24 February 2016

Birds And Rocks, Sea and Beaches, And a Castle

Earlier this month we had visitors...with a car, so we went exploring in Aberdeenshire.  We first visited Slains Castle near Cruden Bay.  Actually, I just learned that this is called New Slains Castle to distinguish it from the even older Old Slains Castle.  It is commonly considered to be an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.  Spooky...  That is why there is a Slains Castle pub in Aberdeen with a Dracula motif.

It sits on the edge of a cliff

Nice view from the window
Love birds

Oi!  We don't want any paparazzi around here!

You can see we were quite high above the water

The wee village of Cruden Bay

It was ca-razy windy.

Next, we found Bullers of Buchan, which for our purposes refers to a collapsed sea cave.  It also refers to the adjacent village.

After a very tasty lunch at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel restaurant in Cruden Bay, we went to see the sand dunes at Balmedie Beach.  This is the type of ecosystem which was destroyed when a certain American presidential candidate built a golf course upon it.  It was a quick visit interrupted by rain.

Obviously, still very windy

22 February 2016

To Aviemore!

For the last weekend of January, we visited Aviemore, a wee town situated within the Cairngorm National Park in The Highlands.  The primary purpose of the trip was to see Pat's sister-in-law perform in Robert Burns the Musical, a musical play based on the life of Robert Burns. Yeah...probably could've guessed that bit yourself, right?  Anywho...  Rachel did not disappoint...everyone else was okay too, I guess.  ;)  The play was Saturday night; we left Friday afternoon, returning Sunday.

The trip to-and-from was remarkable due to the snow and some flooding.  Our journey was supposed to include two trains: Aberdeen to Inverness and Inverness to Aviemore.  Due to the flooding, the train to Aviemore was cancelled, but fortunately they had one special bus scheduled that we were able to board and we arrived essentially on time.  By Sunday morning, our relevant trains at least were back on schedule, so no more worries!  Here are some photos and video of our Highland visit.

Aberdeen train station before departure

A beautiful day in the country

Aberdeen to Inverness

Aberdeen to Inverness

There was not much else to see on Friday.  Darkness fell while we waited in Inverness for our bus and it was raining and snowing the remainder of the day.  We walked to our B&B upon arrival in Aviemore.  Then, taking the proprietor's suggestion, we ate dinner at the Cairngorm Hotel--they did not disappoint.  We finished the day relaxing in our room.  

Saturday morning we awoke to several inches of still-falling snow with the help of a full Scottish breakfast and a French press.  We then bundled up and began exploring the village, mostly inside shops due to the blowing snow.

From the door of the B&B

Down our street
Walking to the main street

Still flooded from the previous day

A rare glimpse of the peaks that day

Lunch! The special = WAY too much food; ate the baguette on the train on Sunday

The hotel where we ate dinner Friday night

Playing in the snow at the resort

We may have been slightly overdressed compared to the rest of the crowd...

...but, we looked goooood!
Saturday afternoon after lunch was spent lazily at the B&B.  The snow was blowing hard and we had seen all the shops--lots of great outdoor-wear for sale.  We had loads of time to prepare for our nice dinner and the show. Dinner was very good, if not the Burns Supper we were expecting.  We enjoyed the performance too.  Then, after chatting with Rachel and some of her fellow cast mates, we returned to our temporary home.  We started Sunday morning slowly with leisurely coffee and breakfast.  Christine at the B&B suggested walking to Inverdruie 1-2 miles away which we did.  We took in the views, explored a shop there, and had a cuppa.  We returned to Aviemore for a light lunch, grabbed our bags, and waited for the train back home.

Lots of folks were out and about, even a few cyclists

You could see the hills!

Walking to Inverdruie

From the train station

Waiting for our ride home

Aviemore to Inverness

Inverness to Aberdeen