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Monday
May102010

Shetland Isles

The world sometimes feels smaller to me than the small Shetland Islands, north of Scotland.  I live in Kuwait, I work for a Houston-based American company, with a head-office in Sens (in France), and I cover the Middle East and the UK.  Last week, I had a meeting at BP's Sullom Voe Terminal. I later spent the late afternoon exploring the place including an hour of bird-watching.

The journey started early morning in Aberdeen, and the short flight was in a small Saab propeller plane.  We took off minutes before the Scottish air-space was closed (due to the ash cloud).  We landed at Scatsta Airport which is this little blue building. It includes arrivals, departures, security, baggage reclaim, a seating area, and even a place to eat.  I hired a car without seeing anyone from the hire company. The key was left with airport security and the car was in the car park outside.  I returned it to the same place, gave the key back to security.  Islands are strange places.

We went straight to our meeting at the oil terminal.  Our installed equipment here is almost as old as I am.  I'm always impressed to come across such reliable manufacturing.  We spent all morning and most of the afternoon in meetings - taking a break for lunch at their canteen.  About 3pm, I drove us to our hotel at the capital, Lerwick.

I had a short walk around Lerwick and found it to be very pleasant.  The people were nice, and the town very tidy and quiet.  We drove around most of Mainland, and I was shocked at how thinly spread the tiny population of 20,000 is all over Shetland.  One of the islands has a population of 80! I suffocate just thinking about it.

The roads are fantastic.  Miles and miles of nothing; with great bends to test the handling on your car or bike.  Watch out for surprises though... and I'm not talking just little furry things.  We drove to the south, an area named Sumburgh.  I needed to follow signs to the airport in order to find the light house (for a good bird-watching area - next post).  What I didn't realise is that I would physically be driving across the runway itself.  It had one of those barriers you'd find on a railway crossing.

This is a very special place; a very different place.  I can't give it justice in this brief post.  I haven't seen anything properly.  I had a few hours (as usual) and I needed to fit in as many tasters as I could.  The time of year is another factor.  Later during the summer, the weather is probably more welcoming.

Reader Comments (11)

oh yeah! those roads looks perfect for testing my cornering abilities, the only hazards would be cows I guess.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMathai

This place (last picture) surely looks like Lunenburg or Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada or vise versa. The telephone inventor Bell moved to Nova Scotia because it looks like Scotland. The fishing villages with bright color painted houses in Lunenburg must have been brought in by English in 1800’s after the French’s first settlement in 1604.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPolar Panda

Wow, great serenity it seems :)

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUm Yousef

Wonderful post and beautiful pictures as always. I realyl want to visit Scotland one day.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAbid

LOL! i remember our class laughing in school when we studied the Shetland Islands in History .. the teacher was like grow up will you its shet with an E!! :P

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterQ80BOY

That is too small for my liking! Even the water looks bad to me! I remember jumping into the cold waters of Scotland back in the day and I really didn't like that, it was a one hell of an experience and I can feel the shivers just by looking at those pictures! I would go nuts living in place like that!

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarzouq

The first picture is amazing the blue cover on the boat is standing out. The last picture is interesting, the houses looks like they are hiding from us.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSami Malallah

The pics look beautiful..but the population sounds scary ;p I would probably not be able to sleep if I was there :D

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmu

Too small, yes... for me too. The water however is in a class of its own. It's perfectly clear and clean - that I may now consider eating farmed salmon :)

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBu Yousef

i love it all actually but The first and the 3rd pics are my best!! in my opinion you should make a book and call it postcards from My world!!

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoesbox

my! this looks awesome, right out of a mysterious somewhat creepy novel! :) the settings are all there, the stoned edifices, the sea with a lone boat..(ok mebe 2!), the moors, the ominous silence..your pics do the speaking i guess! loved them all!

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteronlooker

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