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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.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Adventure Travel

Skin-Care Rules to Always Follow When You Travel

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With the holiday season nearly upon us, most of us are hit with a bout of wanderlust. Traveling will take us to different places, and these places likely have completely different climates from what we are used to. Nobody wants to have a skin breakout or any other type of skin problem during vacation. To prevent this problem, this article will give you Skin-care rules to always follow when you travel.

Every time you step on a plane, your skin is exposed to a whole different condition. You are plagued by stale, dry, circulated air that can do wonders to your skin (in a bad way, of course). And that is just your flight. Your actual vacation can be a nightmare for your skin. From weird hotel products to bad sunscreen, to stress from forgetting stuff at home or from family members and a host of other problems.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to keep your skin looking great despite the challenges of travel.

  1. Drink Water…a lot of water

Staying hydrated is extremely important. Being hydrated inside and outside is one of the most important skin routine tips at all times, even when you are not on vacation.

The switch from a hot to a cold climate or from a hot to cold climate can cause skin dryness and irritation among other things. Even the air on the plane is dry and can sap all the moisture from your skin. Therefore, make sure your drink a lot of water. That would keep you hydrated inside.

For your skin, you should liberally apply moisturizers to keep your skin looking radiant and beautiful.

  1. Use Sunscreen

Next to staying hydrated, sun protection is one of the most important routine for your skin type.  While travelling, you should be extra diligent about your sunscreen.

It might sound strange, but you should apply sunscreen even while on the plane. Why? Because you are in a metal container 10,000 feet close to the sun. In fact, you are likely to get a sunburn while in a plane than on the ground. You might want to close the shades, but others might want of view. Hence take precautions and apply the sunscreen.

When you are travelling, it can be easy to forget to use sunscreen, or you might run out of sunscreen. You can go the extra mile by setting a reminder on your phone either to use sunscreen or buying a new one before the current one runs out.

  1. Use Minimal Makeup

During your vacation, leave out heavy foundations and other heavy makeup products. If you are traveling to a location with extreme weather, your makeup will wear off fairly easily. This not only leaves you looking silly, but the heavy makeup can clog the pores of your skin and result in breakouts.

If you choose to use makeup at all, use breathable makeup. Preferably it should be water-resistant and offer protection from hot climates.

  1. Take your facial cleanser and moisturizer along with you

To keep your face looking great even in extreme climates, your facial cleanser and moisturizer are very important. The daily cleanser helps to clean impurities on your face, while the moisturizer will feed your skin with the important nutrients required to keep it healthy during the duration of your trip.

  1. Use trusted products

Trying out new products is fun, but you should be very careful doing this while on vacation. The change in climate is enough stress on your skin. If you add new products to your skin, you might be increasing the stress on it. Invariably, this might lead to skin breakout and other issues.

Therefore, stick to what your skin is familiar with. When you go back home, you can try out new products. To make it easier to keep using your familiar products, you can buy travel-sized versions of your moisturizer, lotion, cleanser and other stuff.

  1. Have a medical emergency kit

This should contain smoothening calamine, aloe vera potion and other things that can be used in case of skin emergencies.

To enjoy your trip, no matter where that might be, follow these skin-care rules. Your skin will thank you for it!

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Adventure Travel

Scottsdale – Come for the Sights, Stay for the Experience

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Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the most popular destinations in the Grand Canyon State. Known for its resorts, natural trails, and association with nightlife, the city has become a must visit for anyone who wants to experience contemporary life in a former desert.

Scottsdale is very famous for its modern hospitality and geographical sights. Keeping this in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to know that finding a Scottsdale nightclub is on the minds of many tourists who pay the city a visit – even those who do so to explore one of its mountainous ranges.

If you are planning to head down to the Copper State anytime soon and enjoy life, then Scottsdale may prove to be a great summer destination.

To help you understand what the city would have to offer in terms of recreation, here are some of the top Scottsdale vacation and dining options that make the West’s Most Western Town, a must visit.

Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale is perhaps the most popular destination in the city. With its unique lineup of culturally rich events, this colorful area has a vibe that defines old West meeting its modern counterpart to a T.

While Scottsdale remains famous for its modern nightlife, club scene, and luxurious resorts, Old Town Scottsdale brings about the old Western charm for tourists to experience firsthand. Old architecture, preserving museums, and cultural activities are just a few of the many things that you could experience at this destination.

With an array of fine dining restaurants that prove to be the best in the state, you could grab a bite in luxury after roaming around in the sun.

And if you feel a bit more adventurous, then you could do that exploration while riding on a Segway instead of using your good old feet. With plenty of Segway tours being conducted each day, you will easily be able to find something that suits your schedule.

Taliesin West

As the winter home to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin West boasts of an unmatched architectural design.

Now a museum, the destination doesn’t only showcase the building in all of its glory, but also offers insights into Wright’s work and his mind through detailed tours of the facility.

It is due to these reasons that Taliesin West ranks as one of the topmost destinations to visit in Scottsdale among many professional guides.

Since the building or its experience cannot be replicated elsewhere, it remains a must visit for whenever you are in Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Fashion Square

Want to visit the biggest shopping mall in Arizona? You would find it to be located in the heart of Scottsdale.

With around 2 million square feet of shopping space, the Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the biggest malls in the whole country. Made up of high end, luxury retail locations, it is literally the one stop shop for upscale items that you may not find elsewhere in the city. With that, the mall holds plenty of fine dining locations as well. What more could you want from a shopping destination, really?

Due to its modern inventory and access to high fashion, the Scottsdale Fashion Square could be a must visit before you hit the popular nightclub scene of the city. Whether you are finding some club wear or just want to spruce up your existing outfit with some Loboutins, this mall would provide you with plenty of choices and fun to boot.

Scottsdale Has Something for Everyone

Depending upon your personal preference, Scottsdale has plenty to offer.  Whether you want to indulge in the city’s party scene or just explore its natural history, you would find that the destination has something for everyone.

So the next time that you are about to visit the Wild West, don’t forget to put Scottsdale at the top of your list. You won’t be disappointed with what you get to work with.

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Adventure Travel

5 Fun Adventure Activities in Vietnam

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A stunning country with glorious scenery and an amazing culture, Vietnam offers many attractions for the modern tourist. It would be easy to spend a holiday in Vietnam just sightseeing and immersing yourself in the culture – which thanks to a heavy French influence, is different to its South Eastern Asian neighbours – but why pass up on some of the fun adventure activities in Vietnam?

Sandboarding

Also called sand surfing, sandboarding is an extreme sport, exactly like snowboarding, but on sand dunes instead of snow. Regularly named among the best sandboarding destinations in the world, are the Mue Ne Dunes. A series of red dunes around the resort town of the same name, sandboarding has not yet hit the professional heights here but is more of a fun cultural experience. Women in cone hats rent out boards to everyone from kids to saffron-robed Buddhist monks.

Mue Nie is also home to the magical Fairy Stream. This small shallow river winds through moon-like rock formations and is fun to walk through. You can watch the fish as you walk up to two kms in the water or you might try your hand at fishing. You’ll need some basic tackle including rod and reels. Check out these great options for beginners.

Take on Mount Fansipan

Nicknamed “the Roof of Indochina”, Fanispan at 3,143 metres is the highest mountain in the region. Located in Sapa, a town in the Lao Cai province in Northern Vietnam, the mountain can be conquered via two main climbing routes, one categorised as 2D1N, the other a longer 3D2N route. Both climbs require a guide. For those who prefer an easier way to the summit, the Fanispan cable car takes just 15 minutes to achieve what climbers do in 2-3 days, travelling on cables high above primitive forests.

Ride a Motorbike from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi

One of the enduring images of Vietnam is the streets of Ho Chi Minh crowded with motorbikes, but motorbikes are also popular outside the cities and Vietnam has become known for some amazing motorbike routes. One of the favourite journeys is from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. There are various routes to cover the distance of more than 2,000 kms, all taking you through gorgeous scenery and fascinating towns and villages.

Marble Mountain Rappelling Tour with Temple and Cave Exploration

You might think that abseiling down a vertical rock face is for experienced adrenalin junkies but not so on a rappelling tour in the Marble Mountains in Vietnam. Located just north of the popular resort city of Hoi An, the Marble Mountains are known locally as the “Five Elements Mountains”. Tours start in the city and once in the mountains, all equipment and instruction is provided to complete at least two rappels (depending on the tour company you choose). Besides the rappelling, the tours have spectacular views of the coast and include trekking through the mountains, visiting caves and temples

Canyoning

Canyoning is a thrilling adrenaline rush of an adventure sport wherein you jump into a fast-flowing mountain stream and allow yourself to be carried at high speed downstream. The most popular place for canyoning in Vietnam is Dalat. Dalat is in the Central Highlands and is a lovely resort town near a lake becoming renown as a destination for honeymoons as well as the adventure sports of cliff jumping, waterfall rappelling, natural water slides, and hiking, as well as canyoning. Various companies offer canyoning tours in Dalat all at similar prices for similar itineraries, so just choose which appeals most.

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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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