Shane met me off the bus in Dundee and led me to the hotel. I realised I had misremembered where the bus station was having confused it with the local Dundee buses which are slightly more central. My suggestion of where to wait in the warm for me to arrive was therefore unhelpful. I had not been involved in the hotel booking except to know the name, Hotel Indigo, and had remembered, correctly this time, roughly where it was and that I had been to the restaurant there three years ago with the very friends I had just met in Aberdeen.
On arrival, before we had even reached the room, I was immediately pleased by the choice, as we were welcomed with complementary mince pies; the foyer was laid out with local history exhibits and there was a kingfisher painted on the wall.
It is one of the joys of travel, to experience the local colour. The room itself had been decorated with a Dundee theme with complimentary Beano; a Dundee cake painting; a beverage drawer labelled “drouthy?”; A marmalade jar tile in the shower and a wallpaper trim round the room with the recipe for Dundee cake printed on it.
We slaked our drouth and topped up with mince pies and headed out into the night. The theme continued with the streets decorated with local characters from the Beano and Sunday Post such as Bananaman, Desperate Dan and Oor Wullie – unique Christmas lights!
Ou food and drink were not Scottish. I couldn’t have a margarita as they were out of an ingredient. This had happened in Edinburgh recently when they ran out of tequila but it was a different ingredient this time. I chose an amaretto sour instead and Shane had a shark bite. Our cocktails together looked rather like a palette for painting a kingfisher.
My food was colourful too while Shane had a main course parcel. Having had starters, that were served with bread, I couldn’t finish my main – we both chose something stuffed and by the end we were too. There were plenty of pomegranate seeds as well as the grenadine in the shark bite. Dundee was off to a good start. The breakfast next morning was extensive too. I like seeing haggis on a breakfast menu!
The trip was off to a good start and continued to stay bright for the entire visit. We had a walk along the water front and I remembered doing this with friends in lashing rain and wind in August 3 years ago and we in fact had much sunnier weather in December. The harbour area that sometimes has a water skiing experience was not going today. No surprise as the ambient temperature was not ideal as indicated by sun beds and water warning…slippery when solid! We took in the Unicorn, though it is currently closed to visitors.
I had not expected to tackle the Dundee Law but we could see it from the Sea Front and Shane was keen for the challenge. He was less keen when I stopped to record some birds on the way – it was too chilly a day to stand still but okay to keep walking uphill. With care to avoid the ice, it turned out to be a lovely day for a view up there. We saw some little birds in the woodland below us and some very big ones on the buildings.
We were lucky to have blue sky and sunshine for the whole visit but still warmed ourselves inside looking at the art gallery and museum as well as the Discovery and were particularly warmed by our cocktails at the Draffens Basement Speakeasy: a pins and needles for me and a rum based boaty themed one for Shane (“All the nice girls love a sailor” perhaps) followed by us both plumping for a Port of Call for our next round, leaving me in doubt as to whether that was “Two port of calls, please” or ” Two ports of call please”. Not one of the cocktails was a name I recognised and some contained a base that was unique to the bar. We enjoyed the light jazz in the background, a bit of Nina Simone and some older numbers “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love” and “In the Mood” certainly did set the mood.There was a warm and friendly atmosphere in there with several exchanges between customers from different tables, speakeasy was an apt term indeed.
We enjoyed a Turkish beer in the restaurant and were none the worse for it the next day. In the Discovery exhibition the importance of varied foodstocks was emphasised for health and morale. I was amused by the list of medicinal stocks. That visit to the cocktail bar was certainly deemed good for you a century ago!
Like Edinburgh the fairground had come to town and back in Edinburgh the weather was much the same. Walking along the canal after we returned it was frozen over and even now when the temperature has risen well above freezing it is still covered in ice. But Bryn has managed to start off the Christmas cheer by getting the Christmas tree up.