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Kilted in Aberdeen

In a blog named Kilted Guy, it wouldn’t be right to skip the subject of being kilted in Aberdeen.

Usually I change into my kilt once I check into my hotel or hostel, but since we had the convenience of a private cabin in the Caledonian Sleeper, I could just put on my kilt in the morning, before even touching Aberdonian soil.

As usual in Scotland, people never seem to be fazed by the sight of a kilt — unlike in Brussels — and wearing my MacLaren kilt, I never received any remarks about it. Well, the lady at the left luggage facilities at the train station inquired about it, but she seemed to be seizing any opportunity to chat about anything…

During our stay in Aberdeen, we noticed two other kilties. The first one, a guy in his twenties, was wearing his kilt very casual. Read: halfway down his calves, way too low to my taste…
The other one was wearing a beautiful kilt, obviously made by 21st Century Kilts, easily identified by the typical kilt pin. He was wearing it exactly as you see it worn in the ads of the kilt maker, complete with high boots and scrunched down hoses. Now I look at their photos again, it might very well have been the white-bearded guy featuring in a couple of them!

For the Punk AGM I decided to wear my black ‘beer kilt’, complete with BrewDog-bottle-opener-converted-to-kilt-pin. Only minutes after leaving the hotel, someone noticed my BrewDog outfit, and wanted to take a photo of me.
At the AGM, someone else even made close-up shots of my kilt pin!
Then, while I was on my own for a couple of minutes, a Scottish lady — who obviously had a few beers too many already — came up to me to ask me why I was wearing “a schoolgirl’s skirt”! At first I thought it was because my black kilt is not the same high quality and yardage as my MacLaren kilt, and her Scottish eye spotted it was probably made in Pakistan. But no, it was merely because it was black! Apparently, in her mind, only a tartan kilt is a kilt.

I guess even some people in Scotland still have to get accustomed to ‘modern’ kilts…

Our Aberdeen Trip: BrewDog

BrewDog

We’ll be leaving for our next Scotland trip soon, and there were still two subjects about the our Aberdeen trip I wanted to discuss. One of them is BrewDog, since visiting their Punk AGM 2016 was the main goal of this trip!

We managed to visit eight different BrewDog bars — six of them for the first time: Camden, Soho, Clerkenwell, Aberdeen, DogTap, Underdog, Castlegate and Shoreditch. On top of that, we visited the brewery in Ellon, and of course the Punk AGM, where we also had the opportunity to have a drink at Truck Norris. On our way back we still had the opportunity to visit BottleDog Kings X and buy a great looking growler, filled of course!

We’re quite experienced BrewDog patrons by now — we’re Equity Punks after all — but it still strikes me every time again, how passionate everybody who works for BrewDog is about craft beer, and about their company!

We usually stick with beer when visiting BrewDog bars, but this trip we also had lunch one time, at BrewDog Soho. The patty melt and hot dog were tasty for sure, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to have lunch or dinner at BrewDog.
The Dear Green coffee on the other hand, was a surprise: it surely was the best espresso we had in Aberdeen!

Our Aberdeen Trip: Aberdeen

Aberdeen

It was our first time in Aberdeen, so on the first day there, we booked a tour to be shown the sights of the city. First stop was Footdee — locally known as Fittie — a quaint, little fishing village at the east end of the harbour. In the old town of Aberdeen, we made stops at University of Aberdeen and St Machar’s Cathedral. Apparently, that’s about all there is to see in Aberdeen…

The second day we visited the Tolbooth Museum, a 17th century jail, and the Maritime Museum. It had quite a nice collection of old ship models, and interesting exhibits about the history of the harbour and oil industry in Aberdeen. I couldn’t help feeling like there was quite a bit of greenwashing going on though… I really hope that a lot of that oil money is being invested in sustainable energy!


We tried finding a decent espresso bar, but they don’t seem to have them yet in Aberdeen. The best coffee we had, was actually at BrewDog Castlegate!


When it comes to beer, Aberdeen has a little bit more to offer, which isn’t surprising, considering this is the home town of BrewDog. But I’ll write more about BrewDog in a separate post.
We visited Six Degrees North, of course, but were surprised—even disappointed—to see the very commercial InBev pilsner Jupiler appearing on the board! We had all of the other Belgian beers before, but luckily they had a couple of beers of their own as well. Just a couple though, so we didn’t stay for long…
CASC was pretty interesting, but we didn’t have much time to spend there, since we were about to leave for London again. We tried to visit it on Friday night, but it was full, not surprising, since the town was being flooded with Equity Punks by then.

Our Aberdeen Trip: London Revisited

Visiting London again

Before and after our time in Aberdeen, we allowed for some time to visit London again. We had to change trains there after all, so why not take the opportunity to stay a little longer?

We still had an Oyster card from our previous visit, so it was just a matter of topping it up, and hopping on the underground or bus again! The evening of our arrival we only used it to go for dinner and a couple of drinks, but the next day we had plenty of time to be tourists.


So early in the morning we headed for The Who Shop and museum, almost an hour traveling by underground and on foot. It was worth it though: the shop had Doctor Who related items I hadn’t seen anywhere else yet — quite happy with my new TARDIS umbrella — and the attached museum we had to enter through a TARDIS, had a great collection of props and costumes.

In the afternoon we discovered Soho a bit — Carnaby Street, Kingly Court — visited some vintage shops, and just strolled around a bit in this unknown — at least to us — area of London. It seemed to be a bit less stressed than the centre of London, which was nice.


During our stop on the journey back home, we visited Madame Tussauds, which offered a Star Wars ‘experience’ at the time. Nice to have finally visited the famous attraction, but not sure if I would ever have paid full price for it… Luckily I didn’t have to, taking advantage of a two-for-one offer.

Our Aberdeen Trip: Accommodation

Accommodation

Seven days in the UK, that means six nights in a bed away from home. Well, two of those nights were spent in a train, and one of those wasn’t even in a bed… Never again!

In London we stayed in the Belgrove Hotel, mainly chosen for its proximity to our train station. Previously, we stayed at easyHotel, and we would happily have done so again, if only there would have been one near Euston station, so we can avoid taking the underground with our bags!
But the Belgrove Hotel did the trick, providing us with a clean place to sleep, breakfast, and somewhere to store our bags during the day not too far from the station. The latter is quite nice, considering the left luggage service at the train station costs £12.50.

In Aberdeen we stayed at Travelodge Aberdeen Central. For some reason, the ratings for this place were pretty low, but we really can’t understand why: central location, the rooms were clean and comfortable, the staff friendly and helpful, and the breakfast tasty and all-you-can-eat! Not to mention we paid as much for our three nights in Aberdeen, as we did for one night in London!
We had a peculiar wake-up service though: every morning a seagull came pecking on our window! It seems they’ve become accustomed to guests feeding them.

Our Aberdeen Trip: Transport

A week after our trip to London and Aberdeen, we’re well rested again, and all the photos have been collected from the different cameras. Time to look back on our experiences!

Getting there and back again

It all began with getting there, in our case by train, this time. The leg Brussels-London was pretty straightforward, with the Eurostar. The train was still the old model, but even those have power outlets next to the seats, if you pick the right car. But thanks to The Man in Seat Sixty-One, I knew exactly which seats to book to have power sockets, be near the bar vehicle, and be seated facing the direction of travel.

Departure from Brussels and arrival in London were exactly according to schedule.


A day later we continued our trip to Aberdeen in the Caledonian Sleeper. We checked in quite early, so after quickly dropping our bags in our private cabin, we were sipping a couple of beers in the lounge, even before the train started moving. The beds were quite comfortable, easily the best moving sleeping accommodation I’ve had so far.


To save a couple of pounds, we didn’t book the sleeper berths on our way back, but the ‘sleeper seats’. Worst travel decision in quite a while! Apparently they don’t even dim the lights in the sleeper seat section, the seats don’t recline very far, and there are people getting on and off the train all night… For a lower price, we could have taken a Megabus Gold, which would at least have had real berths, dimmed lights during the trip, and no people getting on and off during the night! Lesson learnt…

It was nice though we were able to buy shower vouchers on the train (£5 each), so we could freshen up in the Virgin First Class lounge at Euston station upon arrival.


After spending another day in London, the last leg of the journey was with the Eurostar again. Same comfortable seats as on the first leg, but with a 50 minute delay, which meant a long wait — we were early as well — in a very full and hot terminal at St Pancras station. We arrived in Brussels before midnight however, and made it home without any further hitches.


Budget permitting, we’ll surely take the Eurostar and Caledonian Sleeper again on our next trip to Scotland! It is quite nice to have the privacy of a sleeper cabin, to be able to change into my kilt just prior to arriving in Scotland, the luxury of a sink with hot running water, and a fresh cuppa served with your wake-up call!

Last Day of Our Trip

The last day of our trip was spent in London again. We arrived early enough to beat the crowds at Madame Tussauds, where there is a Star Wars exhibit at the moment.
We had lunch at Herman Ze German. Why isn’t schnitzel in a bun a common thing here?
Later in the afternoon we headed all the way to BrewDog Shoreditch — our eighth BrewDog bar this trip — hoping to be able to visit Two-Bit, the only Brewdog venue in London we hadn’t been to yet, at least not after it stopped being Underdog. Unfortunately they don’t open on Mondays, apparently, so that will have to wait until next time.
Honest Burgers provided us with our last meal — and beer — before going back to Brussels.

Last Day in Aberdeen

Our last day in Aberdeen we needed to recover a bit from the #PunkAGM2016, so it was quite a calm one. Strolling through the city, having an afternoon tea at CUP, and of course a last visit to both BrewDog bars.
The Caledonian Sleeper trip back to London will be slightly less comfortable than the trip up north, since we only booked sleeper seats this time. I already regret it… It’s not that I won’t be able to sleep, but actually having a whole cabin to yourself, is quite nice.
Oh well, there’s always next time. 🙂

#PunkAGM2016

Our first BrewDog “Annual General Mayhem”, #PunkAGM2016, was awesome!
Loads of new beers to try — both by BrewDog and other breweries — interesting business updates and tasting sessions, tasty food — although the lines were a bit long — and great music. Even got a little taste of test batches of Lone Wolf gin!
Our first time maybe, but certainly not our last time!