Thursday, August 11th, 2005 - Glasgow

Another travel day for me. I was up reasonably early so that I could get everything together for my trip to Edinburgh. I essentially got to Edinburgh then picked up a bus to the airport immediately. My flight to Shetland was at 5:50 (pm) but I like to be early and eventually got there at about 2:00 which gave me a bit of time to sit around and read, browsing through the shops. The bus was very good and fast. About 25 minutes from Waverley station in the middle of Edinburgh the bus moved very quickly and dropped me right at the front door of the airport. Well worth the £5 (return).

There was a bit of a queue getting through security but eventually I managed and we waited a few minutes before being allowed to board. We went through the gate and down onto the runway where we followed yellow lines between the towering aircraft all around to the small 36-seat propeller plane waiting for us. Of course, I knocked my head walking through the door of the plane but thoroughly enjoyed the flight (though it was a bit noisy). We had great views of Edinburgh as we took off and of Shetland as we landed. During the flight we did not really see anything since we were above the clouds. The whole flight was only about an hour but they did manage to feed us some (very) good sandwiches and it was an open bar (at the prices they charge for this flight, I think some people would need a drink…or several…).

Arriving in Shetland

The plane was a bit early as we landed just after 7:00 pm in Shetland at the airport which is on the southern-most tip of the main island: Sumburgh (the only thing more southern is the light house). The airport is very small but serviceable and certainly not the smallest I have ever seen (heck, they even have a baggage carousel here!). I am here to visit with my friend Christine who I also knew from The Gambia (she was in my group when we first arrived in Africa). She was not at the airport when I arrive so I gave her a quick call to make sure she was al-right before waiting for a few minutes before she arrived. I took the time to look through the tourist information centre which was actually quite good…

Chris was looking very well and I was so happy to see her. We headed back along the (very good) road north to her home in Lerwick, the main town (can't really call it a city) on the island(s). The landscape is quite barren here but actually quite majestic and peaceful as she made her way around quite professionally with the air of someone who is, obviously, very much a “local”. The houses are all pretty basic, it seems to me, with only a few made of rock but most with plain stucco exteriors and of simple design. There are a number of small towns huddled here and there as we passed by. The weather was a bit overcast but at least it was not raining so I could see quite a way.

She is living with a friend in a small house just on the outskirts of town. The house is quite nice with great wooden floors and, my favourite, a wood fireplace though I am told this is not unusual on the islands due to the weather – it is the best way to keep the house warm! Her roommate made me also feel very welcome as we had a bit to eat, talked well into the evening and I collapsed into the bed they helpfully provided for me on the main floor…

⇒ Continue to Friday, August 12th, 2005 - Lerwick, Shetland