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Top 10 to do in Oban

From Mountain Biking to Castle, find out the Top 10 to do in Oban on your next travel adventure to Scotland’s West Coast.

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“Wow check out that view. Wait, look over there” punctuated the air around every corner as I tried to focus on the road as we took in the views on our drive from Edinburgh to Oban. 

As we crested the final hill and wound down into Oban itself we couldn’t get over the beauty of the area. What a fantastic location and setting for a quick getaway only 2.5 hours drive from Edinburgh on the west coast of Scotland.

Arriving late in the evening we pulled into the Oban camping and caravan park, located just a couple of miles south of Oban overlooking the water, and were immediately told that my company car with its sign writing was not welcome. Not that they hated our business, it was just a policy to not allow commercial vehicles on site. We weren’t the only ones either.

We were allowed to set up our campsite and then park a half mile down the road and wander back along the country road. A reasonable request and one we had to obey anyway as all the other places were full! 

A quick trip back into town saw us at Ee-Usk Pizza restaurant for a fantastic zuchinni starter and yum pastas. Highly recommend checking it out on the pier with some great views over the harbour and amazing staff who squeezed us in before the kitchen closed. Although we do advise booking ahead as they get very busy.

Island of Kerrera across the harbour

We woke to a warm but overcast day. Perfect for exploring the wee Island of Kerrera on our mountain bikes.

Kerrera is located just a short 5 min ferry ride (£5 return) from the ramp near the campground and runs basically every half hour. Unless he has stopped for lunch at 12, then its good luck or a swim.

Unfortunately he can also only take a dozen at a time so be prepared to wait a trip if its a nice weekend like we did.

The only cars allowed on the Island are owned by the approximate 30 locals. But there is no reason for one anyway as the entire Island of Kerrera is only 6 miles long so can easily be walked in a few hours.

We decided to take in the northern tip first to check out the Obelisk which is visible from Oban and is a memorial dedicated to David Hutcheson, founder of the steamer company. Although it all appears to be private land, the locals didn’t mind us biking everywhere provided that, as in any rural setting, you make sure you shut every gate you go through.

I wouldn’t recommend taking a bike that isn’t a half decent mountain bike as it does get rough in patches although nothing was unrideable.  Just watch out for the sheep raisins on the ground flicking up leaving a nice trail up your back!

Biking on Kerrera with Oban in the background

After the monument we took a wrong turn and ended up biking through chest high bracken and carrying our bikes up a mental hill. Good times…

I just wish I had a towel for a swim and cool down in the crystal clear water.  I’m sure I would’ve regretted it but will remember to pack a travel sized one next time we travel.

We ended up cruising along the coastal road to take in Gylen Castle.  It was abandoned in 1647 after Cromwell’s forces laid seige to it.  We are suckers for a castle and this was no exception with it perched high on the cliffs overlooking the sheltered bays.

Could just imagine staying there many moons ago.

Final stop was the tea house for a tasty and well deserved homemade banana chocolate and pineapple cake with ice cold orange juices to wash it down.  We missed the ferry by seconds and were rewarded with a short sharp downpour, but it was nice to cool off.

Absolutely buggered so fish and chips were the call on the pier at the reasonably priced tasty Cuan Mor restaurant.

Gylen Castle

Rain. The only downside to camping in a ten year old tent. 

Adela held her doubts about the weather-proofness of said tent while I assured her if it leaked we would just jump in the car, unfortunately still 1 mile down the road since we couldn’t park on site. I could just imagine how fun that would be at 3 in the morning.

4.30am in the morning and “Cole its leaking!”. A single drop had managed to squeeze through and plopped on Adela’s cheek. I groggily told her just to shift over a bit. The tent held and we slept on.

As it was absolutely pouring in the morning we made a quick getaway from the campground and hit the tourist route. We managed to fit in MacCaig Tower with stunning views over Oban and is a must, even if the climb up is a steep one.

Along the coast, within a short walk or cycle is the overgrown Dunollie Castle perched on the northern entrance of the harbour. 

Following another tasty feed, this time at Dolce Vita cafe for a big brekky and amazing deluxe hot chocolate we took off back to Edinburgh. The final stop being Dunstaffnage Castle (15 mins out of Oban) which is great for getting up on top of the battlements to look over the harbour. An indomitable structure that was built over 800 years ago on the skinny peninsular.

Its amazing to think that NZ was not even inhabited then!

Dunollie Castle in the rain

In Summary – The Top 10 to do in Oban :

  1. A walk or cycle on the Island of Kerrera (even if its only for the cakes at the end);
  2. Fish and Chips on the pier as it is billed as the seafood capital of the world;
  3. Dunollie Castle;
  4. MacCaig’s Tower with its stunning views out to the other Islands and over Oban;
  5. Dunstaffnage Castle;
  6. A cycle along the coastline taking in the secluded beaches including Ganavan Beach;
  7. The Oban Distillery for a wee dram;
  8. Sea kayaking (which we planned to do on Sunday if it didn’t rain);
  9. Relax with no worries;
  10. And last but not least… The Island of Kerrera (it’s so good it gets on here twice).
If you have been to Oban then let us know your Top 10 to do in Oban in the comments below.

Adventure Travel

Is It Time to Find a New You at a Thailand Retreat?

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If you feel like you a lacking a little direction, or that you have become lost in the hustle and bustle of your faced paced life, do not despair. There is hope. Spend too much time buried by work and inevitably the world will grind you down, but it needn’t. You can do something about it. The answer is a lot simpler than you may think (and more affordable, too).

You have to act though. Indifference or accepting that nothing will change will result in exactly that, nothing changing. What you need to do is interrupt your life and take a step back. Now this doesn’t mean falling off the radar, or a sudden change in your career. You just need to invest a little of your own time in yourself and book yourself into a personal development course at a Thailand retreat.

 

Isn’t That Strange?

No, it isn’t. Again, you are not changing the world in which you live, rather you are looking to change how you live in the world. A getaway at a retreat can help you do this. So, lose the negativity and cynicism and think about the possibilities for a moment. If you feel strange about going alone, why not round up your best buddies and go together? (Click here for more guy adventure tips)

 

A Little Self-Therapy

 

If you work hard, and feel constantly exhausted, at some point things are going to get even worse – be that your physical or mental health. By looking after both your body and mind and learning healthy practices at a retreat, you’ll fortify both your mind and body ready for the rigours of daily life once you return to it. The techniques, practices and understandings that you will gain by attending a Thailand retreat will help you to not only cope, but to thrive. It is like learning a shortcut to happiness that many simply do not know about. Brilliant right?!

Burnout is a real problem in society, and prevention is a much better solution than trying to find a cure. It is likely that you will have to keep working in your employment and that life will throw all manner of things at you as you battle onward, but learning to cope whilst smiling, with a stronger fortitude and greater will to succeed is a more certain way of becoming a success before you become a casualty.

Through mindfulness practice, physical activity such as yoga and stretching, and incorporating meditation, you are adapting a holistic approach to your own health, happiness and self-development. This can help you become mentally stronger, physical fitter, more at ease with yourself and life, and aware of the world in which you live. You can actually learn to live rather than exist. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Life begins at the very edge of your comfort zone, on the outskirts of familiarity and away from your normal habits and routine. Rather than shun it, or even fear it, you can learn to embrace, experience and even enjoy it too. This isn’t changing what you do, but how you do it. It isn’t changing who you are, it is letting you become the true you, unleashing your full potential.

A Thailand retreat based around health and self-development puts your wellbeing at the very heart of the programme. This isn’t self-indulgent but rather self-fulfilment; letting your life exist beyond the limits of your expectations. It is time for you to look after yourself that little bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adventure Travel

Preparing A Holiday With An Anxious Relative

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As much as you love going on holiday and planning a trip to a region of the world that you don’t know, it can be a little frustrating to travel with relatives or friends who are naturally nervous about discovering new things. You know the kind: They won’t try exotic food in a restaurant, in case it wouldn’t agree with their stomach. They look at your travel pictures with envy but always find an excuse not to join you on your next adventure. And more importantly, they try to avoid travelling abroad if they can at all help it. Be kind before you launch into criticism. They can’t help feeling anxious about everything. And maybe, if you want to help them relax a little, it’s your responsibility to make travelling as easy and enjoyable as possible. However, you’re in luck, because we can help you with that. All it takes is a little bit of planning and thinking ahead to get them sorted.

Get informed at first

If your friend or relative doesn’t travel often, the best thing you want to do is to convince them to come on a trip with you that is poorly planned. First things first: It’s about defining when it the best time to visit your destination of choice. You wouldn’t want to accidentally pick the monsoon season when going to a tropical country, for instance. That’s exactly what this handy website is about : It helps you to find out when is the best time to visit where with monthly weather overview based on observations from the previous years. In short, if you’re travelling with someone who hates being cold, you can direct them towards countries that are warm in winter, for example. As silly as it might sound, knowing what kind of weather to expect can be a great help for a nervous adventurer: Knowing what to pack is already a step out of the unknown zone.

Get the health check

You can’t easily decide to travel to any country without planning. For health reasons, there is a number of regions in the world that require vaccinations to keep you safe. You’d better keep yourself informed of the health requirements in advance, as some vaccinations need to be started up to 2 months before your departure. The typical countries where you’d be expecting additional health vaccines tend to be around the south and south-east Asia. Hepatitis A and B is a common risk in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and even the Fiji. In India, you need to be aware of risks of rabies and Japanese encephalitis in addition to more common vaccinations. You also need to ensure that you and your relative are up to date with routine immunisations such as tetanus and diphtheria. The bottom line is that even though there are little risks for cautious travellers, you don’t want to take any chance.

Do you need authorisation?

If your friend or relative has only travelled to safe and known areas, such as Europe for instance, they may not be aware that certain countries require visitors from abroad to apply for a visa, aka an official authorization to entry the country. If you intend to visit Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, you will need to apply for a visa, which can take several weeks and require an official letter of recommendation from your destination hotel. Visiting South Africa, North America also require a visa, as well as some areas of Asia. Additionally, you need to ensure that you have free pages for control stamps in your passport. It might sound stressful at first, but it’s something that you can easily clarify in advance so that you don’t need to worry about it during your trip.

Protect your holiday

The main reason a lot of people feel anxious about travelling abroad is that they worry that anything might happen to them while they’re outside of the country. The fear of not knowing how to sort out common health and finances issues forces a lot of people to stay at home while they should be thinking about travel insurance instead. If your friend or relative is worried about falling ill on holiday or about losing valuable items abroad, you should take a look at standard travel policies to ensure that you can find an appropriate answer to their worries. From overseas travel insurance to snow sports insurance, you can find a lot of options to cover for most accidental situations smoothly and easily. More often than not, you can get an expert insurer to define the best-suited policy for your holiday. This will save you a lot of time searching as an insurer will be able to rely on the data of previous travellers to advise you.

Know how to spend the time

But I can’t travel to India: It’s a long flight, and I’ll get bored!

If that’s the kind of comments you get, you can reassure your friend or relative immediately: There are plenty of solutions that stop you from getting bored during your long journeys. Reading always is a good idea, especially if you’ve got a Kindle so that you can fill it with several books to keep yourself occupied while travelling. Some people might prefer audiobooks, however, if you’ve got a long flight, you’re likely to want to use earplugs and rest your senses. There are also plenty of online games that you can play with a smartphone, so it’s impossible to get bored!

Not one for tech gadgets? A simple crossword or sudoku book can do the trick and keep you busy until you’ve reached your destination. If you’re sitting aside, nothing is stopping you from playing a card game or a small board game. In short, getting bored is not a fatality!

Get a guidebook

How do you know about the best places and monuments to see when you’re visiting a new place? It’s obvious: You get a guidebook like every other traveller. Guidebooks might sound old-fashioned, but they are filled with useful information about an area, from where to stay to what to see. More importantly, you get a detailed breakdown of prices, which makes it a lot easier to plan your trip. As a traveller puts it, in a guidebook you find information that you didn’t know you needed, which helps you to prepare the best you can for your holiday. Besides, you can be sure that gathering knowledge about your destination will be handy to reassure your nervous co-traveller. Knowledge remains, after all, the best weapon against the unknown.

Pick your book

Do you need to know the language?

Most travellers would tell you that speaking English is enough to get by in any destination of the world. However; you need to be aware of one important fact: Just because English is the proxy language by definition, it doesn’t mean that everyone will understand you. A lot of people don’t speak English at all, and therefore you’ll need to be able to ask for directions or a cup of coffee in the local lingo. Why does it matter? You don’t need to be fluent to ask for things you need abroad, but you can be sure that locals are more likely to help and understand if you say it in their language. More often than not, you can get by with a simple phrasebook, from ordering food in a restaurant to finding the way to the art museum.

Prepare a visit plan

What if your friend would agree to go on a holiday but doesn’t know where to? You could inspire them with a list of the most wonderful sites to visit in the world. Stonehenge in England is a great destination for history lovers to enjoy the mysteries of the past. You can even organise walking among the famous stones on specific days! If you want to take their breath away with a fascinating historical site, try to Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. If you want to seduce a nature-lover, take them to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which is the world’s largest mirror. Or you could visit the Great Blue Hole in Belize, which is 407 feet deep and can be easily seen from above – no need to dive, thankfully!

Decide on a budget in advance

Let’s be honest: Most people avoid travelling because they’re afraid of spending too much on the go. In reality, it all comes down to clever planning: If you know in advance where you’re going to stay and what’s around to see and visit, you can plan your budget accordingly. Of course, there will always be the unexpected expenses in the form of a cocktail night at the local bar, or a really cute jumper that you simply couldn’t live further without. But for all these, you can rely on a budget app such as Trail Wallet to keep track of your expenses throughout the day. In a few clicks, you can get an overview of how much you can afford and how much you’ve already paid.

In conclusion, the secret to turning a travel-anxious friend into a travel-happy holidaymaker is to share your planning secrets with them. Yes, travelling takes a lot of preps. But it means they can enjoy their trip with their mind at peace!

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Adventure Travel

Top 5 Things to See in Dubai on Your Next Holiday

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Dubai has quickly become a top destination for travelers from around the world.  It offers an impressive mixture of the best of modern architecture, stunning scenery and is a shopper’s paradise.  So, what are the top things to see during your holiday to Dubai?

Burj Khalifa

You can’t miss the Burj Khalifa when you visit Dubai – at 828 meters high, it is the world’s tallest tower and dominates the city’s skyline.  But the building is far more than admiring.  There is an observation deck on level 124 that is a must-see part of visiting the city while At The Top Sky Lounge is on level 148.  If you want a meal amid the clouds, At.mosphere on level 122 offers quality meals.

Palm Jumeirah

Another impressive man-made wonder of Dubai, Palm Jumeirah is a palm shaped man-made island and one of the largest artificial islands in the world.  It is home to a host of high quality hotels including the Waldorf Astoria and the Atlantis, The Palm.  It also has its own monorail that runs along the ‘trunk’ of the tree to connect it with the mainland.

The Dubai Mall

As well as enjoying the glamour of Dubai on your next holiday, you can also enjoy some of the highest quality shopping.  The Dubai Mall is more than just a shopping mall – there are 1200 shops, 150 restaurants, an indoor theme park, a waterfall, ice rink and even an aquarium and underwater zoo.  It takes shopping to a whole new level!

The Dubai Fountain

Standing outside the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain is equally impressive and stands at the entrance to the Dubai Mall.  It is the world’s largest choregraphed fountain system reached 150 meters high with colorful, illuminated jet sprays that are timed to various musical pieces.  There are two shows a day on afternoons and evenings so plenty of chances to watch it in action.

Dubai Creek

Dubai is the epitome of a modern city but that’s not to say there isn’t history amid the stunning skyscrapers.  Dubai Creek is the heart of the old city, where the original Bani Yas tribe settled.  Here they started the pearl diving and fishing trades and the area slowly built into a trade center.  Now you can visit the gold, textile and spice souks as well as take a ride in a traditional abra boat.  It is also great value at just AED1 for a ticket.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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