Post 2- The many wonders of my life in Aberdeen City
It was quite amazing how I happened to find accommodation in the most beautiful and high-end part of Aberdeen, and no I cannot afford some luxurious city apartment, it was very much a standard rent two bed. The neighborhood was incredible though, each street was lined with trees creating art work on the pavement as the summer sun shone through their gleaming foliage. The houses were out of story books, ornate, towering stone creations, austere and inviting at the same time. There was a real feel of a different time to the place. Exploring some streets with rows of granite terraces and communal tennis courts I never felt more out of Ireland than in those moments. Everything was different from where I come from. Streets had a pattern, a design to their layout, Ireland is notorious for its lack of any order or residential layout design. In Aberdeen, my neighborhood was meticulous, immaculately maintained homes and the light, it always seemed to me the minute I walked out my door everything just sang. Turning right out of my door, following the path up and around, brushing my hand along the lush, 8 foot bushes secluding the gardens of my neighbors, I was constantly, instantly calm. I loved walking those roads, following streets that looped around, lead to an open area, playground, sheltered cul-de-sac or forgotten time trapped home. I feel in love with this alien place and the simple beauty of my neighborhood.
Amazingly also last summer brought a heat wave making any free time I had and most evenings after work ideal outdoors opportunities. Another blessed perk of my neighborhood was the stunning and spacious park located not 10 minutes from my front door. Aberdeen is filled with glorious green areas and several incredible inner city parks like the one near me which was called Duthie park. The walk to the park and park itself became a kind of haven for me. After long days, stressful evenings or when feelings of needing to stretch out and relax overcame me I instantly and eagerly went to the park. Lying on the grass there, reading a good book, something I have never been able to do in Ireland, mostly due to the constantly poor and unpredictable weather, was bliss. I was amazed to see so many people utilizing this place, again not something that is taken advantage of in Ireland. There was a constant stream sporting clubs playing games, fitness classes working out, families playing and lounging, people walking and running laps, dogs being given the treat of freedom and others like me who simply escaped there with either a friend similarly in need to some fresh air or a good book on other occasions. I dreadfully miss picnics in the park and lying under the sun late into the night. Fun fact about Aberdeen, in the summer there is roughly only 3 hours of darkness a night, that took a lot of getting used to. Another wonderful thing about this park was that it held events, free public events that gathered together masses people, all out in the open air under the brilliant summer sun. I attended a live screening from the London opera of Tosca. It was magical. Sitting on a blanket, bathing in the heat of the day, watching exquisite opera performed for all gathered, young and old alike taking an emotional operatic journey together, sharing an evening in the park.
Located in the park also was a beautiful winter garden and greenhouses which were opened to the public in 1883. It had every manner of flora, endless colour and tantalizing aroma. The amplification of the sweltering summer in there was difficult to handle but what lay within was worth the temporary discomfort. I took my mother and sisters there when they came to visit, my mother being somewhat of a gardening fiend, sharing the experience with them was really special, something that beautiful is only made more dazzling when seen and experienced with company.
Aberdeen is known by many names including the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. These nicknames can be attributed to the fact that many of the cities buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver due to their high mica contents. Aberdeen is also located on the coast and hosts a lovely beach, stormy and cold so not the best for swimming but definitely suitable for peaceful waterfront walks. Any photo of the city I attempted only seemed to fuel the grey nickname, it seems impossible to capture the city, the feel, the tangible energy when the very prominence of the stone creates the colour scheme thus influencing what the viewer perceives of any picture and not allowing for the many other aspects to shine. It is a city that needs to be seen in person, the cool stone touched, the changes and refraction of light observed as the weather shifts and alters like a mood casting the city into different scenes from an evolving play. It’s the same but also never. I think I have a weakness for anywhere that wears its past openly and proudly and this city is one that couldn’t hide its history if it tried. I instantly became very defensive of my temporary home and felt it needed to be protected from those who couldn’t or hadn’t yet allowed themselves to appreciate its true beauty. When I think of Aberdeen naturally I picture it in its grey scale but that’s not what defined the city for me. The city shimmered and was so vibrantly alive. It really bothered me when people said ‘its so grey’. That is a valid comment on the colour of the place but in no way a satisfactory descriptor for the spirit of the city, in my opinion anyway.
I’m someone who just loves to walk. A passionate window shopper is probably a good term to describe me. I love to wander and explore cities, visit the smaller, only known by the locals places, see the not obviously on display gems of a city and really be apart of the culture of a place. For me walking through the city when it was buzzing with people made me feel apart of the place, swept along and one of the crowd, part of the people of Aberdeen. Finding a different coffee shop on each occasion I’d sit by a window if I could and just watch. I could spend hours in a coffee shop, reading, observing, talking to new people. You find out the real soul of a place through little spots like that, places locals escape to for their favourite pastry, gathering spots and venues for pop up artists, opportunities to be casually advised on the best spots to see and visit. Just being and listening can tell you so much. Of course over time I found my own favourite hide-aways that I would frequent but for the most part with what precious time I had I very much tried to try as much and experience as much of the city as possible.
Naturally another perk of living in the city was the night life. Like many a typical 22 year olds I do enjoy a good night out every now and then and the wonderful company of my friends especially after a difficult week at work. There was an array of venues and genres of bar, club, music spot, craft beer location and all the drink serving eateries in between. I’m sure its apparent by now but I love to dance so I definitely monopolized the locations that provided music and a dance floor. Being social and having relaxing evenings with good company makes for a happier me and although I made the most of the parks, walks and coffee shops sometimes you just need a cocktail in a noisy vodka bar with a good friend, or maybe that’s just me.
As much as I absolutely love being abroad and thoroughly enjoyed my life in Aberdeen, there is nothing nicer than hearing from home. Receiving letters from friends and family made my life there so much better and helped me feel a little less distant from those I care about.
The adventure continues next Friday……..