July 30, 2003

Recently I ran across a New York Times travel article about Orkney, a North Sea archipelago, sort of “up” from Scotland, that, I learned at the same time, is located nowhere near the New Hebrides.

In the article, “Islands of Rocks and Mystery,” the reporter, Benedict Nightingale, wrote:

If you want terrific natural scenery, the place has it alright: lochs and rolling green hills, sheer sandstone cliffs that plunge in jagged brown-black rills to crashing waves, and encircling them all, a sky that is a subtly lighted dome of silver, blue or violet.

And I don't know where else you'll find so many and varied sites concentrated into so small a space. Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish, Norse, even modern-historical: Orkney has them all.

What Nightingale doesn’t say, but clearly implies, is that the islands are practically deserted.

Sounds wonderful.

You see, that’s my idea of a perfect vacation: Visiting a place where there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be able to avoid speaking to another human being for 10 days.


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