It didn’t take long for me to realize that one of the most attractive things about Scottish culture is that, put simply, THEY TRUST PEOPLE. In St. Andrews, students never hesitate to leave their belongings unattended if they need to use the toilet or buy some food. People stash their wet umbrellas in bins at the door, not thinking twice about a potential umbrella-thief who lurks around the corner (silly, I know…but why don’t we do the same in the States?). Upon finishing a meal, you often are asked to go up the bar /counter to pay, which makes a potential “dine-and-dash” exit that much more possible.
Yet, these instances hardly compare to those we experienced up at the Orkney Islands this past week. Tourist season had not yet come upon the Orkney mainland (the locals say that, since the weather remains temperamental for most of the year, they don’t expect visitors until late June), which could be part of it, but I was AMAZED at how trustworthy and hospitable the Orcardians were during our trip. Take the following examples as indication:
1.) A placard in our hostel suggested that if we didn’t get around to seeing the owners anytime during our visit, we could slip the balance we owed in an envelope and leave it in our room for them to collect.
2.) If you aren’t at a designated bus stop but know the route that the coach travels, you can simply hail the bus as it approaches at it will pick you up (no questions asked). The same is true with the bus destinations: if there isn’t a stop close to where you’d like to get off, tell the driver your place-of-interest and they’ll let you off as close as possible to it.
3.) Here’s the kicker. Let’s say that you’re confident you will have plenty of time to reach the ferry terminal to leave for mainland Scotland, get lost on the two-mile walk over there, wander into a dark industrial complex looking for a way out, bust over a fence and run through a field praying that you don’t miss the boat, and sprint along the road as you here the ferry’s engine power up. A car will turn around for you, offer a ride, and get you to where you need to be without asking for anything in return. (I can’t say that this was purely hypothetical).
Anyways, I managed to snap almost 500 photos during our three-day adventure. I hope you enjoy the ones I decided to upload here.