Subject: Orkney, Shetland

We think you will love Orkney and Shetland (note that they are never the Orkneys or the Shetlands) which are among our favorite places. They are very different: Orkney tends to be green and lush, with low hills (with the exception of Hoy, which is not to be missed); Shetland is rockier, bleaker, and every bit as beautiful and exciting in its own way; and the people on both are delightful--warm and welcoming. Shetland is more Scandanavian than Orkney, being closer to Bergen than it is to Aberdeen. Be sure if you go to visit not only the Mainland islands, but all the little ones, too. Each has its own special charm, and they all have different offerings. One of our best experiences was a night on Papa Stour (Big Island of the Priests), which is inhabited by only a few brave souls, two of which (were then) doing bed and breakfast. Because of transportation schedules, we could manage only the one night, but we'd have loved to stay longer. You needn't worry about advance bookings, as the tourist information centres are excellent, and accommodations are plentiful. We found a car was essential, and we made generous use of ferries from island to island. Frankly, we can't wait to go back. Two friends of ours just returned from a trip to Orkney at our urging, and they are absolutely smitten.

Cheers, Bill and Pat in Baltimore