July 6, 2017
“Go back to sleep.” he mumbles. I oblige, knowing that this is going to cost us a few places on our itinerary. Afterall, I did promise myself this would be a paced out holiday and I would sacrifice a few items on my to-cover list if I needed to. Finally the threat of missing breakfast got the husband out of bed and we hurriedly make our way to the dining area. The husband is amazed at the amount of bread and cheese on my plate – my second helping. He smiles incredulously and shakes his head. As we head out, he even grabs me some fruit for the way. I don’t really need it. Mornings are my hungry time.
Today’s plan is to drive down to Oban. We’ll drive along the coast as suggested, instead of through Glen Etive as earlier planned. I wanted to try and make it to Oban by lunchtime, so we could take a ferry out to Staffa. That is clearly not happening. Plus, it’s cloudy and raining so we are not sure if the ferries will go.
We take our time, stopping at serene Loch Lomond and along the way to make photographs and see cattle. We miss the turn to the standing stones, and never make it to Dunadd Fort, the Scottish seat of Kings, but the drive is its own reward – so beautiful, that it could break your heart. Lush green all around, and grey-blue skies. Occasional gentle drizzle marks the way.
The Oban distillery is open, but the last tour is over. We walk around the tiny town for a bit and head over the Fish and Chips Shop for dinner. The port city of Oban is the fishing capital of Scotland. Gone are the days when shellfish were regarded as famine food and folk would gather mussels when there was no meat to eat. Today shellfish are a delicacy. The husband however, opts for fish and chips. He says it is like no other, the fish absolutely melts in your mouth (but the chef still needs to go to his local haunt back home in Bombay to learn how to make tasty fish fry). I go for the Madras curry, simply because it’s the last thing I expected to see on the menu.
As we get ready to kiss the day away, I find some of my flexibility has returned. All the walking and constant bending to pack and unpack must be helping. The next morning, we head back to Oban distillery. I’m not drinking, but there’s no reason I can’t do the tour. This historic whiskey distillery is one of the oldest and smallest in all of Scotland. Established in 1794, it pre-dates the town of Oban and has only two pot stills. Oban Single Malts are characterised as rich and fruity with a hint of peat smoke and sea salt. Where does the fruity/orange come from- they won’t tell. At the end of the tour and tastings, our guide very sweetly packs me dram, for when the baby comes. There’s no way the airlines will let me carry that – the husband is going have some extra sound sleep tonight. Surprisingly, that doesn’t get drunk until our last night in Scotland.
Next on our route is the stunning landscape of Glen Coe. Dark grey clouds rolling across lofty hills, looming over the verdant valley – drama everywhere.
We make a detour from here to Glenfinnan to see the now famous “Harry Potter Viaduct”. As we walk out of the parking towards the Visitor’s Centre, we see groups of people sitting halfway up a hill, and more hurrying along. We don’t understand till we hear the tooting of a horn – the original Hogwarts Express huffs and puffs past us.
“Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus”