Monday, September 24, 2012

Stunning Scotland

A couple of years ago business took me to Aberdeen, Scotland for a few weeks of the summer.  Work kept me very busy for most of the trip, but I got to see some of the beautiful Scottish countryside.  For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the UK and Scotland, Aberdeen is on the northern part of the island on the North Sea.  I was there in the summer and since it is so far north the days last a very long time.  Most days the sun went down a little before midnight and came back up a little after 3 AM.

The first place I visited with a few colleagues was a national park around the Cairn Gorm mountain.  It is one of the taller and more prominent mountains in the Scottish Highlands.  There are a few paths around and up the mountain and my colleagues and I started up one of the more difficult ones.  Unfortunately I wasn't in very good shape at the time so I only made it up part of the way before having to stop.  Fortunately the surrounding area was very beautiful and there was plenty to see around the base of the mountain until they returned from near the top.

On the way to and from Cairn Gorm we passed a very prominent point for many scotch drinkers - the Glenfiddich distillery.  We didn't stop, but I know that tours are given and you can even fill up your own bottle of scotch on site.

In addition we also passed some massive stacks of barrels, presumably from the scotch distilleries.

Another site I was able to visit with some colleagues was Dunottar Castle.  The castle is located maybe an hour ourside of Aberdeen by car and is situated right on the North Sea.  Along the way we stopped in a small, nearby town for some lunch at a café.  It was amazing to sit on the outdoor patio looking out on the North Sea while eating lunch.  Dunottar Castle is located on a set of cliffs which makes it a visually stunning location.  Most of the castle has been destroyed over time, but there are some buildings that are still intact and other buildings have just their walls left.  The deep blue ocean and the green Scottish countryside make this location very picturesque and beautiful.

We also stopped at a large mansion area just off the main highway.  It appeared to be in the midst of some sort of renovation, but there was no one around.  I looked it up after we got back and it appears that they wanted to turn the grounds into a golf course and this building was to be the clubhouse.

I was also able to take a day to tour around the city of Aberdeen itself.  Aberdeen is known as the Granite City or the Silver City due to the high amount of granite used in the construction of its buildings.  Granite was used because there was a large supply not far from the city.  Aberdeen’s most famous attractions are probably its numerous gardens.  The city has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record number of times and I believe was even forbidden from entering for a year or so so some other town could win the award.  Other places to see are His Majesty’s Theater, Castlegate, and the coast of the North Sea.  I’m not sure there is enough to do in Aberdeen itself to warrant taking a trip there, but a day or 2 would probably be sufficient.

Finally, I am going to include a nice shot from the plane on of of my rides home.

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