Day numero two.
We woke up all nice and rested up, threw on some clothes and out the door we went to get some yummy continental breakfast. The Hostel put on a very nice breaky with cereal and toast and coffee. The night before we had made this excellent time schedule so that we wouldn't miss our train. HOWEVER, we pulled into the station at the last second only to find out that we were at the wrong station! With exactly 7 minutes we had to run to the other station which is about 15 minute walk on a good day. Could we do it? Would we make it? The pressure was on! I felt like we were on the Amazing Race running through the city centre trying to make it to the destination in time. After this run however I realized that the Amazing Race is NOT for this duck. We ran to the station making it at exactly 8:07. We ran through the terminal, ran to the train, ran to a seat and FINALLY remembered to breathe. We were SO proud of ourselves that we failed to notice the calmness of other people boarding the train. The train didn't leave until 8:28! All along we had in fact had acres of time! After this run we were definitely ready for the day and our hearts didn't slow down until an hour or so into the journey. None the less, we settled into the train to play some cards, checked out the million sheep, and again had some great sandwiches. We decided to save money we would just pick some items to make sandwiches, so for the low cost of 4 pounds we all were treated to delicious sandwiches. Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fun, i like sandwiches i eat them all the time......... whoopss..sorry that I jumped into song right there.
We got into the small town Oban around 11:30. We stepped off the train and were amazed at it's beauty and the warm weather they were having. I bought a book about Scotland and this is what it says about Oban: "Translating from Scottish Gaelic as "little bay", Oban is now a very busy port, ferrying thousands of visitors annually to Mull, Colonsay, Coll, Linsmore and other small islands. It's no coincidence that it is regarded as the "gateway to the Highlands." Oban is much more than just a stopover when travelling further afield. it has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times".. Needless to say, it is B-E-A-U-TIFUL! The instructions to get to our hostel from the train were as follows: "Keeping the sea on your left side, walk around the bay for 12-15 minutes from town centre. Hostel is on the seafront." How great is that? Yup- it's great! It was the first time I'd ever seen the ocean so I was pretty much memorized. We checked into our perfect little hostel and all had showers and were ready to go exploring in 45 minutes. First we decided to check out the Atlantic Ocean and take some pictures. We had fun collecting some sea shells and what not and so forth. We then made our way along the bay and Kirstin came up with the brilliant idea that we should partake in boat ride. We found a sign that said there was a boat trip for one hour. Kristin called up the number to inquire only to find out that someone had painted that on the sign as a joke. We moved along the bay and found another sign, this one didn't run this time of year. After about an hour of trying we gave up the dream of riding on a boat on the Atlantic Ocean. Next stop: Oban Distillery. Doing some research before we went to Oban it was our "must see." It is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and apparently the whiskey is something special. We made our way over to the distillery which is situated in the town centre. We went in totally excited for our tour to find out that the distillery was NOT doing tours that day due to maintenance! UGH! We tried to sweet talk them, but no such luck. So by this time Oban was becoming a bit of a let down.
We decided to make the best of our day in this beautiful town. We then made the trek up to McCaig's Tower. McCaigs tower was built by John Stewart McCaig. McCaig's intention was to provide a lasting monument to his family, and provide work for the local stonemasons during the winter months. McCaig was an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture, and had planned for an elaborate structure, based on the Colosseum in Rome. His plans allowed for a museum and art gallery with a central tower to be incorporated. Inside the central tower he planned to commission statues of himself, his siblings and their parents. His death brought an end to construction with only the outer walls completed. (yes- I just got that from Wikipedia) It is really nice, we had to be extremely careful climbing the winding road because of ice and the fact that we had no travelers insurance. The view from the top is pretty remarkable.
After this year long climb up we decided to then check out a castle near the town. The castle which was called Dunollie Castle is just a short walk out of the town. In order to get to the castle however you need to put your life at risk. Even though we didn't have travel insurance, we still played with fate. To get there you have to walk along this highway that is very narrow. On one side you can take an emergency plunge into the rocks and ocean on the other side you can choose to get hit by a car. We made it to the castle unharmed and climbed the cow path up to the castle. It was very nice inside even though it is in rough shape. It was built in the 13th century so it's pretty darn old!
After the castle we hit up some supper at a local establishment that overlooked the sea. We then went on the search for some locals to drink with. We went to a quaint pub called "Tartan Tavern" only to find drunk old men locals who were very interested in the fact that there were females in the building. It was pretty funny at first, but got old very fast. We had a beer there then decided to book it to another place. After a survey of the next pub we decided that this would be a better fit for us. We enjoyed a few beverages before meeting some people. The three guys we met turned out to work on a ferry that ran in Oban. We later learned that one of them was the CAPTAIN and one was the co-captain. We didn't pay for another drink all night, and we got a complimentary visit to their ferry! The charm of Kristin struck again. :)
Since our party lasted until the wee hours of the night we were sleepy for the next days early train ride. Overall, Oban was probably one of the most beautiful places I've been to in my life. The people were all friendly, the sights were sights to see and I think we truly got to experience true Scottish life.
Things I learned today...
1. Real Scottish people are hard to understand. This one old man we were talking to I couldn't understand a word he said. I told him to talk slower...he told me to listen faster.
2. There is the Scottish pound and the British Pound. They are worth the same amount just look different- I'm unsure about the reasoning of this.
stay tuned for day 3.......