Go west... In Scotland.
We were yet again on the move, this time to Oban on the west coast at the Firth of Lorn and opposite the Isle of Mull.
Rain had been predicted for the next several days, in fact, we had the grimmest weather outlook since we started our trip. Oh well, rain here is not quite like rain in Australia. Yes, it can be consistent, but it is light rain or drizzle a lot of the time. Of course, the wind can whip up and it can feel pretty horrible sometimes too.
Since the most direct route from Arrochar to Oban according to Google Maps is less than 2 hours, we decided to do a bit of touring along the way. We went south on A83 to Inveraray (the seat of Clan Campbell) where we stopped to have a look around. This was a very pretty town, although a bit of a tourist trap.
Di by the Inveraray Harbour. Yep, it rained all right.
Di was trying to convince Hans that this was a place for him. Hans was not so sure...
A hardware store within a prison compound...? That's a new one.
The "backstreets" of Inveraray showed another part of its past. Surely, they have plumbing indoors these days...
Yes Sir, you rang...
A couple of more pictures from Inveraray...but we did not linger long because all parking cost 80p per hour and the weather set in further.
Di walking quickly back to the car.
We moved on to Lochgilphead where we stopped for a cuppa (and parking was free). We found a nice coffee shop & bakery (although they called it a patisserie) which was clearly a hit with the locals as queues for takeaway food were constant. While drinking our tea we saw this traffic sign as we looked out of the window. As we parked on that street, we would agree.
Finally onto our destination for today and for the next four nights, Oban.
We arrived at the Backpackers Plus too early for check in and decided to go and have lunch. Our first choice, the local Chinese, had finished their lunch time sitting, just before 2pm (?) and that turned out to be a good call as a couple of shops down the street was Oban Fish & Chips. Note the Rick Stein endorsement prominently displayed in the window. Two thumbs up from Di who is a Rick Stein fan.
This place was very popular and very full despite the time now being closer to 2.30pm. We ordered one of the blackboard specials being Salt and Pepper Squid with new potatoes and an entree sized Thai fish cake. High expectations...
The food arrived and it was plenty. We shared the two dishes and that was definitely enough for both of us. It was also very, very delicious and good value at less than £15 in total. We could return as the fish and chips also looked excellent.
We are back in a self catering hostel, and our next place is also self catering, so food provisions were required because we want to cook each night - Scottish "cuisine" has largely been ordinary and limited and we miss pasta and Di misses cooking. After a trip to Aldi (what joy - we love Aldi) for provisions, we drove back to Backpackers Plus to check in.
We were staying in the light yellow building on the left, but did we tell you that the dorms are inside the old church to the right? That is also where we checked in.
And the "church" from the other side and street... Our car is parked at its front. Very funky place - we liked it instantly. The hostel is almost in the centre of town, right near the harbour and at just over £44 per night we felt we had hit gold.
A couple of pics from inside Backpackers Plus hostel and the common area at the top of the old church.
The colorful window on the right of this photo is actually the old stained glass church window protected by a modern piece of glass. Very cool.
Yep, we liked it immediately and it had also received very good reviews online, which we now understood.
The hostel offered a laundry service, one bag of washing and drying for £4. Overnight service, which was good news as Hans literally had he clothes he was standing in left as being reasonably clean. We had enough dirty laundry for two bags so we decided to take advantage of this offer.
Note the delivery of laundry powder in the background to the left.
There was a notice board next to the hostel's reception and some smart arse advertising...
For the first time in quite a while, we could cook for ourselves within the hostel and Di's world famous Bega Pasta (tortellini in a creamy sauce with onion, bacon and peas) was on the menu for tonight. Very nice, and particularly special since good pasta has been almost impossible to find in the restaurants. Di also took the opportunity to pre-cook some elements of tomorrow's dinner so spent more than an hour in the kitchen keeping busy and quietly enjoying her creative moment.
We chatted to some other residents, mostly Dutch, and ate a nice meal.
Of course, swinging by Aldi also meant that Hans could get a couple of bottles of Caesar Augustus, the very very drinkable lager / IPA hybrid, that went nicely pre as well as with dinner. Very good.
A couple of notes on the Backpackers Plus hostel and where we are...
- As we are staying in a separate building to the dorms and the church, it meant a small number of private rooms (8) and smallish kitchen, more like somebody's home and one single kitchen table big enough to fit 8 people. Quite a difference from the larger hostels such as HI in Montreal.
- They like yellow here. Our bed linen is predominantly yellow (with some lime green) The table cloth is predominantly yellow etc. Makes a nice upbeat change from the grey we suppose...