I can’t really think of the reason why my travel destinations are so unique. People go to Mediterranean countries for a holiday and end up in some well-known, sunny, tourist spot, be it Spain or Portugal. When visiting Italy they can’t miss Rome or the Vatican. In the UK–London, Oxford, Edinburgh are a must, and in the USA–New York or Chicago.
My travelling experiences follow a somewhat different route. First of all, I don’t plan my trips. My first and only visit to the Mediterranean (so far) was to start with Malta, where I attended a conference. I was invited to go to the USA and spent a month touring the eastern seaboard in the states of Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. Finally, I had a really great time
learning to ski in the Italian Alps but that was the only place I saw during my stay in that country.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise therefore that my visit to the UK this year was not about sightseeing in London or exploring Wales or Scotland. I had a unique opportunity to see what it is like where “sand, sea, and sky
meet”. My former English teacher invited me to spend summer holidays on one of the Orkney Islands: Sanday.
The island is about 5000 years old and lies northeast of Orkney. It is mostly famous for its sandy beaches, and abundance of seals and birds. It is an idyllic spot for those who seek peace and want to chill out watching
spectacular skies and glittering seas, breathing the clear air and walking over sandy beaches and meadows. With about 500 inhabitants, a few shops and post offices and no police station, it seems to be the remotest place on earth.
Because there are so few of them, people know each other very well. The British custom of tea time is strictly observed.
It is really amazing how fast you become a part of a family when you share the lives of the islanders over the cup of tea (or coffee) they so gladly invite you for.
Life on the island is very much determined by its weather as well as its
location. Even in the summer one has to be prepared for all four seasons in one day. As for transport–all journeys must be planned in advance (there is only one boat a day which goes to and from the mainland and Sanday). All emergency cases must be dealt with by aid of a small aircraft.
This visit to the Orkneys has made me realize
that it is really impossible to master a language without getting to know the people and their country well. Speaking English with the Orcadian people is very subject-oriented. Very often it is not only saying things but also (or mainly) knowing what and how to say it.
Well, the country may have been far afield but the opportunities to speak English–great.
FELBERG branch in Białystok
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