I left Kirkwall just in time...as we were leaving on the ferry, one cruise ship was already tendering passengers into town, while the other was just finished docking. The third hadn't yet arrived.
Kirkwall is the main town on the Mainland, with 8000 people...these ships had a total of 7000 passengers plus over 1000 crew members. I can't imagine how crazy it was yesterday - many people I spoke with here on Westray were discussing it; I definitely do not think those cruise passengers will get the best experience. But because of this, Kirkwall has decided to no longer have an open port for next year, because currently they can only advise of who is in port and can't deny anyone.
Last view of Kirkwall:
Westray is the third largest island in terms of population: 700 people. Where I'm staying, Pierowall Village, appears to be the most populous town. There are two little grocery stores, a post office window inside one of the stores, two gift shops, and a fish and chips place that is open 2 nights a week, and a cafe. No ATM! Luckily I thought that might be the case, and got a lot of cash before coming here. The hostel is on the outskirts of the village, here is a picture looking towards the village:
A local mini bus (which really is more like a van) met the ferry, and picked up passengers, dropping us off along the route. Teenie, one of the owners of the hostel I'm staying in, was ready to show us to our rooms even though it was only 9:15am, which I thought was very nice. After that, I decided to wander through the town, because the shops don't open until 10am. Along the way there is a medieval church, the ruins of St. Mary's:
Then it was time to wander through the shops, and pick up some groceries for dinner Sunday night and for breakfast. Westray is exactly like I hoped it would be: extremely friendly and welcoming. Walking back to the hostel with my purchases, an older woman stopped me to say hello and remark on the weather, which turned into talking for ten minutes. Everyone you walk past says "hiya" and cars driving by you will wave. And they don't do it because its polite, there is a real warmth to people here.
There are definitely more cows and sheep than people, and for this guy, the grass was greener on the other side:
After getting lunch at the only cafe, I walked out to Noltland Castle, built in 1560. I haven't been to any Scottish castles, and it was quite different from the Welsh and English castles - it is constructed in a z-shape.
It was really well intact, and it was free to explore and climb in and out of everywhere, which is my favorite type of castle!
After starting out overcast, the day turned into a gorgeous sunny day (and panoramic pics are the best way to show it!):
Being a tourist, its okay to be a bit eccentric, since people will just go "oh that's a tourist for you" so when I saw a swing set, I had to test it out:
Back at the hostel, I took a quick nap before dinner. Teenie had told us on arrival that we were lucky it was a Saturday night, because the local fish & chips shop is only open Wednesday and Saturday nights; the rest of the time its the fish processing plant. Dad would love this place: you choose what type of fish you want, and they fry it up for you. There were 8 different types last night; I got a beefburger :) [it makes so much more sense to call it a beefburger than a hamburger!]
I decided to take a walk to watch the sunset; it was about two miles one way, through fields, til I reached the Noltland links, which are rocky outcroppings. You can sort of see what they are like in this picture:
A bit further along I found a perfect sandy spot to sit and watch the sunset. I got there about 9:30pm and the sun was full set by 10:30pm:
Red sky at night, sailor's delight - and it is true so far, as this morning the sun is shining!
The only plans for today are a puffin tour in the evening, and I'm going to church shortly. I asked Teenie if there was a church nearby, thinking if there was it would be Anglican...and apparently its Baptist! She offered to take me with her family, so in a little bit I'll be going there, and probably another long walk in the afternoon before the tour at night.