Iona could steal your heart

Iona Travel Blog

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The funny little machine the bus driver used to sell tickets. First, he turned the dials on the top to choose the total. Then he hand-cranked a handle on the side to physically advance the tickets...

I am so happy I decided to come to Iona.

First of all, the trip over here weeds out those people who don't really want to be here.  From the mainland, it's ferry, bus, ferry. They are coordinated with each other nicely but still.....

The bus ride and ferry were delightful because I made friends with a little family.  The parents are probably in the 30s. Their little daughter, Rowan, is just shy of 3 and a complete little doll! We sat together for a while on the bus and chatted. Almost-3-year-olds are fun (till they melt down and then it's best if they belong to someone else!). When she decided she'd had enough of our side of the bus and wanted to see out the other side, her dad, Stew, switched places with her.
...which pop out the top and are thin (even flimsy) bits of paper. You need to hang on to them if you've bought a round trip.

He and I also had enjoyable conversations.  He and his wife, Bertie, are hoping to get jobs with the ecumenical community at the Abbey here. We talked about Scotland, about the geography, about faith life, about Iona, about all kinds of things. We marvelled at the roads.

If you ever travel on Mull or Iona, be aware of this -- the roads are all exactly one lane wide. One lane. But not one way. They have pull outs about every 50 feet so when you meet a car coming the other direction (because they are not one-way) you can pass each other. Our bus driver had clearly done this route many many times because he was cheerfully barrelling along, in his bouncy drivers seat.

You just kinda have to trust the process.

The ferry ride from Mull to Iona is a whopping 5 minutes long.
Rowan, my adorable seat mate on the bus across Mull.
You could swim the distance if you were a strong swimmer (though I wouldn't recommend it with the way the wind whips things up here).

For some reason, I was transfixed when I got off the boat.  Maybe it's Iona "magic". Maybe it's just because I've been looking forward to it.  Maybe it's because it's such a quintessentially Scottish kinda place -- rocky, yet greet but virtually no trees, and quite windswept. Everything build out of concrete and stone.

My hotel -- the Argyll -- is steps away from the ferry dock.  Everything in the village is steps away from the ferry dock!  It's a quite small village. Looks like maybe 100 inhabitants?  20 buildings or so and the Abbey? You can't hardly get lost.  Rather than offer breakfast with your room, they offer dinner. I had a rabbit and venison hot pot and spotted dick for dessert (in case you're wondering, spotted dick is sort of like bread pudding with fruit in it).
All aboard the ferry to Iona (visible just acros the water; it's not a long ride).

Like so many islands, Iona is very eco-conscious. This isn't a fashion trend. They have to be conscious of waste removal, water usage, etc. because they are a tiny island. They are very conscious of all resources being shared resources. The two "big" hotels have gardens and serve organic food. And it's delicious. I've had a chance to remember how fantastic salmon can be in the British Isles.

Since it's the height of summer, everything is blooming. The flower gardens are gorgeous.  So bright! Though it's still weird to be somewhere without trees.

On Monday, I just wandered around looking in shops.  The Abbey for which the island is famous has an active ecumenical community living in it and caring for it.  They have worship twice a day -- at 9 am and 9 pm. I've tried to be there every day for both (slept in this morning, though).
The Abbey as we come into Iona.

On Monday night, the service started with a 4-person acapella group and they were excellent. The acoustics were very supportive and it was a good way to really set the tone. The liturgy seems to follow a set format, more or less. I don't know if it's drawn from Church of Scotland or completely homegrown. Music, Gospel reading, preaching, more music. 

The service ended between 9:30 and 10.  But since the sun doesn't set till 11 pm, I had plenty of light to find my way back to the hotel.
jteitel says:
Pictures! We need pictures. :-D
Posted on: Jul 02, 2008
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The funny little machine the bus d…
The funny little machine the bus …
...which pop out the top and are t…
...which pop out the top and are …
Rowan, my adorable seat mate on th…
Rowan, my adorable seat mate on t…
All aboard the ferry to Iona (visi…
All aboard the ferry to Iona (vis…
The Abbey as we come into Iona.
The Abbey as we come into Iona.
Iona in bloom.
Iona in bloom.
Iona in bloom, some more.
Iona in bloom, some more.
And finally....Iona in bloom.
And finally....Iona in bloom.
photo by: WorldXplorer