Friday, August 9, 2013

The Isle of Iona...Scotland Trip Day Two

I don't sleep well in hostels, I was reminded as I woke up at 6 am.  Rather than trying to continue to sleep, I crawled out of my bunk, went downstairs to the men's showers and got myself sorted for the day.  After turning in my bunk bedding and room key, I had another stroll around the village to see what might be open at 7 am.  Mercifully, by 8 a cafe opened and I sat down at a table and promptly ordered a full breakfast - eggs, toast, beans, tomatoes, potato scone, bacon rasher, and white pudding.  After a cup of tea and then a cup of coffee I went back out to explore more of Tobermory.  Around 10 am, I climbed back up the hill and popped into the AnTobar arts and music centre.  During the day the place doubles as a coffee house/hangout.  So I had a coffee, did some reading, and hung out a bit before heading back down to the harbor to catch the bus back to Craignure and then onto Iona.

A mix up with the local bus company meant that the only bus available to take us to Craignure was actually a bright red open top bus.  So I spent the 45 minute trip up top filming the scenery and letting the cold wind blow through my hair.  After another hour bus trip, this time on a coach, I was at the end of the Ross of Mull where I boarded a ferry over to the isle of Iona.  It was only a 10 minute ferry crossing and before I knew it I was getting settled into my bed and breakfast on the little island.

Iona was originally settled by an Irish monk/missionary named Columcille (Columba in Latin).  Legend has it that due to the deaths of several men who had engaged in a couple of conflicts in which he was embroiled, Columcille was "exiled" to Scotland.  At any rate, he and 12 followers did set up a monastery on the island around 560 and eventually an Abbey was built on the site.  His work was certainly crucial in the evangelizing of Scotland and he remains an important figure in Church history.

My bed and breakfast wasn't far from the Abbey, so I had a look around the place before I hiked up the highest hill on the island.  The views were magnificent, not so much on the island, but what you could see looking back towards Mull, the mainland of Scotland, and out west over the Atlantic.  I then wandered back into the main part of the village and scarfed down some dinner while reading a newspaper.  Then it was back to the B&B and then over to the village hall.

Although I had paid my dues the night before, my name wasn't on the list, but the fellow at the door didn't seem to mind - very trusting, thankfully.  I had a chat with an English guy from Yorkshire named Luke and then I went and took a seat for a few minutes until I needed to heed nature's call and stroll back to the toilets.  As I was washing up, Roddy stepped in and asked how I had enjoyed Iona.  I shared a bit about my day and then went back into the hall for the start of the concert.  This was the first of two encounters with Mr. Woomble in the toilets that night - both by accident and both friendly.

Roddy and the band sounded excellent again this night.  The set list was mostly the same, but played in a different order.  I happened to be sitting next to Soren's (the guitarist's) girlfriend, Hanna, and we had a nice chat before the first set and during the intermission.  I discovered that Hanna will often play fiddle with Roddy when his other fiddle player is unavailable.  She also fronts here own ceilidh band and they actually played during the ceilidh after Roddy's gig.  A ceilidh is a traditional Scottish or Irish dance.  Before Roddy's last song, he mentioned that though most of the people in attendance had come from just down the road, there was a guy from France and another guy from Dublin in attendance.  Nice to get a little name recognition from the stage!

That wasn't the last I was referenced from the stage.  A couple of songs into the ceilidh, Hanna announced that a guy from Austin, TX needed a partner, so I ended up learning to do traditional Scottish dancing, but very poorly, I might add.  I participated in two dances and had some interesting chats with some other locals before I said my goodbyes to Roddy and Gavin and headed out into the darkness to find my B&B.  I read a little from one of my new books before I hit the light and drifted into dreams. - Shay 

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