Last weekend was our 10th wedding anniversary, and one we felt we should celebrate in style. We decided that a night or two without the girls was the order of the day, but with a big old world out there, where should we go?
New York was the initial destination of choice, but quickly dropped off the shortlist once we figured out how much it would cost. Berlin was next up, and we actually had a hotel booked there, but again decided that the money it was going to cost would be better spent on other things, and started looking closer to home. Manchester, Liverpool, London and Inverness (where, all those years ago, I proposed by Loch Ness) were all in with a shout at one stage or another, but the winner was a late bid by Oban, somewhere neither of us had been before.
And so on Friday we waved the kids goodbye (Heather was most confused that we were leaving them, at our house, with Grandma and Grandpa) and caught our train to Oban. Travelling by train was Gem’s idea, and one of the best she’s ever had, because it made an overnight stay feel more like a two day break. Oh, and it meant we could indulge in some celebratory bubbles en route, to accompany our antipasti style lunch (another of Gem’s ideas – I’m so glad I married her :))
Our home for the night was the Ranald Hotel, a short walk from Oban station. The Ranald is a new hotel, built less than a year ago right in the heart of Oban. It’s so new that its location on Google Street View is occupied by a dilapidated garage, apparently operating as a garden centre. I assure you, that’s NOT where we stayed, although it might have been cheaper!
Not that the Ranald was expensive I hasten to add – we paid a very reasonable £125 for one of their Splendid rooms, and it certainly lived up to its name. Not only was it spacious with one of the comfiest hotel beds I’ve ever slept in, but the shower was incredible and the decor – both in the room and in the hotel in general – was top notch. I also loved the tiny box of chocolates that were in our room on our arrival! It’s nice touches like that which make a hotel memorable, and it’s little wonder that the Ranald is ranked top hotel in Oban by TripAdvisor.
Luggage dumped, we went for a wander round Oban itself, stopping for “refreshments” along the way. It’s a really lovely town, and the views across the bay are stunning. I also had Gemma take the picture above, which probably seemed a little odd to anyone watching – why would anyone take photos in the car park of Farmfoods? Little did they know that over a hundred years ago this was the site of the Oban Tannery, where my great great grandmother was born!
After changing, and a quick cocktail in the hotel bar, we headed out for our anniversary dinner at Cuan Mor, a bar/restaurant with great views over the harbour. They also have an on-site brewery, the Oban Bay Brewery to be precise, so I was looking forward to sampling a few of their beers. Sadly they only had one (Kilt Lifter IPA) on tap, which was a little disappointing. It was tasty, though, as was the food. I had West Coast crab timbale, a rack of ribs and a New York cheesecake, all of which were excellent. The restaurant was busy, and we had to wait a couple of minutes for a table, but on a Friday night that’s to be expected and wasn’t a hardship. And the table we got was by the massive front windows, allowing us to watch the sun go down while we ate, which coupled with the atmosphere inside made for a very enjoyable evening.
Sadly, a 5:15am wake up call (thanks Megan!) meant we were both shattered, and after dinner we headed back to the hotel where we were sound asleep before 11pm. No stamina these days, unlike our wedding where we were the last folk to leave the reception at 3:30am! I think those days are long behind us.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at the hotel (pancakes) before checking out and going for another wander. We didn’t have time for the distillery tour, but we did sample some of the best seafood we’ve ever tasted, from a little stall between the harbour and the station. It was so good we bought some to take on the train with us.
All too soon it was time to go home. The girls were pleased to see us, and we didn’t mention that the pencils we’d bought them as souvenirs had accidentally been thrown away. They’ll never know! After they were in bed, we shared fish suppers with my mum and dad, which was a great way to finish a great couple of days.
Oban is a fantastic place, and a great choice for our anniversary weekend. And, from looking through the tour guide in our hotel room, there are plenty of things to do nearby too. In fact, we both loved it so much we’re already planning a return visit, this time with the girls, some time around Easter 2014. And, already, I can’t wait