We woke up in Scotland

We woke anchored a mile or so offshore with a beautifully romantic view of the rocky coastline, undulating green landscape, grazing sheep, a couple tiny beaches, and a few quaint homes and farms. It was like a scene out of a British novel. There was not a tree in sight.

If rain is the hallmark of the weather in Bergen, wind is the hallmark in the Shetlands. It’s been clocked at 200+ miles an hour. Needless to say the hearty folk who have called this home for centuries figured out how to built homes fit to stand up to the wind. The ones we saw were all built of a sober looking brown stone with nothing taller than three stories. Little midges, the biting kind, buzzed around us intent on being irritating. We were told they only come out of hiding when there is little to no wind. Lucky us/lucky them for having such a fine day. Overcast but dry, low 50s, with just a soft breeze.

The Shetland Islands, all 100 of them, comprise the most northerly part of the United Kingdom. They have a long and rich Viking history having been part of what we think of today as Scandinavia. Things changed mid-15th century when the islands became part of Margaret’s dowry when she married James III of Scotland. We visited the old port city and capital of the Shetlands, Lerwick, on the largest of the islands, oddly named Mainland, which is 50 miles long and 20 wide. Lerwick is on the North Sea side of the island.

A guide gave us a walking tour of the impeccably clean, charming, picturesque city of 9,000. We roamed the small streets, toured the city hall, fort, a small church that had needlepoint kneeling pads made by the parishioners, and learned fun facts like the growing season is a whopping 100 days which means it takes two years to harvest a cabbage. Fishing was king for centuries and remains strong; oil has been a major player since the boom of the 1970s. There are more sheep than people, so they have to have a place in the economy also. No? The islands are famous for the ponies that bare their name but we sadly didn’t have time to see them. Our guide explained that they were specifically bred to work in mines after labor laws were passed forbidding children to work before a certain age. A sad historical distinction for the Shetlands:  relative to population, the Shetlands lost more lives to the two world wars than any other British county.

We had a lovely day onshore. Dan and Walter managed to each find a treasure at an antique store and the rest of us settled for small souvenirs. Three of us had tea and a treat at a cute tea room on the main drag. We took the tender back to the ship in time to change for a delicious dinner followed by a comedy mind reader, Graham Hey.

With zero faith in the havoc the “moderate seas” can wreck with our tummies, we put ourselves on the Dramamine maintenance program for safe measure. Our stash expired in June of ’14 but seems to have adequate oomph to keep us on our feet and symptom free. Lights out at midnight. 1,014 nautical miles [1,166 statute miles] under our belts so far.


5 thoughts on “We woke up in Scotland

  1. Enjoying the history and interesting details! You are such a good writer! Hope you all are feeling good for the rest of the trip!


  2. I sooooooooooooooooooooooooo want to go to Scotland!!! Sounds like you are having a blast

    Matt Mongeon | Senior Business Analyst
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  3. Oh the place sounds amazing. Would love to see in some of those older homes that have survived the winds for so long!

    Also, can’t you get some Dramamine from the ship infirmary?


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