It helped that we were still a bit jelagged and got up at the early hour 7AM. It was a beautiful morning in Aberdeen and clear as can be. The sunshine and blue sky made it hard to believe that Aberdeen is considered by some to be a grey city. The only sign of this nickname lay in the shiny, granite houses which populate the town. This gives Aberdeen a uniform glinty, flinty look to it and in the sun it positively sparkles. There was something very refreshing about a town in which all the buildings
look the same. A conformity that you don't mind considering how majestic and grandiose each building is.
Ross decided that Boxing Day would be perfect to explore the nearby castles of Aberdeenshire. If anything, most people would be fighting over the sales at the mall rather than traipsing out to the hills (in the freezing cold, mind you) to gawk at castles of yore. So armed with meat pies, a road map and a book of Castles in Scotland, we set off.
Our first castle was Drum Castle, which was located a short distance (in Canadian terms) from Aberdeen. Ross hadn't been in the driver's seat for awhile and somehow we ended up on the castle lawn.
The castle itself was not as "castley" as the one I had seen in Carcassone (but come on, who can beat that castle).
Nonetheless it was a pretty good intro to the castles of Scotland, especially since there is quite a bit of history about the castle, which I blogged about in detail HERE (worth looking at if you're curious).
Of course that didn't prevent me from acting like a loon...
...galloping around the estate's massive backyard....
....and attempting to break into their wee chapel.
After freezing my tootsies off in the frosted fields of Drum, we continued onto Crathes Castle. Crathes also has an interesting story about it and is considered to be haunted...take a wee peek at it's supernatural history HERE.
Like Drum, I had started off being respectful to such historical relics (uh, if you don't count the driving on the lawn bit)...
But soon I was defiling it, just as before.
Which brings me to our next castle...or should I say, our "attempt" at the next castle. We headed off into the Scottish Highlands to visit the highly esteemed, Royal estate of Balmoral Castle. For those of you who know something about history, or just about stuff in general, you'll recognize that Balmoral is the Queen's castle which she uses primarily in the summer.
Our attempt got us as far as the castle gates, which were locked to us. Apparently they had gotten word that a silly, defaming Canadian girl was headed their way and while the Queen probably first said "Off with her head!" she relented and just locked us out instead. Boo.
After reluctantly giving up, we took a drive to the picturesque village of Braemar, which has apparently won some award for being a really nice village. I took an exciting* video of it for your viewing pleasure. (*exciting is a term I use loosely).
Disappointed with our Royal rejection, Ross decided to head off to the most interesting castle of them all - despite the fact that we were cutting it close to the Boxing Day Footy match between the Hearts (yay!) and the Hibs (boo!). It was a risk worth taking though because Dunottar Castle was the coolest one yet.
Dunottar Castle is located on an isolated seacliff that juts out into the North Sea and, over its long and vivid history, has been used by famous figures such as William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, and...Mel Gibson. I highly advise you to get the Cliff Notes version of its history HERE because it's really quite something.
Before we knew it though, it was time to go. And go we did as we rushed back to Aberdeen, just in time to see the Hearts and Hibernians match. We went to a local pub with Ross's father, fortunate that we found a pub that was even playing the game. The Hearts and the Hibs are Edinburgh's two big teams (the Lockharts are an Edinburgh family) and even though the match was guaranteed to be exciting due to their livid rivalry (think Rangers and Celtics), people in Aberdeen were obvious Aberdeen supporters. They weren't too interested in the match, but Ross, his father and I all watched in torrid anticipation.
Luckily, the Hearts won the game despite Hibs player Shiels shocking shove of goalkeeper Craig Gordon. You can watch it below as it comes up in the middle of the video.
Either way it was great to experience real Scottish football and pub life first hand (and so much better than dragging my ass down to see the Hearts play at the Veteran's Club in Vancouver at 6AM.
Of course, the castles, football and beer wasn't all we did on Boxing Day. We continued our follies by getting a posse together and heading into town for the night.
With everybody getting their drink on...
...and half of Ross's old high school chums showing up for the night, it was yet another introduction to the night life of Scotland. I'm a slow learner, you see, so I was going to take as many intros as I could get!