The Northlink Ferry ride from Lerwick to Kirkwall was much shorter (5 hrs) than the overnighter (12 1/2 hours) from Aberdeen to Lerwick, however since the boat ploughs through a considerable portion of the confluence of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, it is quite rough. Even though no alcohol is consumed by our party, we staggered like drunken sailors down the aisles to the restaurant, holding on to handrails and posts – as did most everyone else. Well, those who weren’t already well into their drinks or sick. The boys were quite queasy and unable to eat supper – thankfully, they did not throw up! But like many of the passengers, sat quietly in their seats and hoped it didn’t get worse. Which it didn’t. The rough ride only lasted about two hours, then it was smooth sailing again. Then they were hungry – but the diner was closed by now. We had snacks. With such late arrival and our accommodation some distance from the docks, I was concerned about how we were going to get there, so I had e-mailed a local taxi company, Craigies and they assured me that taxis are there, which was confirmed by the helpful lady at the Northlink Ferry desk when we picked up our boarding passes in Lerwick. But above that, Craigies had a sign with my name on it – the driver was waiting for us at the docks! What a delightful young man was our driver and though he’d never been to Woodwick Mill in Evie before, he found it straightaway. Though our host did not meet us, he had already given us clear instructions and had the light on for easy access at what we discovered inside is a superior, well-fitted 2 bedroom apartment and next morning we stepped outside to jaw dropping views! Orkney Island here we come!
Once we dragged our lazy hineys out of bed about 11 am, Dallas and Nathan prepared a delicious breakfast of eggs from free range Scottish hens, sliced baguette, oat biscuit, toasted haggis, and tea.
We started the day with a jaunt to Waverly Railway station to enquire about a rail and sail ticket from Edinburgh to Lerwick, Shetland. Although, she was unable to book that route (apparently it’s new, the agent didn’t know about it), her advice helped us come back to our rooms and map out more of our trip. Since learning from Allen’s cousin that some of my husband’s family (6th great grandfather) lived in or around Thurso, we are trying to incorporate that into our plans. SInce a lot of the travel will require the use of the Northlink Ferries – it will depend a lot on the weather.
Quickly, I booked cheaper online tickets to Edinburgh Dungeon to catch the last tour of the day and we quickly descended the steep steps through Warriston’s Close– a short cut from the Royal Mile to the show. Unfortunately, the dungeon tour was disappointing and a waste of funds.
When we stepped out of the dungeon the sun was shining and the sky a patchy blue! Hooray. Perfect weather. We had more daylight, so we found the National Museum of Scotland and Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. Not surprisingly, both were closed, although the Kirkyard was open to strolling about. We’ll go back tomorrow.
On the way back, we enjoyed street performances and took more photos. Nathan returned to the room to start supper from our leftovers whilst Dallas and I went to the grocer for more food. With deepening shadows and a bit of nip in the air, the streets grew quieter as locals and tourists alike began to either go home or gather in the many cafes and pubs lining the Royal Mile and side streets of Old Town.
At last the day arrived for our flight to Scotland. We deliberately scheduled our stay to include being in Edinburgh for the big vote! On September 18, citizens of Scotland will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a referendum that will give them the opportunity to become independent from England.
Edinburgh has endured through the ages, with archaeologists really not able to establish the exact date of the famous castle of the same name which serves as the anchor for the town. Some references to the castle exist from 600 AD. However, it is certain that the castle became a royal principality under King Malcom III with his youngest son having died here in 1107 AD. Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland since 1437, but under English rule since 1707.
Allen drove us to the Kansas City airport for our first and uneventful flight to Chicago, however, mechanical failures on our trans-Atlantic 757, caused 2 hours of delay as the plane sat at the gate with every seat booked. Once underway, however, the flight was excellent. Thankfully, I slept a good deal of the way, but the boys stayed awake watching movies until our break through the clouds to a dark and misty Edinburgh – the weatherman describes it as ‘murky.’
Since we had no checked luggage and most of the passengers were locals, we proceeded quickly through customs due to a short line and the late arrival. After exchanging a few dollars into pounds, we found a call booth to ring Dave Stewart, our ‘meet and greet’ guy for the apartment. What a treat to discover that he arranged for us to check in 2 1/2 hours earlier than the 2pm standard checkin time!
Both boys took long naps, then whilst Nathan continued sleeping, Dallas and I found a grocery store only seven minutes walk away. After a snack of Scottish-made butter, cheese, and freshly baked bread, we toured the John Knox House and a made a quick run through the Museum of Edinburgh, both a short stroll east of our 1 Parliament Square apartment.
Nathan’s knee was beginning to bother him, so he headed back to the room – taking fine photos along the way; Dallas and i stopped by the grocer again and selected some meat (including a chub of haggis, and chips, all made in Scotland to augment our snacks, as well as eggs and biscuits for brecky. We have found this to be a tremendous savings to prepare our meals in the full kitchen versus eating meals out.
As the terrified screams from participants of the Edinburgh ghost tours wafts away in the late hours,our eyes grow heavy and we drift off to sleep.
If there is any good to be had by this allergy, it is that every nook and cranny of our house is dusted, vacuumed, and scrubbed (we have hardwood floors). Furniture is moved and wiped down from behind and underneath. Every chair spindle and nightstand leg. Even the deep, dark recesses of the wardrobes. Not my favourite of tasks, but a rewarding one nonetheless. And my favourite travel agent, fam (familiarization) trip, hotel site inspect check – wipe clean the top of every door. You know, the kind of cleaning you can’t hire anyone to do well. Clean everything you say – then they ask, ‘do you want me to clean that?’ Quizzically, you wonder if the assignment is unclear or is it a trick question!?
Deep down cleaning beats giving the tops a quick swipe at least twice a year. However, the windows – the outside anyway – cannot be washed because letting outside air, heavy with the yellow dust of ragweed pollen, will set me off with non-stop sneezing, wheezing, itching skin, eyes, ears, watering red eyes, scratchy throat, and, in some cases, difficulty in breathing, resulting in not being able to talk for several hours. Being inside with air conditioning is my only relief with Benadryl able to manage only the mildest attack, which may occur when i’m inside.
Some people fortunate enough to find natural ‘cures’ for their seasonal allergies have willingly shared their findings and though I try most, unfortunately, none have put the slam-dunk on my nemesis. I’m headed next week to another allergist for consultation and prick testing; perhaps this time a magic potion can be developed for me. What kinds of allergies, if any, do you have, and what works to control them!?