Thursday, July 11, 2013

Debacle in Shetland: Leaving Shetland

As my debacle in Shetland drew to a close, I decided to get to the ferry terminal early - not generally a good sign. I was eager to leave Shetland and get back to Aberdeen. In the intervening two months, my opinion of Shetland has softened a bit - it's not that bad. Regardless, there wasn't anything that I could get to and back in just two hours, so I camped out in the terminal with my gear and my Kindle until it was time to board. At that point, I got an Orkney flag T-shirt in the gift shop, secured my gear in my cabin, and then went up to the observation deck. I wanted to watch as I left Shetland.

Having taken pictures while we were approaching Lerwick, it was interesting to take more pictures thirty-six hours later after such unexpected adventures. As we moved away from the ferry terminal in Lerwick harbor I saw a one or two small ferries running from the Shetland mainland across to Bressay, and we passed back by the Bressay Lighthouse that I'd taken some pictures of before. As we moved south, past a massive cemetery on the south end of Lerwick, and got into more open waters, we passed a small red ship I'd seen on my way down to Sumburgh Head and going back north again. I have no idea what its purpose was, or why it was anchored off Gulber Wick, but it made for a decent picture.

As I stood on the weather deck, chatting with a professor from the Robert Gordon University - the University of Aberdeen's arch rivals, for some reason - we passed by Sumburgh Head, where I'd been just a few hours before. We had a great view, across the lowland between Sumburgh Head and the hill at the southeast end of Sumburgh Airport, of Foula, the most remote of the islands of Shetland. We had a lot of wind, and it was quite cold, but it was worth it to get some great pictures that I hope never to have another opportunity to take again.

I was glad to leave Shetland behind, and I can't count it among my favorite vacations of all time. Even so, I'm glad that I went. Most people, even those who bother to travel, don't go to places like Shetland. Shetland is remote, it's not especially exciting, and it lacks many of the charms that Orcadians take for granted. Even so, there's a special quality to a place like Shetland, something that can't be replicated. Even in our modern, connected world, it still takes effort to get to a place like Shetland. For all of the jokes about shagging sheep, the folk in Shetland are all accommodating and friendly, and that's something you don't get in, say, Beirut. Even though my trip became a sort of running joke, I'm still glad that places like Shetland exist - in fact, I'd like to settle down in a place like Shetland. Just... Not Shetland.

Of course, my adventure wasn't yet complete. More to come.

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