Scotland 6: Day 22

03.20.18 | Thurso Hostel | 20:20

As I entered the hostel kitchen this morning, there was five guys sitting around eating breakfast in silence. Since I don’t do silence very well, I was the first one to speak up, “Where are you guys from?”. I got the chat going, as I tend to do. When I spoke with Samson, a guy who is originally from Uganda, he told me that he could tell I was from America before I told him. I asked if it was because of my accent. He said, “No, Americans will talk to anyone and they don’t know how to sit quietly.”

All the guys stated laughing, myself included. And what can I say? It’s true! I’d rather chat and make a friend than the alternative… although I’m not really sure what the alternative would be- since I’m always talking to strangers.

I left after three bowls of cereal (they are small bowls, so please don’t think I’m an over-eater). I was walking through town and thinking that I really wanted to get my hair died again. The “steel blue” that they gave me in Glasgow was now just looking white. I wanted something brighter and more toxic. So I was thrilled when I found an open salon with an available chair. So now I’m a redhead. The best part is the fact that she only charged me about $14!

I walked to the beach, since it was turning out to be a perfect spring day. It was a bit windy, yes, but the sun was out and it felt so good! After about an hour of walking around, I decided that I did still need my other coat layer and scarf after all. I walked back to the hostel to grab them.

On my way back to the beach I decided to stop and find some early lunch. I found a great little cafe/ sandwich shop. It was lovely! Their version of a club sandwich, which was close to the American version, only they added barbecue sauce. It was quite delicious!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the beach again. I would explore the shore, watch all the dog-walkers play, and I even got some reading in. I’m reading this book called “60 Degrees North” that I bought in a gift shop in Lerwick. So far the book seems to be quite fascinating. It’s a true story about this guy who is from Shetland and he travels all around the world to see what the other places that lie at 60 degrees north have in common with Shetland. It’s a lot better than it sounds.

I found a small steak/seafood restaurant right on the beach. I ordered a swordfish steak. So good! It had little pieces of chorizo sausage and the green purée that they used to decorate the plate was pretty awesome! I wish I would have taken a picture of the front of the restaurant because it was incredible! I will definitely be back on future visits to Thurso.

Scotland 6: Day 18

03.16.18 | Sumburgh Airport (LSI) | 12:33

When I was chatting with the desk clerk last night, he told me that the bus service in Lerwick wasn’t very reliable. For this reason, I have decided that the best thing to do today would be to leave early for the Sumburgh Airport. I figured if I was going to wait around, I may as well be in place for my flight that happens this afternoon.

First, however I stopped again at the Peerie Cafe on the harbor in Lerwick. I got another great breakfast and had time to chat with the baristas for a moment. They have a gift shop next door, so I decided to go buy a t-shirt to remember. I can justify this purchase, because I didn’t buy a shirt at the C2C concert in Glasgow, earlier this month… speaking of which, C2C tickets for 2019 went on sale this morning! I’m sorely tempted to buy some.

The Sumburgh Airport is small but lovely. They seem to know what they are doing. Do to all the metal zippers and buttons on my trousers (yes, I call them pants, but have been corrected too many times while in the U.K., so they’re trousers for the time being) I got a very thorough rub down. It was awkward, confusing, and perhaps slightly arousing (kidding). I will say this: The security personnel at LSI are very thorough. As part of my recover, I sat down and ordered a hot chocolate.

I’m sad to be leaving Shetland so soon, especially because my cousin Cathy tells me that this is where her ancestors on her father’s side come from. I wish I would have taken the time to do a walk-through the local cemetery. I do remember walking through when I was here years before, but now that I know my cousins possibly came from here, it’s all the more reason to do it again. I resolved to walk through the next time I’m here… this was a good enough visit, that I’m considering spending at least a week.

13:12

A few minute ago, the fire alarm went off. They told us we had to leave the terminal and my first thought was that I was worried that we’d have to go out of security and through that whole ordeal once again. Luckily, they had a special place out near the tarmac where we didn’t have to go back through security. We stood out in the cold for about ten minutes and then were allowed to come back into the the [heated] departures area. I didn’t see any fire or even smoke, so I wonder what actually set off the alarm.

19:11 | Kirkwall Hotel

My flight was excellent! Since it was only about 40 minutes in the air, with only one flight attendant, there was no service, nor did the captain even turn off the seatbelt light. Come to think of it, the plane had no lavatory. I shot this short, one-minute video. Not too exciting, but my first time using iMovie on the iPad. Enjoy!

Kirkwall is extremely cold! They are calling this storm system “The Beast from the East”, and it has definitely been a ‘beast’! When I got to he hotel, I just wanted to curl up under the covers, but made myself go downstairs and get some dinner. After dinner, I decided to call it an early night. There will be plenty to see and do tomorrow.

Scotland 6: Day 17

03.15.18 | Lerwick Hostel | 10:24

This morning I woke up with “Giants In The Sky” in my head. This is a song from he musical, Into The Woods. I don’t know why this planted itself into my head, but I laid there in bed and decided that I needed to hear the movie soundtrack. Then as I listened to this song, I actually go teary-eyed. I can’t explain why this happened, though music has often drawn me to tears in the past, but never this song before now.

I think Calli ditched me. Last night, before we went to our dorm rooms, she asked me if I wanted to go on some big ole four-mile hike with her. I told her that would be lovely, and she told me that we would leave at 08:00. So before I fell asleep, I set my alarm.

When I woke, it was only 06:00, but I’m normally an early-riser, so I didn’t think much. At about 07:00, I came into the lobby to sit for awhile, and use the Wi-Fi, since the connection in my dorm room is spotty. 08:00 rolled around and Calli never showed. So I made some herbal tea and sipped, waiting patiently. She never showed up. So, I decided to put on my shoes and head into town to find some breakfast. I purposefully ate fast, because I didn’t want Calli to wonder where I was, or if I was still interested in the hike.

Lerwick is very windy and cold this morning. There is some kind of storm blowing in, and my trip to breakfast was a lot of holding on to my hat, so that I didn’t lose it. I walked out onto one of the docks and took a few pictures and shot a quick video. I love this so much! It’s already haunting me! If I was a better writer, I would make this the location of a story.

I come back and took a shower, but still no Calli. So she is either still asleep (but we went to bed before 21:00), or she woke up early and ditched me. I am not going to jump to any conclusions, but that it what it’s looking like. She is actually the one who invited me on her adventure today. No worries, though. I think I’ll throw on my coat and hike farther up the coastline.

20:16

My attempt to hike farther didn’t really work out. The wind just got worse, and the rain was colder. I stayed inside and watched a movie instead. This has be a little bit worried because I’m supposed to fly out tomorrow afternoon, and I don’t know the size of the plane I’ll be on, and if this wind could delay or cancel a flight. If so, I may end up stuck on Shetland for a bit. I know the harsh winds have also suspended the ferry service, so I could very well be stuck on the island. I’ll definitely be crossing my fingers that it’s safe to fly!

Well, I spoke with Calli tonight and it was all a misunderstanding. I heard she wanted to leave at 08:00, but what she said, or meant, was that she was going to wake up at 08:00 and leave here at 09:00. I probably just missed her by a few minutes when I got back from breakfast.

Part of me is glad that I didn’t end up going with her, however. She told me that the wind and the rain was so miserable and she actually lost the trail for part of the time. She said that there were parts where it was steep enough and so windy that she had to literally crawl to get to the top. That sounds a bit miserable, but also adventurous. You know I would have been there recording her crawling up that hill, so maybe it’s best that I wasn’t able to go with her. Haha

I’m getting things packed because it’s time for me to go to my next destination, that is, if I can get the flight out tomorrow! It sounds worse than it is, though. This wouldn’t be the worst place to be stuck- especially when there is so much more of the island that I need to explore still. Otherwise, it will have to happen on another visit.

Scotland 6: Day 16

03.14.18 | Lerwick, Scotland | 17:12

Lerwick is a great little city! One that I’m happy to be visiting for a second time. I walked to the hostel, and after waiting a few minutes, a girl called Calli joined me. We sat for awhile and had a wee chat. Calli is originally from Ft. Worth, Texas, but is currently studying in Germany. She had spring break and decided to come for a visit to Scotland. We decided to walk into town together explore a little bit. We ended up being out and about for what was probably a couple hours. I tried to get an “Ussie”, which is how I describe a selfie with more than one person, but Calli has turned out to be one of those people who doesn’t like to have her picture taken. For now, until she lets down her guard, you’re going to have to take my word that she really exists.

This place is so incredibly beautiful! Next we went to a local museum which taught us all about the history of these islands. Fun fact: Did you know that the only reason that Shetland is part of the U.K. is because someone was going to marry an English princess and the king and queen had no dowery, and so they said to the groom… here, have some islands.

Next, we walked over to check out Clickimin Broch, which is the remains of what they think may have been a smaller castle/settlement. It’s old enough that they don’t really know for sure what it was. It was so fascinating to walk around, and even crawl into one of the chambers.

22:24

Dinner was at the Queen Hotel. There’s not a whole lot of restaurants in this small city, but the male was some kind of stuffed chicken with buttery mash and vegetables. It was probably the best meal I’ve had thus far on my journey. Just incredible!

Scotland 4: Day 19

4.15.11 | Lerwick Hostel | 09:00

I had a pretty good sleep, and although my cough still exists, it was a little less last night, I could tell. Sadly, I woke up with a slightly sore throat, but it feels better now. I better not be getting sick!

This morning has consisted of a shower, a shave (yes… I’ve shaved more in the last 15 days than I have in the past 4 years), and packing up my things. Even though the ferry doesn’t leave until about 1730 or so, they still want us out of our rooms by 1030. They’re going to let us use the luggage room for our stuff so we won’t have to haul stuff around for most of the day. In fact, I’m still going to be a the hostel for a time. They can’t have my key quite yet.

Lerwick > Kirkwall |18:42

Today has been great so far. I’ve been hanging out with Soeren for most of the day. Back at the hostel, we decided to stay in. We played 5 games of pool and he beat me every time. But I helped- he’s not that good at pool either so the fact that I suck so bad that he won tells me that he couldn’t have won all those games without me. I think I need to buy a pool table. It’s a blast but I’m pretty rusty.

Neil was kind enough to come home from work early just so he could see us off to the ferry. This is because he’s a good person- it shows! He was even nice enough to give Soeren a ride to the ferry.

It just so happens that there are three others onboard tonight, who stayed at the hostel. Terry is here (he possibly had too much scotch on his trek to get here, and he’s sleeping it off in his cabin- that is, if he made it here at all. I haven’t seen him) and Matt and Hannah are here as well. Soeren and I will get off in Orkney and the rest will continue onto Aberdeen.

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Soeren and I

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Matt, Hannah, myself, and Soeren

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For dinner, I had and Orkney beef roast with potatoes, carrots, and peas. To drink: Irn-Bru! Irn-Bru is a soft drink that has been made in Scotland for over 100 years. It’s pretty good.

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22:21

I went to the bar to get a Pepsi and the guy working looked about 17 years old. I could tell he was new because he didn’t know where the drinks were when someone would order one. I said hi and gave him my name. He said hi back and told me his name was Chris. He’s from somewhere near Glasgow and he was actually 19 years old and this was his 2nd day of the new job.

He’s been hired for 6 months and they work him 2 weeks on, then 2 weeks off, the entire time. Also, he never really leaves the ferry for those 2 weeks that he’s on. He works his shift, and then when his shift is over, he goes upstairs to the 3rd level and has his own cabin to stay in.

I asked him if he was planning on attending a college or university, and he said he hadn’t decided yet. We talked for a bit, and because this is only his 2nd day on the water, he hadn’t gotten used to the movement of the ship yet. He actually got sick and asked me to watch the bar for him while he had to run to the restroom to throw up- Poor kid! I’m sure he’ll be used to the job and the motion soon enough.

I remember when I was first hired to be a flight attendant. Even though the movement and turbulence of the plane in flight has never bothered me, there are many from my hiring class that it did. One, in particular, would even get sick to her stomach at least once a week. Her body took a few months to accept it and now she’s fine. She’d better be since we’ve been working on the plane for over six-and-a-half years.

Kirkwall Hostel | 23:39

I just survived a crazy ordeal. When we were getting ready to leave the ferry, Soeren and I was talking about getting a taxi to the hostel. It was way-late and we both knew that there would be no bus or other public transportation to get us there. I was going to pull out my iPad and check the name of the hostel, but Soeren told me that there was only one hostel in town and he had the information so I didn’t worry.

We got outside of the ferry terminal and sure enough, there was a cab driver waiting there. We asked him if he was available and he told us he was. We sat in the back seat and asked him to take us to the hostel and he said he would. He told us he was very familiar because he dropped people off there all the time.

We walked into the lobby and there were two desk clerks there to check us in. I thought that was rather odd because I’d been in correspondence with the hostel yesterday and someone named Erik told me that nobody would be there to check me in and that he’d just leave a key in an envelope at the front door and that my name would be on the envelope.

Come to find out, I was at the WRONG HOSTEL! Soeren and I had booked entirely different places. The cab driver had already left, and I had already paid for my room at the other hostel so I didn’t want to pay for another room at this one. The clerks were very nice and even laughed at the situation. Then they pulled out a map and showed me where the right hostel was located. It seemed to be only a mile or 2 away on the map, so I asked them if it was a safe area. They told me that the Orcades only had a murder about every 25 years or so and that they’d actually had one last year. So if the murderers kept with the same average, I’d be safe for the next 24 years or so.

So- I’m hiking around late at night in a place I’ve never been, hoping that I’m not mugged or worse. A lady and her daughter, whose names I didn’t get, pulled over when they saw me with my big old backpack and asked if I needed help. I explained the situation and showed them the map. They thought the situation was funny and assured me that I was on the right path. I found a footpath that took me part of the way. This path took me behind houses in the neighborhood so there were dogs barking at me for most of the walk.

I followed the directions that they had given me and happily, I arrived at the hostel. When I went into the lobby, sure enough- there was an envelope with my name on it. Needless to say- that walk took a bunch of whatever energy I had left tonight and I’m happy that I will get to fall asleep soon!


Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 20

Scotland 4: Day 18

4.14.11 | Lerwick Hosel | 08:05

Last night I got to hang out with Neil, Andy, Matt (from Australia) and Hannah (from New Zealand). They are all incredible and we had a great time. I hope we can keep in touch when we part ways.

Falling asleep was a bit difficult last night. After a while, once the coughing stopped, I finally was able to sleep. I probably got 5 to 6 good hours of sleep and for me, in a hostel, that’s excellent.

It’s partly cloudy and a little windy today… sprinkling a bit, but I’m sure it will blow over soon.

15:54

Today I hung out with Andy again. His ferry leaves tonight to go back to Aberdeen, then he’ll go to his place in Edinburgh for a few days- then he’s off on his next adventure. We went to the chip shop and got fried pork and chips. It was pretty good, but I think I’ve had my fill of fried food for the time being. Next, we went to a museum on the edge of town. About the first half of it was quite fascinating. We learned about the early settlers and the occupation of the islands. They have also unearthed some remains of these peoples’ homes.

23:56

I was able to get a bit of rest, but nothing major. Andy is now on his twelve-hour ferry back to the mainland. He’s a good guy I’m sure I’ll miss. Tonight I hung out with Soeren who is from Germany. We walked together to Tesco, the local supermarket, to grab dinner. I grabbed some fresh ravioli and pesto. It turned out to be a pretty good meal, too. Soeren and I both will be on the ferry tomorrow evening.

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Soeren

I think I’m going to really miss Neil. He’s incredibly nice and great to chat with. We had some fun times these past two days. I hope to keep in touch and to see him the next time I’m able to come to Scotland, whenever that is. What a great day today was. I’m so blessed to have made these new friends.


Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 19

Scotland 4: Day 17

4.13.11 | Lerwick Hostel | 08:23

I forgot to mention that I had Indian food again for dinner last night. It was good, except I told my server that I wanted something spicy- but it was way too spicy. It was insane! I couldn’t even taste the food because of all the burn. I had them make the dish a second
time with less burning.

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I needed to run into town and find something to take care of my cough. I worry that it has been keeping my hostel mates up at night. They say it hasn’t, but I wonder if they’re just trying to be polite. At this moment, I’m on a wonderful drug called Sudafed.

17:09

Today has been a blast, so far. We got a new guy in our room. His name is Andy and he’s from Tasmania. He has been traveling all around Europe for the last 3 years- and has been so many places. At the moment, he is living in Edinburgh working at some college. He asked me this morning if I wanted to go with him to Sumburgh on the bottom end
of the island. I thought a day trip would be a blast. Our goal was simple: Find a puffin and take its picture.

The bus ride cost us under 3 pounds to get down there, so it was a great deal. The bus dropped us off near the Sumburgh airport and we hiked out to the cliffs. Sadly, we found no puffins, but there were some breathtaking views of the area where the North Sea meets the Atlantic ocean. We climbed down the steep incline to see the rocks below as well.

At the top of the southernmost hill, there was a lighthouse. We walked up top to take a look around and there was a local man called Newton who was working there. He was a member of some British Society for Birds… or something like that. He knew so much information about the puffins as well as all the other birds. He was incredibly nice and
told us that on Sunday, he and his son counted about 270 puffins. That would have been a sight to see, but sadly, we mostly just saw seagulls. There were a few wild rabbits, however.

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Andy

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Newton

When we got back to Lerwick, we grabbed some fish and chips for an early dinner. We ate dinner sitting on the side of a ship dock, dangling our legs over the edge. It was fabulous. Now Andy has gone with Neil (my new friend from Stirling) to go rock climbing. They’ve been instructed to take some picture before falling off the side of the rock.

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Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 18

Scotland 4: Day 16

4.12.11 | Aberdeen > Lerwick | 06:12

Just before bed last night I was able to meet my other roommates. One’s name is
Duncan, he’s probably in his mid 50’s or so. Duncan is traveling to
some of the northern islands for work. He works in the hotel industry. The 4th roommate is a guy called Calum. Calum attends a university in Scotland (not sure
which one though) and even though he grew up around Glasgow, his
parents and sister live on Shetland now, so he goes back and forth
whenever he can. He dreams of being a swim coach in the U.S. someday.
He’s tall and skinny, just like a swimmer should be.

Thankfully, I didn’t get sick on my first cruise ever. I was a bit
worried because Terry told me that one of his friends who worked for
30+ years on ships in the South Pacific had never once got seasick
until he sailed across the North Sea. The current is quite different here,
I’m told, especially where the Atlantic touches the North Sea. Anyway-
other than lack of sleep, I’m surviving. I did get a wee bit, but
between Terry and Duncan’s loud snoring and the fact that the cabin
moved all night, I probably only got a few hours worth.

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Early Morning on the North Sea

Lerwick Hostel | 15:54

This is by far the nicest of the hostels I have stayed at so far. The
staff here is very friendly, too. I found out as I was about to leave
the ferry that my roommate Terry was staying at the same hostel.
We walked about a mile, maybe a little less, with our packs. We got
to the hostel about 45 minutes before the desk clerk showed up to check
us in. Thankfully, there was a covered area they had built onto the
side of the hostel so we could wait out of the rain. The weather in
Scotland is crazy!

The desk clerk checked us in at about 09:00 and after a quick tour of
the place, I took a two-hour nap. Making up for lack of sleep on the
ferry- it didn’t take me long to be out cold. When I woke up, I headed
into town to find someplace to eat. I had in mind an inexpensive chippy
somewhere but ended up at the first restaurant I came to. I had a
burger.

After lunch, I wandered for a bit and stopped in the local tourist
information place. I looked for things to do around Lerwick, and other
than a few things to walk around and see locally, and a pub that has
live music, I may be out of luck here. Not that nature walks aren’t
great, but sometimes it’s nice to go find a place to chat with people
at night.

The lady at the tourist place gave me a local map and explained how I
find the local cemetery so that I could take a look. It was a very
beautiful walk. On the way, it started raining for all of 10 minutes,
then cleared up. It is very, very windy in Lerwick today. My walk was
right by the water, and I had to keep my hand on my head the entire
time so that my hat wouldn’t blow off into the deep.

Word of caution: If you ever visit Shetland in April, bring a bit more than a
windbreaker jacket. You’re going to get some rain and it’s going to
be cold. This is by far the coldest wind I’ve ever felt. I had to keep moving so I wouldn’t freeze to death.

After a bit, the wind died down a little and I found a nice, grassy
spot next to the water and kicked back. If the wind had stopped, I
could have easily fallen asleep there, especially since my body was
trying to digest a big ole hamburger. I got some beautiful pictures on
my walk!

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Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 17