This time last year.

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… me and Julien were just back from our holiday to France.

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Back in Aberdeen, my parents came for a weekend visit.

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We went out to picturesque Stonehaven for the day. 1
… And they got to act test bunnies while I experimented with making this rhubarb white chocolate cheese tofu cake.

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I got a new tapestry to our room. Great tip for making a place more homely when you are not allowed to repaint the walls etc.
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In true spirit of Midsummer, it was raining on said day. It also coinsided with my birthday so I combined the two, creating Bidsummer! We had dinner in the living room, floral crowns on our heads, with the rain pouring down outside.
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Other than so, I discovered the beauty of Seaton Park and thus spent just about every day off walking around it, numerous Kilau take away-coffees in hand.

Things to do in Aberdeen//Granite City Gems.

When I first moved to Aberdeen a little over a year ago I examined the internet high and wide to find things to do, places to go, food to eat, you know the drill – I was moving to a town I had never ever visited before. Let alone even heard of! (Well, apart from in a song title by one of my favourite bands!)

So perhaps there are now some fellow expats in this exact situation and by some unknown means the internet has brought you here to find out just exactly what there is to do in Granite City? Well, here are some suggestions from my first year here; which I admit may be very Aberdeen Uni-centered, but that is after all the area where I have been living.


COFFEE/FOOD (VEG FRIENDLY)

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Sunffiti at Books & Beans.


Madame Mew, Aberdeen Market Village
Top notch Thai food; massive portions at bargain prices. I am particularly fond of how the quirky decor makes you feel like you are right there sitting on Khao San Road, whilst being in Granite City. On a side note the Market Village is a pecuilar place to have a wander around and look at stuff… There is indeed a lot of stuff there.

Books & Beans, 22 Belmont St
Who does not like to enjoy their cuppa sqeezed in between old books? Personally, I like to visit this café in the early mornings (when one also gets a discount on hot beverages!!) – the window seats are just perfect for people watching aka one of my favourite pastimes.

Melt, 58 Holburn Street
I literally just found this take away grilled cheese sandwich shop the other day but as it turns out they have a vegan melt available! The news shook my world enough to get a spot on the list. Also it is a locally run business, like-button!


EXCURSIONS

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From my post on the Winter Gardens.


Footdee
At the end of the Esplanade lies Footdee, or Fittie, a old little fishing village with tonnes, I repeat TONNES, of quirkly cute things to rest your eyes on.

David Welch Winter Gardens, Duthie Park
I love these indoors gardens (+ the fact that there is no entry fee!!!) – perfect for the Scottish winters that are far from tropical.

St Machar’s Cathedral/Seaton Park/Brig o’Balgownie
Grab a take away coffee at Grub or Kilau (only two places to serve decent coffee around the campus area), continue up to St Machar’s Cathedral to admire the beutiful stone work interiors before walking through Seaton Park to reach Brig o’Balgownie – one of the oldest bridges in town, if I remember correctly. If you are feeling extra energized on this day (or the weather is clear) why not continue down along the beach and visit Footdee at the same time.


SHOPS

Grampian Health Store, 32-34 Market Street
I definitely have a thing for health stores, I just love the scents that greet you once you enter. This is where I go for my tubs of nutritional yeast, dairy free ice-creams and kilos of nut butter. Prices are generally better than at the health food chains + one just feels better supporting independent shops. And as a bonus the staff are lovely!


DRINKING

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An afternoon at Slains.

Under the Hammer, 11 N Silver Street
A friend of mine recommended this place not too long ago, saying it is a great cosy place to go and without annoying blokes trying to chat you up. Winning! I am also a big fan of the vodka-bottles-turned-candlesticks; only downside would be that it gets a bit loud as the evening progresses due to the stone vault it is in.

CASC, 7 Stirling St
CASC stands for (and specialize in) Cigars, Ales, Scotch and Coffee and they sure know their trade! J loves to come here because of his cigar interest (they have a whole humidor room filled to the brim with wooden cigar boxes) while I just dig their wide selection of world wide as well as local beers and the fact that they make coffee like it was science class.

Slains Castle, 14-18 Belmont Street
This place located right in the city centre feels like stepping into the living room of the Addams family. To reach the lavatories one goes through “hidden bookshelf doors”; quite different from your average pub experience!


I’m still to try out Bonobo, which is -currently- open only on Saturdays, as well as Long Dog Café and recently established Mad Penguin that have been rumored to make a peanut butter and chocolate sorbet (I mean you had me at peanut!!). I expect to explore a whole lot of new places now that I have moved to the other side of the town too.

Are you a fellow Aberdonian, and if so – do you have some epic suggestions to be added to this list?

One year. Three homes.

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This is where we live now. Our third home in 9 months.

Although it is only on the other side of town, everything is so brand new. In a thrilling way. Getting to know a new neighbourhood; the distance in minutes to the supermarket, which coffeeshops serve soy milk, memorizing the order of bridge-pub-post office on my way home, passing the bored-looking siberian husky surveying the street from his window; all whilst Aberdeen is dressed in a fine suit of autumny bright yellow.

The walk to the café in the morning has increased to the double and perhaps I ought to start taking the bus, but at the same time I feel too impatient to stand still and wait for the timetable to decrease so I rather walk. Me and my audiobooks, playing through J’s headphones that I nick from him each morning (eventhough I know he hates it when I do as he thinks I am too reckless to be trusted with any set of headphones.)

So far, so good.

Skye ⇒ Glenfinnan ⇒ Glencoe ⇒ Aberdeen.

dsc_0414dsc_0415dsc_0423dsc_0425When we woke up on Friday the weather was gloomy. I would almost say FINALLY, because the show we had witnessed the days prior just did not feel like the ~authentic~ Scotland – plus, don’t the landscapes look way cooler with those dark clouds hovering over them? I think YES. The greens greener and the blues bluer.
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It was time to hit the road again, this time driving down to Glencoe. So rather than leaving Skye the same way we arrived, via the bridge i.e., we wanted to take the ferry over to the mainland. We were lucky though, had it not been for a bus that had cancelled its spot on the ferry we would have to wait about 4hrs for the next available slot. So → piece of advice if you want to cross the water by ferry, call to book in advance!
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By mere coincidence, we crossed this church in Glenfinnan, tried the door and it was open. And empty. You could only hear the wind travelling through the stone walls.
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The interiors were really quite stunning.

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What we were really looking for in Glenfinnan was this viaduct though — RECOGNIZE IT ANYONE??
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As it turned out we probably did not choose the best viewpoint viaduct-wise, but nonetheless we chose the one with fewer tourists – and that’s always something!
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Really we were meant to spend one night in Glencoe before driving back home on the Saturday, but after trying just about every road + friendly passer-by’s we simply could NOT find our hostel. Nor did we have any number to call for directions.

J jokingly said “maybe we should just drive back to Aberdeen”.
Me, longing for a cooked meal and a warm shower, took that joke a bit too seriously and we were soon on our way back to Aberdeenshire.


More posts from our road trip: 
→ Aberdeen ⇒ Inverness.
→ Inverness ⇒ Fort Augustus ⇒ Eilean Donan
→ Isle of Skye, Day 1: Fairy pools & Highlanders.
→ Isle of Skye, Day 2: The Old Man of Storr & black sand dunes.

Aberdeen ⇒ Inverness.

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After a rather stressful morning of crossing town THREE times to get all the documents in order to pick up our rental car, we were on the road around noon to start our drive up towards Inverness.DSC_0003
DSC_0004We stopped along the A96 in Keith to visit the Strathisla distillery. Now I am not overly intrigued of such places, but J had made a good choice (if it were up to him we’d have stopped at just about every distillery we crossed… which were PLENTY!) with Strathisla, as it is the oldest distillery still operating in Scotland and thus lacks that almost industrial feel you get from more modern complexes.

The tour was about £7.50pp and lasted for an hour, including a little whisky tasting at the end (or you can purchase a driver’s set if you are behind the wheel.)

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Once in the highland capital, we literally made it around the city center before the rain started pissing down. This brought us into conversation with an elderly local who tagged along on a little pub crawl. First stop was the Castle Tavern, then on to the Market Bar (regarded as a bit of a hidden gem of the city – a teeny tiny pub in all wooden decor) and finally to Hootananny in time for a live session of traditional Scottish music. DSC_0028 When we rolled out of town the following day, the sun stood bright in the sky yet the chilly august air was indicating autumn’s return. We drove along Loch Ness, onto Eilean Donan Castle and finally to Isle of Skye where we’d spend the next couple of days — but that will be a post for another time.

A weekend with Mum & Dad_Pt 1: Stonehaven and 3 course meals.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetLast weekend these two travelled across the North Sea to spend the weekend with me. Mamma and pappa!!!
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On the Saturday we took the bus out to Stonehaven.

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Which is an adorable little fishing town about half an hour away from Aberdeen. This particular Saturday there was a carnival held at the city square.

It was of course far too crowded for us northern Swedes so we took the path down to the harbour.
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We then continued up a hill…
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… and reached the path to wander out to Dunottar Castle. DSC_0813
Passing by coconut smelling flowers…
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and grass-munching beauties. DSC_0808
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By the time we actually reached the castle, we did not really feel like paying the entrance fee to enter (me and Julien already went a few months ago and both felt like the surroundings were the better part of the experience). So instead we ate our packed lunch and watched the castle and its tourits from a distance.
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Afterwards we decided to be adenturous and climb down the steep hills to that gate through the cliff as you can see on the right. DSC_0824
Yes, this one!
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I took this and showed my mother saying “you can go back to Sweden and claim we took a quick visit to Austria”.. I mean, how Sound of Music does this not look??
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DSC_0839Then it was definitely time for a strong cuppa coffee, so back to Stonehaven we went.

Back in Granite City, I cooked up a 3 course-meal including the sweet potato and black bean burgers with the infamous mango + ginger salsa. Holy yum!

The following day we walked around Aberdeen and I got a sunburn on my nose, but that will be a post for another day.

David Welch Winter Gardens.

IMG_4205The other week on my day off, the sun was shining (which is a rare occurrence here in Scotland) so I decided to carpe the diem and go out for a walk along river Dee.
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With a coffee in one hand (obviously), camera in the other – I finally ended up in Duthie Park.
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My aim was to explore the David Welch Winter Gardens that are located within the park – and to my great delight I discovered there was not even an entry fee to be paid at the door!!
(I was thinking one would have to pay a pound or so, and thus darned myself for having not brought my Student ID, but that was clearly not needed = pleasant surprise!)
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Now there are way more than funny looking cactuses (what is the plural of cactus?! #helpaforeignerout)in there, but for whatever reason the photos from my DSLR seems to have vanished into thin air, so what is left is a bunch of iphone-photos. Amongst them these little creatures — turtles!!!
Which I by the way do hope don’t get hit in the head when those coins are being thrown down there… ..
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It must be a rather Scottish things, these Winter Gardens? I am fairly sure I have seen both Glasgow and Edinburgh having one too… It is a really cool concept though! 4/5 toasters for the Winter Gardens!