Aberdeen: the End

Are you all sick of hearing about Aberdeen yet? I figured I’d give you a break with some other stuff, so I posted a few photography challenge entries. But I did want to finish up my series on Aberdeen and end the story. This will be my last post about it (at least for a while).

I finished up my lifeboat training a little earlier than expected and turned in my ‘security’ badge at the harbor entrance. I still had some time left to explore Aberdeen. πŸ™‚

I was lucky to have the opportunity to take a tour with “Aberdeen Day Tours”. I found their brochure at the tourist information center, it listed all kinds of things that sounded interesting, like the Loch Ness Tour, the Royal Deeside Tour, or the Mystery Tour.

I signed up for the Speyside Tour. It was the one they offered on Friday, when I thought I might have the chance to go. It sounded good enough to me. I’m always up for a visit to a distillery. πŸ˜‰

We started off from outside the tourist information center on Union Street, right downtown next to the tourist center. There were 7 of us, plus the driver. It was a pretty diverse group. A couple of ladies from Brazil, a couple from Sweden and the US, a couple from France, and me (another American). Our driver from Aberdeen, of course.

We had a comfortable van with plenty of room and the driver had a headset that allowed him to easily explain the local lore to us as he drove. We first went to the Glenfiddich Whisky distilleryΒ in Dufftown (yeah, like Homer Simpsons’ beer- Duff), where we got a tour of the place and of course a taste of their different flavors. I think the whiskey is a little strong for me to drink straight like that (or even with a little bit of water), but it did make an impression.

After we saw how they made the whisky, we got to see how they made the barrels it was aged in. It’s actually pretty important to the flavor of the finished product to let the whisky sit for a few years in the proper barrel. I liked the taste of the one I tried that was aged in the barrels that previously held Spanish sherry. It tastes a little sweet, I thought I tasted honey and berries. πŸ™‚

We had a tour of the Speyside Cooperage and got to watch the coopers as they broke down the old casks to repair them and make new ones. I was impressed by how fast those guys worked. I almost got tired just watching them. Our guide told us that the coopers were some of the highest paid workers in Scotland. I had no idea it took so much training and skill to make a barrel.

After watching the coopers so energetically rushing around their workshop, we were ready to have lunch. We could have had a nice picnic at the cooperage, they had a nice setup on the grounds there, but the weather was kind of grey and gloomy. We found our way to the little old town of Aberlour instead.

We were dropped off by ‘The Mash Tun’ for lunch hour. It looked good, but also busy and I thought it might take a while to get served. I would rather look for somewhere else to eat and at least get a little bit of sightseeing in. I found a cute little place right next to the town square. It’s always a good sign when the locals crowd the place. I was lucky to find a spot. The food was simple but good. I tried a scone. Very nice. πŸ˜‰

After lunch, I had a few minutes before I had to meet the group back at the van. I spotted a store selling Scottish shortbread and scarfed up a couple of packages (different flavors) to savor later. I found out later they make the Walkers brand in Aberlour. πŸ™‚

We all made it back to the van on time and we were off to our next location. We made our way to Ballindalloch Castle as the weather grew even more grey and dreary. I thought it was nice that the family still lived there and yet allowed the public to tour their beautiful property and even their house. I was hoping to spend time looking around inside if it started raining. πŸ˜‰

The house was old and very beautifully furnished. The library was great (I love books). The nursery was small and located all the way at the top of the house. I thought it was strange that they didn’t worry about the kids getting loose and tumbling down the stairs. Maybe they just wanted some peace and quiet?

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. It didn’t really take very long to see everything in the house itself. πŸ™ Outside the gardens were large and well tended. There was a walled rose garden with a circular pond in the middle and a trellis covered with roses. Too bad it started pouring rain just as we were finding our way there. Thank goodness they had spare umbrellas to lend.

After we had a (fairly quick) look around the gardens, we met up back at the van. I would have liked to spend more time looking around the grounds. The gardens were fantastic! They had a small herd of llamas (?) and a trout stream I would have liked to take some pictures of. I didn’t really want to get any more wet then I was already (and it was hard to take pictures and balance the umbrella at the same time). πŸ™

I think everyone felt about the same. It was a more subdued group in the ride home. We made it back to Aberdeen in time for dinner and I headed back to the hotel for an early night. I had to get up fairly early in order to travel to Angola to join my ship in Luanda.

 

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