Monday, 8 July 2013

Traveling to Dundee

Ok, ok, I know that Dundee might not be top of the list of exciting places to go in Scotland.  (It might, in fact, be nearer the bottom.)  But I have a conference in Dundee with travel and hotel paid, and if I’m going anyway, why not make it a fun adventure instead of a boring work trip?

The advantage of travelling to less well-known places is that, rather than walking Edinburgh’s Royal Mile or visiting the golf courses at St. Andrews, you get to know the real country.  I hate the word authentic.  It’s the most overused hipster word of the 21st century.  (Followed closely by curate.)  But that’s what traveling to somewhere like Dundee gets you – a more authentic look at a country.

I took the train, not because it was faster or cheaper (it wasn’t really, and I wasn’t paying anyway) but because I adore taking the train through England and Scotland.  I love the green fields and the rolling hills and the sparkling blue or ominously grey of the North Sea and we fly past.  Maybe it’s the product of growing up in a place where no one ever took the train.  But either way, with a good audiobook on my phone, I watched the miles go by, and in six hours, had made it to the city. 

The first thing you notice when you step off the train is that T
the town, built along the Tay River, offers fantastic waterside views.

They also have the RRS Dicovery, the ship that Captain Robert Scott took on his 1912 Antarctic Expedition.  We didn't have time to visit, but the discovery center looks like a great afternoon. (History nerd, I know.)

Our hotel, the Apex (£73 a night) was a decent business hotel with a spa and offered gorgeous views out over the city and the quays.

Most of the (gorgeously sunny) weekend was spent in a conference room, but we managed to wander through the city and enjoy the town (and the whiskey).  All Dundee’s medieval structures (like the castle) have been replaced by Victorian structures from the 19th century, when the city became a center for the trade in jute and whale oil, as well as marmalade production.  The town still has a quaint downtown, however, and the building site in the center of the city will be a new Scottish V&A by 2015. 

Built in the early 20th century, Caird Hall offers concerts and events.  Saturday they had a festival with Scottish pipes and traditional dancing.  The whole town came out to enjoy the sunshine.

Dundee also has many of those little details which makes a town unique.  If you're looking, the city has a plethora of old and entertaining statues scattered through the streets.

While it still might not be my first choice for Scottish travel, Dundee is a pretty little riverside city worth the visit.  

Cost (if traveling there to attend a conference): FREE!

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