Aberdeen and Scottish Beer: A Break Before Fieldwork

Archaeological fieldwork, like most fieldwork, can be extremely demanding. Often we’re working long hours (ca. 16 hour days), eating what we’re given, and have little personal time. There are great parts of fieldwork, which is why many of us keep doing it; however, it’s more than fair to say that fieldwork is NOT a vacation. While fieldwork is arduous, most of us are working before we go into the field. Some of us are finishing up comparably intensive times like writing four term papers or grading 100 of them. Most of us are relieved to finally get to the field, but we’re also a bit exhausted when we get there and we can’t blame all the lethargy on jet-lag. This past June, I was preparing for a ten-day field season in Ethiopia. Now that doesn’t sound like a long time and you’re right, it isn’t; however, the months leading up to June were a bit more intense. From January to March, I was doing fieldwork in Oman. In April, I was grant writing. In May, I went back to the US to check in with my University and attend various family gatherings. There were a lot of other things in between, but needless to say, June came quick and I was a little tired. Fortunately, earlier this year, we decided to go to Aberdeen, Scotland during the first weekend in June for some necessary R&R. 

Aberdeen -- Scotland
Aberdeen or Cults? Aberdeen, it is!

Why Scotland?

I really like Scotland. My first trip there was in 2010 and my then boyfriend (now soon-to-be husband) and I went around Edinburgh and the Highlands for about 5 days. The Highlands are beautiful, green, mountainous,  and loch-filled. If you want to take a break from people, it’s a great place to do it. Initially, we played a game where would yell ‘SHEEP!’ every time we saw one. That got old quick, and we changed the game to ‘CAR!’ One day we saw no more than 10 cars.

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In Aberdeen. One car in the back!

Why Scottish Beer?

It’s delicious! My fiancé is a shareholder at BrewDog and every shareholder (and a guest) is invited to the annual shareholder’s meeting. It’s basically a beer fest. All I remember when he first got the e-mail was ‘drinking beer in Scotland for a weekend’. Of course, I was in.  BrewDog invited other local breweries to partake in their shareholder’s meeting event so we got to sample a variety of beer. One of my favorite beers from BrewDog is Dogma.

BrewDog Logo
Great Scottish Beer!

Image used with Permission from BrewDog HQ

What did you do?

Well, we drank, responsibly of course. The day before the shareholder’s meeting, we ventured around Aberdeen and had dinner and drinks at a place called the Tippling House. It’s somewhat small, dark, rustic, and yes, a bit of hipster heaven. They served a variety of drinks and we mainly stuck with beer and whiskey, though their cocktails did look fun. The food was solid too. I got a sharing platter (yes, for myself, but I did share…eventually). While we didn’t eat anywhere else in town, I would recommend the Tippling House. It seems great for a relaxed night with friends of varying palates as there seems to be something of quality for everyone. I also would recommend making a reservation or getting there before 6:30pm as it can get a bit busy.

Great place for a night out!

What else did you do?

We both were tired and we just wanted to do a whole bunch of nothing. This was easy because we stayed at Aberdeen’s Village Urban Resorts. We got a good deal on Expedia and it seemed to fit our needs. Now, if you’re planning a weekend in Aberdeen where you want to take in the city, then I would look elsewhere, as this hotel is a bit outside the city center in a business district (more like a little business oasis). There is a bus connection, but it wasn’t very reliable when we tried it. The bus did come eventually. You can take a taxi in, but keep the cost of taxis in mind when considering the cost of a hotel. The hotel had some key things were looking for including a pool, gym, and a decent restaurant. We wanted to unwind and exercise a little before our marathon of drinking. There is not much to see around the hotel, but the entrance overlooks some pretty pastures in the distance (across the main road). One thing to keep in mind about Scotland in June is that daylight hours are long. I think it’s pretty cool, but it gets to be a bit trippy sometimes.

Aberedeen -- Scotland
Night view from the hotel.

Any general advice for a relaxing weekend away?

If you’re looking to book hotels over the weekend, I would recommend considering business hotels. These are hotels whose main clientele are people who travel for business, thus they book most of their rooms during weekdays. The prices on the weekend are usually much cheaper than during the week because they are trying to fill rooms. Sometimes the business areas of a city are not completely separate, therefore, not too inconvenient for weekend visitors. Business hotels can be a cost-effective way to afford a relaxing weekend away.

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Union Terrace Garden in Aberdeen

What does this have to do with fieldwork?

Nothing. Well, almost nothing. The weekend away allowed us, especially me, to recharge for my upcoming summer that included a fieldwork stint in Ethiopia, a two-week intensive course on Wood Anatomy, a week-long course on wood charcoal, the 6th International Anthracology Meeting, grants to write, weddings to attend, a wedding to plan, visas to obtain,  and more. While getting away is a luxury and it can’t always happen, I definitely recommend finding some way to recharge before heading to the field or any other season filled with exciting, but demanding activities.

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.



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