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 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

Scotland 4: Day 15

4.11.11 | Aberdeen Starbucks | 08:46

I have officially, unofficially checked out of my Aberdeen hostel. The official part is because I have cleaned out my room, dropped off my sheets and pillowcase, left the room and turned in my key. The unofficial part is because they’re letting me leave my backpack in their storage since my ferry doesn’t leave until 1900 tonight. This means that I’ll be tooling around the city, think I’ll go get a haircut or something.

I had breakfast here at Starbucks again this morning, but I did order the oatmeal instead of just sugary junk food. In Scotland, they don’t call it oatmeal, they call it porridge! That is soooo Hansel & Gretl- I love it! Now that I’ve had my porridge, I think I’ll get a picnic basket and skip off to grandma’s house.

Northlink Ferries Waiting Area | 15:39

Soon after my update from Starbuck this morning, it started raining, and most of the day it’s been sprinkling lightly. I walked back to the hostel and hung out in the front waiting area. This is because I know I’d go out and spend more money than I needed to be spending, had I stayed in the city. I had some lunch (a cheese an onion sandwich, Strawberry Ribena and steak-flavored crisps) and tried to take a little nap. The nap never happened because some guy had the television turned up too loud. He was watching British soap operas. Hilarious and scary- but with a sexy accent, at least.

I was bound and determined to get my “beast neck” taken care of (for those who aren’t familiar, the ‘beast neck’ is when the hair on the back of your neck is getting a bit too long so you start to look like a beast). I found a place that was open and had the urge to get my hair colored again. This is just because the blonde I’d been sporting since Glasgow was a bit too yellow in my opinion. So- I asked the lady (whose name is Alix) if she could bleach my head as well. And now I look like the love child of Anderson Cooper and Ellen Degeneres. However, I don’t see the two of them “hooking up” anytime soon for any number of reasons. My hair is freakin’ hot!

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A Sexy Blonde Boy Waits for a Ferry

After my hair was done, I headed back to the dock to hang out and wait for the ferry. I still have an hour and a bit before they let me board, and about 3 hours before they push. I know an airplane pushes back from the gate, but does a ferry “pushback from the dock”? I don’t know nautical terms. Perhaps I’ll be all in-the-know by tomorrow morning, maybe not. I’ve never been on any kind of cruise… it’s exciting! I heard the onboard movie was going to be Titanic. Actually, I just made that up- that’s just how clever and hilarious I am.

18:03

They let us all board a few minutes after 17:00 and so now we wait. I’m curious to see who my roommates will be. The room I booked was the cheapest offer, so it’s no luxury accommodation. I don’t need too much room, so it’s ok. My major concern is who I’m going to have to room with. I saw a list to sign up for dinner reservations, so I did. Hope it’s a good (and cheap) meal.

There’s not too much to this ferry. They’ve got the room cabins, a couple bars, a full restaurant, a self-serve restaurant and they are boasting about their free wi-fi, but I can’t pick up the signal. I hope it will start working when we push.

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Aberdeen > Lerwick | 19:20

We pushed about 10 minutes early, so I hope there were no late-arriving passengers. I’ve been trying now for about 10 minutes to get my iPad to connect to the internet, but it won’t. Damn it all! I guess it’s not the end of the world though. I saw one kid on his phone and I asked him if his connection was working okay. He said it was. I think he’s a fat liar and if I catch him near the back deck, he’s dolphin food, cause dolphins eat humans now.

I met one of my roommates. His name is Terry and he’s probably in his mid-to-late 50’s. He’s from England but currently lives on the western side of Scotland. When he travels, he only travels to the British Isles. He told me that he can’t have the top bunk because he gets nosebleeds. So Terry and I have claimed the bottom bunks and two others will be on the top bunks. I don’t believe I’ve ever stayed in a room this small.

When I first boarded, I was feeling a bit weird, but someone told me
I’d feel better as soon as I got some food in my stomach. Dinner was
absolutely delicious! I had some mushroom caps with cheese on them
with a side salad, then the main course was Shetland lamb. Dessert was
the raspberry custardy thing that the chef calls a fold-over or
something like that. It was a great meal and the food kept me from
getting seasick.

 


Back to Scotland 4: Day 3 | Forward to Scotland 4: Day 16