Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day One: Exploring the City of Aberdeen

Actual date of this event: 26 July

On the drive from the airport to our temporary flat (better known as an apartment in America), I quickly realized we were not in America anymore. There were two things I was most nervous about coming over here: driving and understanding the accent. As soon as the cab driver opened his mouth, I discovered that understanding the accent wasn't going to be as difficult as I thought. I also discovered that driving WOULD BE as bad as I thought.

During our cultural orientation, we talked quite a bit about the driving situation. We were told a few things:
1.) In the UK, driving is done on the left side of the road not the right.
2.) There are these things called "round-abouts" and you have to be in a certain lane and cars come in and out and you have to be extremely careful. Uh, what?
3.) The wheel is on the right side of the car.
4.) Gas is expensive and price is calculated in pounds per litre rather than dollars per gallon.
5.) Most people drive a manual/standard and automatics are hard to find. Awesome.
6.) The lanes are very narrow and there are no medians, so there is little room between you and oncoming traffic. Also awesome.
So hearing about all of this, I thought that I would NEVER drive unless I have to. I still think that. So you know how you usually drive more carefully when others are in the car, and by yourself you sometimes can drive like a maniac? Well I felt like this cab driver didnt realize we were in the back of his van. Luke and I tried to pay close attention to the round-abouts and we decided it was best to sight-see rather than figure it out.

A not so busy round-about

Even though I had gotten very little sleep, and my body thought it was still 5am, I was wide awake. There was a major rush of adrenaline going through my body. The buildings in the city are all grey. There are sidewalks on both sides of the street and on every street. There is little grass except in parks. There are tons of people walking on the sidewalks. There are very little skyscrapers. There are stores that looks like the homes. There are no street signs. These are all things I expected, but was in denial that it was actually true. I could not believe that I was actually in Europe, in the United Kingdom, in Scotland, in my new home city.

The cab took us by our realtor's office so we could pick up our keys. While doing this, I realized how strict Aberdeen City is about parking. If you have not paid for parking, you WILL get a ticket. Meter wardens were walking around looking at every single car to make sure their ticket had not expired. Note. To. Self. Don't go over parking time. We were taken to our temporary flat on Claremont Place. We... I mean... The cab driver and Luke... had the joy of taking 6 pieces of luggage up to the second floor. Here are pictures of our temp living space:

Master bedroom
Second bedroom (this is our "changing room")
Hallway (the door in front straight ahead is the front door)
Living room

We took off our shoes and socks since they had been cooped up for 18 hours. Took a look around, unpacked a few things, took a quick shower and then headed out to explore the city. We brought the sun with us since it had been only sunny since we landed. I actually put on some sandals and a short sleeved tee which was soon covered up by a sweater. We walked to the City Centre on one side of the street, and back on the other side of the street. You really cant see what you are walking next to so you have to look at the other side of the road. We made a conscious effort to walk on the left side of the sidewalk since it is a general rule to walk like the cars drive. But no one else seemed to make this effort. We just tried to stay out of the way! We did see a red-headed man in a kilt playing the bagpipes. Yes!

Just outside of our flat
Walking on Queens Rd
In the heart of the City Centre
Piper in City Centre

On the way back to the flat, we stopped at the bank to try to get the last few details settled. By this time, I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was take a nap. That adrenaline from earlier had worn off already. We opened some windows, turned off the heater/furnace/whatever-its-called. Forgot to mention that we no longer get to enjoy A/C. Not that we need it, but it wasnt one of those things we thought about. The windows are constantly cracked open (for now) and there are no blinds on windows. The windows have curtains but they are always wide open. This is new to me since I have already tried to change clothes in the open and Luke has to remind me that since we can see into other people's homes, that they can see into ours. Ooops. So we have dedicated one room as the changing room where the curtains are always shut. ANYWAY... after struggling to open my eyes to avoid not falling asleep that night, I unpacked a few more things and we decided to go get some dinner and go to the grocery store to get a few things.

At least one container of Tony's made it!

Our first meal was at The Foundry, which is I guess is a pub. This was a new experience. We walked in not knowing whether to seat ourselves or wait for someone. We saw no sign of a hostess so we sat ourselves. Then we saw no sign of servers, so we went to the bar and ordered a few beers. While trying to figure out what to eat, we got super distracted by watching the traffic out the window. We could not take our eyes off of watching how people were driving and figuring out what the markings on the road meant (we still dont know). Luke made me go to the bar to order our food - test of being a big girl. Our meals came with a beer for only 30P extra (thats like 45cents... say wha??)! And they were not small beers... they were the size of what Americans call "big ass beers". I can get used to that!

Top Left: Burger with "spiral fries"
Top Right: Not sure - some sort of flat bread and butter
Center Left: Fish and Chips
Bottom" Chicken Club Sandwich with salad
Hot dogs from a jar, anyone? You know you wanna!

We walked to the express grocery store which was just a block away. It was not the quickest trip especially since mostly everything here has different labels and names. We walked our half mile back to the flat, so we could go to sleep for the night. Both of us fell asleep by about 8:45 that night, and I dont think anyone could have woken us up!

In case you are wondering, we walked about 3 miles during our exploration of the city. Then we walked about 1.25miles during our dinner/grocery run. Walking around the city rather than driving is one thing I have been excited about!

Bathroom light switches are on the outside of the bathroom.


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