Monday 27 May 2013

Kirkwall Orkney

“A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.“
Spike Milligan, Irish Comedian 1914 - 2002
Kirkwall Orkney
At 07:00 we could feel Fram shuddering as we approached the pier in Kirkwall Orkney. Our thrusters struggled as they slowly pushed Fram broadside into the pier against a thirty knot wind. When you live on board Fram as much as some of us do, you can tell by that particular vibration, without even getting out of bed, that it’s a breezy day outside. Gone was our warm sunny weather from Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Today was largely overcast with 25 knot winds and the temperature hovering around 10˚C.
We had three different excursions on offer. Those interested in birding set off on a bus tour at 08:30 while the folks interested in the Vikings and pre-viking history of Orkney left on a bus tour to Skara Brae at 08:45. The final tour of the day went to the Italian prisoner of War Chapel at Lands Holm by Scapa Flow and then on to Highland Park Distillery and St. Magnus Cathedral.
Earl's Palace, Kirkwall Orkney
By all accounts, all three of the tours were first rate. Whether you went on an excursion or not there was plenty of time to explore Kirkwall. From Fram to the centre of town was a mere 10 minute stroll. Orkadians refer to Kirkwall as a city but with only 8,000 inhabitants, no offence Orkney, but that seems a tad boastful. But perhaps it’s all relative as Kirkwall is the largest town/city/metropolis in Orkney and the administrative centre.
Italian Chapel, Lands Holm, Orkney
While Kirkwall is short in population the quality of the shops is high. Indeed I would say of a much higher standard than the average souvenir shop in, oh, say Edinburgh for example. Lots of us returned to the ship with souvenirs of Orkney.
Skara Brae, Orkney
The overall impression of Orkney was of a peaceful, green, rolling, very fertile farming landscape. Sheep and cattle dot a landscape bereft of trees. It is not difficult to imagine the best land being farmed for several thousand years.