Sunday, October 7, 2012

What's Your Grid, Aberdeen?

One of the things I'd like to do while I'm in the British Isles and Europe is to revisit all of the spots where I've stayed overnight, and take grid coordinates with my GPS. It's something I've wanted to do since late 2007. I've never had the opportunity or the funding to make that goal happen... Until now.

I started the project on Thursday after class... And a trip to the pub with my classmates. (A guy has to have priorities, right?) I've been looking back at maps for eight years now, but there's a difference between that and finding it on foot. I got close - Rubislaw Terrace - before pulling out my mobile and temporarily enabling the location function to figure out where I was. I hadn't brought a map, but I knew that I'd have the digital resources, so I didn't really need one.

Before I go on, I want to state for the record that I'm adamant that everyone - particularly men - should be able to navigate without using a GPS, and particularly a car GPS. I've used a car GPS on one short trip, and by the time I'd been there two or three days, I was nearly solid on my routes to the point of not needing the GPS anymore. I learned how to use a handheld GPS for more specialized purposes while I was working for the Army a few years ago, so I've continued to use those. Anyone who shares my philosophy may enjoy this article from a few years ago.

At any rate, I took the bus from campus to the vicinity of Union Terrace Gardens, which is adjacent to Union Street - essentially the High Street of Aberdeen. From there, I did my best to follow a route that took me in a general westerly direction, and a touch north. I saw a few things that seemed familiar, and found an area that seemed quite familiar, but I seemed to remember a busy intersection at which I'd had to cross two or three streets in order to get where I was going. At that point, I pulled out my phone and used Google Maps and the GPS function to figure out where I was relative to where my destination was. With that sorted out, I resumed walking, arriving a couple of minutes later at Queen's Cross.

As you can see, Queen's Cross is noteworthy in that the middle of the roundabout is graced by a statue of Queen Victoria, easily recognizable despite the fading light of the early evening.

Once I was through the maze of Queen's Cross, it wasn't long until I found the hostel. The grid coordinates are as follows:

30V WJ 52650 33587

Having eaten relatively little during the day, and being near the area, I headed to what has become my favorite kebab shop (more on that later), back down Albyn Place to Union Street, and then up Union Street to Bridge Street. In total, Google says that I walked about two and a half miles, which isn't bad for a guy trying to drop weight to get back into fighting condition. Here's a map of my route.

Now that I have the grid coordinates for the hostel in Aberdeen, I have three grids left to take in Scotland: Orkney, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. I'm not sure whether I'll stay in Glasgow or Edinburgh or not, but I'll certainly be spending as much quality time in Orkney as I possibly can.

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