Whew, finally: More time, thus some more photos.
The train journey from the last post takes us up to the very north, where we stay at the friendly Sandra’s Backpackers in Thurso, a small town right by the sea. As we are delayed quite a bit there was not much left of the evening, and we spend it warming up our crazy companion who had spontaniously decided to go for a dip in the icy sea at what felt like -5° C.
The next morning we take a taxi down to the harbour and there board a ferry to Stromness on the Orkney mainland. According to the hostel people it would have taken an hour to walk and in the windy, icy darkness the prospect was just too unpleasant. The sea is black and rough, but the sun comes up slowly and we get some interesting views. :)
The Isle of Hoy just before Orkney Mainland!
10 am – the sun is getting up.
.. and this is about as high as it will go all day.
Stromness on the mainland. The locals tell us that it’s an unusually bright day with all the snow.
Stromness in Snow. All the houses are grey – I wonder how they survive winter with that little colour. But what shows of the lands suggests an amazing green of the surrounding fields in spring and summer, maybe that’s the reason?
A small island just in front of the mainland. Who lives here and are they not afraid of storms? o.O
There are public buses for us to ride, but they don’t go where we want to go, so we take a walk along the wintry road to visit some standing stones.
Blue-white sky and white ground and dark stones to contrast that, and an eery silence only disturbed by the wind. Wow! In summer this place is probably swarmed by tourists, but we meet next to noone.
The road leads us in between two frozen lochs with an amazing blue.
The Standing Stones of Stennes. What a magical place! The white ground melts into the sky and again, all there is to hear are my footsteps and the wind.
It will be full moon in two days, adding even more light.
To get back into Kirkwall where our ferry back will leave from we hitchhike the few kms there. The locals have a funny way of talking; to us it sounds to the “Oxford English” we were taught like Swiss German sound to German. They tell us that they haven’t had that much snow for at least 30 years and how unusual the situation is. I would so love to stay longer – the people are very friendly and the whole place has a great atmosphere. The only downside is that they haven’t done anything to the sidewalks and we haven’t packed skates which we would have needed dearly. (Seriously – it wasn’t funny any more.)
After picking up dinner at a local Chinese shop we make our way to the harbour. As it is one day to Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) there will be no ferries for the next three days so we have to leave now, sadly. But we are very happy to take the ferry to Aberdeen at about 11pm since we will arrive in the morning and not have to pay for additional accomodation – they could be there faster but as noone wants to be at the harbour at 4am they just go slow. It’s a great deal, actually! :)
I definitely want to come back to this place – highly recommended!