12 hours in Dundee

It all started with the wrong train ticket and a missing railcard. I remained calm because I refused to give up at the first hurdle. A drive past Dundee at the weekend was disheartening, and I was rapidly regretting my decision to visit. But I didn’t want to leave Dundee unseen – we don’t have that many cities in Scotland. So, at almost double the price of Josh’s ticket, I was ready to cross the Forth Road Bridge and head to Scotland’s comic city. 

In case you missed it, I was having a bit of an east coast staycation last week. It all began during Halloween weekend at Barley Bothy in Aberdeenshire, and then I had fun being a tourist in my own city. Somewhere in the middle, I made the decision to go to Dundee; and I was dragging Josh with me. Twelve hours later we were playing shopping basket on the train home after copious amounts of food and alcohol.

I have this thing for seeking out the unusual and unexpected sides of places. Give me a grim city, and I’ll want to take pictures of everything that is missed upon first glance. This is why I reluctantly travelled to Dundee – I wanted to prove a point. This meant I had to do my research, and I went straight to Creative Dundee to discover what they had to offer. It didn’t take me long to find ’99 Things to See and Do in Dundee’; a crowdsourced magic guide! The people of Dundee had piqued my interest – and so I went, even though it was dishearteningly cold and the cosy pubs and restaurants of Edinburgh were tantalisingly close.

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Desperate Dan – you’ll find him on the High St!

Now, this was a Josh and Eve trip. And like most ‘anybody’ and Eve trips, it involved quite a lot of food and drink. But Josh is especially good for this! Our first stop was Italian Grill Dundee (because, we love Italian food). I’m going to put our experience down to bad luck, but they had decorators in at lunchtime – at lunchtime! We had to enjoy the smell of paint while we ate (albeit nice pizza). Not a great start really. But let’s forget all about that – because the rest of the trip was ace!

I loved spotting the familiar comic characters around the city, and I made sure we stopped by the penguins (but why weren’t they dressed up this time, Dundee?). We fancied a bit of nostalgia and ducked into The Palais Tea Room. Do you know how hard it is to find a decent empire biscuit nowadays? Well this is one place you can get one. Heads up, they do cash only.

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The Penguins – they’re often dressed up!

This day was fast paced; that’s how you fit a city into twelve hours. We went straight across to the Science Centre, and did a massive u-turn when we saw how many school kids were there. Probably for the best – but hey, that means it must be pretty good right? This got us back on schedule, kind of; so we dashed up the stairs of Dundee Contemporary Arts. This is a seriously cool space, and I absolutely loved how it was laid out. They also have a brilliant shop, and I managed to snag a copy of Oh Comely!

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Josh appreciating art.

Not stopping, we took a stroll through the university campus towards Verdant Works. I picked up another magazine about volcanic wines on the way. It is a writing city after all! Okay, time for a big thumbs-up. Verdant Works was undoubtedly the biggest highlight of our trip. It’s a beautifully curated museum about jute and milling in Dundee. We laughed because Josh asked me what jute was as we walked into the building, and now he knows more than he probably thought he ever would.

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Dressing up at Verdant Works!

The best feature of this museum is its volunteers. We were surprised to be taken on a private tour by a man dressed in costume who introduced us to ‘his’ mill. He was fantastic, and pointed out how women at the time were frowned upon in the office and some were part of the Suffragette movement. Shortly after, we met Lily, a lady who worked in the mill as a young girl. She made me laugh so much with her pseudo-feminist comments towards Josh!

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This looks suits him.

Long story short, plastic basically wiped out this industry in Dundee; but this museum is an incredible testament to the hard working people of the city. We stayed until the gates were closed on the museum, and at this point we just had time to visit The McManus. Luckily, it’s a pretty small museum and completely free; so we managed to whirl around it. Oor Wullie is sitting right outside too!

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Oor Wullie and Eve.

Our next destination was Howff Cemetery to see the Luminous Birds exhibition. Typically, they didn’t start until the day after…But we did manage to get another album cover picture of Josh!

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Josh, The Album.

By this point, I was pretty tired. We decided to unwind with a few drinks at Duke’s Corner (great vibes) via Bash Street! Afterwards, we went straight to The Wine Press as soon as we heard they served wines on tap. If you didn’t already know, Josh and I are wine buddies. And because mixing alcohol is what everybody is encouraged to do, we then went to Dundee’s Jam Jar and did that stereotypical thing where you drink cocktails out of a teapot. This place reminded me of Edinburgh’s Dragonfly bar.

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The best street in Dundee.

We had time for one last stop, literally right next door. Craving another plate of food, we scoffed a burger and a beer at True Kitchen before our train. I highly recommend – the food was on point.

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Get in my tum.

Our train was late. When we got on it, it took forever to get to Edinburgh. That got us thinking…about food.

“In my basket I have an apple, a b–, a carrot, a doorknob, an e–, f–, a goat, h–, ice cubes, j–, krispie cake, l–, a mango?, n–, octopus, p–, quorn, r–, s–, t–, u–, v–, w–, x–, yoghurt?, z–. I can’t remember!”

Thanks for having us Dundee! We’ll see you again once V&A is open…

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