Tag Archives: train ticket

Aberdeen

While it was time to take off and travel more of Scotland, I really was quite reluctant about it because it meant having to leave K&E!!  I still miss hanging out with them for a beer (or 20 in the case of K & I, lol!! AND whiskey on occasion!!) or for a delicious home cooked meal!  I had my first Cullen Skink there, and though I’m not at all a fish fan, the soup was VERY delicious and had no fishy taste to it at all!!  I miss the lean event we did together on the garage, driving around town in style, being shown all the exclusive and local parts of the area, the awesome conversation and company, and Sunday night burritos!!  Yea, I wasn’t looking forward to leaving, but it was time…

When looking up where to go next, I settled on Aberdeen then on to the Highlands, which are in central Scotland.  I was first thinking to keep going north from Aberdeen along the coast, but it would have been trickier to get around since I didn’t have a car and only relied on buses and trains.  Which brings me to a point… Scotland visitors would definitely benefit from renting a car!!!  There are sooooooo many nooks and crannies to see in Scotland that aren’t possible to see because the buses don’t go there, or they only go there on Tuesdays, etc, etc.!!  So if you really want to get into Scotland, rent a car!!  Or a car AND a chauffeur, which is how it would have to be in my case because they drive on the “wrong” side of the road and I could totally see myself killing myself within the first few minutes of attempting to drive alone!!

Moving on… I happened to find a train ticket to Aberdeen in first class for only 3 pounds more than the 2nd class ticket.  Having never traveled any mode of transportation in first class before, I thought heck, why not?!  And man oh man was it ever worth it!!!  Free food!  Free booze!!  Free WiFi!!!  Comfy seats!!!  I can’t say that I would have paid much more than 10 pounds more than the 2nd class seat to get a 1st class seat, but then again… Now that I know all the perks of 1st class, well it certainly made me want to always go that way!!  But I’m too cheap to do that!!  Or rather, the more I spend in one way means the less I can spend in traveling!!  So being thrifty always wins out!!

Aberdeen is an interesting mix of a place.  It is modern yet built in an old style.  The whole city is quite grey due to the granite they use on many of the buildings, both old and modern.  It is a very industrious town and has lots of oil business there and ship yards for various tasks such as fishing, oil, etc.  Funnily enough I learned that Aberdeen is where my sister’s place of work is based out of!  It’s definitely just a business place, with some character in the old buildings and the cemetery in the center of town, but that was about it.

Luckily I had only planned to simply get there, spend a few hours walking around (which I almost got lost at one point, lol!!) and then head out via the bus to Huntly.  And that’s what I stuck to doing.  I checked my luggage into the storage facility at the train station, walked around, then gathered my luggage and waited for my bus.

On to Huntly

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London Walking Tour

On my first official morning I opted to take part in a “free” walking tour of the “TV” “London”.  I will explain in further detail why quotes are around the three words in the previous sentence in a bit…

Upon first checking into the hostel they mentioned that there was a “free” walking tour that operated daily leaving the hostel at 10am.  They said that the tour covered central London, but that the main attractions (for example Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc) would not be covered, but that the tour would end so close to those areas that they would be easy enough to explore after the tour.

Ok, so here was a great example as to the incompetence of the staff (sadly) at the Generator hostel… First off, the “free” walking tour required a not-free train or bus ticket to get you to the meeting point (Green Park) from which the tour would actually begin.  Now, I’m not complaining about having to buy a train ticket, because as it turned out it came in quite handy for the rest of the day (I bought a day pass from the hostel for 9 pounds that allowed unlimited access to all buses and trains for the entire day, and after my day it was definitely worth its price!) I was just irritated that this little bit of important information wasn’t explained to me when the staff talked about the free walking tour.  Now, I’ve been told I’m too literal a person taking what people say quite literally and to that point I admit that I literally did think that the walking tour would be entirely that… walking.  So when the lady who came to pick up the people participating in the walking tour from the hostel (on foot I may add) we started walking out toward the next hostel where we were to pick up more people when she thankfully asked “do you have a train ticket?”.  My first question of course was “For what?  This is a walking tour, yes?”  To which she explained that we would need a train ticket to get to the meeting point.

So I turned around as she waited outside for me while I worked out the details and purchased the all day train pass.  I’m just saying, if the whole procedure for the “free” walking tour was explained to begin with then that little bit of confusion and wasted time would never had occurred… Oh, and one other little thing… Goes along with the incompetence of the staff at the Generator (who otherwise were very friendly) per their knowledge of this free walking tour that they at least informed people about… ok, so a few more points… #1 no one knew how long the tour would last #2 no one knew exactly what time it started (I was told 10am, at 10am asked where the tour met and was told -by the same person who told me 10am- that it met at 10:15… 10:15 rolled around and I was told once again by the same person, “oh they meet between 10:15 and 10:30… GRRRRR!!!!!) #3 the areas that they said would be covered on the tour in fact were NOT covered at all… I’m not complaining on this point again because the tour actually did cover all the areas I wanted to know more about, i.e. the “TV” areas of London (Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, etc).  All I’m saying again is that there was just a HUGE lack of knowledge from the staff at the Generator hostel about this tour.

Now, to the perhaps credit of the staff, the lady that picked me up from there on foot said that the regular staff were on vacation and that she’d never seen the ones that were there that morning before… so maybe the regular staff are more knowledgeable than the apparently new ones that were there… But I will never know for sure…

Ok, so I’m done venting about the frustrating start to the tour… The tour itself was in one word: brilliant!  The tour guide was funny, friendly and incredibly informative!  As I mentioned above we all met (turned out to be about 30 people in total from various hostels around London) at Green Park and from there began the two hour tour entirely on foot:)

Oh, I almost forgot… the above words in quotes!  So “Free” is in quotes above because as you guessed, the tour wasn’t “free”.  It required a train/bus ticket and a tip for the tour guide.  The guides aren’t paid by the organization that provides the free tours, so they only rely on tips.  “TV” is in quotes simply to mean that the areas covered were in fact the most popular tourist destinations in London, and “London” is in quotes because all the areas we went to (TV areas) are actually in Westminster… London, the REAL London is only one about square mile!!  The rest of what people consider to be London is Westminster.  That’s your first bit of info I got from the tour…

To make it a bit easier for reading perhaps, I’m going to break down each part of the tour and associated stories for each area into links below.  That way this page doesn’t drag on forever!  I’m not going to tell every story told during the tour (I’ve got to leave something out to make you all want to go to London and do the tour yourselves!!) but will give you my favorites.  Cheers and happy reading your free tour with accompanying pictures:)

The Palaces

Red Coats & Gentlemen’s Club

Trafalgar Square

Horse Garden/PM House/Westminster Abbey/Big Ben

Areas Not covered (Eye of London/Brick Lane/Piccadilly Circus)

 

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