Adorable Aberdeen – a stroll around the Grey City

I completed Norway. Almost two months and about 1500 km lay behind me. Although some of the days had just been dragging on, time had flown by. All the beautifully places I had seen, all those nice people I had met. I could hardly grasp it: first country down. Five more to come.

Admittedly, I was a bit excited about my flight to Aberdeen. I had bought wrapping material in a local thrift shop and hoped it would be sufficient to wrap up my bike adequately for the flight. Bergen airport is, for an international airport, quite cute and it was a bit difficult to find a quiet corner where I could prepare my bike undisturbed. But again, the Norwegians proved to be as relaxed and unfazed by anything out of the ordinary, as I’ve grown to appreciate over the last few weeks. Nobody paid attention to me, while I wrapped and taped the bike and tried fitting all the panniers in several layers of garbage bags.

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Luckily check-in went as smoothly as in Hamburg, and I relaxed. Although, when I boarded the tiny propeller-driven plane, I had my doubts if all the luggage AND my bike would fit in. As it turned out, they did not. Me and my panniers arrived in Aberdeen just fine but my beloved Stevens had stayed behind in Bergen. Not for the first time did I have to wait-up on luggage upon arriving in Scotland, I was getting quite used to it by now. Last time my entire hiking gear got held up in Amsterdam, while me and my friend Karin were stuck for an unexpected night in Milngavie, the starting point for the West Highland Way. This time, however, the problem was handled much more professionally, and as promised, my road companion was delivered to the hostel later on the same day.

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I decided to spend some time in Aberdeen, the Granite, Grey or Silver City as it is locally nicknamed. Granite had been quarried in the area for more than 300 years, and had been used principally for building in the town itself, and which sparkles like silver in the sun. Nestled in between two river mouths, Aberdeen is as much a city by and of the sea.

©IRoThe harbour is a significant feature of the city centre and adjoins to Aberdeen’s biggest shopping centre. The golden sands of Aberdeen’s beach, just a few minute’s walk from the city centre, stretches out for miles and is popular with locals and visitors alike.

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Aberdeen, merged into Scotland’s third biggest city from from two separate burghs, allows itself the luxury of having two Old Towns: Old Aberdeen, at the banks of river Don, with its picturesque cobbled streets, well-preserved historic houses, and Aberdeen’s oldest University. The majestic and beautiful buildings of King’s College, the old tree population, the flawlessly manicured lawns – they all form the heart of the university’s campus and breath of old nobility, sophistication and established academia. It must feel quite exhilarating and inspiring to study and teach in such an appropriate surrounding, and I can’t stop feeling a bit envious when comparing it to the University of Hamburg’s campus.

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And then, at the other end of Aberdeen’s beach, there’s Footdee, fondly called Fittie by the locals. An old, rather unique fishing village, with tiny stone cottages grouped around squares, each one coming with its own shed. Originally built from drift wood, but having been rebuilt over the years most are made of brick nowadays and painted brightly, with flower-filled gardens surrounding them. Footdee had actually been created on a drawing board and established to re-house Aberdeen’s fishing community. There are no fishermen living in the cottages anymore, but its quirky but enchanting character has attracted a creative crowd, and one can find a number of workshops and galleries in the former outhouses.

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