(It's been a weird week here. So. Let's just get back to the travelogue, non?)
After Edinburgh, our ship headed north . . . to the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.
We docked in Kirkwall - the largest city in the Orkney Islands. While the area is filled with Viking ruins (which would be fun to visit, sure), my sister and I opted to stay right in Kirkwall (so we could also fit in a tour of the Highland Park whisky distillery later in the day).
In Kirkwall, we really experienced the moody, broody Scotland of our imaginations!
First, we visited St. Magnus Cathedral, founded in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney 1108–1117 by Earl (later Saint) Rögnvald Kali.
The inside of the cathedral was just awesome. So . . . old. So much history. And a really interesting sampling of gravestones embedded in the church walls!
(Lots of skulls. Lots and lots of skulls!)
After visiting St. Magnus, we just walked across the road to see the ruins of the Bishop's Palace (here with the steeple of St. Magnus in the background) . . .
and the Earl's Palace (just next door and across another road).
It is really pretty awesome to stand in these ruins . . . and imagine what life might have been like when the palaces were vibrant and full of people.
The views from the top of both palaces were amazing. (Interesting thing about the Orkney Islands: although there are trees planted in town, the islands themselves have no trees at all! You can kind of see this in my photos -- out on the horizon. . . absolutely bare.)
(And what's more amazing - refreshing, actually . . . is that they allow folks to climb super-steep and narrow spiral staircases - dark, too - to the top of the ruins. No signing waivers; no liability warnings.)
Going down. . .
We were happy to spend a bit of time wandering the main street of Kirkwall (a town of about 9,000 people).
It was just charming. Welcoming and comfortable.
Both my sister and I remarked that Kirkwall . . . felt like a place we might actually like to live!
We found many, many hand knits for sale in the shops in Kirkwall. Lots of lovely fair isle -- sweaters and mittens and hats and socks. Yarn shops, too. Both my sister and I bought hand knit sweaters. (And we actually needed to wear them!) Here's mine . . .
(For you knitters - it's a Gansey made of Shetland wool; much the same weight as Loft.)
I'll tell you more about the fabulous background for this photo in a couple of days (hint: it's the Isle of Skye) and show you my sister's sweater -- but first . . . a trip to the Highland Park whisky distillery.