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A stop in Stromness, Orkney Islands

Written on: Wednesday June 18th, 2008

A journal entry from: Exploring the Baltic Sea by Yacht

Another brief three hours to explore a new place.

We docked in Stromness Harbour, in the Orkney Islands, for about a day. I had 3 hours of my daily break to use in whatever fashion I chose, and of course, I wanted to get off the boat and take a look around.

Dressed in rainboots and a coat, I walked down the narrow streets and alleys, taking unexpected turns and finding beautiful alcoves and buildings. Stromness is an old seaport with just over 2,000 residents. The old town is the only place I had a chance to explore, which consists of small stone buildings clustered along the main street. According to the "visitor info" and random facts I acquired, Stromness was first recorded as the site of an inn the 16th century, when England was at war with France and shipping was forced to avoid the English Channel. There is a small museum (which I didn't visit) and a few fish and chips restaurants. There is also a small art gallery (featuring, what else? Maritime paintings) and locals gifts/jewelry shops.

If you are the type of person who likes to consult a map to understand the logisitcs of a town, don't bother with Stromness. Road names change a million times along the main road, without warning or reason. Some of the streetnames seem random if you look at them too closely: Hellihole Road looks more like Hellhole Road. Aslo, tall people beware: some alleys between buildings are so narrow it seems as if the passage was just carved out of the stone. Arches overhead mark the place where the two buildings touch again, and a potential spot for taller people (and by 'taller' I mean someone standing over 5'2" tall in some cases) to bump their heads.

After walking the length of the old town in relatively good time, I settled down with my journal and a bowl of warm, potato soup in a small cafe, to spend the rest of my break off the boat for as long as possible. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try any of the famous Orkney Cheese or Orkney Ice Cream, how sad :(

The two babies at the end of the photo album are my two favourite people on board right now. They keep me laughing (and busy!) all day long.