Photo courtesy of Huda Jafni and design by Phoebe Moore
For the past few years, Scotland has held one of the top spots on my destinations list. I have been dreaming about its windmills, flocking sheep, rocky hills, and serene lakes. Leaving from Manchester Piccadilly Gardens, my friend and I made the 5-hour journey on MegaBus to Glasgow. We decided to take a midnight bus to kill the time and rest along the way. We underestimated the cold Scottish climate as it was freezing as soon as we stepped out of the bus at Buchanan Station at 5am. Glasgow is the kind of city where you could wander around the streets and find its soul in every corner whilst admiring the mix of old and new architecture that blend together seamlessly.
We started with a misty morning stroll at the Glasgow Botanic Garden, which was lovely and full of warm autumnal colours from the fallen leaves. Around a 10 minute walk from the garden, we made our way on foot to the University of Glasgow. Roaming around the university feels being in Hogwarts with its greyish castle-like buildings. However, we were less fortunate for not being able to see the gorgeous gothic arches in the interior university courtyard called “cloisters” which would have made for an absolutely perfect Instagram-worthy picture.
Though it may seem like an odd choice for sightseeing we visited The Necropolis which is definitely worth a visit. Perched on top of a hill, this collection of creepy graves and massive mausoleums mark the burial place for 50,000 people, many of whom were prominent Glaswegians — such as John Knox who was the leader of the Scottish Reformation — and dates back to the 1830’s. After this we craved something sweet so we decided to hop on the bus to The Chocolate Cafe, which is considered one of the best dessert cafes in Europe. I’d recommend their famous Death by Chocolate, a triple layer chocolate cake, which was definitely a highlight for me.
We then left Glasgow and headed to Aberdeen for the next stop on our trip. If I think about all the reasons why I wanted to visit Aberdeen, the spectacular natural scenery is probably the main one. Located on the North-East coast, Aberdeen is a place where the harbour meets the city centre. We took a bus ride from Edinburgh, which is nearly 4 hours, and booked an AirBnB. It cost us £18 per night, which was a great budget option.
We decided to get a day bus pass due to the blustery winds which made walking unpleasant, but otherwise it is an accessible city for walking. It was drizzling when we reached Dunnottar Castle but nature did us justice when the rainbow popped out between the hills serving us an incredible sight, and we also had the chance to walk along the shore by Aberdeen Beach. It was hard to believe that what we were seeing was real because we couldn’t get enough of the view — it was so jaw-droppingly scenic. It incorporates all the romantic notions of the ships, seagulls, and the sea as the backdrop intermingling with historical landmarks. This ensured we did not leave without trying some seafood, so we headed off for fish and chips at The Ashvale.
For me Aberdeen is less refined, but I loved it more for that and there were fewer tourists than Glasgow. If I was ever given a chance to travel back to either Aberdeen or Glasgow, I would in a heartbeat.