Orkney has been and will always remain one of my favourite places. It was the first Scottish Island that I visited not knowing what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised by everything that it had to offer.
Let me begin with a story set in a remote place called 'Long Hope' on the Island of Hoy. For the sake of clarification, ‘Hoy’ is one among the many Islands of Orkney and can be reached by a short ferry from either Stromness or Houton.
Like we do on every one of our trips, we landed in the local pub for some drinks that night. For such a small place with a population of around 270, I was startled to see it was fully packed and bustling. It so happened that it was one of the villager's birthday and everyone had gathered in the pub for some ‘after-party’ drinking. We definitely looked ‘foreign’ enough and got some curious yet friendly glances.
We went to the counter and ordered a dram each for ourselves. While waiting to be served, a man approached us and asked us if he could thank us. Now, this wasn’t a conversation starter I’d ever heard about! We, of course, asked him why and he said ‘for taking the trouble to look us up on the map’. He then went on to say how lonely and neglected they feel on the island (worth noting that this was the year Scotland was going for its referendum on Independence) and the fact that someone from a different part of the world made the effort to visit their place was such a heartwarming gesture. Well, I certainly wasn’t ready for that and didn’t know how to react. My husband, however, said something along the lines of 'it’s our privilege to visit such a beautiful place' and offered to buy him a drink. He then joined us at our table and we had a really interesting conversation on India, politics, religion and the idiosyncrasies between our cultures.
We ended up drinking a lot more and stayed in the pub until closing time. We were visited by most people in the pub for a brief chat and they were friendly and genuinely curious. It did seem a bit like we were the first 'Indians' they were meeting.
These are the kind of stories that inspire me to travel and explore new places.
Kirkwall is the capital of the Orkney Isles and is a part of the Orkney mainland. It has the famous 'HighLand Park' Distillery. Another famous landmark is the St. Magnus Cathedral with its beautiful interiors.