British Isles Day 5 – June 18th Oban

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Open your hands and welcome it in,

Fate will make sure you always swim,

Look at the ocean like you know her name,

May the fire in your heart never be tamed.

Tom Foster on the Aran Islands.

I quite like this poem by Tom Foster.  You can read the whole thing on his website just- click on his name for the link.  Overcoming fear was a huge part of this trip for me and something I hope to talk about more; but I love the idea of looking at the ocean like you know her name.  Like you are facing something huge and scary like an old friend.  I’ve becoming incredibly interested in these Irish people and their island lives and I love that this was a poem written by such a person in the same month we visited.  There is just something cool about that to me – where dreams meet reality.  Anyways, on to Day 5.

We left Mary and Patsy’s early.  We weren’t going to be there for 8am breakfast and Mary insisted that we take a packed breakfast.  She loaded a bag full of cheese, apples, yogurt and bananas.  I could smell something being freshly baked in her kitchen and it was super hard to leave.  When she found out we were headed to Scotland she said she didn’t feel too sorry for us.  When we left Ireland I really didn’t think we would see anything more beautiful on our trip.

This was a long day of travel.  We went through Limerick to get back to Dublin and like Mary said it really was a much easier drive.  The roads were wide and clear and Chris didn’t have any trouble getting across the country.  We did decide to let the car rental refill our gas – We didn’t want to risk our great driving experience trying to get on and off the interstate so close to Dublin.

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Yes, that is a motorcycle with a sidecar attached!!!! Want!!

We drove to the Dooley car rental place at Dublin airport and pulled our car in behind the others.  It was very similar to dropping off a rental car in the US; we got all of our stuff out of the car and went into to turn in our key leaving them to assess the damage and apply the $100 fee for any damage done to the car. There was a shuttle from Dooley Car Rentals to the airport and we hopped on that.  Pretty soon we were back in Dublin airport; this time checking in.  I wouldn’t say checking in was hard; it was just different and a bit confusing.  There were a ton of self check in areas and for some reason ours wasn’t accepting both our checked bags. We ended up going to the counter to get everything fixed up.

We saw some food options at the check in area but wanted to get through security before we ate so we asked one of the  guards if there was food beyond security and were told there was.  It was a great little food court- a lot like a cafeteria at a hospital but with better food. You could order hot food- most people had amazing looking cheeseburgers, fish and chips and soups coming out to their table.  You could also pick from a variety of cold sandwiches, smoothies, juices, pastries, salads and soups.  It all looked delicious and fresh.  We ended up with some sandwiches and chips but probably should have gotten one of the cooked to order items.

I thought the nutritional facts on the back of the packaging were so cool.  I wish ours at home was like this.

We hung out at the gate for about an hour; Chris reading and playing around on his phone and me texting family and reading my book.  We got onto a bus to take us out to our plane.  There was a woman traveling alone standing next to us on the bus and she had a tiny little suite case.  She looked so care-free with her tiny 360 rolling carry-on.  We had figured out early that my ‘carry-on’ size suitcase was actually much larger than a true cabin size carry on.  I had major luggage envy.  I’m still dreaming about a sleek little hard shelled number that I saw in London from Debenhams.  We boarded the plane and waited for a long time for take-off.  It was warm and sunny and I was starting to get a bit sleepy and tried to rest but new people kept getting on the plane and jostling about.  Finally we took off for Glasgow.  I think I dozed on and off but wanted to see Scotland come into view from the plane so I tried to stay awake.  And it looked just like East Tennessee.

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Finally getting on one of those green planes!! 🙂

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As soon as we landed in Glasgow Billy Boyd’s song The Last Goodbye came into my head and I sang it for days.  What can I say except Scotland felt like Home.   I looked for Billy Boyd in Glasgow but alas; we didn’t see him.  Hopefully next time.  If you’d like to hear a great Scottish accent you can listen to an interview with him here.  I keep these things on all the time at home just to hear the accent.  And if you’ve never read The Hobbit do yourself a favor and get a copy.  I’ll send you one; just read it!

We were expecting to get a stamp in our passport but it turns out you only get one in the countries you come into internationally.  This means we must fly into Scotland to get a Scotland stamp- one more reason to go back soon.  So since we were arriving from Ireland we just picked up our bags and were able to walk right out.  We had changed our plans the night before so we decided to stop off at the Visitor’s Information desk to inquire about transportation.  We wish we had done this in every place! Always visit the information desk.  They have all kinds of free maps and the people are super friendly.  There was a young couple in front of us who were backpacking and headed to Ft. William.  I remember thinking I would never want to do that – backpack? In a strange country? At night?! Scotland changed my mind.  Now I see photos of tents set up in the highlands and my heart starts to beat a little faster.

The woman at the desk was extremely helpful and our first real taste of the Scottish accent.  We discovered that Oban was not pronounced like we had been saying it for months – rather it is pronounced with a very strong long O and sounds like O-bun.  The word was like music to my ears. I will never forget the moment I heard that word spoken for the first time by a Scottish person.  She was very happy to help us with all of our transportation questions.  She recommended the bus over the train so that is what we did.  She said we would have a much better view from the bus and she was correct.  She gave us our bus tickets from the airport into central Glasgow and then tickets for all over Scotland by bus.  We would have loved to have had dinner with her to talk for much longer than the ten minutes or so it took to get our questions answered. We walked out and got right onto a very nice bus and within a few minutes were on our way to the central Glasgow bus station.

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Definitely not in East Tn anymore.  I wish we had more photos to show you of this day but we were on the plane and bus for most of it.

The bus station was a bit uncomfortable for me. There were lots of people, not anything really to eat and imagine my surprise when I walked all the way down the station to learn you have to pay to use the restroom.  It was a turn-style contraption like when you go on the subway or into an amusement park.  There was an amount listed but I had not researched the UK coins properly before our trip and it took three times to figure out which coins I needed.  We got a bowl of some kind of lentil soup at the bus station and split it.  I wasn’t very hungry; I was nervous in the station and nervous to be in a brand new country.  After we ate we went and sat at our bus stop.  The station had parking spaces for the buses and against the side of the building were numbers.  We checked the board for which bus we needed just like you would at an airport.  I felt better sitting where we were supposed to be to get our bus and nervously watched the little children running around (be careful!) and jumped each time the buses made loud bus noises.  Eventually our bus was there and it was time to get on.  Chris took our bags and put them underneath and we stepped up into the bus.  Chris asked “I put them under, yeah?’ and basically turned Scottish within 30 minutes of being in Scotland.  The driver was very nice and told him yes, that is just like the locals do it.  We got our seats and I exhaled.  Finally, we were on our way to Oban.

Here is a map of our route from Glasgow up to Oban.  As you can see we drove through another beautiful National Park. Notice the Isle of Mull to the left and then at the bottom left of that island another tiny island – that is Iona.

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The bus was wonderful.  It was very comfortable with large soft seats, adequate leg room and gigantic windows.  The windows were slightly tinted and had curtains that could be pulled across them.  We were very high up and could see everything and once again it felt like we were on the bus from Harry Potter; except this time is was great fun.  We were amazed at how the driver managed to keep the bus on the road and moving smoothly at the speeds we were going.  I mean really; we were flying down these tiny, curvy roads without so much as a tiny screech of brakes.  We drove out of Glasgow admiring the various houses and Roddy Doyle hedges and schools and people going about their day to day lives.  I think we loved Scotland within just a few minutes but as we eventually moved out of the city and onto the road into the highlands I was speechless.  There were so many beautiful things to see and the bus was flying by.  As the road got narrower we were extremely grateful to not be driving; we could hold hands and look out the window together pointing out the amazing things.  And not long after we left Glasgow the driver announced there had been an accident on the road and we would be making a detour to pick some other people up.  We knew then we had made the right choice – We were very happy not to be stuck up in the highlands during a road closure.  As a bonus – because of the detour we got to see a village we would have missed otherwise.  Every once and a while the bus would stop at a tiny little bus stop and one of the ladies riding would step off and walk off into the mist.  We couldn’t see any houses or buildings nearby.  Where were they going??

We tried to take a few photos through the window with our phone but mostly I couldn’t stop staring long enough to get many shots.  I was completely mesmerized by the highlands and later Chris was doing some research and we realized that my ancestor lived in the exact spot we drove through.  Pretty cool.

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I’ve put a little red marker on the area where Robert the Bruce‘s manor house was. You can click on the link to read a little more about his time in the area.  The yellow highlighted areas show our route up into Oban.

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Because of the detour we were going to be about 30 minutes later arriving in Oban than planned.  It was already getting late so we called our B&B to let them know we would be later than 9pm arriving.  They were very nice and said it was no problem – If we got there after midnight the pub downstairs would let us in.

We drove and drove and eventually rounded the corner and dipped down into the small port village on the west coast of Scotland.  As we got off to get our luggage the bus driver started talking to Chris and I said something to the woman next to me like ‘Can you imagine living here?!’ and she said ‘I know, I lived here for a year a while back”.  I stopped and stared at her taking in every inch.  What was different about her than me? If she could do that why couldn’t I?  For the first time it felt real to me; I had passed beyond something and ideas that seemed like a daydream were becoming real.

Oban, Scotland (2)

Oban, Scotland

Oban is ferry port.  It was once called the Charing Cross of the north; if you want to get to an island or back from one you will probably go through Oban.  Aside from fantastic seafood and beautiful views there is a plethora of activity in this small town.  From kayaking lessons, to bird watching, cruises to skippered sailing holidays (no experience needed) there is a ton to do in this small place.

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We walked from the bus stop to our B&B – Chris using the map on his phone as a GPS.  It was about a ten minute walk and it was raining.  My neck and arms were hurting from the long bus ride and so Chris carried the backpack and both our luggage bags.  We walked along the path next to the water.  It felt like a long time- like distances do when you aren’t sure where you’re supposed to end up- and was the first time we were actually walking a real distance in real rain.  And remember that joke about not buying an umbrella?  We just kept going and eventually Chris said ‘Here it is” and we had gotten to Corran House around 9:45pm.

Corran House Scotland

We walked into the warm and cozy entry way and got our key.  This place was a hostel so they gave us our towels as we checked in and pointed to the large kitchen.  It was fully stocked and they used an honor system – you just look at how much for each item and put money in the bowl.  We walked up a few flights of stairs and into our room.  It was an amazing room with an amazing view.  The building was old.  Our room tilted towards the water.  Early the next morning Chris would ask me ‘Is the tilt of the room bothering you?’ as we laid in bed and stared at the huge wall tilting towards the left. But it was large and comfortable; with windows to open for air and a huge bathroom!!

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Just look at this bathroom.  So much room and the shower was heavenly.  I really appreciate a shower with a little room to put your shampoo.  Most of the places we stayed did not have this and we had to reach out of the shower for our things.

We could have gone down to the pub under the B&B for dinner but I was just too exhausted.  We took showers and went to bed.  We were both hungry when we fell asleep but excitement really curbs one’s appetite.  Not to worry; we made up for the lost calories in London.

As we were getting ready for bed we watched the kids out on the lawn playing soccer.  It was late – ten pm- and fully light outside.  The rain had stopped and the people in Oban were enjoying the weather.  It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful.

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If you’re interested in Oban check out this great website:

http://www.scotland-info.co.uk/oban.htm

If you scroll down into the website you can also see events for each month listed.  We just missed the highland games and I would love to be there in August for the Oban Sea Kayak Race.  While we were on our ferry ride the next day we saw many little sailboats out and about and Chris and I both agreed that those were true adventurers.   When we booked our room here we really didn’t think much of it-It was a stopping off spot to get to Iona.  But I ended up leaving my heart here.

Billy Boyd- The Last Goodbye

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover
My fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away

Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow and winter’s morn
I turn at last to paths that lead home

And though where the road then takes me,
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took that road with me

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away

Over hill, and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home

And though where the road then takes me,
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell

 

 

 

Hi, I'm Emily!

Thanks for stopping by! A little about me? I live in Tennessee as a teacher, and when I'm not working, I'm reading historical fiction, planning my next trip with my husband or photographing what's around me.Follow along on Instagram and Pinterest and subscribe to my blog for travel tales, tips and more.

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