Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Boxing Day in Scotland: Castles, The Hearts and Getting on the Piss

Right, well it's been a long time coming but here is my somewhat unreliable account of Boxing Day. Whereas Christmas was relaxing and fairly straightforward, Boxing Day was just one adventure after another. I don't know how we managed to pack so much in one day, but we did.

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.



The verdant greneery and vibrant ocean led to us taking many artsy shots...




...and some not so artsy shots.




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!

20 comments:

Rachel said...

Aberdeen is considered a grey town? That sounds familiar. I grew up in Aberdeen, WA and it was probably named that as the weather is grey and drizzly quite often.
The video was cute. Too bad we didn't see you or Ross in it.

Wanderlusting said...

Ah, just wait till Paris...there will be other inane videos.

Ha yes, I know Aberdeen in WA...no wonder its near "Grays" Harbour!

Expat Traveler said...

so very cool. I felt like I was visiting all of the school in north vancouver with those names though. LOL - what a trip sort of...

It was a very cool picture story.. I just loved it! Really... Very cool!

Egan said...

Wow, this is some cool stuff. I loved all the picture, video, and captions.

Oh yeah, Aberdeen, Washington is famous for Nirvana. That's where the boys grew up. It's a sleepy logging town. Rachel should know, she grew up there.

Est-ce que tu as un traducteur?

ParisBreakfasts said...

These are gorgeous pictures but nevermind that...did you ever tell what you did on NEW YEAR'S EVE in PARIS???
I'm waiting...

Kass said...

So IS that Braemar Castle? lol

Wanderlusting said...

Expat - ha I know what you mean..West Van is worse too!

Egan - Thanks! And no, I don't have a translator ha ha

Paris - Oh just you wait...I've got to get through Edinburgh post first and then its on to Pareeee.

Kass - Yes! Ross doesn't know what he's talking about. If you ask me, I don't even think he's Scottish...

Janellerific said...

Aaah...I just love it when people take videos like I do...all over the place and full of what I think is humour!

Your blog makes my blog feel a bit lame...we're going to get some counselling.

Oh yeah, and please tell Ross that he drives like a maniac.

M said...

ohhhhhhhh I really want to go. It all looks tremendous. Love your bum shot on the cliff. :D hehe

Rachel said...

looks beautiful!! good idea to go during boxing day seeing as you seem to be the only ones there. breathtaking!

Wombat & Aspen said...

Nice apexes there from Ross.

Is he related to that other fast Scot, David Coulthard?

-Wombat

A Novelist said...

I've visited Aberdeen, WA several times growing up - a very cozy town indeed.

The landscapes in Scotland look beautiful and it seems that you had a great time! I love castles. Thanks for sharing. :)

Rachel said...

Egan ~ My sister attended high school with Kurt Cobain. She said he was an asshole.
I was walking home with my brother when I was a teenager and I heard them practicing in their garage. Back then I would have never guessed that Nirvana (or whatever they called themselves back then) would be the biggest band to come out of the area.

A Novelist ~ Aberdeen, WA might be a nice place to visit but the job market there is horrid. My dad, aunt and uncle still lives in the adjoining town, Hoquiam. I will be back in July to visit but I don't know if I could ever live there again.

Steven Novak said...

Great pics!!

You "loon" ;)

Steve~

Egan said...

Rachel - yeah, the Kurt Cobain thing doesn't surprise me one bit. He wasn't an entirely happen man based on his lyrics and what went down in his life.

I have a degree in forestry from a Seattle university so I've spent a fair amount of time in towns like Aberdeen. Yeah, the job market is bleak and the vibe isn't overly positive.

Wanderlust - ah, you don't really need a translator anyways. It's all about body language. Have fun.

Steph said...

Sooo many gorgeous gothic castles. I really only saw the main cities of Scotland when i was there, but i would love to go and do a proper tour of all the villages and regional spots.
It's a gorgeous place.

Farrell said...

Hi! Um, I got to your blog from some comments you made over at Eileen's but I didn't see a place where I could email you...
So...I just have two things; one question, one comment.
1. How do you afford to travel all around the world? (forgive if I missed it; I've only skimmed so far)
2. From now on, I will live vicariously through you. But in a friendly, non-stalker way.

Wanderlusting said...

Janelles - I have told him that but he thinks I drive like a maniac...sheesh

M- thanks, somehow magestic beauty and history inspire me to bend over...

Rachel - I agree, although I think that anytime during the winter is a good time. Didn;t hurt to have good weather also.

Wombat - I think he thinks he's related...but he also thinks he's related to Robert the Bruce, so I dunno...

Novelist - Thanks for looking!

Steven - I try my best ;)

Steph - I had the opposite thing...not enough time spent in the cities...actually, just not enough time there in general

Farrel- 1.I'm lucky that my parents have helped me out on a lot of my travels. But otherwise, there are are loans or I save or sell (I saved for my trip to Australia/nz and sold my car to afford it) and just go for the cheapest flights.

I also stay in backpackers or really cheap hotels, take public transport, cook for myself or eat out for lunch instead of dinner, and read up on enough guidebooks that I can give myself a guided tour and usually on foot. And having all my family live in Europe helps too. Everyone can afford to travel it just depends what you want to get out of it.

2. Be my guest!

Cazzie!!! said...

Gorgeous pictures, thanks for taking us on your journey :)

Anonymous said...

Like your blog! I'm from Aberdeen (the one in Scotland) and my parents live in Stonehaven (where the castle is) I actually auditioned for Halmet with Mel Gibson...didn't make it though..boo hoo.
Anyhoo I'm in Italy right now and its even more foggy and just as freezing as Aberdeen..and I thought I'd left that city for warmer climes...
I'll be back in Aberdeen for a few days next month..horray!

Louisa