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Creeping onto the Map
Aberdeen in General
Aberdeen in General
Date: 23/06/00, updated on 14/11/03 (45 review reads)
Advantages: near the sea, compact - most places are walkable
Disadvantages: very cold, expensive
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".