Friday, September 28, 2007

Rocking Ferries

My Ferry ride back from the Orkney Islands was a little different than the ride up there. The weather was a bit harsher, and the ferry was definitely rocking most of the journey. Had I been awake it might have been a little disturbing, but it actually made sleeping a little more comfortable, at least when it wasn't too hard. More than once I woke up because of the waves.

I'm now in Edinburgh, just getting started. Out for a self-guided city walk today. Stopped into a library for free internet, and a place to wait out the rain that was just starting to come down hard. I see sun coming in through the windows now though, so back to my walk. This city is amazing with its castle and old churches. I'm even staying in a church this time around, but it has been converted to a hostel, so I'm not freeloading.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Orkney Islands

On Saturday night I arrived in the Orkney Islands. It was too late to see anything as the ferry pulled in, it docked about 11pm. I was exhausted, after traveling for about 24 hours, and just wanted to find my hostel and get to bed. Along the way I met some great people, and still am meeting great people. Meeting all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds is perhaps one of my favorite things of traveling.

Sunday morning really started my adventure here, and I learned that the Orkney Islands are a great place. Nearly everything was shut down because it was Sunday in Kirkwall, the small town I ended up staying in. Pubs and grocery stores were open, but not much else. Not that it mattered, not much in the mood for shopping anyway. I spent the entire day wandering around with the person I shared my hostel room with - an awesome girl from New Zealand. Though the one thing she wanted to do was missed, we still found plenty of fun in this small town.

Monday I started the day by getting up early and catching a bus to Scara Brae, a Neolithic site believed to be about 5,000 years old. Below is a picture of the ruins:

Mostly they are roped off, to keep people from walking through them so they'll last longer. They were buried under sand and discovered in about 1850 after a large storm blew away sand that was covering them.

From Scara Brae I started a 12.5 mile hike along the coast back to the next largest town, called Stromness. The scariest part for me was the cows. Early on in the hike I had to cross a pasture full of the things. It wouldn't have been too bad except as I approached, they all stood up and started watching me. Talk about creepy.

Along the way I came across more ruins, which could be walked around. It was another hut, but the roof has caved in along with most of the back end of the rock wall. Still neat to see though. All day long there was no rain. Odd, considering that all day yesterday there was plenty, along with wind. Locals have told me that I got lucky to have such a nice day for the walk, especially this late in September.

Today is my last day, tonight I head back to the mainland. It will be another night spent sleeping on the mode of transportation, but catching up on sleep hasn't been much of a problem yet.

I'll add more pictures next time, having computer problems and don't feel much like figuring them out right now.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Yesterday my main objective was seeing some museums that were listed as free in my travel guide. The first one was the British Museum. It is a huge place, and while there, I started to get the feeling that maybe I don't care much for museums. The place was crawling with school kids, and they were loud. And the part of the museum that I was most interested in, the section on Greece, was closed. I did see some pretty cool things though, like a pipe from Africa. Pictures didn't turn out because of the glass. I thought it was a rather humorous piece, though I am sure for the people who used it, it was not so funny. It was a woman with a pregnant belly, smirking with her hand up to cover part of her smirk. The part of the pipe that was smoked from was coming from her belly button, and the stuff to be smoked went into the top of her head. It was carved out of wood, and nearly black in color. The little card said it was from the Republic of Congo.

The second museum I visited was the Museum of Natural History, and it was much nicer for someone like me. There were interpretive displays all over the place, and most exhibits were set up for visitors to follow through in a certain order. One fun exhibit was on earthquakes, and the room actually shook around for a few seconds. Most kids in there were younger, and quieter. Thought the museum was smaller, I spent more time there.

After the second museum I decided it was time for a pint, and went on a search for a pub. I found a little tiny one tucked away in an alley, if it could be called that. There were definitely no cars going down that alley. It was in that bar that I was served my first warm beer. I've always been told by people that the British drink their beer warm, but I never saw it on my last trip here. And upon arrival this time, I noticed that most taps said ''Extra Cold,'' or something to that effect. I also found my first real British IPA at that little pub, and had a great conversation with a man from Ireland. He gave me some suggestions of places to visit once I get to his country. I think I might check it out.

That's it for now. I'm heading to the Orkney Islands starting tonight. It'll be a long travel, but I am looking forward to seeing all I can.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I've Made It

To London that is. Not getting much sleep on the flight makes for a long day, and I still have a couple of hours before I can check into my hostel. Glad I decided to stay for two nights, since the museums I want to see while I'm here wouldn't be enjoyable today for how tired I am. Hopefully a short nap will make for a better evening.

I did get a chance to read about London in my guide on the plane. Since the guide is meant for people traveling on a budget, it includes attractions that are free. Hopefully I'll remember to take a few pictures so I can show off what I have been seeing. The British Museum and the Museum of Natural History sound like my kind of thing. If not, there is always the city wandering that I did last time I was here. As long as the rain keeps itself under control, that makes for a great way to spend the day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

6 Days Left

In 6 days I will be on a flight to take me out of the US. And I still only have that planned. I finally went and got new shoes today, the backpack I plan on using for the trip is currently in UPS' possession, and there are no accommodations reserved. But still, I think it will work out just fine.

Instead of putting much effort into planning my 3 month Euro-trip, I've been going camping. Two weekends ago I went with my sister to a place called Icicle Creek. As kids our parents took us there a few times, and we got lucky and ended up at the same campground we remembered so well. We stayed for two nights, and had a great time. Had I not needed to return for a doctor's appointment, we would have stayed longer, since I had no real plans and she didn't have to work again until the next weekend. Even though we didn't stay near the sites we had remembered using in the past, we still got a great site with its own beach. Pretty lucky, considering we got to the campground at 7pm on Sunday night, Labor Day weekend. We thought for sure all the sites would be full, but we kept our fingers crossed and it worked. Just finding a site was nice, since all the campgrounds we had passed en-route to our destination had full signs. But in terms of sites in the campground, we had scored.

Last weekend I went camping with my Dad. We went to a place called Kalaloch, also a place I had been taken as a kid. I think the last time I had been to that campground was when I was 16, right before I left for my first adventure in Europe. Though I went there several summers as a kid, and my Dad had done the same, neither of us had ever stayed in one of the most sought after campsites: one on the bluff, over-looking the Pacific. Our first night as we pulled through the campground, we were not surprised to find that all the bluff sites were occupied, as they always are. But before going and paying for our second night's camping, we decided to give the bluff one last walk through, to see if anyone was leaving. And we got lucky. Moving camp was fun to watch, especially for other people, I'm sure. Anything heavy was thrown hastily into my car, and then me and my Dad went back for the tent. Instead of taking the time and effort to take the tent down, we picked it up, mattresses and all, and carried it put together to our new site. One camper in a nearby site called it the Sunday Shuffle. Apparently, that kind of thing happens on a regular basis. I wonder how many other campgrounds are like that? And I wonder how long our site was empty before it had new owners? People had come by in the evening to see if we would be leaving in the morning, but we had no visitors the morning we left.

I suppose now I should get to work on figuring out what exactly I will be doing once I arrive in London. Stay in the city for a night or two, or head up to Scotland to the places I've decided I would like to see on the trip? Whatever I decide, I think I'll try to go for one more camping trip before I leave though. It has been loads of fun.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


The Euro-trip is getting closer. Today I got my tickets through United, turns out I had enough miles for a freebie. I will be leaving on the 18th of September from Seattle, and staying away until the 12th of December. Hopefully I am coming back early enough to miss the start of the Christmas rush, but if not I suppose I won't care because I would have just spent nearly 3 months in Europe.

So far life is grand on my quest to avoid the working world. I wonder how long I can keep this up? I suppose at some point I will need to generate some kind of cash in-flow, but until then I'll keep finding new adventures.