Grace Tu

Grace Tu

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Scotland Day 2 - Oban and Isle of Kerrera

The next morning we spent a little time in George Square watching people getting to work, and then boarded the early train for Oban, where we would be based for two days.

Morning walk at George Squre

Anya finally fell asleep so I could enjoy the scenery a little 

Oban is a little but beautiful Victorian seaside town (An t-Òban in Scottish Gaelic meaning The Little Bay) within the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. It is the main gateway to many of the Hebridean islands, and it is famous for the fresh seafood and for the more than 200 years old Oban distillery, which produces Oban 14 Year Old Whiskey.


Like I said before, husband and I always love a good picnic, so once we saw that the sky is clear, we went directly to Oban Seafood Hut at the ferry dock to pick up their famous seafood platter and then found us a nice spot overlooking the bay to enjoy our luxurious lunch. Since Alan is the real seafood lover in the house, I very quickly let him took over most of the eating and started following Anya around to say "hello" to all the seagulls. Now, here is something Anya does know: ever since I watched "Finding Nemo" I have grown an unreasonable fear for seagulls (remember how they kept saying "mine mine mine" in the movie? That terrified me.) However, since Alan and I had a deal to not pass on our unreasonable fears to Anya, I put away all my dislike for these birds and tried to admire them with my baby girl. Seriously, all the things we do for our children, even the silly ones, right?

We stayed at the Royal Hotel, which is close to the train station and the ferry. We were given a great big room with a nice view.

It's about a half hour hike to the unfinished "colosseum", the McCaig's Tower, from where we had a nice view of Oban
Our plan for the afternoon was to take the Oban Distillery Tours, but we soon found out that because the tour consisted of visiting the actual distillery process from beginning to end, for safety reasons, children less than 8 years old are not allowed. Just when I was about to give up on the tour, Alan, who probably felt a little guilty from finishing most of the seafood at lunch, offered to take care of Anya so I could do the tour. It was a wonderful gesture and as it turned out truly the right thing to do, because, of all the wine tours and other similar types of tours that I took over the past few years, this was the tour from which I learned the most. I was also lucky to be in the same tour with two people who really knew their whisky, and every time they asked questions I stood by their sides like a good student and listened to the guide provide very detailed answers. At the end of the tour we were given two samples to taste: the first was a sample of Oban malt direct from the cask (undiluted, 60+%), and the second was the diluted and bottled Oban malt. According to the guide some people just love the undiluted, "cask strength" edition naturally, and other people just could not stand it. Personally I preferred the cask strength Oban a lot more, which was why following the first tasting, the second tasting was not as exciting for me.

Photos are not allowed during the tour, so we took a picture outside
While I was learning all about whiskey , Alan and Anya took the boat to Isle of Kerrera first, so immediately after my tour I looked for the next boat to take me to the Isle and reunite with them. At this time I was terribly jet-lagged (unlike Alan and Anya, who slept through the night and got to hap on the train), and I also just tasted some really strong whiskey. As a result, I was tired, and extremely emotional for some reason. I sat at the front of the boat and kept looking at the Isle ahead for husband and Anya, and when I finally saw them, I waved so big and with so much happiness, especially when I saw Anya waved back. People on the boat who saw this very kindly share my joy and gave me encouraging smiles - it's all very much like a movie where people reunited with their loved ones after years apart, but in my case, it was two hours.
When my foot touched the Isle of Kerrera it was already getting late, but Alan still wanted to take me to the top of the Island to enjoy the breathtaking view. The weather was perfect until we reached the top, and it started to rain, and the strong wind tried very hard to knock us down. We started rushing down the hills and, holding Anya tightly, I kept whispering to her how sorry I was to put her in such situation and how I was there to protect her. Alan thought I was being ridiculous, but all I wanted to do then really was to tell her those.

With the help from the capital of the small boat we took, we got back to Oban early. The captain made a small exception for us, so we did not have to wait for another hour in the Isle in the rain. We were grateful for his kindness, and made sure he knew that before we parted with the boat.

The weather was great on our way up

The strong wind made Anya close her eyes

I tried to walk fast so we could catch the early boat back

Of course, like a typical Scottish weather, by the time we arrived Oban the sky was clear again. But we were very ready to be back in our hotel to get a good sleep because the exciting trip to the Isle of Staffa was waiting for us the next day.

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