Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Fabulous Orkney Tour

This past spring, looking ahead I was fairly certain that this was going to be my last summer in Scotland -- mine was never intended to be a permanent position, and the latest bit of funding was scheduled to run out at the end of the year. Usually I head back to the US for my holidays to visit family and friends, but I decided to do something different this year. Something like taking advantage of the fact that I'm living in Scotland! Something like trying to see more of this fabulous country, like maybe the Highlands! (I couldn't leave Scotland without seeing the Highlands!) Or, looking at the map, what about going to the very top of Scotland!!

A friend of mine (Hi GP!) had a great experience with Rabbies Tours, so I thought I'd see what they had to offer. I wavered back and forth between a couple of their 5-day tours, but finally I decided on the Orkney and the Far North tour.

I signed up for the tour, and although June was shaping up to be an incredibly busy month, I was so looking forward to the trip. Not that I knew anything about Orkney and I didn't have time to do any reading up. I just knew that it was up there at the top of Scotland, and I was going to get to places that I would probably never go to on my own.

The morning June 11 finally rolled around, and I made it down the the Royal Mile (only a wee bit late) where Rabbies buses load up. They do small 16-person buses, so the tours are more intimate than most others. There were only 14 on our tour, plus our tour guide, Karen. It was an interesting bunch: three couples from different places in Canada and the US, a couple from Poland on their honeymoon, two woman from Germany, and four woman traveling alone (including myself). Zeitha and Leslie were both from Australia, although both have ties to Scotland. Jane was from Toronto, but she grew up in Scotland. I would really enjoy getting to know these three ladies over the next five days.

I'm going to do a blog post for each day, because there is way, way, way too much to try to squish it all into one post. But here are a few of my favorite pictures below. The tour, by the way, was incredible and fabulous and amazing and really there aren't enough words! It's trite, but Scotland is so very beautiful! More to come...

Our mascot: A Highland Cow (not a cow wearing a viking helmet)

Flowers at the Falls of Dochart


Gorse on a hill

Me in my twee Scottish hat on the ferry to Orkney


Broch of Gurness

Brough of Birsay

Skara Brae

Ring of Brodgar

In St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

Flowers at Smoo Cave

Real Highland Cow

Along the northern coast of Scotland

Gorse in the Highlands

Just a picture I liked (near Carr Bridge)

In the woods near the Falls of Bruar

New Friends


me said...

The pictures are all great, but the one of the north end of Scotland...gorgeous!

mcb said...

Ooooh. I love the one of the door, too. I can see why it captured your fancy. But, OMB the scene along the northern coast is etherally beautiful. It doesn't even look real.

rssasrb said...

Gorgeous pictures.

rssasrb said...

Not sure if you'll be dropping in to see this, but wanted to wish you a Happy New Year.

So glad we finally got to meet and looking forward to seeing you again.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dr T...

Like the hat.

Gorgeous pictures.