Oban is a resort town about 2 hours north of Glasgow located on the Firth of Lorn, which is a long estuary. We made the drive from Glasgow for a quick one night stay, stopping along the way to snap photos of the scenery.
We spent the night just a few miles outside of Oban and woke up to explore Dunstaffnage Castle before heading into town. It's one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland and sits perched upon a rock upon a hill.
We didn't actually go inside but just explored the wooded area around the castle. We found the moody remains of the 13th century chapel.
Built in 1220, the stone castle was once the capital of Dalraida, the original kingdom of Scotland and was a MacDougal stronghold. Surrounded on three sides by the sea, it was the perfect strategic location overlooking the Firth of Lorn.
The castle was besieged by Robert the Bruce in 1309. It's also said that the Stone of Destiny was kept here for a time when it first came over from Ireland.
If you're a history geek like me (or even just a fan of Braveheart) you'll love the time-traveling atmosphere of this spot.
After our morning castle walk, we continued on to the Victorian harbor or Oban. The local culture is traditionally Gaelic and if you're lucky you might still hear the language spoken here.
We arrived during off season, but in the summer months the population of the town swells from about 9,000 to 25,000. It's the Gateway for the Hebrides and the perfect base from which to explore the area along the west coast of Scotland.
The Oban you see today developed around the Oban Distillery founded in 1794 in what was then a small fishing village. This is one of the oldest and smallest distilleries in Scotland. You cannot visit Oban without stopping here for a tour and a wee dram o' whisky. Be sure to book in advance.
They still use fresh water from a loch and traditional methods, embracing a "gentle and old-fashioned approach." Their Single Malt Whisky (no "e" in there) is one of the top 20 in the world. It's described as "rich and fruity with a hint of peat smoke and sea salt." Matt was in heaven.
Even during the off season, there were plenty of visitors and plenty to see and do. I was eager to go on one of their sealife cruises for some seal spotting, but we didn't have enough time. Matt won't let me get a seal either.
Because it's the Seafood Capital of Scotland, we had to have fish & chips for lunch. It did not disappoint. Washing it down with an Irn-Bru also seemed appropriate. It's the number one selling soft drink in Scotland and "Scotland's other national drink". I'm sure you can guess number one (hint above). It kind of tastes like a Big Red. Sweet and refreshing. You have to say the name with a Scottish accent.
After lunch we made our way back to Glasgow. We pulled off at a random restaurant for a break and completely lucked out. Wee Coos!!!!! And chickens.
Highland cows are one of the purest breeds in the world. They're built to withstand the harsh winters of Scotland with their long horns and long, shaggy coats. They're a docile breed and have been kept as house cows for centuries, perfect for milk and meat. I find them irresistible with that swishy sweep of bangs.
I can't get enough of Scotland. It seemed a magical place before I ever visited. Destinations sometimes lose their aura upon closer inspection, Scotland just becomes more unique and special with every visit. It's the stuff of dreams and I say that without guile.
Wanna know what else is the stuff of dreams? Seeing your husband in a traditional kilt. We were in Scotland for the wedding of some dear friends (best wedding ever) and a kilt was completely appropriate. Matt was a little reluctant. But there was no way I was going to miss out on that. A tartan kilt, fuzzy sporran, a sgian dubh (dagger), knee high socks, lace up shoes and that special swagger of his. Stuff of dreams, I tell you.
You haven't lived until you seen men in kilts rocking out to Bon Jovi at a wedding reception. Too bad it was just a rental.