Sunday, 1 August 2010

Shetland and Orkney trip 2010 (1)

Oh I remember I have a blog. I submitted my thesis at the end of June (more on that later) and came upto Scotland to help a friend move house so I decided to take a trip to the northernmost extent of Scotland: the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

Thursday (aka the day of many different transport methods)
I got a lift to the bus station and after a coffee in Macdonalds (it was the only place open, I couldn't really diagree with my driver) to get the 0815 coach from Fort William to Inverness, arrived a bit early around 10am, this was not good as my train didn't leave until 1242 (the next coach arrived about 15 minutes before the train left and seeing as I HAD to be on that train). I pottered around Inverness (despite having been there 5 days earlier to go to the cinema). Got various things then found a pub with decent coffee and free wifi. I sorted out a bunch of work stuff. I got on the train and had an interesting set of coach companions. The highlight was an elderly gentleman who was wearing a tie in the SNP yellow. He had copies of TotalPolitics and Private Eye. He asked the train buffet trolley person for a "no fuss coffee, no bells or whistles, none of the silly froth, just a boring black coffee with cold milk".

I got into Aberdeen around 10 minutes late as we had to wait for the train coming the other direction at Elgin (apparently its a physical token system). I could have got straight on the ferry but I was going to spend 14.5 hours on it at least so decided to visit the Maritime Museum beforehand. It was very well done and had some spectacular views of the harbour. At around 4pm I got on the ferry to Lerwick (via Kirkwall). Despite being told the importance of photo ID for check in, it was hardly glanced at! The shared cabin was pretty good, more comfy and roomy than the Caledonian Sleeper, plus it has tea and coffee makng facilities and is en-suite. The food on board isn't too unreasonable (I'd checked online beforehand). More amazing (to me) was the provision of free wifi onboard, that I could get in my cabin. However, it was temperatmental (but they did have notice up saying so). I had a good conversation in the bar with someone who's boyfriend is from Bressay and got a decent nights sleep. I was woken (as I was warned I would be) by the 630am intercom announcement about breakfast being served, then the 7am car drivers announcement followed by the 730, we've arrived. They let you stay on the ship until 930am so I had a coffee before disembarking and walking to the hostel.

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