servants while she waited for her coach. I wouldn't think she would have waited very long but nevertheless it great to see how the other half travelled in the 19th century. Originally the line was to be extended past Balmoral Castle but Queen Victoria put a stop to that, no way were trains going to thundering past her castle.
Travel about 50 miles form Aberdeen to Dufftown & in the summer months you can travel along the line between Dufftown & the town of Keith. Its about 10 miles long in an old train travelling through some beautiful parts of the country.
MAUD RAILWAY STATION
Once a year for a weekend usually in September or by appointment this old station is opened up for the public to visit free of charge. Most of the station is still intact with only the lines missing. Maud is about 45 miles form Aberdeen on what was the Buchan line.
Also known as retail therapy, Aberdeen is pretty much like every other main town or city in Britain with the usual big names on the high street. You have to wander down the little streets to find the shops selling unusual goods, the ones with a bit of character.
Aberdeen has a number of shopping centres close to the main street, the biggest ones being the Bon Accord Centre, St Nicholas Centre & the Trinity Centre, another one at Union Square is currently being built.
One of the biggest stores in the city is John Lewis next to the Bon Accord Centre.
Well not yet, but if Richard Branson gets his own way he is looking at using the facilities at Lossiemouth airfield for launching his space flight project. This is about 2 hours driving time north of Aberdeen & even if you can't afford the price of a blast into space it will still be rather interesting watching these things take off & land. Watch this space.
LASTLY FAMOUS PEOPLE OF ABERDEEN
Three of the most famous are Lord Byron the poet, Dennis Law the footballer & Annie Lennox the singer.
That is about it really, check out the Aberdeen website for more details but as I stated earlier on there is just about something for everyone.
As an Aberdonian I felt it was time to add my opinion of my home city.
Aberdeen or the Granite City as it is affectionately known is a city situated in the North East of Scotland and is famed for being the Oil Capital. However ask most Scots and you will be told that Aberdeen is known as "furryboots toon" because of the local dialect of Doric, where most locals will as "fur aboots yeh fae?" (Where are you from?).
Aberdeen is steeped in history but today boasts a decent number of shops and places to go and things to do. We have the Galleria Shopping Centre, The Academy, The Bon-Accord Centre, The Trinity Centre (unless you're tryng to make it sound posh then it's the Mall Trinity) and last but not least the St Nicholas Centre. These shopping centres hosting between them all if not most of the major shopping names on the high street.
If you're brave and venture off Union Street you will find some great little shops on the likes of Belmot Street and Schoolhill.
If historical and sightseeing are more your thing then there is an abundance of places to go and things to see. In the city itself there is the Maritime Museum. This is quite interesting, and best of all free! Here you will find out all about North Sea Oil, the fishing industry as well as seeing a scale model of an oil rig which runs from the ground floor of the museum to the top. Lots of audiovisual presentations and a gift shop and cafeteria.
For those more interested in the history aspect there is Provost Skene's House. This is a little 16th century building hidden away behind the Marks and Spencers (this makes it so much easier to direct tourists to!) and again is free entry. It has been converted into two houses, re-converted into a boarding house and also used to billet the Duke of Cumberland's troops on their march to Culloden. Now it is named after Provost George Skene, a wealthy merchant who lived there in the seventeenth century
And continuing the historical element there is Aberdeen University, my alma mater.
Not the oldest Scottish university, St Andrew's gets that crown, but one of the ancient universities nonetheless. Lots of interesting buildings to look at and explore.
For those more interested in gardens and the likes there are the Duthie Park and Hazlehead Park, Johnston Gardens and also Westburn Park.
The Hazlehead Park is a great family place to visit, with an adventure playground for the kids, pets corner and crazy golf, oh and the maze! There is also the Piper Alpha memorial in the Rose Gardens.
The Duthie Park on the other hand is more of a garden really. There are the winter gardens, terrapin ponds, a small boating pond (for toy boats), lots of open grass areas for kids to run around
It's worth mentioning that you can easily hop on a bus to go adventuring in the Shire, or along up Royal Deeside to see if you can spot the Queen.
I will however offer a warning to tourists, avoid the harbour area pubs and eateries, these are generally not geared towards tourists and generally serves the local harbour workers and boys coming in off the rigs. You're far better sticking to the pubs etc on Union Street, were the service and food are better.
Aberdeen is a fantastic city in the North East of Scotland and despite living here for more than 20 years, i still appreciate everything it has to offer.
There are a variety of ways to get to Aberdeen as it features an airport, train station and bus station. You can also go by car via the A90 but this road can be extremely busy, especially if you hit at rush hour. The train station and bus station have just been refurbished so they are a lot better than they used to be.
~~~Finding your way~~~
All of the main stations feature leaflets and maps leading you into the centre of the city or to tourist attractions and if you don't find what you're looking for there then there is a tourist information shop on the main shopping street (Union Street). You'll also find lots of gifts and the usual gimmicks here.
Aberdeen has two main nicknames (locals could tell you a lot more) which are the Granite City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. The Granite city has a very obvious link - most of the buildings in the centre of the city are made from Granite. The second name is a bit more difficult and comes from two parts - the silver city because it was grey granite that sparkles silver in the light and the golden sands because Aberdeen has a very long stretch of beautiful golden sand.
Other names Aberdeen are known by include The Energy Capital of Europe and the Oil Capital of Europe. These names offer simple expanations - Aberdeen's main trade is their oil and gas.
I could go on about the history of Aberdeen for pages and pages but you really need to know what their is to see and do and why Aberdeen is worth the visit.
Aberdeen isn't only renowned for it's Granite buildings, but also the two lovely rivers and a fantastic beach. The two main rivers are the River Dee and the River Don. Both of these have spectacular scenery and can make a lovely walk, even if it is pouring down with rain! Everywhere you go on these walks, you will find wildlife. The river Dee is renowned for the Swans (along with some rowers) and the River Don is known for the seals.
There is also a Harbour in Aberdeen that you can look around but if you follow my advice, i'd stay away. It's more for the workers than for tourists and the only thing you'll find here is to be blown away by the strong wind!
There are a number of Cathedral's - St Machar's being the most renowned and it is definitely worth a visit if this is your kind of thing.
There are numerous parks in Aberdeen, but the two you shoud take time to visit are Duthie Park and Hazlehead Park. They are both set in spectacular grounds where you will see a variety of sport being undertaken depending on the time of year.
Duthie Park is famous for the David Welsh winter gardens and people now get married here as it is so spectacular. Along with this, they have two childrens play parks, a cafe and a shop for you to browse in. It features the Rose Hill - a hill surrounded by a variety of gorgeous roses with seats along the way. This is a gorgeous park in the spring or summer, but be warned it can be very chilly in the winter! It's next to the River Dee so they are a lovely thing to combine.
Hazlehead Park has a small animal park for that your children will love along with vast amounts of grass and an excellents childrens park. It also has a maze and a crazy golf so you can really make this a day out. Hazlehead is an important park for anyone from this area as it has the Piper Alpha memorial gardens (you can't describe just how lovely these are).
~~Cadonas Amusement Park~~
Cadonas is a small but fun amusement park that has everything you need on site. It's situated next to the beach so not only do you have on-site meals, but you have a variety of cafes within a couple of minutes walk. You have the usual rides that vary depending on your age, along with dodgems, a bowling allery and your usual arcade games.
Aberdeen is the oil capital of Europe so where better to learn about the history of oil and gas which goes back around 300 years. It is located in the Ship Row which isn't far from Aberdeen Harbour. In fact, you can look out over the harbour from the Viewpoint within the museum. It also features information on fishing, fishing boats and shipbuilding which have all been major trades in Aberdeen over the centuries.
The main attraction i've found is the giant oil platform they have recreated which is around 8 metres high. If you're visiting with children then this is definately a must. It includes a gift shop and a cafe so you can stay there for as long as you like.
I should also mention that admission here is free.
~Gordon Highlanders Museum~
This is Aberdeen's military museum which mostly features equipment and goods from, yes you guessed it, the Gordon Highlanders regiment. There is roughly a 200 year history here, so if you're interested in the Military i'd definately recommend a visit.
~The Tolbooth Museum~
The Tolbooth Museum is situated in one of Aberdeen's oldest buildings and it was used to hold prisoners who were awaiting a trial or sentencing. The museum features around crime and punishment since the 17th century and the guides are more than willing to answer anything you have to ask. I took my 5 year old nephew on this and he absolutely loved it.
There are two universities along with a College in Aberdeen. Aberdeen University was founded in 1495 so you can imagine the architecture and the collections available for everyone to see.
~~The Art Gallery~~
There is a lovely art gallery here that's only a few minutes walk from Union Street. It has two floors with a lovely cafe and gift shop so you can take a souvenier with you. Admission is free and the only thing i can complain about is the cafe is a bit on the small side so you can't always get a seat as it's so popular.
My favourite part of any city has got to be the shopping, but much to my disappointment, Aberdeen is suffering greatly as a result of the credit crunch. Big named stores are closing and the main shopping street (Union St) is turning into discount street. Pound shops and cheaper shops such as Primark are flourishing, whereas higher end shops closed months ago.
There are four main shopping centres just off the main street though and although some look rather empty at the moment, they are promising good things to come in the future. New Look, Republic, Dorothy Perkins, ELC and Boots are all part of the biggest shopping centre, Bon Accord. The Shopping centre closest to there is the St Nicholas Centre and it's main features are Next, La Senza, Comet and WH Smiths. Two other shopping centres are the Trinity Centre and the Academy, but these are rarely worth visiting these days unless you want Debenhams, Argos or a trying to be designer shop that doesn't quite cut it.
There is a restaurant to cover everyones taste on the main shopping street, but most people that live here head for Belmont St with it's pubs galore. Revolution, Slains Castle and Triple Kirks are just three of the nicest places. Union Street is also littered with pubs and restaurants where you can grab cheap or expensive meals depending on the type of food you like.
The nightlife can be good or it can be atrocious depending on how busy it is in town. There are larger clubs such as Espionage, Tiger Tiger and Liquid, but if you hit a quiet night it will be a complete waste of time. Depending on your taste, there's usually something for everyone.
I didn't think much of Aberdeen before my partner moved here almost 5 years ago. Showing him around the city gave me a completely new perspective on the place that i'd lived but not apreciated until now. There is so much to do in and around Aberdeen, that given the right weather, you could easily spend two weeks holiday enjoying yourself with a different activity every day. How many people can actually say this about where they live and mean it? I haven't listed everything there is to do as my review would be endless so i've picked out what i think are the best parts. This is my opinion, i'm sure others have their own but you'll have to visit to see for yourself :)
The famous granite city - Aberdeen is the third largest city in Scotland but it is also known for being a "village". It is a very friendly place - once you get hour head around the local accent. It has the advantage of being on the east coast of Scotland and has the most fantastic beach that is about two miles long. It is a great place for a sunday morning walk/run followed by a coffee or breakfst in one of the many cafes lined along the beach front. also at the beach there is an amusement park several chain restaurants a cinema and even a retail park. The main shoppin centre of the city is varied - as well as all the usual high street names take a walk along some of the smaller streets and you will find a great choice of little indepedents - especially good for ladies dress shops. The north sea oil business brought a lot of money to the area with many of the oil companies basing themselves here. the city also has two universities - Aberdeen university and Robert Gordons University which attract a lot of students from all over the world. Aberdeen has a lot to offer both families and business alike. Only down side is the weather is always colder than anywhere else
Aberdeen is special, not just because the name seems to roll off your tongue but, because of its striking coastline, beautiful rolling ocean, rocky and sandy beaches, cliffs, great nightlife, shopping and of course the breathtaking moors!
Aberdeen is Scotland's third largest city and has an airport with local as well as international departures. It also has the largest harbor in Northern Scotland and connects the Orkney and Shetland islands to the mainland.
You can get to Aberdeen by, rail, bus, car, ferry and airplane, depending on where you are coming from.
The town itself has two universities, so there is plenty of nightlife, with several clubs and more then your pick of pubs. It also has some great shopping if you are into name brands and there isn't much to stick your nose up at when it comes to prices and design, but there are also some independent brands with more reasonable prices. There are parks to bring the kids, (45 parks and gardens in all) with some nice open spaces for football or picnics as well as playgrounds for the younger ones.
If you are looking for entertainment, then there are art galleries, theaters, and cinemas to choose between; as well as a small fairground and bowling alley on the beach.
The largest national park in Scotland is located here as well about 97 miles west of Aberdeen, it has amazing flora and fauna, and incredible scenery. There are mountains, glens, forests, tundra and moors to explore, and if you are lucky you will catch a glimpse of red deer and golden eagles. If you enjoy horse riding, and trekking like myself, then there is also the opportunity to go trekking in the Scottish highlands, where you can truly experience the wild and untamed beauty of this place. For more information on trekking and riding in the Aberdeen area, you can search http://visitscotland.com for more information on this and a number of other sights and attractions to see there.
There are several fascinating stone circles in the neighborhood as well, that are well worth a look at, in the nearby area, if you are interested in archeology. The coast is also something special to see here, and there is a Coastal trail, that takes you through several fishing villages, and ports. However, there are also stretches of empty coastline boasting spectacular cliffs, plenty of wildlife and of course the wet and wild sea wind!
The only downside, up in the highlands is the rain! But that is all part of the parcel up there! Just bring warm clothing regardless of the time of year, as the shifting weather and falling temperature is a factor to consider.
Four stars because I hate being cold and wet...
The best time to see ABERDEEN, is on a summer's day when the sun appears just after a shower of rain. This is when the flowers, which are everywhere - even in the central reservations of dual-carriageways - are in full bloom and the buildings sparkle and shimmer.
Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom title 10 times with over 2.5 million roses flowering throughout the city.
The material used in almost all the buildings in the city is a local grey granite with has embedded mica chips which makes it appear incandescant silver when wet. Granite is used for the grandest public edifices to modest suburban bungalows and even the tenements of the poorest and roughest areas.
I guess that's why they call it the GRANITE CITY!
Aberdeen is the third largest city in Scotland after Glasgow and Edinburgh with a population around 220.000 and is built between and around two rivers, the Don and the Dee.
A WEE BITTIE HISTORY
Aberdeen was made a Royal burgh in 1179, during the reign of William the Lion. In 1337 the English burned the town, including St Machar's Cathedral, to the ground.
Kings College was established in 1495 by Bishop William Elphinstone under a Papal Bull. The protestant Mariscal College was created a hundred years later, in 1593, meaning Aberdeen had two universities - the same number as the whole of England at that time. The two colleges were united in 1860 to form the University of Aberdeen.
At this time the city prospered as a trading port and in 1498 The Shore Porters' Society - Britain's oldest company - and still in business, was formed to transport the goods on land.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, whaling, shipbuilding, paper and textiles were the main industries and Crombie Mills was founded and these days their visitor centre tells the story of the famous coat of that name. The harbour was improved and Aberdeen
developed as a fishing port. Salted herring became an important export and local food source, and were nicknamed The Silver Darlings.
The discovery of North Sea Oil in the 1970's led to the latest boom in the city's fortunes. Although oil prices have fluctuated since those early days, the city is still one of the most prosperous areas in the country, staying ahead of the national average in terms of the housing prices, retail trade and low unemployment. A recent survey showed that Aberdeen is the most prosperous city in Britain outside of the South East of England.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
My grandmother was born and lived in Aberdeenshire before moving to Edinburgh ,and she had many sisters who continued to live there. This meant that as a child I spent a lot of summer holidays visiting family in Aberdeen and the surrounding countryside and I have fond memories of this time. In fact my first holiday with the girl I was to marry, was a week in Aberdeen.
PLACES TO SEE
Dating from 1545, Provost Skene's House now houses a series of period room settings. Visitors can also see a collection of religious paintings in the Painted Gallery and the changing world of fashions in the Costume Gallery. Displays of local interest, coins and archaeology are situated on the top floor.
Open daily - free
One of the City's most popular tourist attractions, Aberdeen Art Gallery houses a fine art collection with good examples of 19th and 20th century works and a constantly changing special exhibition programme.
Open daily - free
The award winning Maritime Museum brings the history of the North Sea to life. There are multi-media displays and exhibitions on the offshore oil industry, shipbuilding and fishing.
Open daily - free
There is also the Gordon Highlanders museum, telling the story of over 200 years of
this proud regiment's history.
His Majesty's Theatre, a magnificent Edwardian building, attracts international companies performing ballet, theatre, opera and light entertainment. The concert halls regularly feature classical, contemporary and rock concerts.
Other venues for live entertainment include the Lemon Tree and the Exhibition Centre.
There are three splendid cathedrals - St Machar's (founded in 1131), St Andrew's, and St Mary's - the RC cathedral. Not far from St Machar's Cathedral is the beautiful Brig o' Balgownie - built in 1320, and still open to pedestrians.
The Winter Gardens in Duthie Park, open all year round, is Europe's largest indoor garden. It attracts more than 1 million visitors a year and has Britain's largest cactus collection.
Aberdeen has a catchment population of around 500,000 people and therefore is a busy shopping destination for the north-east of Scotland.
Union Street is the main thoroughfare and most shops are concentrated at the west end. In addition there are several indoor malls.
FOOD AND DRINK
All the usual fast food chains are represented in the city and there is a wide selection of ethnic establishments. Being a fishing port, Aberdeen has some excellent sea-food restaurants. And let's not forget a fish supper from the chippy, not many plaices do it batter.
I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist!
For links to pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels and nightclubs:
Some other useful websites for Aberdeen
The local dialect is Doric, for some insights:
FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY
Aberdeen has a two mile long beach and the length of the promenade is backed by a wide range of attractions. Bars, cafes restaurants, a golf complex, the Beach Leisure Centre, an ice rink, a multiplex cinema and a nightclub, plus the largest permanent fun fair in Scotland at Codona?s Amusement Park.
Scottish premier League football action is just behind the beach, at Pittodrie Stadium, home of the DONS Aberdeen Football Club.
Storybook Glen at nearby Maryculter, is a 28 acre-childrens fantasy land where nursery rhymes and fairytale characters come to life, surrounded by flowers, trees and waterfalls.
Open daily- adults £3.80, children £1.90
*Royal Deeside and Moray*
Aberdeen is the gateway to Royal Deeside - the extremely beautiful valley of the River Dee. Ever since Balmoral Castle was built by Queen Victoria in 1855, this has been the summer holiday playground of the British Royal Family.
In nearby Ballater, even the smallest shops proudly display their Royal Warrant coats of arms.
Among Royal Deeside's attractions are the Royal Lochnagar Distillery and the Braemar Highland Heritage centre - as well as the annual Braemar Royal Highland Games in September. Braemar is also one of the gateways to the Cairngorms, some of the highest mountains in Britain.
*There are many attractions to the north of the River Dee.*
Elgin is the second-largest city in North-east Scotland. An elegant town, with ruins of a magnificent medieval cathedral, it has an excellent museum housing the oldest fossils of dinosaurs in Britain, which were found nearby.
Moray Motor Museum, the Cashmere Centre and the restored Old Mills are also worth visiting.
To the south of Elgin is Pluscarden Abbey - the most northerly monastery in the world,
lovingly restored and inhabited by Benedictine monks. Fochabers, to the east, is a charming 18th century village on the route of the Speyside Way long-distance footpath.
*The North-East Lowlands*
The staple industries here are fishing and farming. Buckie displays its fishing heritage in the Buckie Drifter - a new visitor centre - and the fishing ports of Macduff, Fraserburgh (which has Scotland's oldest lighthouse), and Peterhead all share a colourful history. Peterhead is Europe's largest fishing port with more than 400 boats. Its Arbuthnot Museum and Art gallery tells the history of fishing and whaling in the town.
Try not to miss Pennan - the unspoiled smugglers' village - at the foot of dramatic sandstone cliffs, was the location for the movie Local Hero.
*The Grampian Highlands*
Grampian Highlands is known as Scotland's Castle Country. There are no less than 70 castles to visit. Many of the castles are dramatic ruins, such as Dunnottar, chosen by Zeffirelli for his film of Hamlet.
Also in this area are 25% of Britain's standing stones - the legacy of the Picts, the ancient inhabitants of this part of Scotland.
The region is home to more than half of Scotland's malt whisky distilleries. The Malt Whisky Trail, which links eight of the numerous Speyside distilleries is a trip that you must take, although you might not remember much about it after sampling the produce!
HOW TO GET THERE
Follow the motorway network to Perth. Choose between A93, A90 or the A92 from Dundee.
There are direct services from London King?s Cross, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Aberdeen international airport is served by flights from most parts of Britain, including London airports, as well as flights from Amsterdam, Bergen, Copenhagen, Dublin, Esbjerg and Stavanger.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to spend the complimentary train vouchers which I had been sent from GNER, after complaining about an appalling train journey (see, it pays to complain!), and so I, and my ex boyfriend, decided to take a trip to Aberdeen for the day, as it's only an hour and half by train from St Andrews, where I live. Whilst I can’t give you any information from the viewpoint of a local, I’ve decided to write this op from the viewpoint of a tourist. Getting to Aberdeen is easy – there is a GNER train service all the way from London, via Edinburgh, which calls at all the principal stations on the east coast line. If you’re already in Scotland however, then you can do as I did, which was to pick up the little Scotrail service which runs between Edinburgh and Aberdeen (usually hourly). It was a really nice journey, up along the coast, and past many golf courses. I arrived at Aberdeen station, and found it to be much smaller than I had remembered, with only about 8 platforms (still, the last time I was there, I was only about 9 years old, and things do seem much larger to a 9 year old!). It was a very light and airy station, clean, and well looked after, although like most mainline stations, there were no rubbish bins! Unlike most mainline stations however, there were lots of seagulls strutting around – they were very tame, and very fat, despite notices urging passengers not to feed them. I hate seagulls – and these particular ones got too close to me for my liking – honestly, it was a very scary experience! I looked round the station, hoping to find a free map of the city centre that I could take away with me, but whilst there were leaflets on the many attractions in and around Aberdeen, no free map was to be found, so I had to rely on my memory, and the large map on the station wall! Coming out of the station, I quickly discovered Union Street, the longest street in Aberdeen,
named after the Union of 1801, between Scotland, England and Ireland. It was from the 1800s that Aberdeen, or “the Granite City”, as it has become known, saw much development, with many impressive granite buildings designed and erected. Today, Union Street is full of shops, and on smaller roads leading off of it, you can find several shopping centres, including the Bon Accord Centre, and the St Nicholas Centre. To start off with, the shops exerted their usual magnetic force on me, dragging me in to them, knowing that I’d just been paid, so could afford to have a good shop! All the big names are found in the shopping centres here (which are situated very close together, so not too much walking), including several department stores. Debenhams was the first stop, basically because I needed the loo, but after that, I ventured into Frasers (jumbled, hot and a bit of a disappointment), John Lewis (which had very helpful staff who recommended further shops to me), and Marks and Spencer, which is one of the best Marks’ that I have ever been in – on a par with Marble Arch even. You’ll also find all the regular high street names here – Oasis, River Island, Dorothy Perkins, Virgin, HMV, etc, and countless mobile phone shops, which my ex-boyfriend insisted on visiting. After spending a while in the shops, it was time for lunch. Since I was with my ever-so-fussy ex, Pizza Hut was our chosen option, but I noticed lots of cafes and restaurants around, which tended to offer traditional menus – Aberdeen didn’t strike me as being a very exciting city for food. There were lots of fast food places around too, and Stuart, who basically lives on burgers and then wonders why he puts on so much weight, visited Burger King a bit later in the day. If you go down to the Harbour area, then the cafes and pubs change in nature quite dramatically – these are places designed to cater for the local workers, not for the discernin
g tourists. The pubs down here were the type I would describe as “spit and sawdust”, and the cafes were of the greasy spoon variety – not my thing at all. The harbour is still important for the town, and it also helps to explain the city’s development. It was important even from Viking times. The port prospered with trade in wool, fish. hides and fur, and in 1498, Britain’s oldest company, “The Shore Porters' Society” was formed, to transport the goods on land. Whaling, paper, rope making and textile industries prospered in the 18th century. The 19th century brought prosperity through fishing and the harbour was extended and improved. Today, the harbour may not be the most attractive part of Aberdeen, but I felt that a walk round here helped to explain the character of the town, and was definitely worth a visit. There was a strong smell of fish, which turned Stuart’s feeble stomach, and unfortunately he wouldn’t let me visit the fish market which takes place in the mornings – I had quite fancied buying some fresh fish for an evening meal! Along the harbour area, you can also see the offices for the shipping companies which still operate from here. After our walk along the harbour, despite the fact that it was a glorious summer’s day, we were very windblown, and so needed an indoor activity for a while! I saw a modern looking building, which housed the Maritime Museum, and seeing as it was free, dragged a reluctant Stuart in for a visit. (By this time he had already started complaining that his feet hurt – it’s like taking a child out with you - no wonder I broke up with him then, is it?!) This museum was fascinating – I had thought that ‘maritime’ wouldn’t be the most interesting of subjects for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. This museum traced the history of Aberdeen’s maritime history from the earliest times, to the present day,
where the North Sea Oil is of course the dominant industry. The museum was excellently presented – there was not an overly large amount of information to take it, and there were several interactive exhibits and audio visual presentations. It was arranged in a strange fashion – it was in a similar design to a lighthouse, with the museum round the stairs in the middle, if that makes sense. The scientific and technological exhibits were explained in a way which made sense even to me, and the social history section, including information about the wives and children of the men who worked in the industry, was particularly interesting. I really enjoyed it here – particularly as it was free! After this, we stumbled upon the Tourist Information Office, which was just behind the Maritime Museum, and I finally got my free map of the city! I asked for any recommended places to visit, and it was through this recommendation, that we found ourselves at the Provost Skene’s house, a little C16th building, tucked away in between office blocks, a really hidden place, but well worth a visit, and again, it was free. Part of it was furnished in a C17th style, with information about its various owners. It has been converted into two houses, re-converted into a boarding house and also used to billet the Duke of Cumberland's troops on their march to Culloden. Now it is named after Provost George Skene, a wealthy merchant who lived there in the seventeenth century. We also saw a costume gallery here, with an exhibition of fashion through the ages and a temporary exhibition of Aberdeen's social history in the attic, which contained many objects found on archaeological digs from various parts of the city. I found this a very interesting place to visit – it was remarkable to see just how many uses the building had had, and it also provided useful background information on Aberdeen itself. Stuart wasn’t as impressed – he found it borin
g – and I guess it only really appeals to people who have an interest in history. There was also a small coffee shop here, serving a yummy selection of homemade cakes, so we stopped off here for a quick refuelling session, before heading off to see a bit of the university. Aberdeen University is not the oldest university in Scotland, (we at St Andrews have that claim to fame), but it is still very old nonetheless, being founded in 1495. We went to Marischal College, which houses the Marischal Museum. The architecture here was impressive; the museum less so. I had expected it to be a museum about the history of the university, but instead, it was university collections, which, whilst being interesting in their own right, weren’t really the type of thing to appeal to tourists who had hoped to find out about the university. Still, it was free after all, and the Egyptian artefacts were certainly very interesting – they even had a couple of mummies there. After this, Stuart was bored, and couldn’t face the 25 minute walk it would have taken to reach St Machar’s Cathedral. I was disappointed, since this is somewhere I wouldn’t have minded visiting, but he was getting whiney, so I decided to call it a day. After all, I can come back on my own to see the Cathedral. I have come across it in reading for my history courses before, since apparently it has a heraldic ceiling worth seeing, with Renaissance symbolism and imagery. I will update this op when I’ve visited! Well, that’s about it for my day out in Aberdeen, but there are a couple of other places that I remember from previous visits as a child, which deserve a mention, and these are the Duthie Gardens, and Hazlehead Park, which are two of the best parks and gardens I have visited. Hazlehead in particular is great for children, since it has adventure playground areas, crazy golf, some animals, an aviary, and a massive maze – don’t d
o as we did and go into this when you have a train to catch! It also has the Piper Alpha memorial in it. It’s the perfect place for children to let off steam and for the whole family to take a picnic and relax (though watch the wasps!) The Duthie Gardens also make for a pleasant visit, housing the famous winter gardens, and lots of cacti, which my mum and I love! Again, there are play areas, and also boating ponds which are good fun. I remember as a child spending time here while we had to hang around waiting for the overnight motorail home and it was always an eagerly awaited treat. In addition to this, Aberdeen is a great base for exploring the local area. There is so much to do and see in Royal Deeside, including fantastic scenery, wildlife, castles and whisky distilleries – but Deeside is a whole opinion in itself, so I will stop here! Overall then, I enjoyed my day in Aberdeen, There was more to do than I initially realised, and it was a far nicer place than I had been led to believe. The harbour still forms a large part of its industry, but the actual city itself has some fantastic architecture and is more upmarket than I had previously thought. It’s a great place to come for a combination of shopping and history – the two things that I love best!
I came to Scotland to visit a friend that I’d met via the internet, we were only here for a week but that was all it took, we fell in love with it. We got home and decided that it was where we wanted to be, maybe not forever but for a while so my husband applied for a transfer at work and a few weeks later we packed up our belongings and moved to our new home. I don’t have the opportunity to get out much and the move has cost us a great deal that we took for granted before, so far it seems to be a more expensive way of life for us and because we don’t own a car we are relatively shut off. But despite all that I have no regrets, every morning I awaken to a view of fields and trees. It’s cold and rains almost every day but at night the sound of the wind and rain is so tranquil it’s almost hypnotising, a wonderful way to fall asleep especially in front of an open fire. Some days I look out and the sunsets are so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost seems like the sky is melting, I’d never seen sunsets like that before. The clouds light up in vibrant reds and oranges and I find myself sitting there looking at a spectacular natural phenomenon that I’d always taken for granted. It has a feel good factor that I never imagined possible. We live 4 miles from the nearest town but although a busy road goes very close to our bungalow there is never much traffic. There is virtually no light pollution and the air and water are far fresher, they were some of the things I noticed straight away and it was quite surprising just how much of a difference it makes. It seems strange sometimes when I sit on my doorstep and I can hear the animals call, the wind blowing and the bushes rustling, so peaceful with nature all around me. When it is quiet it’s almost deafeningly quiet and for a city girl that takes some getting used to although I would have to say it’s a wonderful experience.
The moon is so bright and on a clear night the stars seem to fill the sky with their simple beauty. I’ve always loved looking at them, they have such dreamy qualities but now it almost seems criminal if I don’t take just a little time to sit and enjoy it. It’s hard sometimes I rarely get out of the bungalow because there is only one bus I can catch and that only comes a couple of times a day. Money is tight and we are a long way away from those people who mean the most to us but every time I see all the things I’ve mentioned it suddenly seems worth it. We won’t spend the rest of our life here, I feel the cold more than most and it often effects my health but for now I am enjoying living in this little bit of what is very close to perfection. Some days it almost feels like I’m living in the middle of an extraordinary beautiful poem and that alone is enough to make me smile.
My friend and I decided last weekend to go on a girls weekend to Aberdeen . Wow I was totally impressed with Aberdeen . We stayed in a B&B on Bon Accord Street for about 15 pounds a night which was really good value , and meant that we were only 10 mins walk away from Union Street ( the shops ) . Aberdeen is amazing for shopping i've decided , and a lot better then Edinburgh . There are three shopping centre where you can visit John Lewis , Dorothy Perkins , River Island ,Debenhams , Next , Marks and Spencers , Woolworths and much much more . Then there is Union Street with a load more shops , like Ottakers , Mothercare , Virgin , McKay's and there are some really fab shoe shops . In the evening we looked for some where to eat , there are loads of places ,italian , chinese and Indian and all very resonably priced . Of course there is Mc Donalds as well . The night life in Aberdeen is also very lively and there are several nightclubs and a range of cool pubs and bars . Aberdeen is a great city to visit and well worth a weekend visit .
Aberdeen - the granite city . Aberdeen has to be one of the coolest cities around , there is so much to see and do . Shops : There are three main shopping centres : The Bon Acord Centre : Look out for Benetton , John Lewis , levis store , sports shops , Boots and Burtons . St Nicholas Centre : Electrical shops , River Island , Body Shop and Marks and Spencers . Trinity Centre : Debenhams , cafe's and gives access to the bus and train stations . Activities : There are really too many to list . Condona's amusements is a great place to visit , there is bowling , swimming and of course the beach . It's ideal for a family day out . Places to eat : Well apart from Mc Donalds and Burger king , there are lots of really good restaurants . If you fancy something different there are lots of Indian , Italian and chinese restaurants . I can recommend the Oriental House is a fantastic chinese restaurent , with good quality food for reasonable prices .
Aberdeen is known as the Granite City, and less commonly, the Silver City. Both names are references to the stone used in the old buildings, some of which are quite beautiful. There a few castles in the surrounding area of Aberdeen, and if you're interested in history, pop along to the Gordon Highlanders Museum on Viewfield road. It's a non profit museum dedicated to the disbanded Gordon Highlanders. Someone who knows exactly what they're talking about will show you around the exhibits. There's also a special section for children to poke at. After looking around, you can view a presentation in the video room and afterwards look at some of the wonderful paintings in the corridors, as well as look at some other things. The museum's garden is free of charge to enter, although there is a donation box if you're in a generous mood. There are memorials to dead Gordon Highlander's there. The places to shop are "The Bon Accord Centre", "The St. Nicholas Centre", "The Trinity Centre" and most shops on Union Street. And if you can't find it, ask. EVERYONE knows where Union Street is... It's either two or four miles long, I can't remember which, and over 250 years old. It's basically the new George Street, which is even older and less popular now. There was a big celebration for Union Street's 250th a few years back. If you're looking for some action, try the beachfront. The main cinema is there, as well as Armadeus (the famous nightclub) and Codona's, a big theme park. Anyone not in the city centre will be on the beachfront, irregardless of how cold or hot it is. A word of advice to the tourist: if you've got long hair, tie it back if you're walking there. It's quite windy. It's not always, cold, but don't even think about swimming in the sea! If you want to swim, there's an indoor pool at the beach in the Sports Centre. There's also a ba
llroom where computer fairs are sometimes held. Anyway, going back to the City Centre... there's an Art Gallery at Schoolhill next to RGC if you're interested in that kinda stuff. Entry is free, and there's a giftshop and coffeshop on the premises. Quite close to the gallery is a statue of Robert Gordon, the founder of RGC. At the back of RGC, there's the back entrance to Superbowl (side entrance on George Street), a place where you can go bowling or play Quasar with a group of friends. The more the merrier. Once a year Union Street is closed off and fair rides appear out of nowhere. Also, once a year the student's Torcher Parade goes down the street. There are a lot of things happening in Aberdeen, you just have to find out when. Try calling their tourism office in advance.
Aberdeen, the granite city (the world third largest granite building is in this city) and busy harbour, set between the Rivers Don and Dee. However, I was fascinated by a small town, Stonehaven which is about 30 minutes driving distance from Aberdeen. There is a castle, Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven. It was built on the cliff and was destroyed many years ago, yet the view was nice and fascinating. You have to pay 3 pounds to visit the castle, but I did not pay for it when I went there, because there wasn't anybody selling ticket at the entrance. The town itself is wonderful, I felt very comfortable while walking along the farms and the coast. The town is easy to access, you can take a bus from Aberdeen, the bus fare is about 3 pounds per trip. Try to get some information in Aberdeen before going to Stonehaven, the information centre in Stonehaven closes in winter.
If, when you're out for dinner, you ask for a gin and tonic, and get offered a choice of Gordon's, Tanqueray or Sapphire gin, you can be reasonably sure that you've ended up somewhere that pays attention to detail, and prides itself on offering a selection based purely on quality. The Darroch Learg Hotel in Ballater (near Aberdeen) is such a place. With three AA rosettes every year since 1997, it is recognised as one of Scotland's top restaurants, and this recognition is thoroughly deserved. Two comfortable lounges (one smoking lounge) allow you to enjoy an aperitif or an after-dinner coffee in the kind of surroundings you only see in costume dramas. The dining room is half made up of a large conservatory, which allows the evening sun to sparkle in through the trees of the nearby forest. The whole place exudes old-fashioned charm and timeless style. All of this would be for nothing, though, if the food wasn't up to standard. No danger there. The tortellini of crab and langoustine I started with were large and succulent, with the shellfish inside chopped to a moist, flaky consistency. The home-baked breads (sourdough or wholegrain) served with the first course came in very handy for mopping up the crab sauce, and leaving my plate perfectly clean. For my main course, I had the fillet of Aberdeen beef, with braised shin and green vegetables, served on a bed of creamed celeriac and Madeira sauce. (It was either that or the veal on a bed of puy lentils, with a gratin of potatoes and butternut squash; but fortunately my wife had that, and I could steal a nibble of hers.) Perfectly cooked, fresh fillet tastes buttery and creamy, and this was a fine example of the species. The braised shin provided a rich, almost gamy strength to the dish, while the peas and the green beans were crisp and ripe with their own flavour. My dessert was crème brulee with toffeed apple rings and apple sorbet. The caramel crust of
the crème brulee was thin, but the body of it was deep and thick, and when I'd scraped the bottom of the ramekin as much as politely possible, the base was covered in tiny vanilla seeds... Rich and delicious. The wines we had with the meal were an Alsatian gewürztraminer and an Australian Merlot, both from the lower-priced end of the 57-page thick wine list, but perfectly tasty and appropriate nonetheless. For those with more sophisticated tastes, the selection was elaborate, though my personal favourite (Tokaji, for dessert) was absent. Overall, the quality of the meal was excellent, and the surroundings luxurious. The hotel is run by Nigel and Fiona Franks, who work hard to make every guest feel special, and succeed admirably. The price for this three-course experience is a mere £33 a head (excluding wine), and that kind of value is hard to find these days. If you're visiting the area, you'd have to look really hard for a reason not to choose the Darroch Learg for an evening out.
If you're planning a visit to the Granite City, named so in reference to the radioactive building material used in so many of the City's buildings, be sure to wrap up warm because you're in for a cold stay at one of the UKs richest (and poorest) cities. Although there is still no motorway directly into the city, which is the third largest in Scotland, it is fairly easy to reach by coach, and train, as well as by car. By coach, Aberdeen is a three hour journey from Glasgow, or four hours from Edinburgh - check out when the express buses are and book ahead, as it can make up to 2 hours difference on your total travelling time. If you are driving in from the south, watch your speed! The road from Perth, through Dundee until Aberdeen is littered with speed cameras, and some of them are live. Although there is no motorway, the road up is fairly straightforward, and fastmoving. Unless of course, you hit major traffic works which are a common occurence. Once you're there, Aberdeen has several beautiful buildings, a couple of noteworthy parks, and some stretches of beach which can be really beautiful, especially in summer. My pick of the buildings is Marischal College, part of Aberdeen university. Situated in the centre of town, the architecture and towers are a magnet to local and visiting artists. The building is awsome from the outside, and there is a museum inside which is free to visitors. This museum is not well advertised, so is usually very quiet, and it boasts a large private collection of artifacts from around the world, including a mummified Egyptian Child and a miniature Javanese Gamelan. Don't miss out on Balmedie Beach - it's quite far out of the city, but well worth a visit. You'll need a car to get there, as it's well out of town. The seemingly endless sand dunes make the approach to the beach reminicent of an African desert (if you ignore the rain), as you cannot see the sea for
them. On a sunny day, the beach provides miles of clean white sands, with several jetskiers and windsurfers hopefully trying to catch a wave! Duthie Park's winter gardens are also worth a look. Situated by the banks of the River Dee, the surroundings themselves are extremely picturesque. Inside the winter gardens there are several chambers immitating different climates. Giant cacti live in desert heat all year round, as well as some randy terrapins which always seem to be getting down to business in a small indoor pond. The continuous growth of the oil industry has ensured that shopping in Aberdeen has vastly improved over the last few years with more shopping centres and Big Name stores opening up all over the place. Most of the shops are on or around Union Street. For standard high street stores try The Bon Accord Centre. If you're looking to spend a bit more, check out the fairly new "The Academy" on Belmont Street. As well as the standard restaraunts, try Cafe 52 or Cafe Ici for a reasonably priced but delicious feed! "The Hungary Eater" is tucked away down the "Adelphi" Lane, but it's tradition Hungarian food is a delight to sample, and the owner is sure to provide you with good entertainment. The prices are ridiculously cheap. For youngsters, the rides and games at Codona's Amusement Park on Beach Boulevard will provide a whole days entertainment for children of any age - see separate review for more details. If you're visiting, don't expect too much in the way of banter from the locals - it's not Glasgow - but the folk are friendly and helpful enough. If you plan to understand anything anyone says, take some time to read a brief lingo guide... fit like - how are you? loons and quines - boys and girls far - where foo - who gang - go div/divn't - do, don't sheen - shoes So..."far did ye gang wee
loonie?" means "Where did you go, young man?" and "foo's that quinie wi' the boony sheen?" means "Who is that young lady with the attractive footwear". It takes a while, but you soon catch on... If you want to go for a night out, try starting off at the Wodka bar on Belmont street, which boasts around 50 flavoured vodkas. The Wild Boar, just a few doors down, provides a more chilled atmosphere, with more alternative music and punters. For a good night out on the dancefloor, O'Donahues will ensure you're never off your feet, whereas Amadeus, down by the beach will ensure you end the night feeling very attractive after being eyed up by at least a hundred young men. I first moved to Aberdeen in 1995, and there wasn't much to see and do. When I left, just a few months ago, I was really sorry to leave such a busy and thriving city. In particular, some of the poorer areas of the city have had great financial boosts recently, helping to create a great sense of community. I lived in one of these areas for two years, and the reputation it had as a "dangerous part of town" was nothing like it actually was. In fact it was a very friendly place to be, with plenty going on, and people looked out for each other. Aberdeen council, along with numerous organisations and a great number of locals have helped to ensure that Aberdeen is slowly but surely becoming more than just "The City With the Oil".