Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First few weeks in the Shetland Islands

I had never heard of Shetland before. An arhipelago off the coast of north Scotland in the middle of nowhere (North Sea) that is as far from London as it is from the Scandinavian coast!60 degree N 1 degree W. Practically no trees, soil largely made of peat, gales 120 miles per hour, over half a million migratory birds in summer, glacial formations, a super rich coastline - armed with bits of information like these, my husband and I landed at the Sumburgh airport on February 25th, 2009. Landing and taking off from Sumburgh is unique and requires special training for the pilot because the airstrip is surrounded by sea on three sides! When we were preparing for landing, the weather being turbulent, the small aircraft kept shaking. The only comfort was that the locals aboard the flight were simply unaffected by the turbulence - it was normal for them. And then for a moment we felt that we were crashing into the ocean. Thud. So we had landed.

While we made our way down the aircraft through very wobbly stairs, the gales welcomed us. It was still tail of winter months, so it was already dark, and rainy and gusty. We hurried to the taxi, after collecting our extra heavy suitcases, and headed to the B&B. Alder Lodge Guest House was our first residence in the island (we stayed here for 3 days) and was warm and welcoming. The hosts, like everyone else in Shetland we were about to meet, were very friendly and helpful folks. We then moved to a temporary accomodation. This was closer to the sea, and we could see the waves lashing up against the rocks, seagulls soaring over and seals lying on the rocks at the beach - from our kitchen and bedroom windows. That also meant, during gales, the water splashed right at the doorstep. What an experience it was...

The town of Lerwick is the largest in Shetland and it is so large that we can drive around the entire town in just 20 minutes. We had missed the Up-helly-a, so we are looking forward to the next year's. Exploring the island, we drove to Brae, Burra and St. Ninian's isle and tombola. We walked down the pavement along shops of the town centre, we walked the trails of Knab, Sletts and Clickmin loch.

The weather has started getting calmer and sunny now. The days are much longer with daylight till almost 10 in the night. There are carefully manicured tulips and growing by itself wildflowers adorning the lawns and grass. We hear that the puffins have arrived...

Summer is going to be gorgeous here and I can't wait to experience it.

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