Therefore, I thought I would have to confess to how I ended up in the pub on a Friday afternoon. In this particular case, the story involves, 'The Guide, the Drunk and the Thule!'
I love Lerwick, but I could count on one hand the amount of times I've been to a pub in recent years, yet two Fridays in almost as many weeks I've found myself at the bar with a bottle of 'crisp and fruity' (I'll explain that one later). The last time I went to the pub with some researchers we found ourselves sitting in an empty bar with an 80s inspired barmaid and the greatest hits of Abba on a loop (we left when it became evident that Waterloo wasn't on that particular playlist and I'm not divulging which pub it was, I'll leave that to the imagination of the reader). But what is it about the Lerwick Walking Tour that always ends with myself, and fellow guide, Jim Gray propping up the bar, I wonder? Perhaps it's because we end the tour on the pier? Or maybe it's Mr Gray's influence? Or could it just the buzz of guiding? Whatever it is, I hope that frequenting the Thule doesn't become a common occurrence on a Friday afternoon. Thankfully I don't like 'crisp and fruity' all that much anyway.
Now to get to the 'ugly'. I was taking a group of French visitors on a tour around Lerwick. This is a tour that I really enjoy. I love the old streets and this day was particularly busy and the town was buzzing. The Bergen to Lerwick race was in, the sun was shining, and there was a real holiday feel about the street — even the Thule was busy. I gathered the group on the pier and quickly realised that a number of them couldn't speak English and the ship had failed to send a translator. No problem, beautiful day, beautiful sights and they all had cameras. Sorted. Or so I thought...
As we made our way across to the Shetland Museum it became increasingly evident that this gentleman was going to interrupt, and talk over me at every opportunity, and as we progressed along the street, the number of complaints from the others grew. I couldn't help but be mildly impressed by his lungs - I didn't think it was possible to smoke so many cigarettes on the short journey across Commercial Street! Outside the museum, explaining the significance of the Shetland flag, he flapped me out the way. Correcting me, he explained to the group that what they were actually looking at was the 'flag Écosse'. That was the final straw for me. For anyone unsure of the difference, the Shetland flag, like the Scottish saltire is blue and white but it carries the Nordic cross, rather than the St Andrews cross. Funnily enough the door of the Thule shows the Shetland flag - they have it painted on the door!
But, back to the story at hand. Along with Mr Chablis, I also had the Woman Who Couldn't Walk, on the walking tour. Not my day. Anyway, a quick phone call back to the pier and before long, a young Spanish lass appeared from the ship. With our escort in tow, he behaved and the woman with mobility issues was dragged along on the tour without further incident and by the time we got back to the pier, the guests were happy again and I was in need of a drink! We entered the Thule and asked which wines they had and it was at this point that we were introduced to the 'crisp and fruity', which prompted my next question. "What other wines do you have"? "Just this one" the young barman said. And that is how I came to be drinking in the Thule Bar on a Friday afternoon.
No matter what happens in life, It's important to look for that silver lining — it's usually in there somewhere! So, in celebration of this, and for anyone who is interested, please get in touch, and you never know... you may end up in the Thule with a 'crisp and fruity' too.
This is my space for sharing my personal thoughts and ramblings, as well as some Shetland travel insights and a few memorable experiences working as a Guide in Shetland - including the good, the bad and the ugly!