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A Weekend in Aberdeen

“The granite came from a small hill nearby” the taxi driver tells me. “The quarry was bought by a father and son who made a pretty penny selling it to build Aberdeen, now the granite comes from further afield.” At first glance the grey granite that adorns almost every building in the city gives Aberdeen a dull, monotone feel. Over the weekend though, it grows on me. Not least as much of the architecture is stunning. Maybe it helps that the sun hasn’t stopped shining since we arrived adding colour to the city.
From the Caledonian Hotel located on Union Terrace Gardens, it’s a twenty minute walk past the harbour to the beach. Strolling along the sandy shore in the bright sunshine, only the cool breeze from the North Sea betrays that this is Scotland in February and not the Mediterranean in Spring. The sea front has a number of bustling bars and restaurants with visitors sat outside making the most of the unseasonably good weather. The Queens Link Leisure Park on the sea front is quiet and mostly closed in the off season. In the distance, the granite city’s Kirk of St Nicholas church and Marischal College dominate the skyline.
The church was originally built in the 12th Century but has been rebuilt and expanded throughout the centuries. The nearby Marischal College was opened in 1906 and is currently the second largest granite building in the world. Designed by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie for the University, it now houses the City Council. Many more of the city's granite structures are worth wandering around and betray the wealth the city's industry has brought throughout its history.
After lunch we head to the Maritime Museum. Based near to the harbour, this museum tells the story of Aberdeen's reliance won the North Sea. It includes displays on ship building and the North Sea Oil Industry. With good views over the harbour and easily accessed from the city centre, it's ideal for adults and families alike.
In the evening we sample a little of Aberdeen's bustling nightlife with a few drinks and dinner in one of it's many Indian restaurants. Avoiding the later crowds we retire back to the hotel in preparation of the next day in the city.
The streets on Sunday morning are much quieter than the night before. We head out for coffee and the glorious sunshine is still with us. Wandering through the quiet streets the shops begin to open. Aberdeen's shopping is actually pretty decent. As well as a high street there are a couple of small malls with most big brands and shops present. In some of the side streets there are smaller independent shops that give the experience a good balance. After lunch it's time to pack up and head back to the airport. It's been a short weekend but well worth the trip from London. The taxi driver back gives us another history lesson and talks more about the industry here. With a little more time, perhaps we would have explored more of the museums and galleries, but it's always good to have an excuse to return.