Faberdeen: A surprisingly cool city break in Aberdeen, Scotland
SHort breaks in Scotland
It's chilly in winter, but Aberdeen is surprisingly cool, says Tom Sweeney
Set the mood
There's nothing mean about Aberdeen - despite the tiresome old joke that copper wire was invented there when two tight-fisted fellas spotted a penny on the pavement at the same time. Aberdonians extend the warmest of welcomes to visitors, but even more endearing is their fond farewell, "Haste ye back".
To debunk another myth, the UK's North Sea oil capital isn't Britain's most expensive city after London - in fact, the bullish euro means Irish shoppers will find great deals galore in store.
Annie Lennox may have been thinking of her hometown when she sang that "Sweet dreams are made of this", but there are sweet drams too, as Aberdeen is the perfect base for touring some of Scotland's best-known distilleries. With retail in the morning followed by whisky tasting, you can shop until you have a drop. Slàinte mhath!
Visit the must-see Old Aberdeen, a 15th century conservation village rich in historical buildings on the university campus - it's a joy to behold. The village's St Machar Bar (adamsfamilypubs.com) does great pub grub. Tuck into stovies, Scotland's meatier version of Dublin coddle.
The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen is the city's signature song, and the Aurora Borealis (the 'heavenly dancers' to Aberdonians) frequently put on a spectacular free show on clear winter nights. There's no set charge for the fun and informative walking tours run by aberdeenfreetours.com... just pay the guide what you think the experience was worth.
There's whisky galore in The Grill pub (213 Union Street, thegrillaberdeen.co.uk), which offers a selection of nearly 600 single malt and blended Scotch, Irish and world whiskies - the uisge beatha menu with detailed descriptions runs to 32 pages and makes for fascinating reading.
Award-winning Restaurant No. 10 (10 Queens Terrace, no10aberdeen.co.uk) is always busy, so reserve days ahead for a memorable meal in a classy but reasonably-priced gem - if monkfish is the daily catch, you're in for a treat.
The 203-room Jurys Inn (jurysinns.com) deserves a much higher rating than its three stars - it's a super place to stay, the staff are dotes and the breakfast fry (haggis optional) might just be the best in northern Scotland.
The hotel entrance is on the first floor of Union Square Shopping Centre (unionsquareaberdeen.com), itself one of the biggest malls in Britain.
The centre, which has more than 70 stores and restaurants and a 10-screen cinema, is centrally located next to the main bus and train stations. No attraction worth seeing is more than 30 minutes' walk from Union Square.
Get used to being addressed as Ken, even if you're Kieran or Katie. "Ken" is the Aberdonian version of "Know what I mean, like?" Also, pack a pullover and windcheater for summer and waterproof layers in winter weather - it can be cold and wet, ken?
Get me there
Aer Lingus Regional (aerlingus.com) operates 11 flights a week from Dublin to Aberdeen, with fares from €34.99 one-way including taxes and charges. The 727 shuttle bus connects Aberdeen airport with Union Square, a journey of 30 minutes, longer at peak times, and operates every 10 minutes (the service is less frequent in the evening and at weekends).
For more on the attractions of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, see visitabdn.com.