Askham, England is almost exactly the halfway point between London & Aberdeen, yet it took us about half the time to drive the second leg thanks to less traffic. Also, it was daylight which helped a ton. The view was beautiful, dotted hills, beautiful farms, green everywhere, cows and sheep for days. Even with all of this beauty around me, I couldn’t help but stare at Luther in my side mirror, as he struggled to stay awake. The many faces of sleepy Luther:
He was literally bobbing his head up and down like one does on an airplane. Luther is officially the best traveling dog. He survived an overseas flight, he loves a car ride- especially with the window cracked, and in any hotel, if I put his blanket (or any blanket) on the ground and tell him it’s his bed- he believes me.
FINALLY- we arrived to Aberdeen. We still had some daylight to see the city as we drove through it. It was what I imagined in some ways: stone buildings, beautiful, really old, charming – and not what I imagined in other ways: bigger than I thought! I realized that we were both pretty quiet as we took it all in. Subconsciously, I had imagined what life would look like in Aberdeen, then (still subconsciously) I had to make some updates and adjustments now that I could see it for myself. Bobby was probably quiet because he was focusing really hard on how to navigate the roundabouts at every intersection while driving on the wrong side of the road. HA! Props to him. We passed by the neighborhood of Bobby’s University, and I began to imagine his life as a student in that part of town. We were finally here- and we were taking it all in. Here are a few (crooked car) shots through the neighborhoods of Aberdeen.
We arrived to our hotel Village Urban Aberdeen, our home for the week. We were so happy to see that there was a great restaurant and a Starbucks on the lobby level. We were pretty zonked after the two day journey, so we stayed in for the night, ate at the hotel restaurant and drank cheap british tap beer.
The next couple of days were hard (this is the part where this post might seem anti-climactic and boring, but hang tight!). Our next couple of days looked like this: trying to get a UK sim card, getting rejected by multiple Scottish banks because we didn’t have a utility bill yet to prove our address (but needing a Scottish bank account to set up utilties), sim cards not working, getting the run-around on everything we tried to set up, even National Health Care, getting the stank eye from more Scottish banks (and by stank eye, I mean we still didn’t have what we needed to open an account). Kind of a bummer to spend so much time and not get very far. BUT- we did buy a car fairly easily! Things were looking up. As we ran all these errands, I wanted so badly to stop and enjoy what I was seeing and experiencing. I snapped this photo of an old church-looking building. The photo filter I put on it makes it seem more spooky than it really was. Sorry bout that.
All the while, some of our dear friends came to visit and spend the new year with us! They were so patient with all our errands, hearing us complaining about how nothing works, and running into stone walls (figuratively). But- we were ready to set all of it aside to celebrate Hogmanay! The Scots are serious about their New Year. They always get two working days off to celebrate (aka recover from hangover). We had NO idea that restaurants (even Italian and Chinese restaurants) were booked out by July… so we ended up spending Hogmanay in the hotel lobby with takeout from the aforementioned Italian and Chinese restaurants. The only redeeming factor is that there was a Hogmanay party in a function room at our hotel, so we saw a lot of men decked out in their kilt sets. Our friends back in the states always joked that there would be men in kilts everywhere. But it was true on this night! We’ll have to plan better for our next Hogmanay!
Speaking of food, I have to say that so many American’s warned us of how BAD the food is in Scotland. More than a couple people told us they had their worst meal of their life in Scotland. Sure, I’m not a fan of haggis (not that I’ve tried it) and blood pudding, but is the food really that bad? We researched online for a great pub and found this one, Old Blackfriars. It had great reviews. It also happened to be one of VERY FEW places opened during the holiday.
Our friends ordered the Fish ‘n Chips (because they won the award for best Fish ‘n Chips in 2014!). I ordered some kind of traditional beef stewy thing, and of course Bobby ordered a veggie burger. HA! But honestly, every meal ordered was amazing! Even the veggie burger. Everything had a modern twist to traditional food, it was fantastic. Already excited to bring friends who come to visit to Old Blackfriars! I’m a fan.
When we had some free time, we drove around Center City Aberdeen, and drove up to the King’s college area in Old Aberdeen. Amazing! Enjoy these photos of Aberdeen (click on them for full size).