Thu 5 Sep - Oban, Scotland

A lovely relaxing day in Oban (again).

Breakfast was leisurely and we did not make a move until about 9.30am. At the start of this week The Weather Channel had predicted up to 4 days of rain and instead we got days like this!

We figure weather forecasting in western Scotland is tough as weather systems move in so quickly from the Atlantic. We just double-check the night before and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

Oban needed further exploration, and we were happy not to drive, so we strolled the nice promenade and headed towards the Oban fishing pier and ferry wharf. We saw about 6 fishing boats in the harbour, not a huge fleet, but enough that they have a few casual seafood shacks on the pier nearby. We liked the look of this one...

They specialized in a range of cold fresh seafood and we even got to try their smoked salmon (yummy).

But we were put off having lunch here by this sign. The lady serving said it happened all the time and some customers actually asked for a refund from the shop! Funny how some people's minds work...

We get enough of thieving seagulls at home in Manly so it was not for us. We moved on and checked out the main ferry wharf, for ferries to Glasgow, Mull and the Outer Hebrides. Quite a modern terminal.

Our footpath soon ran out and we don't like walking single track roads in busy towns so looped back through the retail part of Oban passing a few tourist shops on the way. We thought this apron was helpful as we often only understand half of what is being said to us! Of course, photographed it instead of buying it...

The local Nickel and Dime store caught our eye as we've been looking for 2 things - a small cooler bag and a small thermos. We found both for £8 each (not super cheap though) and bought them both.

Across the main road was a cute canal that had a small grass embankment used by the local Mallard ducks. Di was soon distracted as she likes ducks almost as much as she likes cows. Hans is further down her list...

The locals seem to have put some garden ornaments nearby and there even seems to be a small wooden dog kennel donated to the ducks. Nice, but strange location - this sits under the main road of Oban - the bridge you see is often congested with traffic (but Hans timed the photo well).

So loaded up with some shopping, we continued to browse and this place obviously caught our eye - how could we pass by? We couldn't and didn't. Thirty minutes, £50 and 5 items later we left. All good stuff that we have been considering buying for a while but it has been overpriced (even at LL Bean). At approximately £10 each item -1 hiking pole (Di) 2 thermal t-shirts (Hans and Di), 1 fleece jacket (Di) and a head band, covering forehead and ears, (for Hans - the Bjorn Borg look). What a bargain.

It made sense to swing past our hostel, drop off all our goodies and then have a coffee break - and where else would we go but Hans' current favourite place, the Oban Chocolate Shop. Good coffee and we also spent an hour there doing research of places to stay for our last unbooked week in September.

We had heard from a friend in Australia, Louise, that she would be in Wigan from 23 September so we booked nearby at Liverpool for 3 nights around that time so we could catch up with her.

We also realized that it would be a shame to miss Wales completely (not intentional, just running out of time) so we booked 4 nights near Llandudno.

The weather was still nice so we thought a short wander was needed before we ate or drank more. We chose to follow a carriage path towards Dunollie Castle. It was a nice but short wander, with views of forest and bay.

This rock is called Fingal's Dogstone, not because it has any resemblance to a dog but because some guy used to tie up his dog here. Hmmm...

The carriage way did give us great views of the bay and boat activity nearby. A ferry coming in from Mull.

Looking towards Kerrera Island with an obelisk monument on the north end called Hutchison's Memorial (behind Hans left shoulder). We don't know much about the memorial but it stands out from a distance.

We figured we did not need to see more castle ruins at this time so returned along the carriage way and rejoined the promenade. Along the Oban Bay there are quite a few grand old hotels that seem to be still popular and up-market, like this one, the Alexander Hotel.

And the Regent Hotel which is part art deco and part old world (the stone building of the right). You could imagine rich tourists coming by train or ferry 100 years ago and honeymooning here - even Queen Victoria was quoted as saying Oban was one of the "finest spots we've seen".

It was time for a late lunch, which you may have guessed would feature seafood after our promenading - and you would be right. We went back to the great Oban Fish and Chip restaurant.

Di had trouble choosing from the menu or blackboard specials - too many nice choices - so Hans was mucking around while he waited, pointing out what is bleeding obvious in his mind...

Hans choice was straight forward - he had to try the fish and chips as it had been recommended by Rick Stein. The meal lived up to its reputation - a cheesy grin from Hans because he loves a really good fish and chips. He also got some of Di's salt and pepper squid with new potatoes.

Both plates were cleaned by the time we were finished and we were both very full - later dinner tonight.

Di got distracted again by the Oxfam shop across the road which was selling 2nd hand Alexander McCall Smith books, one of her favourite authors. Two more books bought in the "No 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series and a return home to start reading!

Hans snoozed off his lunch. Wunderbar.

Around 4pm the clouds darkened and we got a little drizzle so we decided to stay in our relaxing room, have tea and read some more. If there is one small downside to this great hostel it is that it has no communal lounge so its the room or the dining table but otherwise we love the place.

We decided to yet again utilize the hostel's overnight laundry service and Hans went up to the "sky room" at the church dorm with the bag of dirty and brand new clothes. Ready for pick up from 7am in the morning, perfect as we would be leaving tomorrow.

Hans also took the opportunity to see whether we could have the tickets printed to the Max Raabe und Das Palast Orchester concert in Berlin that we booked earlier today. Laura, the most helpful girl who helped us print and scan the other day was not in, but Peter, the owner was at the reception.

You wouldn't call Peter the most computer literate person that you have ever met and in summary, we didn't manage to print further than both tickets on one single A4 page, I.e. too small for a bar scanner to read. Peter got a bit flustered and frustrated and eventually Hans realised that he had enough and had to thank him for his effort and leave empty handed.

Imagine the surprise when there was a knock on the door some time later and there was Peter, panting a bit after having to negotiate two sets of stairs, but with both tickets printed on separate A4 pages. The funny thing was that he asked Hans "how much would that be worth?" Hans replied that "I don't know, how much would you want?". "One pound" was the answer... Peter got his pound, disappeared and we laughed... Of course, we didn't pay Laura anything the other day, nor did she ask for anything...

Just after 6pm we wandered down to the kitchen, got the leftover lasagne going in the oven and had a drink while we were waiting. Wojtek popped his head in and told us he had an argument with the friend, who's house he was going to help paint today, and had to leave. He was now cleaning up his room as his girlfriend from Barcelona was coming on Saturday. He did comment that he ate half of the Moroccan casserole for lunch and it was delicious.

During dinner, we chatted to a young couple where she was from New Zealand and he from Wales and then retired back to our room by 8.30pm. All good. Good night.

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