Beautiful island

Trip Start Jul 14, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It has been almost thirty years since Philip and I last visited Scotland, and we have never been to the Shetland Islands before. We booked a shore excursion to Jarlshof with a shopping stop in a small village with two wool shops and a sightseeing drive around the town of Lerwick

Arriving by tender to the city pier, we see lots of Welcome to Shetland signs, but nothing about Scotland.  The people here think of themselves as Shetlanders, not as Scots.  There are musicians on the dock playing traditional Scottish music.  Perhaps it is Shetland music; I do not know the difference.  It made for a pleasant introduction to the island. 

Our first stop on the trip was at a roadside viewpoint to take a look at an old Iron Age Broch, on the island of Mousa.  It was across the bay from where we were parked so we couldn't really see much but a small bit in the distance.  Disappointing.  I was looking forward to that part of the tour as much as the rest of it.  Next, we drove on to the town of Hoswick with the Laurence Odie Knitwear shops for a twenty-minute break.  The shops were tiny and each had only one worker to sell to the whole busload of people.   Another small disappointment as we didn’t have the time for leisurely browsing.  One shop sold traditional patterned items and the other sold styles that are more modern.  Perhaps at our next stop in Scotland at Kirkwall we will have more time for shopping.  I bought a pair of woolen mittens in Edinburgh a long time ago that I still wear.  Other than a little pilling, they are still in pretty good shape.   I would be happy to get a new pair though.     

The highlight of today’s excursion was a visit to the Jarlshof archaeological site.  It claims to be the most complex archaeological site in all of Europe.  I guess it is considered complex because it has layers of ruins of multiple civilizations going back approximately 30,000 years.   The people lived right on the southern coast of this windy and wet island building up circular buildings that provided protection from the weather and probably were reasonably comfortable.  The walls were stone and clay and sloped inward which made the need for smaller roof coverings.  They used tree limbs, moss and animal skins for the roofs. Although we had a nice sunny day for our visit, it was cool and windy at the site, and we could tell how the building style helped block the wind while we were standing inside them.

As we entered Jarlshof, we saw some ponies in a field by the entrance.  By the time we left, the ponies were gone, too. We did see a few others in people’s yards as we drove around.  Our tour guide said that someone owns all the ponies; none of them is wild now.  At the very start of the tour, she said that she did not expect to come near any ponies during the trip, but if we did come close to any we were not to touch or feed them.  "It teaches them to nip."

Back at the ship, we finally make it in time to have dinner at our table in the dining room.  The maître d showed us to our table and seemed surprised that we had not been there before.  We have a four-person table, but no one sat with us tonight.   Dinner was fine, but the menu was uninspired.  Good food, but rather ordinary choices.  The menu has a choice of appetizer, salad, soup, pasta, main course, cheese and dessert.  We will not go hungry.
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