Getting to the Shetlands

This is Part 1 of our series on a vacation in the Shetland Islands in August 2013.

We’d been talking about a Dog & Pony Show with our pal Resident Evil on Earth for over a year, but our vacation schedules never seemed to align properly. It was kind of a chore just to figure out the airfare — we have never needed three flights just to arrive at a destination within the EU before now. Getting there was certainly worth it, but more of a challenge than is normal for us.

Leg 1 — Regensburg to Nuremberg

We found a flight plan that would allow us to arrive in Lerwick during the day. Given the 8 hours of travel time, that meant departing at before the crack of dawn from Nuremberg. So we opted for an overnight stay at the Nuremberg Airport Mövenpick. Surprisingly, it didn’t cost an arm and a leg — perhaps that’s why they were charging a few Euros for the early riser breakfast. We used the Bayern Ticket to get to Nuremberg Hbf, and from there straight out the U2 subway line to the airport. The Mövenpick hotel is just across the street from the subway exit.

Leg 2 — Nuremberg to Amsterdam

Nuremberg Airport seems to be undergoing some kind of transformation — or maybe for 6:00 am departures they just don’t have the resources available to keep all areas of the airport staffed. Nevertheless, we walked quite a ways for how small that airport is. Easy flight to Amsterdam.

Leg 3 — Amsterdam to Aberdeen

Upon arrival, we rushed out of the plane as fast we could and dashed directly toward the concourse of our next departure. This is S.O.P. for Amsterdam. We have yet to land there and depart again without a security checkpoint (is that even possible!?). When we arrived at the head of the concourse, we heard them calling our flight for boarding. No time to mess around in Amsterdam, shop for Gouda or the tasty Ginger Cake! It was a smaller plane, and we had to break our carry-on baggage down into smaller pieces to fit into the overhead bins.

Leg 4 — Aberdeen to Sumburgh

The lesson here: don’t take the officials’ word for gospel, and listen to your smart wife. We needed to proceed through immigration (the UK is, after all, not a Schengen country) and after a long, slow line for non-EU passport holders had a lovely little chat with the immigration official. We saw a baggage claim belt directly beyond immigration. I was sure it didn’t apply to us, but Sarah asked the immigration lady extra about it, and she told us our lone checked bag would proceed to the Shetlands without further ado (after all, there had been no mention of baggage claiming earlier that morning in Nuremberg). We were about to breeze through when the customs officials stopped us:

“Noo bogs wityes?”


“No, our lone checked bag is already on its way to Sumburgh,” we replied.

At mohst sartenly as nut!


“But the immigration lady…”

Doon’t lassen to tham! Oll bogs moost clare coostems hare!

“But our bag is definitely not on the belt.”

Oo dare, it’s gun massing than.

We got in touch with the baggage agency who assured us our bag would arrive the same evening, possibly on the same flight to Aberdeen as Resident on Earth.

Sumburgh to Lerwick

We had a somewhat obstructed view from the back of the plane, but it was still exhilarating. This video is from the same kind of plane and with similar weather to what we had. The airport in Sumburgh — pronounced “Some Burra,” reminiscent of Edinburgh — is so quaint it brought out the giggles. We walked off the plane and into the terminal — no bus! — and the Star Rent-a-Car desk staff were ready and waiting for us. Need something to pass the time? Sumburgh Airport has a book swap shelf. You can buy a book for 1 GBP if you don’t have a book to leave. Just deposit it into the Honesty Box.

We loaded up the rental car, and crossing the runway to make a straight shot north on the A970 brought us to Lerwick in less than 30 minutes. That was driving carefully on the other side of the road. We settled in at our rental house and waited for the missing bag to be delivered. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, after waiting more than 8 hours with a few updates from our airline via SMS but not a peep from the local delivery company, we looked up lost bag details online and decided to eat the cost of a roaming mobile phone call.

“Hello? Yes, I’m expecting a bag from a KLM flight to be delivered tonight. I’m staying at [address]. Do you know where that is?”

Thaht tha twite oouse? Weh normly doont mähk a delavery oonlass there’s soomone crenkin atet.

So, if you need your luggage delivered apart from your body, be sure to call and “get cranking” — else you could wait all night for it.

After such a long travel day, it was quite a relief to have all our stuff. We slept like stones that night.

Next: Part 2: Shetlands Road Show

3 thoughts on “Getting to the Shetlands”

  1. Resident Evil

    Wow, good find on the video! I think I spotted the pony welcoming committee by the runway (just kidding).

    That was indeed a very memorable landing.

  2. tqe | Adam

    Amazing video. When we landed there, it was foggy. I didn’t see earth until shortly before landing — and I think we came in from the opposite end of the runway — the was water below the windows when we came below the clouds.

  3. cliff1976

    Thanks, TQE and RE. The approach set the tone for a lot of the trip to follow.

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