I had one full day to discover Dundee. After my interview with Water Babies was over, I went to find my accommodation. I had booked to stay at West Park Bed & Breakfast/Conference & Events Centre, on the Perth Road, which was only two stops further on the bus. I got there at about 12.45pm and knew that I would have to wait until 2pm to check in. The room was ready early so I was delighted to be able to get into the room, change clothes and get back out again to discover Dundee.
Dundee is the fourth largest city in Scotland. It sits on the north bank of the Firth of Tay and in the 19th century, expanded rapidly because of its main industry: jute. This industry, along with others, has established Dundee’s reputation as a city of “jute, jam and journalism”. The rise of the textile industries brought an expansion of supporting industries such as shipbuilding and extensive development of the waterfront area started in the early 1800’s to cope with increase in demand in port capacity. At its height, two hundred ships per year were built here, including the RRS Discovery: Robert Scott’s Antarctic research vessel, which is on display at Discovery Point on the waterfront.
I had a good walk around the city centre, which has a relaxed feel to the place but not too quiet that you would say it’s morbid. There are quite a few shopping centres in the area and a lot of cafes, restaurants and pubs to choose from. There is a good choice of cultural places to visit too such as Dundee Contemporary Arts: the local art house cinema and art gallery, the Mc Manus Gallery: the city’s main museum and art gallery, the Dundee Repertory Theatre: the base for Scottish Dance Theatre, Caird Hall: Dundee’s concert auditorium and the Verdant Works: a museum dedicated to the once thriving jute industry to name a few. In the main town square, there is a statue of Desperate Dan, the star of the comic The Dandy and his pet dog, Desperate Dawg, on a leash at his feet. Behind him too, is Minnie The Minx, the world’s wildest tomboy! Publishers D. C. Thompson, who publish comics like The Beano and The Dandy are based in Dundee. Dundee’s not as nice or cultural a city as Edinburgh but I liked it. I also wanted to check out the nightlife and see if it felt safe for a woman on her own at night.
After getting dinner in one of the Wetherspoon pubs on Reform Street, I had a walk around town and it was fairly quiet. Mind you, it was during the week, so it was bound to be like that. I went into The Trade House Bar on Nethergate Street in the city centre to have a few drinks. There were quite a few people around and I liked the atmosphere in there. I asked the girl behind the bar about the average price for renting rooms in Dundee. Bar staff are always a good source of information. She told me that at the top end, you would pay £300 all in, sharing bills etc. I had to get the last bus back to West Park at 11.20pm so I skedaddled out of there shortly after 11pm. I had no qualms about wandering around the city late in the evening.
If you want to hear about a delightful little place called the Tartan Café and Broughty Ferry, read about it in my next post.