05 July 2014

Kirkwall/Stromness, Day 4

As I write this post, I'm on a ferry heading to the island of Westray. Its a bit chilly to be sitting outside, so after being on the deck for a bit I decided to come inside and write about yesterday, my last day on the Mainland (which is what the largest island in Orkney is called). Speaking of weather, Dad would love living here: the average low in winter is 40F and the average high in summer is 60F. So far its been 55-60 while I've been here, which really isn't bad at all for touring around. 

It was a rainy day, which I had anticipated due to the weather forecasts, so I had saved all my indoor activities for Friday. In the morning, after getting another yum yum from the bakery, I went to visit the Orkney Museum. It was located in a house from the 17th century, and traced Orkney's history from way back when to the present day. It was nice seeing some of things that had been found inside the cairn tombs and inside Skara Brae. Unfortunately it seems the best artifacts were sent to the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and replicas were left up here. 

After the museum I went to see the Bishop's and Earl's Palaces. They aren't considered castles, since they weren't built for defensive purposes, but they seem to me to be more castle-like. 
The Earl's Palace, constructed early 1600s:
I'm pretty sure my entire bedroom could fit inside this oven:
There were turrets jutting out of the sides!
So of course I had to take a selfie in a turret:
The Bishop's Palace is older, and it was originally built for the bishop of St. Magnus, which is just across the street. 
This had one tower remaining intact, which you could climb up for a great view of Kirkwall:
Leaving the palaces, it was time for lunch and a bit of shopping. I was happy to find a few charity shops here; you can find the best things really cheap in charity shops and I found a brand new dress from Primark in one! Of course its come home with me. 

No visit to a new place is complete with seeing their library, and though its in a brand new building the first public library in Scotland was here in Kirkwall in the 17th century. Its a huge building, since it serves as the main library for all the islands. They have a bookmobile that goes around visiting the other islands, and a really nice family history center. I popped into the archive just to look in, and its very well set up. 
Since it was still raining and I had done everything there is to do inside in Kirkwall, I hopped a bus over to the second largest town, Stromness, on the other side of the island. I visited the Pier Art Gallery, which had a display on bookmaking and lots of modern art. It was quite lovely but I have to admit I don't really "get" modern art all the time, but I thought this piece was pretty:
Stromness is a cute little town, with windy streets:
They too have a library, much smaller than in Kirkwall:
And of course I had to look into a few shops, but unfortunately everything in Stromness closed at 4pm so I got a bite to eat (a millionaire shortbread, absolutely delish!) and then back on the bus to Kirkwall. 

For the last night, I went out for a delicious meal with my roommate (bunkmate?) Kirsty. She had been in Kirkwall for the last week, working at a vet. We went to an Indian restaurant, and it was so yummy and filling. Of course there was room for dessert, and we both got these Indian dumplings with Orkney ice cream. Now all the shops had had signs advertising Orkney Ice Cream so I thought it must be good...and it was sooo good. Very creamy. Overall it was a wonderful last day on the Mainland. 
In about 45 more minutes I'll be on Westray, and the sea is getting choppy - glad I'm sitting down inside. 

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