Wow. What a day. Today we went back thousands (and thousands) of years on our guided tour. We had the added bonus (I’m sticking to that) of experiencing authentic Orkney weather. Cold, crazy winds, rain, and I’m not positive there wasn’t a little sleet as well. Our guide called it liquid sunshine (excuse the lack of grammar marks here and there, this keyboard is wacky). With that said we still had a phenomenal day!!!
We managed to book the tour today last night about 10:30 pm which was brilliant. The Universe has really been doing great things for us when we let it. We met our guide Clive at 9am (we were waiting at the wrong place and he almost left without us!). First stop we went to Kirkwall to pick up the other passengers, along the way he gave us a ton of history and pointed out cool things. After we picked up the other family we headed out on our Megalithic Masterpieces tour. There are 4 sites that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO world site – these are the Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe and Skara Brae. We visited all of those today plus Skaill House, Unstan Tomb, Scapa Flow, and inumerable other things as we drove by them. Despite the weather the sites were incredible. The weather was the worst while we were at Skara Brae, but it didn’t take away from the fact that we were looking at the remains of a community that predates what historians have thou
ght was the earliest settlements. The coast was my favorite part, and while it felt like the wind and rain/sleet would wipe us off the ground it also had a wild free-ness to it. The smell of the salty air, and the wind, and the incredible view, mixed with knowledge of how incredibly lucky I am to be on this trip made me want to dance and whirl. I think that moment was one of my favorite of the trip. We also got to pet a barn owl, and meet some other birds used for falconry.
After we dried off a little in the Visitor’s Center while we ate lunch we donned our much debated rain pants, and enjoyed the rest of the day more comfortably. For lunch I was proud of myself for trying local fare. Sara and I both had Cullen’s Skink with Baer Bannoch. Which is smoked herring soup with potato and leeks, and Baer Bannoch is bread make from Barley flower. It was very tasty – and warm!
My next favorite site was the Ring of Brodgar which is part of a number of pagan sites that sit over a power line. Between the wind, the Loch behind and in front, and the earthiness emanating from the stones I suspect I would have liked to stay there a long time… were the weather more tenable. It quickly became apparent that Orcadians are MUCH stiffer stock than I!
By the time we got back around 4 we were happy, but frozen to the core, soggy, hungry, and exhausted. We also were VERY VERY VERY tired of smelling all the time, so we ventured to the Ferry terminal to do laundry. The Universe smiled down on us once again when the Dockmaster let us stay after closing so we could dry our clothes. I don’t think either of us have ever been so ecstatic about warm, dry clothes. Sara was nice enough to throw me my fleece (black cloud of warm pillowy softness!) then proceeded to huge the laundry herself. It was a very special moment.
This evening we made plans for tomorrow, assuming the weather is better, went to dinner, and I had some lovely chats with the other hostel members. I am truly enjoying hostel life. If you are friendly and engage people they are almost always happy to talk and I have learned a lot about where we are going, where I might go, and just generally enjoyed connecting with other people. With that said, having a private room with just Sara and I to sleep in is fantastic compared to the dorms. Much easier to sleep!
Now with my brain overfull of incredible experiences, my belly full of a meal that did NOT include potatoes (they are everywhere, I’m not kidding. The look on the waitresses face when I asked her for extra broccoli instead of potatoes or chips was priceless. She admitted no one had every asked her for that!), and my heart and soul feeling joyful at being heard and acted upon… I think its time for bed. This just covers the surface, but I’m excited I could figure out how to get even this up! Good Wifi is not an easy thing to find.
Wish us luck, tomorrow we hope to find Puffins!