A Travellerspoint blog

June 2019

Scotland Slowly 2019, Day 6: St. Kilda

The Magical Archipelago of Feral Sheep, What Comes Out of Sheep (feral and otherwise), Ferocious Attacking Birds, and Carnivorous Plants

View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Let’s begin, sort of, where we left off yesterday. The second half of yesterday was not an especially exciting afternoon and evening. We were both quite tired after the long hike. We got a pre-dinner cocktail, attended the daily briefing, had dinner, and went straight to bed. I think I was in bed by 9:30 and didn’t wake up until the official Wake Up Call at 0730.

Today, we spent the morning on the island of Hirta, part of the remarkable archipelago, known for birds, feral sheep (watch where you step!) and the remnants of a community of people who lived in this isolated place for many generations. The community was evacuated in 1930.

We had a great morning exploring the old houses and structures of the island, looking down from the cliffs on one side of Hirta, and watching the feral sheep that call this place home.

There are also lots of birds on St. Kilda. One kind of bird, the skua, protects their nests, eggs and young with great fervor, attacking any possible predator. Although we were not attacked, we were told in no uncertain terms to be cautious and to avoid certain areas of the island.

We were also introduced to some carnivorous plants, with small flowers near the ground that eat very small flies. Tasty.

Here are a few St. Kilda photos:

After St. Kilda, we visited a nearby colony of gannets, another sort of bird that lives on the small ledges on the enormous rocks that tower over the surrounding sea:

And, then it was time to relax a bit in the late afternoon, with a shipboard whisky tasting:

We are looking forward to this evening. After the daily briefing, we’ll hear the Ode to the Haggis and then enjoy a haggis dinner, followed by the “dress as your favorite adventurer” party. Should be a fun evening!

Posted by ORWAT 07:15 Tagged st. kilda Comments (2)

Scotland Slowly, Day 5

Skye: Sing Me a Song of a Lass That Is Gone

View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello Friends,
Let’s begin with yesterday afternoon and evening. Joe spent most of the afternoon napping. I spent a large part of the afternoon on deck with several other passengers, chatting and watching the sea go by, along with a small whale or two and some dolphins.

At dinner, Joe and I sat with several other passengers who turned out to be a great deal of fun. We heard lots of very interesting stories of travel adventures, including:
• A man who accidentally crashed his motorcycle into a couple of bears and then spent several hours being transported, by helicopter, to the nearest hospital.
• A man who visited the Soviet Union with his family in 1968.
• Another man who went to Hanoi for work and had to exchange a $100 bill each week for two shopping bags full of the local currency.
• A woman who had to have titanium bolts inserted into her spine, and was pleased to learn that it didn’t cause any problems getting through airport security.

At some point in the storytelling, one of the men looked at us and asked us to share a story. We felt a little unprepared to match the tales that had been shared, but we still managed to entertain our fellow dinner companions.

Today, we woke with the Isle of Skye just outside the window, on a beautiful day—mostly sunny and around 60. A bit breezy, but that was good as it would keep the midges away.

Like yesterday, Joseph and I signed up for the Advanced Hike of the morning, which meant that we were among the first passengers to disembark onto the Zodiacs. Because the ship had to be moved to our “plan b” location, the whole process started a little later than expected.

Our hike on Skye offered stunning views of the island, with its mountains, streams, and lochs. We hiked along one of the lochs closest to where we came ashore. We saw a few red deer along the way, along with a lot of rocks, heather,ea2f1b30-9759-11e9-8483-6fb3761ce3aa.JPGDSC_0505.JPGDSC_0500.JPGDSC_0599.JPGDSC_0614.JPG and deer poop.

And, then it was time to turn around and head back. That’s when those of us who had failed to bring a snack started to suffer, learning the Scottish word of the day the hard way, “Blak Fantan,” the state of being very hungry.

We finally got back to the ship and had a late lunch. And then we went to one of the talks of the afternoon, given by the Nikon rep on board.

Now it’s time that I take a wee nap, before the evening events begin (briefing, reception, dinner, etc.).

Random fact of the day: Sunset tonight is at 10:24 pm.


Posted by ORWAT 07:56 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland skye slowly Comments (1)

Scotland Slowly, Day 4


Greetings Friends!

It’s mid-afternoon and it’s already been an epic day. The Ocean Endeavor anchored off of Mingulay, which in Old Norse means “big island.” Instead of disembarking by color group, as we have been doing most of the time, we disembarked by interest. Joe and I disembarked with the “advanced hiking” group and that meant we were among the first on the Zodiacs.

Once we got to the beach on Mingulay, we organized ourselves into our group and started off. Our goal was to get to the highest point of the island, visit ruins (from when the island was inhabited, which struck us as a clear display of insanity) and not get dive-bombed by a certain kind of aggressive bird that doesn’t like visitors (who can blame them really?). Luckily for us, the rain held off until the last segment of the hike.

Now we are back on board the OE. We’ve had lunch and are looking forward to a little downtime for the rest of the afternoon, as we travel to the next destination. The travel may involve some weather. We’ll try to get this up before we head to naptime.

Here are a few photos of the epic quest:


Posted by ORWAT 05:41 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland slowly mingulay Comments (0)

Scotland Slowly, Day 3, Part 2

Iona-- Whatever Happened to St. Columba's Bones?

View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Greetings from Somewhere Off the Coast of Scotland!

Joseph and I had a glorious afternoon on Iona. The weather was absolutely perfect. We managed to get into the first boat over to Iona and then in one of the last boats to depart.

We decided early that we should ditch our tour group ASAP (with permission, of course), in order to roam around as we wished. We spent a great deal of time at the Iona Abbey. This was as close as we were going to get to Sunday worship, but it was disappointing that there was no service for us to attend. There is an afternoon peace and justice prayer service every single day of the week, except for Sunday. I was disappointed. Still, we sat in the Abbey’s large sanctuary for a time. I looked through the worship book and then spent time in the quiet area.

The big mystery of the day is: what happened to the bones of St. Columba? St. Columba brought Christianity to Scotland from Ireland in 563. Many years after his death and burial, his bones were exhumed and the bones placed in several reliquaries. Once the Vikings started to invade the area, they learned of the significance of the local saint. On one raid, the Vikings demanded the bones of St. Columba, but the monks would not hand them over. The Vikings killed them.

But, what about the bones? Did the Vikings take them? Who knows? The Abbey Museum does not share this information.


Joseph and I then wandered around the island (which looks a lot like the Maine coast, I might add). We saw a lot of sheep and tried to make friends with a cow. The cow was not impressed:

Then it was time to get a quick snack and don the rain pants and return to the Ocean Endeavor, where we had a delightful dinner with a group in the dining room.

Tomorrow’s weather sounds not so good, but we are hoping to go on a good hike on Mingulay.


p.s. There’s a rather famous author on board the ship. Since she’s not part of the talent, I won’t reveal her name here, but Joseph and I have been wondering since the first day if this is who I thought it was. Today, she came into the daily briefing with her nametag on, and it is indeed who I thought it was. Ask me all about it when I’m home.

Posted by ORWAT 13:46 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland ocean iona slowly endeavor Comments (0)

Scotland Slowly, Day 3

Birds, Seals and Cake, Oh My

View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Greetings from Scotland, just off of Staffa!

Let’s begin today’s wee tale with last night. At dinner, Joe and I were presented with a small cake, in celebration of our anniversary. Our actual anniversary isn’t until August, but this voyage is how we are celebrating. It was a very nice gesture, and we enjoyed the cake, and sharing it with our dinner companions for the evening. Unfortunately, we didn't think to take a photo until after we had started eating:

Here’s a nice photo of the sunset that we enjoyed, while also watching some seals (unfortunately, no good seal photos):

We then went to the first part of the evening’s entertainment, to finish our wine and to listen to the performer of the evening, a Scottish singer. And, then off to bed, since we had learned that it was going to be an early morning.

Sunday, June 23

Wake up call was at 0630! Yikes, although not much different from when I normally get up on Sunday mornings.

Since Joe and I were in the color group that would be second to board the Zodiacs to be transported to Staffa, we got up before the wake up call, at 6:00, and went to the area of the ship where they offer continental breakfast for early risers, or those who are forced to arise early. We had a cup of coffee and delicious, and still warm, croissants.

Then it was time to arrange ourselves for our journey—about an hour in a Zodiac exploring around Staffa. We were not allowed to get out of the Zodiac. Rain pants, rain jacket, boots, fleece, etc. And camera.

By Zodiac, we were able to view the stunning volcanic formation of Staffa, along with Fingal’s cave, and the cave next door, which was dubbed “Mrs. Fingal’s Cave" by those who were in our boat We also watched various water fowl, like ducks and puffins.

Here’s a shot from inside the cave:

The weather was just about ideal. Not cold and not windy. Overcast, but not raining.

Now we back onboard the Ocean Endeavor, heading to Iona. Joe and I are in the first group to disembark, and that should happen around 1:00 this afternoon. We are hoping to have a great afternoon on Iona.

Since the rest of today is likely to be busy, we probably won’t post again until tomorrow. But, we’ll see. It all depends on the amount of downtime we end up having, along with our ability to connect with the temperamental wifi.


Posted by ORWAT 02:37 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland ocean cave staffa slowly endeavor fingal's Comments (1)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 18) Previous « Page 1 [2] 3 4 » Next