I wasn’t sad to leave Inverness. While the cars stopped preemptively for pedestrians, there was a weird vibe there. Maybe it was halfway-through-the-trip angst. Maybe we’d been around each other a little too much for a little too long. Maybe it was the lackluster hotel. Maybe it was fatigue from that crazy Scottish guide. Whatever it was, I think we were all glad to move on to our next destination: Iona. And none of us knew the adventure that was before us once we got to Oban.
scotland is so beautiful
I really underestimated almost everything about Scotland, but especially its beauty. The mountains. The green. The sheep. When I moved to Texas, I was constantly losing my breath over the expansiveness of the sky and the huge clouds. You guys, I think Scotland has bigger clouds. O_O
I snapped this pic at the Glencoe Memorial.
A brief history: The Massacre of Glencoe happened in 1692. 38 members of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by forces acting on behalf of the government of King William III following the Glorious Revolution.
As we all should’ve learned by now, my great (x100) grandparents were (almost certainly) the leaders of Clan MacDonald. I’m so Scottish it hurts, ya’ll (don’t argue with me).
harvest, plant, repeat
Did you know the timber industry in Scotland is valued at £1 billion a year? I didn’t. It was a little weird to see sections of mountains cleared like this, but as long as they replant, I guess it’s okay?
it’s oban, ya’ll
Oban is this adorable, coastal town that we all wished we could’ve spent more time exploring.
After days of searching for fresh seafood, I finally found it at George Street Fish Restaurant & Chip Shop (when I googled that from my apartment in Austin, the ad it served my was for a Long John Silver’s down the street……shame on you, Google).
It was so clean, and the staff was so friendly, and the food was so good (except for all the mayonnaise on the shrimp cocktail). What is the UK’s obsession with mayo and ketchup?? I ordered my first langoustine and was really happy that I had attended my first crawfish boil earlier in the year so that I knew how to eat them! Pinch, twist, peel, eat. Thanks, Pat!
This grilled red snapper was the best. Yum.
iron bru, bro
We walked over to a kitchen shop because Elizabeth was looking for a shortbread pan. I don’t even remember the exchange with the woman behind the counter that got me to try this drink, but you know me. Things just happen. Here I am trying the non-whisky, “national drink of Scotland.”
People, apparently, when I find stairs, I must climb them. McCaigs Tower sits atop the hill overlooking Oban. There are 144 steps, named Jacobs Ladder, that wind up most of the hill. Here’s the “tower.” It looked more like a mini Colosseum to me.
I found this cute house at the top.
In the background of the picture below, you can see the tower at the top of the hill. This was my ticket for ferry #1 to Iona.
Our coach went with us on this ferry.
the road of death
I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a video of this leg of the journey. We had tickets for the last ferry of the day to Iona, but first, we had to cross the Isle of Mull. We had a little over an hour to travel the 35 miles across the island. No problem, right?
Except, this beautiful, winding road, with blind curves every once in a while, turned out to be one. lane. See those half circles coming off the road in the picture below? That’s where cars and trucks and motorcycles and coaches were supposed to pull over if they found themselves heading for a head-on collision. Do those little half circles look big enough for a coach to you? This was the trip where we tested the limits of our coach and driver and bladders.
We did make it to the tiny ferry that would take us across to Iona. Barely. They were boarded and ready to leave when our coach screeched to a stop. We practically threw the luggage from under the coach and grabbed whichever bag was nearest to us (praying our own didn’t get left behind (group trust exercise!)). Imagine a hoard of slightly shell-shocked, 60ish year-old, southern Americans run-walking toward you, shouting at you not to leave without them. This is an accurate description. I’m glad they didn’t get scared and leave.
15 minutes later, we arrived at Iona, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
Up next: Iona