Tag Archives: motorcycle

Oban (Oh-Bin)

Oban!  Pronounced Oh-Bin… What a lovely little place to visit!  Sadly the weather was absolute crap during my stay, but at least I got a little sample:)

I took the bus from Inverness (or In-bir-nis in Gaelic) early and headed to Oban.  I skipped going to Fort William because I had heard there really wasn’t much to do there, but in Oban there is the opportunity to go to several neighboring islands via ferry or boat, etc.  So I was excited to check out the area for sure!  On the way there just outside of town there is the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary!!!  I was quite tempted to jump off the bus right then and there as one of the stops was just in front of the facility, but that would not have been very sound seeing as I had my backpack with me… Plus, I figured I could always go back since I was staying three nights in Oban.

I spotted the hostel I had pre-booked to stay in (Oban Backpackers) as we drove down the main street to the bus station.  I headed easily out to the hostel and was greeted by a very accommodating and friendly German man.  I’m honestly not sure he took a single breath during his 5 minute “welcome introduction” lol!!  But just as the Inverness Student Hostel was, Oban Backpackers was also warm, welcoming and a generally great place to stay!!  They had large areas where people could hang out and chat and offered an area to put down the backpacks while one waited to check in!  Just love that feature in a hostel since many times I had arrived too early to check into my room but didn’t want to be stuck hauling my crap around or sitting at the hostel simply waiting for check-in!!

But I’m rambling again… Since I had arrived a bit earlier than the actual check-in time, I put my crap down in the designated area and headed out with a very detailed map of Oban, which I acquired from the very friendly hostel host!  The map itself was already very detailed (you know, one of those tourist maps provided by the city) but the host marked several areas of interest on mine before I left his presence so that I would know everywhere to go and see and do right off the bat!  Obviously he was used to a gazillion of the same questions from travelers, so in an attempt to stave them all off, he simply answered them all up front, lol!!

So with my map in hand and my bag no longer on my back I headed to the Oban Tower.  Located only about 10 minutes up the hill from the hostel, it provided a great place to take some aerial shots of the town!!  From there I just wandered around the small town just exploring and getting ideas on what to do for the next coming days while there.  The town itself is a little horse shoe shaped town located directly on the water.  It has a shipping dock and lots of varieties of boats bobbing in the harbor all for their various purposes.  There are even castles just a short hike up the way from the main part of town AND even a whiskey distillery in the center of town!!  Yes, Oban does offer quite a bit of activities for those looking to kill a few days in a cute seaside town in Scotland…

Now, even though there were trails to walk, castles to see, a Sea Life Sanctuary to visit, a whiskey distillery to tour and nearby islands to take a ferry to for a few hours… I did absolutely none of those… 😦

I know!!! I know!!  I’m totally bonkers!!!  And I promise I TRIED to go see the castles and the Sea Life Sanctuary and even the distillery, but alas no… I’m totally going to blame it ALL on the weather!!!  Yes, the weather!!  I already mentioned above that the weather was absolute crap while I was there… And yes, it was just cold and windy and blustery basically the entire time I was there!!  Ok, well the first day wasn’t so bad, but since I didn’t bother or care to look up an extended forecast for the area, instead of putting my rear in gear and actually doing some of the hikes and island visits on my first day (or half day, since I used the morning bit to get there!!) I simply spent it walking around and planning my activities for the next days…  So anyway, yea… The first day was quite successful in the sense that I had a solid plan on what I was doing for the next couple days…

But the next day, once I rose and dressed and stepped outside into the blustery cold and wet and WINDY weather, I realized that all my plans were about to go to right out the window!!  I first searched for something to nibble, then headed to the boat dock to see about catching a ferry to the nearby island of Kerrera, where there is a lovely monastery to walk around and enjoy a coffee in… But the docks were closed due to the windy weather.  No boats, no ferry’s, no island… So I wandered to bus station to find out about the Sea Life Sanctuary bus to see if I could catch it and at least spend some time there.  However, the majority of the park would have been outdoors and on the water basically, so if the weather was crap here, 20 minutes up the road wouldn’t be much improved… So I decided against that action… I thought ok, what about walking to the castles??

Finally an option that may work out!  So I headed back through town on the main road, then cut through a little side street to the trail that would lead to the castles and just as I rounded the corner got slammed with the biggest wind gust yet!!  My poncho flapped around me viciously while I got pelted in the face with rain drop after rain drop… This was not good!!  And after only a block of that nonsense I turned back up the next little side street and headed back to the hostel to warm up.

After inquiring about “what to do on nasty weather days” to the hostel host (whiskey tour is what he suggested… or just a pub!) I headed to the whiskey distillery and decided against the tour (I wasn’t really that in the mood for whiskey, plus had no way to carry the glass gift they apparently gave at the end in my backpack) so I did the next best thing… Went to the pub!

Turned out to be a fine rest of the day as far as I was concerned!!  Met an interesting guy from the States who was traveling all of the UK and Ireland on his motorcycle!!  He actually had his personal motorcycle flown over and was driving it all around!!  Needless to say he was being responsible and only had food and one drink at the bar, but it was really cool to meet someone who was doing something that brave!!  Well done on him!!

So that’s how I killed my days in Oban… Ate, drank, drank, ate, curled up for a movie on my Samsung Tablet, and generally found any excuse to stay out of the weather and stay indoors!!!  Some of my roommates had tried to go to the castle as well, and they succeeded!!!  Brave couple!!  However they didn’t really get to see anything at all since the mist was all around and the castles were closed… LOL!!  Poor things!!  They really looked wrecked when they came back!!  But I’m sure they still had a great time being adventuresome!!

On to Glasgow

Back to United Kingdom

 

Travel from Capurgana to Medellin

Ugh!!!  This was probably the most irritating portion of my trip overall.  Hence why I’m even mentioning it… So others can avoid what I had to endure!!

So I chose the boat way out of Capurgana mainly because… well, I will admit it, I’m cheap!  When it comes to traveling, every “dollar” counts so between spending about $180 for a plane to Medellin or around maybe $50 for the boat and bus to Medellin, well, the boat and bus won out.  However, looking back perhaps I should have simply taken the dang plane!!

So it all began in the morning.  My bag was packed and I had to purchase a ticket for the boat out.  I opted for the first boat out so I could have the day traveling (thank goodness I chose this!!!) Tickets could not be purchased much in advance, so I recall just being able to do so the morning of.  I got on the boat (after having my bag weighed in case it was too heavy to ride, or an extra charge would be added) with dozens of other people.  I was in the very front of the motor boat and had to endure several splashes of water hitting my face for the hour it took to get to Turbo.

Honestly the ride wasn’t THAT bad… just interesting… We arrived in Turbo, and let me tell you it’s absolutely NOT the kind of place that anyone would want to spend any sort of real time… It literally is just a pass on through town; a place where people are shipped in and out of… that’s it!  The water was dirty and oil slicked, the town was dumpy and very busy.  Just not at all like the lovely village I had just come from.

Anyway, I hoped off the motor boat and had to catch a bus to Medellin.  However, no buses actually came into the dock area of Turbo.  So I then had to hop on the back of a dirt bike/motorcycle (with my 72 liter backpack and all), hold on for dear life and get zoomed in and out of various streets until we were literally heading out of town and then dropped off on the side of the road to an unmarked area where the bus would eventually show… I would seriously have been panicking a bit more than I was  (at least in my head… I was trying to stay cool on the exterior) had it not been for a couple of other random people also standing on the side of the road waiting for the bus.

Now, perhaps it’s a good time to mention that from the start of arriving in Turbo I had what I guess you could call a travel coordinator.  This was a guy who simply asked people who arrived on the boat where they wanted to go and arranged for them to be taken there in a very loose way.  This is how I knew to get on the motorcycle and be transferred to the bus… Now when the bus actually arrived (YAY, I wasn’t being mis-lead!!) the “travel coordinator” also showed up.  I got on the bus and he followed me on saying that I needed to pay for the bus ticket… or so I thought… I understood that what I was paying was for the bus ticket, however it wasn’t.  It was apparently for his “services” in organizing everything.  So I paid him thinking it was the bus ticket, and to boot paid him too much because my brain was frazzled from the activity and couldn’t do math correctly at the time, and thought that was the end of it.  He of course got off the bus before we parted…

So then there I was on the bus to Medellin, when about a half hour later we pulled into a bus terminal… The bus driver at this point announced that those who were just joining the bus had to buy their tickets now.

Hold on a sec… buy my tickets NOW????  I’ve been on the bus for half an hour… and I’ve already paid that other guy (though stupidly I didn’t think that it was odd at the time that I wasn’t given a bus ticket in return for the money since I thought that guy worked for the bus company… stupid!!).  So…. Yea, I tried to explain to the driver that I had already bought a ticket, but with no proof I was sorta SOL… So I sucked it up and just bought another, or rather an ACTUAL bus ticket from inside the terminal for Medellin.

So, for those going to Columbia: if you get on a bus from a bus stop and NOT from the terminal, either make sure you already have your proper ticket, or be prepared to buy your ticket once at the terminal, and NOT from random people!

Aside from this annoying hiccup, the trip to Medellin was, again I’m not going to lie, very LONG and EXHAUSTING!!!  It was at least another 10 hours of driving to Medellin (after the boat and motorcycle, etc) and though Columbia has very lovely country sides, their roads are absolutely exhausting!!!  They aren’t very well kept so the driver kept speeding when the roads were good, then slamming on the brakes to go over the pot-hole infested areas, then revving the engine again to speed.  The constant stop and go motion really wore on my body!

We finally arrived in Medellin around 9 or 10 at night and the sketchy adventures continued from there…

Oh, one little thing I forgot to mention… On the oh-so-fun road trip to Medellin, one thing I did find quite “interesting” was that every now and again on the top of a random hill that sloped from the road you would see stationed there a member of the Columbian military laying flat on the ground watching the road through a scope attached to whatever kind of gun that is that has scopes and can fire from long distances… Interesting and a teeny bit unsettling indeed… But it was only on this stretch of the travels that I noticed them.  Perhaps because that area was well known for people trying to smuggle themselves or items through the jungle of Columbia into Panama (remember there are no roads connecting the countries so it literally would be just through pure jungle).  But honestly I don’t know for sure, but rather can only speculate…

 

On to Medellin

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