My tour, “A Special Invitation to Balfour Castle” left at 9:00 a.m. We had a 5-minute bus ride to the docks where we waited for our ferry to Shapinsay Island. It was windy and rained on the bus and ferry rides, but stopped, and the sun came out while we were on the island.
When we arrived on the small island, our guide led us down the main street and through the gardens towards the castle. It was built in 1847 as a personal residence, but has since changed hands twice and is now owned by a family from Scotland. They restored and repaired many things and now rent out the whole property ($3,000/day) and rooms by the night. We had a short tour followed by tea in the dining room. The tea included banana bread, fruit bread, peanut butter cookies, egg and tuna salad sandwiches, and freshly baked scones. It was very yummy. I was ready to move in!
We were given a couple of hours to roam the castle, the grounds, and the island. There are multiple gardens and a greenhouse, as they grew most of their food. The island has a few small buildings that were the homes of the castle tenant farmers/workers. Now some of them house a town museum and gift shop, with locally made crafts. The town has just over 300 citizens with 27 elementary school students. The students travel to Kirkwall, Scotland to attend secondary school.
After the tour, as we waited for the ferry, a cat found us and went from person-to-person wanting food and attention. The fur on the cat was a sure sign of how cold the island usually is, as I have never seen it so thick on a cat before. (On second thought, I probably cannot live here). We took the ferry back and then walked to “town” where there were many little shops and several historical buildings.
Will shares about the boys afternoon tour, “Standing Stones and Dramatic Cliffs”. The tour was an excellent opportunity to additionally see the quaint Scottish countryside. The majority of this tour is spent being transported by bus, with historical and modern-life info provided by a tour guide. Along the way, you can see authentic farmlands filled with grazing livestock, among them hairy cows. The bus dropped us off at a large standing stone monument, briefly idling by a smaller stone circle along the way. We were alotted some time to not only explore the stone henge but also get a great view of the countryside from several large mounds outside the circle. After approximately 15 minutes of free time at the large monument, we were shuttled to a location featuring rocky, steep cliffs which overlooked the brilliant ocean. We again were allotted approximately 15 minutes before returning to the ship. Overall, it was one of my favorite port adventures yet.
This afternoon the captain came over the speakers in our room to let us know we were going to be heading out into the North Atlantic and through a low-pressure system which was going to cause more movement on the ship through noon tomorrow. The ship started rocking, and you could hear the waves crashing into the bow. I decided to put on a scopolamine patch, just in case. I am so glad I did! These were not the worst waves I have experienced on a cruise, but it was constant, and the rooms were creaking and popping all evening loudly.
We enjoyed a fun show by AbbaFab in the Walt Disney Theater. After the show, they were taking photos with fans. Tonight’s activities included 70’s music trivia, dinner, some character photos, and Match Your Mate in Fathoms. We ended the night with warm cookies from room service.
Tonight we move the clocks back an hour for our sea day tomorrow!