If you spend any time visiting other cultures, countries, or special destinations, you will eventually find a place that feels like your spirit has come home. For me, that is the Isle of Iona, part of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
It’s a small island, easy to reach off the coast of Oban, Scotland (via the Isle of Mull, which is also Way Cool)… of the Scotch fame. In fact, a small but well stocked whiskey store in Oban near the ferry is where I discovered my love of Scotch and learned most of what I know. Auchentoshan 3 wood. Check. Bowmore Legend. Check. Caol Ila. Check. Talisker. Check.
Lest I get completely distracted, and/or distract you… this is not why I found myself on Iona. I was there for a writing retreat. The women were a joy, the writing was eye opening, but our hikes all over the tiny island were the revelation.
There is something about a tiny, quiet-but-wild space, blessed with an ancient monastery, a dilapidated nunnery and a beach casually referred to as “the end of the world” – that cannot be easily translated into an urban dweller’s experience. You have to be there, smelling the rushing live salt in the air, the unapologetic rural tang of a field of lambs, ewe, and a few cuuw…, and a large kitchen garden; drinking at an authentically rustic pub; and seeing in every distance the jade and shoreline aqua of the ocean, and the rough and tumble rock and seaweed seashore.
Given all the necessary resources, I would return to Iona again and again. It is one of those locations you stumble upon as you travel around the world that genuinely deserves the term “magical”.
The inns there are sweet but make no effort to be 5 star destinations. They are homey, and generally comfortable. Quiet. Serene. They know they are simply the mechanism for delivering a magical experience… time on Iona. Bring your own wash cloth(s) and bear in mind that anyone not officially part of a couple will be handed a twin (single) mattress.
Sitting fireside, writing down the experiences of the day while the rains sweep over the island, is a moment that will stay in your heart forever
It occurs to me that holiday destinations are often chosen because they are nothing like the place we call home. Yet, once we have spent time there… they frame our definition of “home” forever after. For me, this is the Isle of Iona.
What about you? What place on this amazing planet speaks most to your heart? Tell me a story… what made it magic for you?