Oban is not a normal place. The small of town of fewer than 10,000 souls grew around the distillery of the same name. Today, in addition to whiskey, the town is a popular seaside retreat on the west coast of Scotland. I made a point to visit this strange little hamlet not for the spirits, but as a stop on my pilgrimage to Iona.
During my brief stay in Oban I was fortunate enough to enjoy an evening festival at one of the strangest landmarks in Scotland, McCaig’s Tower.
The Tower was built at the beginning of the 20th Century by wealthy Scottish banker John McCaig. McCaig based the design on the Roman Colosseum, although only the outer walls were completed.
Oban is pretty, but also boring for a young guy fresh out of college. Rather than settle in at the pub, I decided to make the steep ascent to the Tower to enjoy the refreshingly cool summer evening. As I made my way up to the Folly, as locals call it, I noticed that I wasn’t alone. Scores of people, tourists and townies alike, were joining me for my quiet evening stroll.
When I reached the top I was pleasantly surprised by an evening of Scottish celebration, featuring the Oban Pipe Band and Highland dancers. It was a wonderful evening of song and dance and for the first time on my trip I felt a part of the community, rather than a cultural interloper.