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Manu | 10 October 2012 | 6 comments

The Orkneys as they appeared from the ferry on my sunny arrival

You may already know how much I love Orkneys Islands, as I included on my top 3 favourite islands some time ago, but here I would like to share with you the page of my diary written when I just arrived there, with all my astonishment and happiness to have made it to such an unreachable place.

These tiny islands have always meant a lot to me, as at that time, I was 23 and it was my first solo adventure ever.I had been working all summer to get up there and very hard.

The sound of Scotland

When I arrived to Edinburgh, with only one way ticket, no experience, a very simple English compared to the crazy Scottish accent, I felt in love with the town so much that I got determined to stay for a while after only a short walk in town. I was lucky I found a job and a house in a couple of days, and a great friend with whom I lived for 3 months. The job itself was tough. I had to clean the public spaces of a big hotel in town ( corridors, restaurant, meeting rooms) together with a Brasilian guy who also became a great friend.

Everyday for 3 months we had to

with my brasilian friend and collegue…”at work”

start working at 5am, until 2pm. Crazy! And still one of the most amazing experiences in my life. Every morning we had to start with the restaurant, and at 5, when the whole hotel was sleeping, we used to put loud music to wake us up and sing! After we finished with the restaurant, we had to start cleaning the rest. Well, in that place I am still famous as the crazy one who was cleaning all the public spaces with a radio playing music all the time. It was always good fun. Sometimes, and especially during the Edinburgh Festival in August, we were so exhausted that we went to sleep on the lower floor on the couch or even on the toilets, putting the alarm for 9 o’clock when our manager was coming in to check.

with my friends 🙂

At the festival, pretending to be stars!

It was a crazy summer of music, friends, festival, beer, oh….lots of beer, party hard …every day we were finishing at 2pm and going up and down the Royal Mile enjoying the street artists shows of all kinds, and then partying at night until 2am, sleeping a couple of hours and going to work again at 5am. Even now, when I think about that period, I don’t know how I managed to make it safely. I remember once I was so tired that I went with my friend to a Metal concert in a pub and I felt asleep sited on the speakers! Useless to say that on those days, when I had days off I was usually just sleeping in all day, like I fainted. I once slept 18 hours in a row..but that’s another story!

Anyway, at the end of that crazy summer, with my well worth earned money I decided to go and finally see this land that everybody was telling me being simply amazing.

I first started with Stirling, then went up to Inverness and from there the idea was just to go to fort Williams and back, but in Inverness it happened that on the day I had to catch my bus I saw another one saying “Orkneys” on top. I quickly checked on my map where it was, and there I changed my mind. I thought about it for..well…a couple of seconds, and by that time I was already on that bus, direction North.

On the way North. The poor quality of my very old camera cannot hide the beauty of the landscape

It was beautiful. The entire trip was awesome…watching the landscape

The ruins of a catle on the way North

changing under my eyes, trees that started to disappear, cliffs that started to appear from nowhere, seals on the shores, ruins of castles, green and sun everywhere….and the arrival at John’s O’Groat, the last outpost, the last house of Great Britain, and the moment I sat on the bench waiting for the boat to arrive…totally astonished by all that beauty and feelings in front and inside me!!!!

At John’s O’Groat, the last house of Britain, waiting for the ferry to the Orkneys

I started to talk with a Dutch guy who was living on the Orkneys and told me his story, his decision to leave everything and become a fishermen up there where life is quieter and more beautiful, he told me of his happiness, of the amazing people he met up there ( I always thought he had such a great influence on my dream to go to leave on a small island for a while since then) and when he asked me what I was doing up there all alone and I replied I was traveling, he asked me my age, and when I told him I was 23 he said I was probably very brave to make it up there all alone. That meeting was cool, such as the whole week I spent there.

On the Orkneys at that time there were probably 4 or 5 buses going around all the islands, and after a week there it happens you know all the drivers. It was funny everytime I was somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in the countryside, and one of the buses was passing , the drivers were always greeting me like we knew each others since ever. I had an incredible home feeling up there. In the pubs, at night, people were so kind and curios about my stories, about Italy, the reason why I went up there. I heard so many of their stories too and I had an overall amazing experience that I can never forget.

The mysterios Neolitics pillars of the Orkneys, and their unique location

Unforgettable Orkneys

The day I left I was actually going to town to have a tea with a lady I met in the hostel, an English woman who was there to hide herself for a couple of years from political issues she was having in London, and on the way to the cafe’ I met one of the driver who asked me what I was still doing there. I told him that, and he asked me if I knew that in one hour there was the last passenger boat to Scotland before April!!!!

Ah! I started to run back to the hostel, pack my things, check out and rush at the harbour, where I made it just on time. On the way I was already thinking at a possible phone call home to advice my mum I was not gonna come back until April due to technical problems, and I would have spent the winter on the Orkneys!

You know what? I would have loved it! 🙂


The skye of the Orkneys was one of the things that astonished me the most

Anyway, I made it and I left that little piece of heaven, with a promise to be back one day for sure.

That trip didn’t finish for other 2 more weeks, where I crossed all the highlands and went around the Western part of the country.

Now you know a bit more why my heart beats a bit faster when I hear a Scottish pipe.

Nothing can be compared to that feeling…up there…alone…

The one below it’s a page of my diary written just up there, long time ago…

ORKNEYS ISLANDS, September 2nd, 2004

“The Orkneys islands…here it’s where gods may come to draw. It cannot be human the breathtaking beauty of the blue shores in the middle of nowhere, of the green flat lands that accompany them, and of the divine contast of the blue of the sky, the black of the sheeps and cows and the emerald of the grass. It seems to be in another dimension, once again at the end of the world, much closer to the gods than the humans. The silence and the peace of this place are in contrast with my soul’s mode, that would like to scream how beautiful these sceneries are! Here the wild world is softened by the Nature, that seems to really have a soul…only the Lofoten Islands can be compared to such a splendour so far… My travel has just reached the top spot….when I will come back to the rest of the world I will bring you, Orkneys, forever with me in my heart…”