This post may stretch out a little bit longer than the previous ones, as it’s going to cover the entirety of the time we were on Islay. There will be plenty of pictures of beautiful scenery to break up the text!
On the third full day of the trip, we headed to the airport again. It was time to fly to Islay (pronounced Eye-la), a small island famous for their whiskey distilleries, including my favorite, Lagavulin. However, the first step was getting there, which involved a super small plane, and a super small airport.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the small plane that flew us to Islay, so I tried to focus my attention on the book I was reading and a podcast, but when we got close to the island curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see the small Scottish island from the window. It already looked delightful. (Technically the in-flight picture below is from the flight to Glasgow, but it’s the same idea!)
We landed in an airport that would definitely be where they film the Scottish remake of Wings. It was insanely small, with only a few flights going in and out all day long. We were one of about maybe ten or fifteen people on the plane. We managed to get a cab right away as the people the cabbie was waiting for never ended up showing up.
As we were about two hours early for our Air BnB check in, we asked the cab driver to drop us off at the Ardbeg distillery, which we heard had a great lunch place. This turned out to be true, though I don’t know I would agree with the recommender’s statement that it was the best food on the entire island. But I had a salmon plate that was very nice, and they offered whiskey flights with lunch so we got to taste some of the whiskies there without doing a tour.
Most of the distilleries are set on the shore, and have their name painted along the side. You can generally walk out to a pier to view these things, as well as the surrounding ocean views. It’s one of those places that reminds me how much I love being on the water, particularly by the sea. And there is plenty of sea to be had in Islay!
When it was four o’clock, we checked into the apartment. It was adorable, though not quite as well equipped as the last one. Still, it was in the perfect location in Port Ellen. But then again, almost everywhere in Port Ellen is the perfect location. It’s a tiny, but charming, little town right on the water and you can walk from one end of it to the other in about four minutes. This is just what we did after settling down and getting used to the new space.
It has been a dream of mine to visit the Lagavulin Distillery for a very long time, and it did not disappoint! I made sure to get all my iconic pictures before we headed out. My only wish is that I had been able to get a wider shot from the water but that didn’t end up happening (more on that later in the post).
From Lagavulin, we walked down the Three Distilleries path to Laphraoig, where we did a small tasting and were able to sit and eat a little bit before heading back to the apartment. Like the other distilleries, Laphraoig is situated on the water and is known for their smoky, peaty whiskies.
It is definitely worth the walk down the Three Distilleries Path. It is absolutely beautiful. It looks out onto the ocean and the hills of Islay. You can see the surrounding flowers and farm animals (mostly just sheep!), and enjoy the quiet, country roads of Scotland.
After the walk, we rested at the apartment for a little bit, before heading out to dinner. I discovered that Murder, She Wrote is the Law and Order of Scotland – three separate episodes were airing on three separate channels at the same time. Dinner that night was at the Islay Hotel, which had really great food and views.
The next day was our final day in Islay… and I got sick! I woke up that morning not feeling 100%, but I figured it was just from not sleeping well and headed out for sightseeing anyway. It was a very windy day and the plans we originally had changed completely. Instead of the hike and boat tour we were going to do, we took the bus all the way to Port Charlotte and Bowmore. Both were lovely little towns.
Admittedly, there was not much to do in Port Charlotte. It’s a very small town, one of the island’s oldest. We ended up sitting at the small hotel and having some coffee while looking out over the water.
In Bowmore we saw the Round Church, had lunch at the Peatzeria (really nice seafood pizza), and visited the Bowmore Distillery. At this point in the day, I was losing steam. It was becoming quickly clear that I had a fever, so we headed from the distillery back to the apartment where I was able to rest for the afternoon. I went to bed early and was thankfully much better the next day (though at the time of my writing this, I still have lingering cold symptoms).
Because I wasn’t feeling well, a lot of this last day passed in a blur. There’s nothing worse than being sick on vacation! I felt terrible because I was sick, and terrible because we weren’t doing anything to see more of the island during the time I was not feeling well. I couldn’t even muster the energy needed to go to dinner.
But in the end, I know it was probably for the best that I quarantined myself for the afternoon, because we were headed for London next, where there was no time for rest! You’ll be hearing all about it in the final installment.