Saturday, April 6, 2013
Debacle in Shetland: My Initial Reaction
While politically and geographically independent of one another, Orkney and Shetland are inextricably linked. They share a common history - for example, Shetland is mentioned repeatedly in the Orkneyinga Saga - and there are plenty of similarities between the two. They're only separated by about fifty or sixty miles of ocean. I expected Shetland to be fairly similar to Orkney, but with some of its own local history and culture to enjoy.
At this point, I'd like to fall back on an anecdote. I went to high school with these two sisters, whom we'll call Lauren and Anna. The older sister, Lauren, was very popular, gorgeous, a varsity cheerleader, had a very effervescent personality, and dated several of the most popular guys in school. I think her younger sister, Anna, had a hard time measuring up to that example. She had a reputation for being a lot more prudish than Lauren, she wasn't as pretty, and had a more severe personality, which meant that she sort of fell into Lauren's shadow. You just knew that if you wanted to have fun, you should hang out with Lauren, not with Anna.
There are plenty of things in Shetland's favor. First and foremost for me is that it just plain happens to be out further than Orkney - as great as Orkney is, there's further to go. Second, even though Shetland's landscapes and vistas aren't really as pretty as those in Orkney, some of them have some charm - for example, there are places in Shetland that initially reminded me of Wyoming, and that's a good thing because I love Wyoming. Third, and probably more important to the Shetlanders, is that the people of Shetland were phenomenally friendly and helpful, and even though I didn't interact that much with them, they lived up to their Orcadian cousins' example for hospitality.
Unfortunately, Shetland seems to fall short in some other areas. First, as far as I can tell, there's nowhere near as much for visitors to do as there is in Orkney. Second, Shetland's scenery just isn't as pretty as Orkney - much less green, a lot more dark brown foliage that makes it look like Shetland suffered from some scorched earth attacks. In fact, at times, the landscape's appearance (though not its actual composition) began to remind me of Oklahoma in a lot of cases, and Oklahoma is hideous. Third, there were several incidents that were such a hassle that it really made it hard to like the place.
So, over the course of the next few weeks, I'll recount my two days of adventures - or, perhaps, misadventures - in Shetland.