Back in March of 2006 my work asked me to go to Aberdeen, Scotland on a month long business trip. And well honestly I could not say no to going to the land of some of my ancestors (I am like a quarter Scottish roots but a mutt for all practical purposes). So I packed up head for the airport for the long 10 hour flight across the pond.
I had a long flight from Houston to Amsterdam as there is no direct flight to Aberdeen from the US. I got to the airport in Amsterdam and had to check in for my flight to Aberdeen as it was a different airline for the second leg of my trip. After waiting 2.5 hours in a long ass line to get my boarding pass, I get to the front of the line only to be told that my seat on my connecting flight was in first class, and I could have used the no waiting first class line (my life is full of stories like this as this shit only happens to me). So I ran, yes RAN to the gate and was the last person to get on the plane. After a short flight from Amsterdam to Aberdeen, I was finally on the ground in the land of my forefathers. It was cold, no not just cold but FUCKING cold (yes I said the same thing about Canada). As the only non-Brit on the flight I breezed right through customs and immigration much to the disgust of the Brits who were cussing me while I walked by in my Pittsburgh Steelers jacket.
A Really Old Cemetery
I would have to say that on all of my travels that I have gone on, the hotel I had when in Scotland was the best. I had a proper living room with two couches, a full kitchen with a stove, oven, fridge, and huge bedroom. The bath room was a little lacking, but hey we can’t all get everything that we want can we?
Little did I know when I left on this trip that I would be working for 6 days a week for about 14 hours a day, so I did not have very much time to get actually get out and explore the country as I had wanted to. I did manage to get out on Sundays and walk around town (I didn’t rent a car because it was too confusing for me sober and as I was drunk all the time I didn’t want to chance it). The first Sunday I was there, I walked all over the place. I found the concert hall, the huge ass library, the shopping center, City Hall, and Robert Gordon University. The town is beautiful in and of itself as the entire city is grey and made of granite (the nickname of the city is the Granite City). I also managed to find some really old cemeteries and a statue of William Wallace (ie Braveheart and which I think every city in Scotland has one but I can’t blame them).
The weather in Aberdeen is crazy. If you have ever lived in or been to Houston then you know that the weather here is crazy, but in Aberdeen it is very strange. On morning I woke up and it was warm (well as warm as 20F can be) and the skies were clear. Within a few hours it was cloudy and snowing. 3 hours later it was clear again, and a few hours after that it was raining. When it was time to leave for the hotel at the end of the day, it was clear again and warm. The receptionist at the office told me that they have a saying there, “Aberdeen, where you get all 4 seasons in a day’s time.” And I thought Houston weather was crazy.
The next Sunday I was off, one of my friends from the Aberdeen office who I used to work with back in Houston, took me for a drive to a castle outside of town. It was a nice castle, but it costs about $50 to go inside of it. And after learning that the castle was just someone’s home and that there was no battle fought there, I passed on the entrance fee. It was a really nice beautiful place though if you take away the high cost. My friend also took me into Old Aberdeen where there was a 1400 year old church and a 500 year old college. I was in awe of the college as it pre-dated Columbus coming to the Americas.
During the week when I was working if I was able to get back to the hotel at a decent time, I would change and walk down to the main street in Aberdeen called Union Street for drinks and dinner. I hit up every single bar that Union Street had to offer. The best at the time was a place that was a mecca to all things Frankenstein. Another good place I found was an old church that had been converted into a bar/nightclub called “Soul”. It was really interesting considering that the DJ booth was where the pulpit would have been if it was still a church.
After working what seemed like an eternity, I came to my last night in Aberdeen which happened to be a Friday night. My friend from the office decided that me and him should go out for a nice meal and then to a bar for one drink. Well we ended up at a really nice Chinese place and drank a couple bottles of French wine. We then headed off to a small local bar for one drink of Scotch. Well after drinking a few glasses of Scotch I was ready to leave, but a rowdy group of Scots heard that I was American and that it was my last night in Scotland. So they decided that I would stay at the bar and they would be buying me glasses of all of the different great types of Scotch. Four hours later, I was completely fucking wasted and it was not even 2 am. Did I mention that my flight leaves at 7am and I had not packed yet? Well we left that bar with the group of Scots and headed to a strip club. Now normally I am game for a strip club, but I had to pack and get up before the sun does. Well after 3 hours in the strip club (I was disappointed because none of the women were Scottish, they were all Russian) and tons of more drinks (which I didn’t pay for) I was finally able to stumble out of the strip club and walk
Although I did not get to do the things I had wanted to do while I was there (a visit to the highlands, touring some whiskey distilleries, and a trip to Edinburgh), I did get to enjoy a little bit of another great country and get a nice stamp in my passport. If you ever get a chance to go to Europe, I would highly advise you to head to Scotland as it is very beautiful and it is has a lot of history to take in.