Our little trip to Aberdeen was a bit of a surprise. In fact, not everyone knew we were in Aberdeen until they saw us. Luke had a meeting scheduled in Aberdeen for the morning of the 7th, so rather than him waiting until Sunday night to go to Aberdeen, we decided to go up the Friday before to celebrate the Fourth with our besties, Jill and Ryan. It was perfect timing because that Saturday was Luke's birthday!
I took a morning flight Friday, so I could help Jill set up for the July 4th party she was hosting at her house. Like the wonderful friend she is, she grabbed me from the airport, and we headed off to run errands. As the evening got closer, friends started showing up after work (as well as Luke) to celebrate America's Independence. Every time we visit Aberdeen, we realize more and more how much it has changed since we lived there. So many of our fellow expat friends have moved on to other locations (most of them back to the USA), which means more new expats have arrived. Even though we don't live in Aberdeen, most of the new expats in Aberdeen are very friendly and welcoming. They are always excited to make friends across the world - who knows, we could all live in the same place at the same time one day (probably Houston)! Anyway, the party got started, and we chowed down on so much American-style food. Jill had purchased fireworks, but unfortunately the sun doesn't set in Aberdeen until late in early-July, and we couldn't wait that late to shoot them in the air. It also didn't help that the weather was terrible. We enjoyed the display anyway despite the rain and daylight. The cows were a hoot though! Jill and Ryan's house is on a farm with a large cow pasture next door. The cows were staring and gawking at the fireworks, and decided to come as close as they could. But as soon as the popping began, they sprinted away! When we started a new set of fireworks, they crept back up again, then sprinted away. It was hilarious!!! See video below...
On Saturday, the weather was beautiful for Luke's birthday! We hopped in the car to finally visit Balmoral Castle - we never got a chance to visit before moved to London. When Buckingham Palace opens to visitors in August, the Queen spends those six weeks at Balmoral Castle. We took a walk through the estate, and Luke and I visited the little section of the castle that is open to visitors (not that impressive, to be honest). We did get sprinkled on at one point, but this is Scotland we are talking about - it wouldn't be a day out in Scotland without rain.
After Balmoral, we stopped for lunch in Braemar. Little country cafes are so adorable and quaint. And they always have delicious food!
Next, we drove to Linn O'Dee - a small gorge with very deep pools of water and a dramatic waterfall. Jill and Ryan had never been before, and it is this kind of stuff that Luke and I miss so much about Scotland. A bridge crosses right over the gorge, and the rock formation around it makes it possible to get closer and climb around. We saw a guy hop from one side to the next which was quite frightening! What a natural beauty this was! See video of gushing water below...
On Sunday, Jill ran in the Stonehaven Half Marathon, so we went to cheer her on. Wellllllll, we actually missed cheering her on. She told us to be there at a certain time which was when she expected to finish. When we arrived at that time, and she was already finished! As much as I'd like to blame it on the fact that we didn't really know where the finish line was or really where the route was or that we stopped and got ice cream on the way, I can't. We totally should have factored ALL of that into account and been there early! We are very very sorry that we were not there to witness your personal best! Next time, we will make sure to be there and bring you ice cream! :-(
After the race, we had a late lunch at The Tollbooth in Stonehaven Harbor. It was another place that I never got to try when we lived in Aberdeen. Stonehaven Harbor is one of my favorite little towns in Scotland... it helps that my favorite castle is just down the coast (Dunnottar Castle).
After lunch, we drove back to Aberdeen and had a fairly lazy evening/night. We planned out our next trip together (Paris on 27-29 July, coming soon), which we all never thought we would get Ryan to do! Monday morning, Luke had his meeting, while I headed to the airport to fly home. As always, it is a great time hanging out in Aberdeen, but we mostly loved that we got to visit with our friends! Thanks for hosting us for the weekend, Jill & Ryan!
Both Balmoral Castle and Linn O'Dee are located in the Cairngorms National Park.