1. Macdonalds, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, Costa etc.
You will find a Tesco and a Co-op, but not many other national chain stores. What you will find instead are well stocked local shops in each community, lots of independent cafes, shops, crafters, creators and businesses owned by the families who started them. When you support their business, you really are putting food on the table of that family and the community who work for that business!
2. Train station.
Because there are no trains in Shetland. Our public transport options are buses and ferries between some of the 15 inhabited islands. There are also inter-island flights to some of our more remote isles.
3. Shops open 24/7.
Opening hours are usually 9-5, but you'll find some shops open up to 8pm or 10pm. You'll also find some shops open on a Sunday, but if not it's usually because that's the only time the owner takes a day off - you really are supporting local when you shop small.
Or the like raiding your bins. Which means lots of wild rabbits with no natural predators. If your bins are raided it's going to be by seagulls, hence the fishing nets over any bin boxes!
5. Scottishness: kilts, bagpipes, whisky, tartan everywhere.
You'll see a little tartan and scottishness, but those traditional 'Scottish' things are simply not as relevant up here. See 7! Although you will see the Lerwick Brass Band at larger events (like Up Helly Aa's).
6. Double-decker buses.
Ok, we have seen one in Unst but it's not used for public transport. Probably because there isn't the traffic or passenger demand and double deckers are more likely to fly sideways in a strong gale of wind.
You might see the occasional word of Scottish Gaelic (probably on a Police Scotland vehicle!), but that's about it. The Shetland dialect is a mix of old Scots and old Norse, because the isles (along with Orkney) were part of Norway until 550+ years ago. Gaelic was never spoken as a native language here because the isles weren't Scottish. Which is also why the isles feel, look and sound like a mix of Scandinavian and Scottish.
8. Bowling Alley or amusement arcades.
Nature and leisure centres are your amusement arcades in Shetland (we've 8 leisure centres for a total population of 22k) and there is a fab cinema and arts centre at Mareel, plus lots of play parks, soft play, community hall events and entertainments.
Any wind is probably going to blow them inside out. We've seen the sturdiest of brollies not last against our 'fresh air'. We don't worry about the rain, we just get our hood up and enjoy the extra refreshing facial!
10. Road rage or traffic jams.
Drivers are usually polite, friendly and will wave if you stop for them at a passing place or on single-track roads etc. You might get 10 minutes of commuter traffic at 5pm in Lerwick, but it moves swiftly enough. If there's a queue, there's a queue! The best approach is to forget your rush and enjoy your journey. Also, don't forget to wave if someone stops for you at a passing place, a nice mix of 'hello and thanks very much'.
11. Finally, we couldn't forget this one - you won't find 'The Shetlands'.
It's simply 'Shetland', 'the Shetland Islands' or 'the Shetland Isles'. There's no plural on Shetland. Locals will correct you on this, so we're just making sure you know in advance!
Have you visited Shetland? What would you add to this list?
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