When we stayed in Ardanaiseig hotel, we figured it was the perfect opportunity to explore the west of Scotland and visit Oban! Oban is known as the seafood capital of Scotland and in Gaelic the name translates as the ‘Little Bay’. As you are approaching the town you come upon cute, little houses scattered at the bottom of a hill ending just when the sea starts. The main street has colourful, independent shops and restaurants lined the one next to the other. It is jam packed with tourists from all over the world and there is enough fish and chips to feed an army. No wonder why the’ Little Bay’ is a must visit if you ever visit Scotland!
VISIT OBAN SCOTLAND
We drove all the way from Ardanaiseig hotel to Oban but before this we had a stop at the Sutherland’s Grove to get a taste of the nature and let Cruz run wild and free in the forest!
The Sutherland’s Grove walk follows waymarked trails through the forest up by a gorge before reaching a loch. It has excellent views across the sea to the islands. We followed the longest walk as Cruz has heaps of energy that need to be channeled into something otherwise he gets bored.
We followed the stream with Cruz on the lead as there were many visitors around us at the time including children. Cruz just LOVES children and he jumps all over them desperately seeking for their attention so he’s better on the lead than embarrassing us or causing any facial scratches to the poor kids. After the bridge he was free to run, mark his area, sniff and do all the things a Jack Russell does-you got the picture! It took us around 1 hour to finish the walk before getting back in the car and driving to our destination, Oban.
To get there, we drove past Connell bridge, a stunning cantilever bridge built in 1909 for train services that today it’s been used by everyone having a car. We didn’t cross the bridge as it was on the opposite way of our destination but we did stop for a few pictures. There are nice camp sites around the area and a nice, clean shore ideal for picnics.
Cruz endured another 20′ in the car before we made it to Oban where he was free to walk again. There are loads of parking spaces outside the town centre just a 5′ walk from the harbour. We parked the car, gor Cruz on the lead (much to his disappointment), got our bags and off we went to explore!
There is a beautiful walk from the harbour, where all the ships depart to the islands, up until the old fish market where you can still see the old red market gate. There are so many pretty shops with impressive facades on this walk, I didn’t know where to turn my camera and shoot first, trying not to miss out anything. A few minutes into our walk and the heavens opened making us all run around to find some shelter. I said everyone but Mr. Cruz!
Who was very much eager to explore and sniff every single corner of the old harbour.
Wandering at the same time how deep the water is and why he is not allowed to dive in.
The only way to convince a Jack Russell to get out of his head whatever idea he has, is food. And so we promised him to give him a bit of our fish and chips and he finally followed us. Stubborn pup that he is!
The last time I remember eating fish and chips it was at Whitby in Yorkshire in a take-away restaurant called ‘Magpie’ back in 2011. We were visiting with my MSc collagues on an educational trip and our supervisor offered us a traditional British meal there while facing the beautiful Whitby shore.
In Greece fish is very rarely fried and we don’t eat chips as much, not because we are into healthy diet but because it is too warm to bear anything too calorific. So when we found this fish and chips restaurant, just opposite the harbour of Oban I eagerly waited for my order to arrive. I opted for the calamari because I LOVE calamari and because I wasn’t much hungry and prefered it than a chunk of cod.
We topped our food with white vinegar and salt and started eating. The calamari was fresh but the batter smelled something of pork or geese fat, same as the chips, so it ruined it for me. It might have been that they used a bit of animal fat in the frying process but the smell and taste of pork fat with fish is not the best kind of combination. Nevertheless, the views were stunning and watching the rain getting more and more intense we felt grateful to have found this place to eat, remain dry and still enjoy the views of this beautiful town! Occasionally we would be reminded by a puppy’s whimpering that we weren’t the only one being hungry and so a piece of calamari would land on the floor for Mr. Cruz’s pleasure.
Just when we decided to go for a walk and take the risk of getting wet, the Gods on our side stopped the rain. One thing that really struck me is how dog friendly are the locals in Oban. I swear there wasn’t a single shop that didn’t have a water dog bowl next to its door or a shop that didn’t have dog biscuits or (even better) a dog lying inside. We felt that Cruz was welcome everywhere and I think he felt the same too because everytime we would walk past a place he would stick his cute snout inside the door to get a good sniff of the products 🙂
After we brushed the streets up and down twice in an effort to digest our meal we voted for hot chocolate! A few ‘maybe here‘ and ‘oh no, let’s go there‘ later and I saw a sign saying this way for the best hot chocolate in Scotland! That will do, we all said with one voice.
The place lived up to it’s standards! I ordered my hot chocolate with soya milk, something that not every place offers, and to my pleasant surprise that’s exactly what I got! There were big, thick pieces of dark chocolate at the bottom of the cup and by stirring up the hot soya milk I ended up having the most delicious hot beverage.
33 Stafford Street
I got Mr. Cruz a chair and placed him next to me, but as he was getting a bit shaky I gave in and let him sit on my lap hoping to warm him up…
It was then that I realised that what got Cruzy’s attention (and made him so shaky and eager to escape from his seat) was a Cuckapoo puppy sitting on the next table. The little thing was fully unaware of a devil Cruz nearby and was having a peaceful sleep, until the said devil started whimpering and barking to make his presence noticeable. Always an attention seeker!
And that’s how our little day trip to Oban came to an end…just before it started raining again!
Have you ever been to Oban? What were your impressions?