Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Aberdeen, Scotland - My Second "Visit"

Actual date of this event: 24-29 December

When people visit Scotland, they usually visit Edinburgh or Glasgow and think they have covered it all. In Edinburgh, there is lots of history, some Royalty, and a large castle on a cliff in the middle of the city. While in Glasgow, you get a sort of ruggedness with great nightlife, great shopping, and some super friendly folks. While I prefer Glasgow over Edinburgh, I don't prefer either of those over what really makes Scotland special: the countryside and the coast. And where can you get both of those? In Aberdeenshire!
Over Christmas, Luke and I decided to visit our friends in Aberdeen. It wasn't even four hours into our visit that we started to remember what made us love Aberdeen so much. We enjoyed Christmas festivities with our friends. A Mexican Christmas Eve with fajitas, margaritas and some "horrible" games at the Mahan's house, and on Christmas Day, we enjoyed a super nice relaxing evening with some good Christmas food at the Jantz's house.
What's with the crowd-hat-thingys, you ask? Crackers are a British Christmas tradition and always include some color of crown to wear. They can be randomly found in the United States, but no one really knows what they are. Click here to learn about this quirky but fun tradition.
Luke and I were not outdoor people at all when we first moved to the UK. Within two days, literally, of us living in the UK, we became outdoors people. Scotland has that special touch... especially if the sun is shining! And on Boxing Day, the sun was in fulllllllll force! We headed to Cruden Bay to see Slain's Castle. I had visited the castle once before, but the haar (Scottish word for fog) was so terrible, we couldn't see anything. Luke had never seen the castle before, so it was a perfect outing for the day. The quarter-mile path up to the castle was full of seashells. It was really really strange, but very cool! How did all of these seashells get there???
{By the way, Happy Birthday Jill!!!!!}
The story of Dracula was inspired by Slain's Castle, so many believe it to be haunted. The castle is not part of any organization, so it not well kept, but is still nice to look at! I love castle ruins so much more than complete castles!
Since Slain's Castle is located on a cliff, there have been several unfortunate incidents where people and dogs have fallen out of windows and off of the cliff. Even though a fence has been put up around the castle to prevent people from entering, it is still possible to get inside.
We did not enter the castle, but we did walk out to one of the giant rocks to get a small view of the castle from the sea. It was extremely windy (after all, this is the North Sea), and the rocky/slippery ground made it a bit frightening especially since we had Angus with us. We had to be extra careful!

We walked north along the coast to see the Bullers of Buchan since we never saw them last time. The view back toward the castle was extraordinary!!!

That is why I love Scotland! The coast and the water and the sun! It is simply gorgeous! Just be sure to bundle up :-)

Jill and Ryan live IN the country, and their backyard looks like a giant mural. I can't stay at their house and not take a picture of their backyard. Aberdeen has at least one spectacular sunset a week with a super colorful orange and pink sky. Since we visited just after the winter solstice in December, this was right after the 3:15pm sunset.
The Cairngorm Mountains offer skiing. Did you know? Yep, but I wouldn't suggest making a trip out to it if you're looking for a good day of skiing. The snow isn't that great and there aren't too many slopes. When there is a big downpour of snow, the roads usually close so you can't even access the mountain. It is a shame. Anyway, Ryan (the man who broke his leg last year within 30 minutes of ever putting skis on his feet) wanted to take a drive out to see the ski resort since he had never seen it before. The four of us headed out to Lecht Ski Centre just to see some snow top mountains. As usual, the countryside was beautiful so taking a four hour drive didn't bother us too much. 
Once we finally got to Lecht, we did what NO ONE driving in Scotland should EVER do: start to run low on petrol. Scotland offers very few rest stops, I'm talking like six in the whole country, and only one in every four towns offers a petrol station. So we ended up driving about 30 miles out of the way to find a station. That is why our quick three hour journey to the mountains ended up being four hours haha. At least we got to see those snowy mountains!
When we found out a year ago that we would be moving to London and announced it to our friends in Aberdeen, we insisted we would go back to visit them. A few of them said, "Why would come back here? There is nothing here." For anyone that says Aberdeen has nothing is totally missing out on some extreme natural beauty. I miss those hikes! I miss that good company! I miss the cliff-lined coast! I miss those sunsets! But I don't miss the constant drizzle. haha

The Houses of Parliament and the Waterloo Bridge, both in London, are built of Aberdeen granite.

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