Friday, October 15, 2010

Discovering Aberdeen: Beaches, Bookies and Bands

In Scotland, there is no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes.

-Billy Connolly

This week I dedicated to getting to know my new city. Aberdeen is Scotland’s third largest city with a population of over 200,000. And in case I haven’t clarified this point - it’s freakin’ cold! Young women run around town in short skirts when it’s colder than an ice cream truck. Speaking of ice cream, it's very popular to stroll along eating it in this weather. If I tell a local I’m cold, he or she will respond “Nah, it’s a bonny day!” Bonny days are those in which there is no rain, thus enabling one to wear shorts and slurp ice cream while everyone’s breath turns to fog.

The oil industry has made the city rich and everyone seems to be obsessed with shopping. And I do mean everyone. Even men – straight ones – will tell you their favorite places to shop and how much they enjoy it. I suppose that when a population has money to burn and is in need of indoor entertainment, shopping is the thing. There are many shopping centers, the newest of which is Union Square. It encompasses the train and bus stations as well as a Jurys Inn, movie theatre, 15+ restaurants and a mall. I tried to spend the evening there tonight as it’s the thing to do, but found it a bit overwhelming and vacated to a quiet pub. On the way home I discovered a bookie joint operating on the high street. Appeartantly, betting is legal here and young lads spend their Friday evenings at Ladbrokes making bets and going broke (hence the name).

Tuesday night I went to hear the Scottish folk band “The Shee” play in concert just 5 minutes from my flat. Six kick-ass women cranking out the folk tunes were just what I needed to feel like I’m really in Scotland, although the pint of cider helped as well! I have also visited Aberdeen beach twice. Apart from a lovely view and nice place to stroll, the beach is home to an indoor amusement complex (again with the indoor fun), which houses a bowling alley, mini golf, movie theater, restaurants and bars. If you’re brave enough to venture to the permanent outdoor fair, you can ride the ferris wheel enclosed in a glass case to keep you out of the wind.

My favorite attraction so far is the Provost Skene house museum in the city center. The medieval manor house is one of the only surviving buildings from that era and houses a collection of Edwardian clothing and furniture as well as renaissance murals. I love buildings like this one with their heavy oak doors, thick walls, treacherous stairs, and plenty of Jacobite legends. (The Jacobite rebellion occurred in the 17th century when catholic Scots attempted to return exiled Prince Charles Stewart to the throne. The English wiped them out and began a genocidal campaign of forced emigration, which is how so many of us with Scottish ancestry came to be born in the USA).

Today I enjoyed some local haddock at the opera house’s restaurant. Set inside a landmark of modern architecture, the restaurant boasts excellent views of the city. I enjoyed the opportunity to people-watch whenever I looked up from my reading of sociological theory. I’d work to get my head around quotes like “Truth, in reality, is a fiction” and then gaze out onto a statue of Prince Albert and several 400 year-old churches. It was certainly better viewing than the wall of my flat. Even though shopping isn’t my favorite pastime, Aberdeen is an exciting city with plenty to offer. I look forward to living here as a semi-tourist. For now, it’s back to the books.

Song of the Day: “Tom Paine’s Bones” by The Shee

1 comment:

  1. Three things: 1) I am so glad that via Facebook and blogging I am able to catch back up on your life! :) 2) This makes me want to go to Scotland SO badly (having already wanted to for my whole life) Green with envy what? 3) Theory is a huge ginormous pain in the tukas! Although I will admit to having found some interesting ideas there in if pressed. Good luck with the books!