Greetings from Scotland: Aberdeen

donnotar

The countryside in Scotland is like no other place. This weekend trip to Aberdeen made me feel like I’ve never felt before as my three flat-mates and I rode the bus through scenes of vast green hills and mountains, watching the scenery like the windows were movie screens.

Aberdeen is a seaside town just three hours north east of Glasgow. Near Aberdeen is Stonehaven, which occupies Donnottar Castle on its cliff’s edges.  We were told to visit the castle, that it was amazing and that the walk would change our lives. A life altering walk? I was skeptical.

When we arrived in Aberdeen we were starving and proceeded to search for a coffee shop along the narrow, cobblestoned streets.  Sitting at the table of the café, we squinted as we looked out of the window, feeling grateful for the weather. This was the first time in a long time that I spent a whole day with clear blue skies. The trip was full of tiny, emotional moments like this.

After brunch, we took a bus to Stonehaven, anxiously waiting to see Dunnottar Castle. Getting around Scotland is actually quite cheap. Trains will get you to places faster but buses will do the job at a lower price. If you are like me and are new to the wonderful world of public transportation, ask for it. I have not come across a rude or unhelpful clerk at a bus station in Scotland thus far, so if you are ever confused about arrival and departure times head to the information booth.

Dunnottar Castle was erected sometime in the 17th century and differs very much from city castles like Edinburgh Castle. City castles are more like museums; renovated and situated to make you admire them. Castles like Dunnottar are as they were left; their naked history resting in ruins.

The bus dropped us close to the beach, so we decided to check out the coast before finding the castle.  Having lived in Southern California most of my life, the ocean has always been an everyday sight. After not hearing or seeing the ocean for over a month, my eyes filled with tears as I ran through the sand to the sea. My friends and family would call me overdramatic, but this was a definite snippet of home.

The trek to the castle was truly incredible. We ran through open fields of tall grass and frolicked along old paths surrounded by wild sheep and views of the ocean. I felt like Maria running through the Austrian hills in The Sound of Music; completely free and without worry.

We were mesmerized by the castle’s scattered brick walls and empty rooms. There was so much to see and explore and by the end of the day I was exhausted by the overwhelming awe I had experienced.

Inside an ancient drawing room was an open notebook where visitors could write about their experience.  I wrote:  “The castle and surrounding scenery is where the regions of the heart meet the soul. Feeling alive and humble. Never give up on yourself and your dreams.”