Saturday July 3rd (journey to Iona via Oban/Craignure/Fionaport)
I got up at 6:30am and got ready to leave by 7:30am.We walked to the Queen Station and got tickets for Oban.We boarded the train.The front two cars were going directly to Oban and the remainder of the train was headed to Mallaig.We sat at a table with another lady from Jacksonville Fl.She was headed to Iona too.She was staying at the hotel there whereas we are headed to the hostel.
The train ride so far has been very smooth and nice.I ended up taking a good nap on the train and was feeling quite refreshed when we finally reached Oban. We then boarded a huge Ferry which took us to Craignure.This ferry was really cool with multiple decks and very plush seats.We spent some time up on the top deck, but then it just got too chilly. When we got to Craignure, we then got on a bus, barely as there was only 3 seats left by the time I got on…Heather, Leslie and myself.The bus was a long ride to Fionaport, I believe over an hour.I was very thankful that we had gotten tickets for the entire way when we arrived as we could get directly in queue for the ferry.This was a smaller ferry and took about 15 minutes to get to Iona.When we landed, there was only 1 taxi and someone else had taken it.So rather than wait for 20 minutes, Heather and I decided to walk to the Hostel with all of our luggage which was about 1.5 miles away.Wow!Was that ever tiring, but we were very proud of ourselves…although we decided that on Monday we would definitely get the taxi!
Basically we walked to the end of the road, turned left down the drive and then went through the pasture to the hostel.It was a beautiful hostel and we loved it!We could not check in until 4pm so we just hung out in the kitchen/living area until we could.Once we had checked in, we then decided to trek back out to town and pick up some groceries and check out some of the sites.We stopped by the chapel and nunnery and got some great pictures.We decided to do the Abbey on Sunday as it was only 30 minutes before closing and we knew we would need more time and there was a fee to enter the Abbey.We checked out the Welcome Center and Gift Shop as well as the Gallery.We then continued into town where we purchased some nutella, cheese, peanut butter and corned beef.After trekking back to the hostel, I introduced Heather to fried slices of corned beef on toast with cheese.Very delicious.We topped it off with Apples and nutella.We met some American ladies, mostly from GA that were here for a longer time.Some were enjoying the experience, for others, it was too long and they were getting quite bored.For me, I believe 2 days is plenty to experience what we wanted to experience.I think that Heather could probably spend more time here.
It was very rainy, windy and chilly, so we were hoping for good weather in the morning.We had hoped to go to the service at the Abbey at 9pm, but it was so rainy and cold and we were tired that we stepped outside and stepped right back inside again.We then went to bed around 10:30pm.
Sun July 4th (at Iona)
This morning Heather and I got on our way after 9am sometime.We first took the footpath down to the North Beach.Lots of snails and sheep dung in our path.Don't think of the traditional beach in that it was very cold, windy, rainy and had lots of sheep hanging around.But we so enjoyed the trek.We then just followed it around over some hills and valleys around the top until we had a great view of the abbey.
I had wrapped my money bag and passport in a ziplock bag and stuffed it in one pocket and my camera in another ziplock in the other pocket.When it was raining, I took a couple of pictures through the plastic (which of course didn't turn out so well) and when didn't, I took it out. It would rain, stop, rain, stop…all day long.We did not want to regret our day, so we kept going.
After we were done at the 'beach' area we then made our way down the road and decided to climb up Dun I, "Dun-eye".This was a 600 meter tall mountain.Not that terribly tall, but with the rocks, the wind and weather, it made for an interesting climb.Of course there were sheep and their 'droppings' all around. JWhen we finally got to the top we hugged the pile of stones and did a bit of standing by it to avoid getting blown off.We really had to brace ourselves because the wind was so hard it just would almost blow us over.I was constantly finding myself lurching and catching myself.But the view was just fabulous and we were glad to have made the climb.It really didn't rain during that time…and we were very thankful, but I had certainly gotten my shoes completely wet and soaked all the way through! I could feel the cold water squishing through my toes.After that climb was complete we then made our way to the Abbey.By this time it was getting around 12 noon and we wanted to join the 1:15 guided tour.We again stopped by the Gift shop and picked up a hot drink to warm us up.And then we made our way over the Abbey.We toured the cloister and the Abbey gift shop, bought our tickets and finally took the tour.Very informative and enjoyed listening to the history of Iona and how the celtic art influenced the beautiful stonework that was done.There are many Kings of Scotland and even from France and other countries along with former cheifton from the clans buried in the cemetery because it was "the" religious grounds for many years.
After the tour, we then toured the Abbey and took many more pictures.By this time we were very cold and the wet feet were just getting to be too much.We headed back to the hostel to warm up.
I immediately changed my pants and socks and started to warm up.We made bread with peanut butter and nutella on it for lunch.We then spent a bit of the afternoon reading on the couches.I took about an hour nap cuddled under my blanket to see if I could warm up even more.I then got up and made some toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for our supper.
In the evening around 8:30 we then decided to go visit another beach on the other side of the island.Remember, this island is 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.Now, because of the hills and mountains, it can be an interesting walk!But we had spent several hours hanging out and were ready for another adventure…we just didn't want to regret our trip and miss out because of weather…it sure wasn't getting any better.So we walked the 1.5 miles to the port and continued probably another mile until we cut inland and walked the complete width of the island.The road finally ended at the golf course that doubles as a cow pasture.Making our way through the 'golf course' we found ourselves at another lovely 'beach'.Did I mention that along our way we encountered rain (thank God for rain coats) more winds and cold weather?The rain stopped and we sat down on the smooth stones and just watched the sunset for a while until I was too chilled and we started our journey back!It was a wonderful ending to an adventurous day!