Scotland 6: Day 42

04.09.18 | Edinburgh Flat | 13:29

So far, today has been excellent! I found the coolest little cafe for a snack. I wish I’d discovered this place years ago, I’ve probably walked past it at least a hundred times. I got a fruit tart thingy and some hot chocolate. It still amazing me that people take the time to make the little design on top of the hot drinks. I almost hate to drink it, because I don’t want to destroy their artwork.

I went back to see the street performer do his act again. I recorded the entire thing on Periscope, and so it’s about a 45 minute video. I’m not going to upload the entire thing here, but you can definitely check it out. The guy was pretty funny, but you could tell that he’d practiced the same jokes over and over again. Something about his delivery was off. Still, he’s a great performer! To see my Periscope feed (and follow me!) go to https://www.pscp.tv/DavTravels/follow. I’m going to start doing more live videos over there.

So, I’m not much into buying souvenirs, I’ve always looked at the pictures I take as my souvenirs, so I haven’t had to spend very much money on these trips. I decided a few years back that I love skulls. It’s not to the point of obsession or anything like that, but I just think they’re cool. At home, I’ve got a few ceramic skulls from Mexico, and I decided that I would build that collection. Today I bought a new one. To be honest, I wish it was legal to own a human skull.

19:23

Tonight I had dinner at The Witchery. This is my absolute favorite restaurant in Edinburgh. It’s overpriced, with small portions, but it’s all about the ambience! I don’t often eat at fancy restaurants, but it’s fun to get dressed up and go out. This would be the ultimate restaurant to take a date… I’ll have to do that some day.

First Course: Grilled Isle of Mull Scallop, Cauliflower Purée, Curry Sauce, Apple and Coriander
Second Course: Jambonette of Perthshire Guinea Fowl ‘en croute’, sweet corn, basil, potato purée
Third Course: Pear William tarts tatin, star anise, milk ice cream

It is with great sadness that the Edinburgh part of this journey is ending tomorrow morning. Tonight I’m packing up all my stuff, and getting everything ready so in the morning, all I’ll have to do is shower, grab my stuff, and head to the airport.

Even though I’m not quite ready to come home yet, It’s time to go somewhere that I haven’t been in 11 years…

Scotland 6: Day 41

04.08.18 | Edinburgh, Scotland | 22:28

I don’t have a whole lot to report today. Was a slow Sunday- I walked a lot, but didn’t really go anywhere in particular. I’ve been listening to General Conference, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Dinner was at this little Italian restaurant that is actually right underneath my flat. It was probably the most amazing one I’ve ever eaten at in my life. Will definitely be back in the future!

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 21

03.19.18 | Ferry Terminal | 13:41

Today it finally feels like springtime (at least it does in Stromness)! As I left my hotel this morning, it was perfect! Just a slight breeze, but no need to wear anything bigger than a light jacket. This is the part of Scotland that I’m excited for- hopefully I won’t have to wear my scarf any more.

Sadly, I only spent one night here and am now headed back to the mainland. I haven’t done a whole lot of exploring today, because I had to do laundry. I’m out of socks, and I’ve been wearing this same pair of pants for the last 3 days. That means it’s overdue. This is a great area, and there’s so much more that needs to be explored.

Instead, I sit in the the terminal, even though my ferry doesn’t leave for a couple hours. I already walked down to the CoOp to buy some laundry soap, and I’m not in the mood to drag my big ole backpack anywhere else. So today is going to be a movie day. Once I leave on the ferry, it should only take about an hour-and-a-half to get to Scrabster.

Thurso Hostel | 21:14

It’s so great to be back in Thurso! When the ferry arrived at Scrabster, I decided to walk all the way into Thurso. The walk was a pretty good workout, since I had my huge pack on my back. While making my way down the road, it was great to call and speak with my parents.

Scotland 6: Day 20

03.18.18 | Stromness, Scotland | 16:34

When I woke up this morning, I was excited to attend church. I checked on the church’s website, and they said there was a congregation close by that had an 11:00 service. Since I had to be out of my hotel by 10:00, I found myself about an hour early to church. I knocked on the door to see if I could wait inside, but nobody answered. So, I hung out front for the hour. 11:00 came and went, but nobody showed. I decided that I would make my way to the bus station and ride to my next destination.

Stromness is on the west side of Orkney, only about 20-25 minutes on the bus. I had come here about seven years back with one of my hostel roommates. We did a little bit of exploring but ended up going back to Kirkwall later on that evening. My favorite memory from this town is when I went to pet a small, orange cat. The cat didn’t want me to pet it, but I did want to ride. It walked behind me and jumped up on top of my pack (see post). As I walk the same street earlier today, I was hoping the little orange cat might show up. Sadly, not one did.

Before my walk, I had to get something to eat for lunch. Since I hadn’t had breakfast, I was starting to feel low blood sugar. I sat down and had the hotel restaurant’s “Sunday Special,” three courses for only £12.95. My meal was incredibly delicious!

21:29

My evening has been a good one. I decided that I would stay inside, not that there’s anything to do in Stromness at night. I imagine a few pubs open, but there’s nothing for this non-drinker to do. So I had some dinner, and I’m going to call it a night.

Scotland 6: Day 19

03.17.18 | Kirkwall Hotel | 21:57

Kirkwall is an amazing little city! The only problem since I’m dealing with “The Beast from the East”, I find myself looking for any excuse to duck inside and get out of the cold. I even pretend to be shopping so I can be out of the wind for a few minutes. Nevertheless, it was great to get outside and wander for a bit.

I came to St. Magnus, which is a huge cathedral. It was amazing to walk around an through. I found out that they are having a music rehearsal this afternoon for a concert that is happening tomorrow. I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend tomorrow or not, but the lady setting up chairs told me that I was welcome to attend the rehearsal. If I am able, I’ll make sure to shoot some video, if it’s appropriate, that is.

The inside of the cathedral is wonderful! I’m all about stained glass! I just wish I could have sat down at the piano and sang. I didn’t try, but for some reason people get in their head that cathedrals like this should remain quiet, like a library. Yes, there’s a time for worship- but there is also a time to shout praises! Let’s not forget!

Right across the street, there is the remains of two Mideival palaces. One belonged to the Earl, and the other belonged to the Bishop. Back in those days, the Bishop was a very powerful man. They wanted him to live in very rich surroundings to match his status. Also he would use his palace to entertain royalty on occasion.

After some more walking around, I found a place to grab a hot chocolate. Are you seeing a theme yet? This is the unofficial Hot Chocolate tour of 2018. Thank goodness I’m walking so much that I’m able to work of some of the fat!

Next, I walked back to the cathedral where they were having a practice for a concert that was going to happen the next day. Since I wasn’t going to be there for the concert, I asked the ladies if I could listen to their practice. They allowed me to sit in the back of the building, and the music was so incredibly beautiful!

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 6: Day 15

03.13.18 | Aberdeen > Lerwick | 18:27

I’m sitting in the dining room of a northbound ferry. It has been seven years since my first (and only) time doing this. It’s time for Shetland!
A few days ago, my old friend Tia sent me a message telling me that her son is currently serving as a missionary in Aberdeen. When I told her that I would be in Aberdeen, she sent me his address so I could go see him… maybe check up on him? Actually, I know his parents and have no doubts that he is a great kid. I had the best idea: I was going to pretend to be interested in their message, and when they’d ask about my American accent, I was going to tell them I grew up in American but live in Scotland now. I had it all planned!

When they ask where I was from in America, I’d tell them that it was just a small town in southeastern Arizona that they’d never heard of. Hopefully, my video camera would record his reaction… I would draw on my Emmy-worthy acting skills and give them the performance of a lifetime. Sadly, when I knocked on their door, nobody answered. They weren’t home.

I decided to make this into one of my ‘<100 Steps’ posts. The rules are simple, you set out on your destination, and you have to snap a photo in 100 or fewer steps. That way, people can pretty much see what you saw without having to record a video the whole time. If I had a decent internet connection, I’d transfer all the videos and images and make one video, dubbing in music and everything. Unfortunately, all of my hostels have been not-so-good when it comes to an internet connection.

19:57

Tonight I have a shared four-person cabin. I will try to get some sleep, but I don’t know what will happen as I have at least two other roommates. They look like snorers to me.

This ferry has the world’s worst Wi-Fi. I am connected, but just barely. There will be no streaming of movies tonight. I texted my sister Melanie, and she told me that “at least you have Wi-Fi at all”- so very true. I imagine when the pioneers of old crossed the country, their Wi-Fi was also shite (and that, my dear reader, is Scottish for ‘poop’).