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Friday, June 09, 2006

And on the sixth day...

I can't believe we go home tomorrow! It shouldn't be time, but I'm also ready to see you all again, to have time to actually read emails, not just send them, and to relax and figure out just what has happened this week.

I last wrote on Tuesday, I believe. No, it was Wednesday, because I told you we had gone to Rotary Tuesday evening. Wednesday we did the Loch Ness tour. I remember reporting that as well. Okay, Wednesday evening we went to Hootenanny's to hear traditional Scottish music and drink a beer. We had thought we might eat there, but when Bettsy saw the menu and that it was Thai food (with traditional Scottish music, not less!) we went next door for supper to St. George's where the restauranteur looked oriental and spoke with a delightful Scottish accent. He and his people did a great job of serving us. Most of the things on the menu had been varied, so we would mention something and he said he was the same except.... For instance, I had steak that was supposed to have oysters and mushrooms in it and a mushroom sauce over it. He said they used scallops now instead of mushrooms. Other things had similar minor variations, including the wine we drank. I'm not a connoisseur of wine yet, but I've tried more than I ever had before I think. We enjoyed the meal. Bettsy tried to give him the euro she'd been carrying and he brought it back, said it was illegal money, so she left it as a tip instead. We would have gotten away with that had I not left my sweater as well, and he came trotting after us and gave me that and Bettsy her Euro. The band at Hootenany's was two people, both with longish gray hair, named Gaberlunzie. They were neat, and I need to find a CD of them to give to Bettsy when we get home, so don't tell her about this until we get home. Of course she's sitting over in the chair, but she's got her back to me. We're in a Laundromat that has two internet terminals. Funny. They're not cheap here for internet access, and it is actually easier to find on the Orkney islands than it is here in Inverness! I saw one yesterday in the capital town of Orkney which I can't call by name right now. No, I didn't stop. But I did see it and realized it was the first easy to locate one I'd seen in Scotland.

We took the ferry to Orkney yesterday. We were going to get up at 5:30 in order to get to the bus that left at 7:30. I told Bettsy I'd wake her then. I set the alarm, but it didn't work. Of course I didn't actually need it, just lay in bed to see if it was going to go off, and when it didn't, I went and knocked on her door. She was up, dressed, and drinking coffee, having thought we decided to leave at 5:30, not to get up then. I got dressed and we set out to find breakfast since that served with our lodging starts at 8:30. It was the second of three mornings in a row I've had to let myself out of the locked hotel. We have keys they said were to get in after they closed for the night, but my sleep habits are a lot more akin to getting up before they start stirring, especially since they run a bar and it's always going when I go to bed. We didn't have the tickets and didn't know exactly where to go, except the bus station. We got there and the bus station wasn't open, so we wandered a while. The all day cafe didn't open until 8. When we got back at 9 that evening it had closed as well!

I figured out from the posted information at the ends of the various bus waiting places which one we needed, so we waited there until the bus pulled, eating the Digestives we'd bought to take home to Mike and Wayne since we never did find a restaurateur ready to feed us before the 7:30 departure time. The bus ride was about 3 hours long, to John O'Groats where we got on the ferry and that took about half an hour. Neat scenery all the way! Except the Hootenanny's had kept us awake so much it was hard to see some of the scenery through closed eyes.

We went over the Churchill blockages, built to keep out German ships first in WWI by sinking ships and then in WWII after one got in and shot a British ship down by pouring large stones to block the passage. It went slow until they got some Italian prisoners of war who finished the job, part of it done after Italy surrendered and they were paid for their work as free men. We saw the capital city with the cathedral and two old castles, did some shopping and ate some lunch, then went to the 4000 year old ruins, to a circle of stones, to another little village where I'm not sure why we were there except probably the tour group had a contract with the local people to bring some people there to spend money. We complied but didn't stay long. The circle of stones were the most impressive, other than simply the scenery all around. They have hurricane force winds at least annually and therefore have no trees because they can't stand it. In the towns and a few protected valleys they have some.

This morning I got up and walked to the Calcedonian canal, thought I would take a city bus back, and it was so late in getting to the busstop I scared Bettsy by not being back in time for a 9:00 breakfast we had set. They were panicking and about to send out rescue teams for me, I think. Anyway, we're trying to get shopping done and some more and to say goodbye today. There are lots of things I haven't done yet and wanted to do, including seeing Moray Firth which I may do, either by walking or by taking a city bus after while. Fortunately it doesn't get dark until about 11, so I have enough time. But I have to get up at sunrise (which is 4:30) to get on the 7 o something plane! Again, we'll be out before the door is unlocked. So what do we do with our keys after we lock the hotel? Questions abound. But memories and fun and photos do, too. See you soon.

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