Under normal circumstances, at this exact moment, I would have been on a Eurostar leaving Brussels, and after dinner at the Great Nepalese Restaurant, I would board the Caledonian Sleeper in London later this evening, which would take me to Scotland overnight…
Leaving for Scotland again! We enjoyed traveling by rail so much last time, we decided to take the train again. We’re only using daytime trains this time, and stopping in London just long enough to have lunch in between our connections.
But first, let’s leave, so we can actually catch our train!
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…
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 Xand 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!
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 atUniversity 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 visitedSix 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.
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 first day in Aberdeen began early, since the Caledonian Sleeper already arrived before 8 am. After some Aitkins rolls and coffee, we went on a little bus tour through Aberdeen, and a drink at BrewDog Aberdeen, the first BrewDog bar ever, we went to the Walhalla for BrewDog lovers: the BrewDog brewery and DogTap!
Off to Scotland again! By train this time, and an overnight stop in London.
It will be an epic week, with visits planned to nine different BrewDog bars and basements, the brewery and of course the #PunkAGM2016!
Anonymous asked: “I’m Dutch. I went to Glasgow, and visited Stirling. I wasn’t having issues with the inclines on foot. I guess it depends on the person. The Glasgow subway is magic.”
It sure is. Before the recent refurbishment, it was like stepping back into a seventies living room. Waxed brown tiles on the wall, the trickle of water water running between the tracks, yellowing tiles underfoot, as a vibrant garishly orange train lurches to a stop.
A new year, a new destination, a new mode of transport… All my previous trips to Scotland I used MegaBus to get to my destination, and I’ve always been quite happy with that. But to get as far as Aberdeen, it would become impossible to have a guaranteed connection in London, if I would have wanted to do the whole trip from Brussel to Aberdeen in one go. And as far as the sleeper bus is concerned, compared to trips to Glasgow or Edinburgh, we would have to spend an additional three hours in the rather confined space of our berths. Quite honestly though, I’ve always wanted to try the Eurostar and Caledonian Sleeper. So, even though the extra night we’ll be spending in a hotel in London would have solved at least the connection issues, the train tickets are booked!
Thanks to the site of the The Man in Seat Sixty-One, I was able to book some Eurostar seats facing in the right direction, and even conveniently next to a power socket. I’m hoping we’ll be traveling on one of the refurbished e300’s, but there’s no way to know for sure until the day we travel…
For the journey to Aberdeen on the Caledonian Sleeper, we’ll have a Standard Sleeper Berth compartment to ourselves . If there are some seats available, we’ll probably spend some time in the lounge car as well: apparently they even serve Scottish craft beer there!
On the way back to London, Standard Sleeper Seats will have to suffice. I just hope I won’t regret this money-saving decision too much…
Anyway, not even taking in account the destination, I’m tremendously looking forward to this trip!