4 - 7 January 2008, Scotland

Last year for my birthday, I enjoyed my time in Edinburgh. It was the first time I went there in winter. Enjoying it so much, this January I went again, albeit having just spent Christmas in South Wales and the long hours of train journeys is still vivid. I am impressed again by Scotland, this time in Aberdeenshire.

Although I tried to study a little about the city/county before I set off, at arrival I still carried just a little bit more than no knowledge at all about the place. What I knew for sure was that one of my best friends moved to work there, and also I knew I wanted to travel to Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven, which is just a few miles away south of Aberdeen.

So on the train up north, I thought about the sea, Scottish friendliness, and the castle on the cliff.

The rail journey was long but such scenes near Durham and between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh were incredible. Saw Lindisfarne remotely again! Before arriving Edinburgh the sun was setting: a sky painted with mild colours announcing the darkness of the approaching night time.
...... snow

Before it got too dark I took the 45-min gap between trains quickly ran to have a glimpse of Edinburgh Prince Street. My beloved Edinburgh. Busy streets, tourists speaking all sorts of languages. I had no time to go in to the old town. What surprised me last year was the unexpected snow after Turner's watercolour exhibition, and this year I saw that (sadly) The Scott Monument is now surrounded by items that before only available at funfairs.

...The Scott Monument, Edinburgh

4th January, Edinburgh – Aberdeen

It got dark, so I could not look out the window for scenery and luckily I found a seat in the packed train, so I began to do some work (!). In no time I arrived in Aberdeen (after 10 stops in places whose names I could not pronounce except for Dundee…) I immediately spotted T and his big smile. :D A moment later he drove us to the beach. We stood there listening to the waves eating the sands and salts, me and Aberdeen exchanging first special hellos…

T’s place locates in Old Aberdeen, so I got to go to the old town first. Following that T made a salmon stew for both of us to have as dinner on the cold, cold winter night.

5th January, Aberdeen

Waking up feeling the second worst hangover in my life so far, skipping breakfast, I recovered soon after T’s superb salmon stew from last night. Could only call that magic. (Understatements in use here.)

Aberdeen strikes me as a rather rich city. I did not expect to see so many grand buildings and looking so new too! Everywhere I looked it was mostly grey, M was right. And because it was the city of granite, the materials used for building houses is stone?? Not that I was starting to miss the red-bricked houses in England. Rather, I am impressed with the usage of the colour grey in this city.

King's College

...city centre

Temperature: somehow low, but it was mostly dry. Therefore no snow either, never mind!

Pub crawling in Aberdeen with T is a must. Aberdeen has various places to quench the thirst of all sorts of pub-goers. We went to two that we each preferred: a historical pub (music-less) for my first Scottish lager, followed by a bar filled with youthful atmosphere and decorations where we drank yummy Frülli the strawberry beers!

T has become interested in making Indian cuisines so I suggested we go to the Indian restaurant of his recommendation, in order to treat ourselves while tasting some superb cuisines for cooking inspiration (plus: we can extend one of our favourite topics, that is FOOD!). The food was divine, I really have no idea how the chicken could be so tender in this dish cooked in spinach and spices; the service was incredibly good—very likely the best ever received during my UK years! It's called Jewel in the Crown!

6th January, Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven

T kindly agreed to go with me to the castle this day!
Hiking to and from the castle required full concentration, if not careful, falling down the cliff was so easy! so we spoke little, we took some breaks to quietly admire the scenery: sublime! Awesome! Standing in front of the Sea, the natural structure of the cliffs, and the ruins of the historical castle, I was amazed and became tongue-tied.

** ***
T goes crab-hunting after picnic....

7th January, Aberdeen –York

On Sunday Night after visiting Stonehaven, T offered one more feast. He added magic to our second Indian dinner. I really admire everything he’d so delicately done.

By my request he showed me photos of deep sea animals he and his research team found during field trips on the sea, and he ended up being required by me to make a presentation of the findings followed by a Q&A session, so generous! Inspiring too!

Because it’s Monday and important people like T have to work, we both woke up early to have breakfast together before goodbye. I will not forget the taste.

Packing up my bag did not take long, and luckily by the time I left T’s house the rain stopped. It was plenty of time before my train so I walked. I was going to walk anyway. Walking in Aberdeen somehow reminds me of the streets in Paris. I am not comparing the people, rather I see similarity in how these two cities impressed me with their tall grey buildings and wide roads. Anyway. Thanks to the considerate T who showed me how to find my way to the hidden (!) rail station, I had no problem walking there on my own and even managed to take a short cut through the M&S.

There were not so many fellow passengers and where I sat the coach was half empty, like my absent-mindedness throughout the first half of my journey today. Scotland’s exceptionally peaceful beauty amazes me, I think. I could see the highlands remotely, some covered with the colour white. When will I come back to set foot on them?

Right now, my train has just left Berwick-upon-Tweed. I could again see that the sun is about to set, hiding behind cotton-like clouds, long in shape, multi-layered, profound… It’s not too dark to see sheep grazing grass...


wanchen said...

greatgreat that you enjoyed the holiday! xx
Photos are amazing, I am seriously thinking about getting a new camera...

Gilbert said...


H said...

第六天的照片很棒, 我喜歡!
啊, Scotland..嚮往好久了...不過應該真的很冷...