Day 7, Orkney Islands, Stromness & Kirkwall, June 21, 2017
We were a little late arriving in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, due to some engine difficulties. Apparently, one of the engines was down (needs a part which will be received in Tromso) and we moved along at a more leisurely pace. Sailing in (and out as well) of Kirkwall was picturesque, although it was hazy and overcast as we approached Kirkwall.
We embarked on another bus tour, past the Scarpa Flow, destination Stromness. The Scarpa Flow has an important place in British wartime history as it was home to the British Home Fleet during both world wars. Here lies a watery grave for 833 seamen on the H.M.S. Royal Oak, whose lives were taken in October 1939 by a German torpedo. A memorial to them can be found in St. Magnus Cathedral.
Stromness was a delightful harbor town. We strolled up Victoria Street to Dundas Street past Graham Place. The town yielded numerous photo opportunities, beginning with the folks who own and run . . .
. . . note the tailor in the background, hard to fine one of those anymore.
From this little store, we walked up Victoria and Dundas Streets and back. Here are a few of my photos of the area:
Of course, the harbor yielded some interesting views:
From Stromness we drove to the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, considered by UNESCO to be “a masterpiece of human creative genius’ on a par with China’s Great Wall, the Pyramids of Egypt and the Acropolis.” On the way we saw this single stone on a hill outside of our bus window . . .
. . . then we cam to the Standing Stones, sitting alone and barren for thousands of years:
From the stones it was back to Kirkwall.
Here is a photo of the view along the way. Notice the stone wall, which is something we saw all over the island. And, the water view beyond.
Back in Kirkwall we had lunch at Judith Glue. It was a pleasant place where you placed your order from a simple menu and they delivered it to you when it was ready. We shared a ploughmans platter and a couple of beers.
Kirkwall was a pleasant town. It is home to St. Magnus Cathedral. Along with its graveyard, it is a pretty and interesting place. The Cathedral was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald in memory of Magnus Erlendsson, a prior Earl of Orkney, and Rognvald’s uncle, who was killed by an adversary in the early 1100s. Today the Cathedral belongs to the people of Orkney and, although it has a Church of Scotland Congregation, it can, by arrangement, be used by any Christian denomination.
There is a music festival in town. We had a chance to hear the musicians as they practiced in St. Magnus.
We then walked around the town. Here are a few photos of Kirkwall:
Back to the ship and up to the Explorer’s Lounge for afternoon cocktails. We had the opportunity to listen to Resident Guitarist Santo who is excellent. Made me think, for a minute, of Andres Segovia; simple, plain, unenhanced terrific music.
Here are a couple of photos as we sailed from Kirkwall.
Dinner was in The Restaurant at a table for two. We were seated next to a couple from Montana. Very pleasant people. Well, one thing led to another and we got around to talking about hearing aides. Seems many people over the age of 60, especially men have hearing problems, at least their wives think so. I will call him Todd (obviously not his real name, and he’s not from Montana either) told us about his recent visit to his audiologist.
Apparently he heard the doctor ask him if he used a backhoe to which he replied, due to the fact he owned about 10 acres of land, “yes.” Then the doctor asked him what he did when he was done with the backhoe. “I fire and clean my guns.” The next question was “how long have you been doing that?” “For a number of years, ever since I retired.” His conversation with his doctor went on little longer when one of them realized they were not having the same discussion. He heard the doctor ask, “do you use a backhoe” but the doctor actually asked, “do you use tobacco?”
He told the story far better than I can relate it, but it these little encounters like this that make cruising interesting.
Onto the show, which featured the three women vocalists and was very good and then back to our stateroom for the evening.