Invasion of the College Students Featured Image

In March of 2018, I could frequently be found in Oban on Scotland’s west coast. Oban is kind of a “jumping off place” for visiting the Western Isles of Mull, Iona, Coll, Kerrera, and the Outer Hebrides, to name a few.

Overlooking Oban and its Harbor.

Oban’s Hostel

From my hostel window, I could watch ferries moving in and out of the harbor all day long. I made a couple trips on them—one to Iona and another to the Outer Hebrides.

I loved Hosteling Scotland’s hostel in Oban. It was my base on and off for several weeks. Most of the time, I was assigned a bed in room 104—a lovely female six-bed dorm with a bay window overlooking the harbor. Because I was there in March, I often had the entire room to myself. I would jokingly refer to the people in reception that it was “my” room.

Dorm Window overlooking Oban Harbor
View from "my" bay window.

Of course, you never know when a new guest will show up. One afternoon, I was working at the little table by the window when I looked down at the street to see a huge bus disgorging young people.

This probably meant that I would be getting new roommates. Since I was only dressed in a sweater and tights, I thought it might be nice if I greeted any new arrivals more properly dressed, so I put on a skirt. I was glad I did…


Imagine my surprise when seven (count ‘em SEVEN) adorable young college men walked into the room. Imagine THEIR surprise. I laughed and quipped, “I think reception made a mistake, this is a female dorm. Besides, there are only six beds, so unless one of you is sleeping with me…”

They laughed nervously, some blushing, and the last one in the door took the opportunity to leave by saying he would go down and “check on it.” I told them I was sure they would be moving to another room and then I began to chat with the remaining six.

“Do you knit?”

Many of you know that I had a “companion” that I called the “Traveling Scarf.” Whenever I met another knitter, I would ask if they would like to add to the scarf. Over time it grew and grew—eventually to over six meters long. You can read more about the Traveling Scarf here.

As I bantered with the young men, I managed to get in my regular spiel about how I was always on the lookout for knitters.

Traveling Scarf on Display

 “Do any of you knit?” I asked, half seriously.  

Without hesitation, five of them immediately turned and pointed, “Michael does—he’s always knitting; he has his knitting with him!” Sure enough, a grinning, blushing Michael pulled out a big ball of red yarn and knitting needles.

So, I pulled out the Traveling Scarf. All their eyes about bugged out of their heads. I told Michael that he just HAD to add some rows to the scarf, and Michael readily agreed to meet me down in the living room later.

About that time, Ross, the hostel receptionist arrived and burst out, “What are you doing in room 104?”  Turned out, I was actually the odd one out—I was the one who had to move.

Never mind, I had found a knitter…

Travel Tip

Having a travel project with you is a form of Thematic Travel. You can learn more about how you can travel thematically, no matter what your interest is here:

Read more stories of Cathy’s journeys in 
An Image Summons A Thousand Words.
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Other posts that I have written about Oban and the Western Isles:

A Winter Walk in the Western Highlands about a day hike I took while staying in Oban (includes a video).

The Edge of the Planet is a Lovely Place to Be about hiking on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

Robert, the Dog Optometrist about a man who offered me a ride and ended up taking me on a hilariously grand tour of the Isle of Harris.

These two posts are from the Journal of the Traveling Scarf blog and are written from the viewpoint of Hamish the Traveling Scarf: 

Back to Scotland: Quiet Sojourn in Oban

Iona, The Magical Isle

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Cathy Fulton

I am Cathy Fulton and I became a world nomad in 2014. Traveling has become a way of life for me. Except for the fact that I am a citizen of the United States, I don’t have a residence. I am retired and I like to travel solo and independently. I don’t know how many times I have heard, “You are living my dream.” My reply is, “It doesn’t have to be a dream. It can be a reality!"

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