Stonehaven

One last Scotland post (for now…I did manage one more trip to Edinburgh but that’s a ways off), and it’s all about my favorite place.

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When I found out I’d be moving up to Aberdeen for a bit, Erin sent along some information she’d picked up in her Scotland blog reading–there happen to be quite a few wives of oil workers who end up in Aberdeen blogging. She had read about a town called Stonehaven that was really close to Aberdeen that sounded nice and had an apparently amazing ice cream shop. I heard the same from people at work, a flatmate, and a Tinder date. So I figured this Stonehaven place was worth a shot. I have never been so happy that I took in suggestions. I have been really lucky and been able to go to a bunch of pretty cool places. Stonehaven is still my favorite.

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Aberdeen

After my stop in Edinburgh, I took a short train ride farther north to Aberdeen. Short note on the train ride: it is beautiful. The day I went, it was grey and rainy but the views you get of cliffsides over the North Sea are still amazing. Also there was a little girl sitting at a table across the aisle from me teaching her grandfather a card game and I swear to you my Scottish accent was better than hers, so all around it was a pretty great train ride.

Aberdeen is…grey. Fittingly, one of Aberdeen’s nicknames is The Grey City. More often, it’s The Granite City, because many of the buildings are made from local granite (which is why it’s so grey…). That’s all well and good, but when you arScreen Shot 2016-05-01 at 9.09.00 PMrive in Aberdeen on a typical Scottish summer day (grey, breezy, always threatening rain), it is not exactly the most attractive place. My first couple of days there, I wandered around a bit, getting my bearings. I got soggy, I was cold, and I developed a fear/hatred of seagulls. People warned me that it got dark much later in Aberdeen, since it was further north (true fact, in high summer it is still not fully dark at 10:15pm), but no one warned me about the seagulls. Blog readers, I am here to warn you: Aberdeen is full of seagulls, and they are all loud whiny assholes. I don’t know what this seagull did to get red paint all over it, but I’m SURE IT WAS DESERVED.
The cab driver that brought me from the train station to my temporary home assured me Aberdeen was very safe (“you won’t be kidnapped and sold into white slavery!” he said apropos of nothing, allaying my most pressing fears, surely) and gave me a flying tour of the city on the way to Old Aberdeen. He pointed to the North Sea, telling me that Aberdeen has a beach, but I probably wouldn’t want to go in the water. But not to worry–there’s no sharks. “It’s not the sharks that’ll kill ye! Ken what will?” he asked, with a look in the rearview mirror like he definitely had me stumped. “The cold?” I guessed. “AYE, THE COLD!” he agreed, cackling. So uh, welcome to Aberdeen?

 

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Barcelona

Approximately a billion years ago, I went to Barcelona. A billion plus one years ago, I was talking to my darling friend Jenny about how I hadn’t traveled anywhere. I’d been to Cardiff, and Edinburgh was in the cards, but I hadn’t been out of the UK. Let’s go to Barcelona! Jenny declared. And soon enough, she was looking up flights and plotting plots. I like when things actually happen! So yes, we went to Barcelona.

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Day in Brighton

I’ve been in class for three weeks now, but my schedule is still pretty sparse. We have class three days a week, Monday-Wednesday, and then basically a four day weekend. We keep being told that we have a lot of outside reading to do, and we have a big list of books that might possibly be helpful to look through, but very little in the way of actual assigned readings. So it’s been difficult to motivate myself to actually do work. I’ve been making my way through some very basic science guides and so far I think I have a handle on things, and done a bit of reading, but I need things to break up the workload.

I thought the weather had made a permanent change to cooler, sweater temperatures. But last week started looking a bit nice, especially Thursday, so I decided to use a day to explore somewhere else. And as it was going to be pretty nice out, I decided to hop a train to Brighton.

The decision was somewhat last-minute, and I can’t say that I really did much research on what to do when I actually got to Brighton. Basically, I knew there was a Pier and the Royal Pavilion, an art museum, and the beach. Various shopping areas and places to eat. So, I’m not sure I really got all I could have out of a day trip to Brighton, but I did some things, so I’ll call it a success.

The train ticket was pretty cheap, so that was nice (and I’ve now got a student railcard thingy that takes like 1/3 off the price of train tickets, hooray!). Train travel is sort of confusing here. I’m used to there being a handful of stations. It was always Metro North leaves from Grand Central, LIRR and NJ Transit go from Penn. Then you’d have Atlantic Ave, Jamaica, and some other stations far out in Brooklyn or Queens you could also go to, but Grand Central and Penn are the main ones. There are SO MANY train stations in London. And I don’t really understand how, when you put in your origin and destination on the National Rail site, it decides what station you’re leaving from. I put in London–all stations, and it sent me from London Bridge, but there were also trains from Victoria. Maybe London Bridge was quicker? No idea. Basically, there are lots of train stations in London, some very close together (King’s Cross, Euston, and Marylebone are like all on the same street), and I don’t understand how that all works. And there are lots of trains! When I was waiting at London Bridge, I was on the platform early, by maybe 8 minutes. I think 3 trains pulled through the platform before mine did. So many trains.

I had a bagel from a little stand at the station. It was an “onion multi-seed”, which I guess is British for “everything” bagel, and let me tell you, it was DELIGHTFUL. Closest thing to a real bagel I’ve had, and I think it’s just a little bagel chain place. It might have just been the oniony flavor distracting from the sub-par substrate (ha, conservation lingo), but still. Enjoyable.

Anyway, Brighton!

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