Skara Brae and Maeshowe Cairn


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February 5th 2013
Published: February 5th 2013
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Charles at Bay of SkaillCharles at Bay of SkaillCharles at Bay of Skaill

Here Charles is remembering his shame of the night before when he ordered a whiskey sour.
Before I describe what Charles and I did today allow me to write about how I was embarrassed yesterday evening at dinner. We were both seated by the fireplace in our hotel, relaxing before dinner. A young lady asked if we would like anything to drink. I said I would like to try a local whisky. The young lady recommended a 12 year old Highland Park. I said great. Charles said he would like one too but he would like his--are you ready for this--IN A WHISKEY SOUR!!!! The young lady said she didn't know how to make a whiskey sour so she would go get the owner. When she left I pleaded with Charles to abandon his ill-advised drink request and just drink the whisky straight so he could savor the subtle yet complex nuances of the beverage. But by this time it was too late. The owner of the hotel arrived with a whiskey sour recipe printed from the internet. As he made the drink he glanced at me with a look and a shake of the head that said "If a young Orkney man asked for his whisky with anything but a wee drop of water he would be driven from the village with guns and lit torches.

On the way to Skara Brae this morning Charles spotted some swans swimming on Loch Skaill. I pulled the car over to take a picture. As soon as I did the swans quickly swam away. I decided to abandon the picture and drove a little further down the loch. I spotted a few more swans close to the shore so I pulled over. The rotten overgrown chickens swam away as soon as I left the car. This happened once more. This time I took the picture anyway. I have added this experience to my list of reasons I hate swans.

Skara Brae was nice but a bit of a let-down. We had to stick to a path when we visited and there was a "park ranger" watching our every move. When Charles and I visited the Broch of Gurness the day before we frolicked around those ruins like giddy school girls with no one to stop us. Sure, Skara Brae is neolithic and the Broch of Gurness is Pictish but what's a 1000 years among friends? I would have liked to at least had the opportunity to almost fall into a neolithic toilet like I did in the Pictish toilet the morning before.

Our visit to Maeshowe Cairn was extra cool because we had a guided tour. For those of you who don't know, a "cairn" is a big mound of dirt with some sort of structure underneath. Sometimes it's a burial site, sometimes not. My favorite theory is that Maeshowe was a neolithic brothel. This theory is mine alone--I just caught a brothel-vibe coming from the place.

The guide talked about the site for an hour. This hour began after he was finally able to unlock the gate that leads to the inside of the cairn. The gate was secured with a bike chain lock. This lock is a temporary security measure because the old lock was broken after someone broke into the cairn the week before. I asked if anything was stolen. The guide said no, just a few liquor bottles left behind. Well, can you blame them? Who wouldn't want to drink in a 5000 year old brothel?

This evening we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I thought that Charles embarrassed me again when he asked for Sake with the meal. I said "Charles, Sake is Japanese!" The waitress said "No, we have Chinese Sake." She looked at me like I was racist. But I had the last laugh; the sake was horrible.

Tomorrow we leave Orkney for another Isle, the Isle of Skye. That is, if the ferry runs.




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