Scotland 4: Day 22

4.18.11 | Stromness > Thurso | 19:25

Today has had many high points, and also a few not-so-high points. I knew that this would be my last day on Orkney so my goal was to get out and see some more of it. I was bound and determined to do this. Last night I sent a Facebook message to Soeren that basically said I would plan on being at the bus station at 09:30 and if he wanted to come
explore with me, he could.

I woke up really early and packed up all my clothes and things. I had asked one of the front desk workers if I could leave my big bag at the hostel throughout the day, that way I wouldn’t have to carry it all over. She told me that it was fine and that the only thing I needed to make sure of was to be out of my room before the 10:30 checkout time. I had no problems with that.

A few minutes before 09:00 I left my big bag of clothes near the front desk and took my smaller backpack with my iPad and other things with me. I stopped at Tesco on the way and bought 2 butter crescents and made my way to the bus station. Soeren got there right at 09:30 and we decided that we wanted to go to Stromness, on the other side of the island. He had been there the previous day, but was short on time- so he didn’t have the chance to really explore it.

About half an hour later, we were on the bus. Orkney isn’t that big of an island, but I didn’t realize how small it actually was. It was only 16 miles to Stromness, so we were there in no time at all.

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On a Bus to Stromness

Stromness is the coolest looking port village, it is a lot smaller than Kirkwall. There is a main street that goes through the center of town and with all of the stone and rock buildings towering over, it’s almost like you’re walking back in time. Part of the street was even paved with some kind of cobblestone.

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The Main Street Through Stromness

After exploring, we stopped for lunch at a bistro/cafe. I got some soup, a sandwich, and some white hot chocolate to drink. That hit the spot and soon we were off walking down the street again.

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I had the funniest experience while walking down the street. I was approached by an orange cat. I thought for sure the thing was tame, so I kneeled down in the street to try to pet the thing. When I knelt down, however, I found out that it didn’t want to be pet. It wanted a ride. It quickly walked around me and jumped up on my backpack. The was the oddest thing! So, Soeren and I continued to walk down the street until this cat had decided it was his stop, and it jumped to the street and mad it’s way down an alley. It was the wildest thing! I still laugh when I think about it.

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On the south side of Stromness, there is a golf course and just past that is the ocean. We found a place where there were a bunch of seals resting on the rocks. We tried to get closer to them for a better picture, but they saw us coming and quickly went back into the water. We could see the beautiful hills of Hoy but didn’t have time to go across and get close. After going all the way around the golf course, we found an old farm road that took us back into the town.

A few hours of wandering around and we were back on the bus that took us back to Kirkwall. They dropped us off near the Tesco and I thought it would be good to grab something that I could fix for dinner so I wouldn’t have to come back to town for a restaurant later. I found some pasta and bought it. Since Soeren’s hostel was further away than mine, I suggested he come with me to mine and that way we could relax
for a few minutes before he’d leave and go fix his own dinner.

So- we’re sitting there talking in the living room and in comes one of the front desk clerks. He asked me what we were doing. I said we were just chatting. He asked me if we were staying in the hostel. I told him that I was and that even though I’d checked out this morning, my ferry didn’t leave until about 2345 so I was just going to chill here for a bit. I told him my name and everything. So he tells me in a very rude tone, “Well, it would have been nice if you’d of let us know you were coming back.” I told him that of course, I was going to come back because my bag was here. Plus, the other lady who works with him told me that as long as I was out of the room by 10:30, then it was fine.

So now he’s obviously upset with me just because there was no communication between him and the person I’d talked to before. After he leaves, I tell Soeren “Screw this. We’re obviously not wanted here!” We grabbed our stuff and left the hostel. I didn’t want to head into town with my big old bag, so I told Soeren goodbye and left to walk about 2 miles or so to the ferry terminal.

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What sucked was the fact that I could see a rainstorm coming in over the hills and I was still over a mile away. So I decided I had to up my pace a bit so I wouldn’t get caught in the rain. I finally get to the terminal, just in time. Instead of only having to deal with rain, it brought this thick fog with it also. I get here and it’s a little bit after 17:00 and there’s a sign informing me that the place won’t even open up until about 21:00. So I had to wait outside in the wind and the rain and everything.

I was finally able to make it to a shelter at least. Even though I’d have to still wait in the wind and the rain, at least I had a cover over my head. I would sit there and read my book but I couldn’t sit still for very long because it was starting to get really cold. So I’m
pacing, reading and shivering. It wasn’t fun.

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Finally, at about 18:30 or so, a worker shows up and the first thing she says to me is “You know we don’t open until 2100, don’t you?” I smiled, chose a polite tone, and I ask her if I can just wait inside out of the wind. I told her I understood that I wouldn’t get to check in for the ferry for a few hours, but all I wanted was to get out of the elements.

Her name was Louise. She was the nicest person in the world and said that it would be just fine if I waited inside. She sent me upstairs into this waiting lounge. I’m able to sit on a nice patted chair and wait here now. There’s even a vending machine with drinks and candy in it! She gave me the remote to the television so I could watch if I wanted too. My favorite person of the day is Louise! I’m in here now thawing out, munching on a candy bar. Too bad my ferry doesn’t leave for another three and a half hours.

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Kirkwall > Aberdeen | 23:22

I just boarded the ferry and at this very moment we’re pushing out to
sea. I’m crossing my fingers that the waters will be still! I’m going to
try to sleep now.


Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 23

Scotland 4: Day 20

4.16.11 | Kirkwall Hostel | 16:00

I woke up this morning with a blister on my left heal. This is what happens when I lug my heavy backpack all around unknown parts at night. So far, I’ve met one of my roommates. I didn’t get his name, but he has a lumberjack beard and is living at the hostel full-time because he’s come to Orkney for work. He wants to learn how to make Whiskey and take that back to his home in Australia. Everyone needs to chase goals and dreams, I guess. He seems nice enough. The other four beds in the room had sleepers in them last night, but they were all gone by the morning. Next part of their holiday, no doubt.

I just met a guy named Xu. He is from China but currently studying in Glasgow. He has brought his roommates (one is from Germany and the other from India) up for the weekend.

Here’s some advice. If you come visit Orkney, pick better days than I did. Not only am I here during the off-season, but I’m here on a weekend. It’s amazing to me how many businesses here are closed on weekends. Sunday, I get but why would you have to close on Saturday or even Friday? Didn’t they know I was coming?

I ventured down to the local tourist information spot (nearly soaked in the morning rain on my way there) to find out what day tours they had here. Nobody was there, but they left the place unlocked. They didn’t really have a whole lot of information out there- I did get a bus schedule, but I’m not really sure it will help me until Monday. I may just stay in tonight- my nasty cough has come back and I know it’s keeping my roommates up at night. So far, Tesco’s generic brand cough syrup isn’t kicking it. Maybe it will be good to stay out of the elements for the evening? Perhaps I should start drinking hard liquor. hmmm decisions, decisions.

I grabbed a quick lunch at a place called “Buster’s” but ordered too much- so yay for having taken care of dinner already! On the menu? The second half of my Kabob meat (lamb?), garlic butter and extra cheese pizza. It’s so good.

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19:02

I got a facebook message from Soeren and he said he’s not going to be online but I can call his mobile phone to get ahold of him. He doesn’t want to pay for Internet access at his hostile and I don’t want to pay international roaming and fees on my own mobile phone. I’d love to see him and travel with him here in Orkney, but need to get ahold of him online first.


Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 21

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