I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The grey before the red

Sheriff Court
Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
Forgot to note last time another thing about arriving in Aberdeen -- the proliferation of oil industry adverts at the airport. All the revolving things by the baggage reclaim were for various petrochemical exploration and extraction companies, giving the place a very very industrial feel. And that was apt, I suppose, given the amount of grey in the city. I mentioned it before, and this 'ere photo shows it off though actually looks pretty good with the blue sky behind it, and in truth a lot of the buildings were in isolation nice to look at. The main problem is that they weren't isolated.

Our hotel was on Chapel Street. A very functional Holiday Inn Express, they at least recognised my Priority Club membership (I think) and gave us a voucher for 5 quid off at a local chinese restaurant. But it was way too early, and too bright outside, to think about going for food just yet so we went for a wander to see what was nearby.

Union Street is Aberdeen's main city centre road, and fucking hell is it ever depressingly dull. Long enough such that most businesses seemed to have two branches separated by about 1/3rd of a mile, it's just a very uniformly grey set of shop fronts which, I assume, look as they do because granite doesn't take paint very well. But that can't be the reason, even certain businesses seemed to have changed their frontage to suit the city -- specifically William Hill, whose branches were distinctly monochrome rather than the blue I expected.

Lush in Scotland stinks just as bad as it does anywhere else.

At the top of Union Street is the building from this photo (not sure what it is, actually; possibly the law courts?) and then Castlegate. This is a big pedestrianised square with a pub on one corner, a few eateries and shops, and a big castle at the end. Well, not that big a castle, I guess. Just beyond it, we thought, was the beach, so we ventured onwards and came across a terrifying-looking pair of tower blocks. After a wrong turn at the roundabout which took us almost into the harbour area, we did go along the main road towards the beach a bit further but in the end gave up.

Back at the square we had a drink in the pub on the corner, called the Blackfriar. Choosing the back room after a somewhat frosty reception from the group of gents standing at the front room's bar, we just had the one (Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted for me) before trudging back down Union Street and to the hotel. Quick change and out for chinese, with the 5 quid discount, but not before being parternally and patronisingly turned away from the heaving Indian restaurant just round the corner. We had the audacity to ask if they had a table available without reservation. Oh dear.

The food in Yu, the Chinese place, was really very nice. We both ordered our dishes in a type of sauce we'd never heard of -- Ruth had duck, I had chicken -- and it turned out that basically she'd ordered Lemon Duck and I'd ordered Lemon Chicken. I took advantage of the 5 quid discount to actually just order an extra dish that cost about a fiver, fat fuck that I am. Can't even remember what it was! Back at the hotel we were neither of us particularly taken by our first evening in Aberdeen. I had a real sense that the (lack of) colour was having a psychological effect that made me dislike the place more than was perhaps fair; a sightseeing bus tour the next day was going to test that theory.

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