Iona could steal your heart
Iona Travel Blog› entry 5 of 19 › view all entries
June 30th, 2008 – by: Documama
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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