Monday, 29 September 2014

Back to 'Reality'

I've never liked that phrase - 'back to reality'. Your travels are a reality too, just a different one. And I always felt if you're not happy with your day-to-day reality it's probably time to update it.

Regardless I might have uttered that phrase once or twice on moving back to the UK after a year in New Zealand and months of travelling. Coming back to England to my old university definitely held some mixed feelings! But I'm so excited to put into practice what I've learnt in the last 16months and adapt and ultimately improve on my old reality!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Iceland Day 4. Blue Lagoon

So today was my very last day in Iceland, and my very last day before I set off back home!
After a deliciously long lie in I woke up and head off to Loki Cafe, a traditional Icelandic Cafe specialising in 'Icelandic delicacies'! I opted for the Icelandic Platter...
 Featuring: 2 slices of  rye Bread one with mashed fish, another with smoked trout. Flatbread with smoked lamb, dried fish with butter and…. a bit of fermented shark (the menu didn't list fermented shark as I wouldn't have ordered it but the chef found out I wanted to try some traditional Icelandic food and added it on for me to give it a go!)

The meal was… interesting. The dried fish with butter was surprisingly good, as was the rye bread with mashed fish while the Rye bread itself was just amazing. The fermented shark was definitely not something I'll be recommending… urgh. 
 Right outside the Cafe is the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral which is made to reflect the cliff faces I saw yesterday and it's really rather beautiful and startling. 
 I booked my bus to the Blue Lagoon for the early afternoon so I spent the rest of the morning pottering about Reykjavik for the last time as it really is a lovely city with lots of quirky corners

 There was an art exhibition going on in the middle of the city with photos from the mountains

 And I also spotted some lovely graffiti dotted around which really added to the community feel 
 It felt like I'd only been walking around Reykjavik for a few moments before I set off to get my bus and all I can say about the Blue Lagoon is wow. 

The Landscape around the Blue Lagoon is pure volcanic rocks and they just look amazing with the milky turquoise water that's naturally heated to around 40 degrees!
 I decided to completely pamper myself with this day at the Blue Lagoon and after getting my bracelet (which allows you to buy drinks and lock your locker) I didn't hesitate to make the most of the beautiful  pool and surroundings.
 I spent about an hour simply pottering about before I headed back into the locker room to grab my camera so I could get a couple of shots of the blue lagoon. 
 The water was lovely and warm, which given that every so often there was as cool freeze the contrast was amazing.. needles to say I spent the majority of the day in a luxurious state of bliss! 
despite it being quite busy, there were always deserted corners you could go to and just relax on your own - they also have a max so it never actually gets all that busy
I loved how the spa was a mix of natural ruggedness and modern stylishness so the bottom of the pool was smoothed but it was still kept 'authentic' so you often snubbed your toes since the floor was uneven and rocky! 
 The view from the pool more than made up for a couple of snubbed toes and bruises!

One of the best bits was that they had free mud available for face masks - needless to say I did several face masks and spent the day alternating between doing some lovely face masks and sipping a drink from the swim up bar! 
 I had the most amazing last day and I left completely relaxed ready for my crazy sleepless night and early morning getting back to the UK. The way back to reykjavik was pretty cool too as it was over the lava fields!

Iceland Day 3. South Coast

Today was another last minute booking! I didn't get back to Reykjavik yesterday until 8pm so I just spent a few hours researching trips and things I could do on my own but I eventually settled on doing a tour as without a car I just couldn't get to most of the place! 

So Today I woke up bright and early, again, and caught my tour bus to do the South Coast. I really wanted to get onto a West Coast Tour but they're not as popular and so only run a handful of times a week and they were all fully booked for the next two weeks - I wasn't particularly disappointed though since I wanted to do the South Coast too!
 First stop outside the city was a service station… not the best start. As it was it was a good chance to grab some breakfast and a drink. They also had a stand for dried fish! It's a traditional Icelandic snack and it's apparently really nice with butter… I settled on a simple cheese sandwich though!

Also, once I sat down a guy calls to me saying 'who's following who!' I turn around and right next to me is the couple from the tour yesterday! Not only are we on the same tour, which is funny, but we got seated right next to each other!
 I'm just going to say I wasn't too impressed with the tour itself and I will be reviewing them online :p So I'm going to skip over my rants about the incompetence of the tour and focus on the incredibly beautiful landscape I got the chance to see! 
As we drove past the Seljalandsfoss waterfall - we'd be coming back to this later!
 We did see some beautiful things as we drove, including the dramatic southern mountains 
 Our first real stop was the Solheimajokull Glacier than you can just see here!
Walking unto the glacier 
 I wasn't sure whether to be bothered about seeing another glacier as I had an amazing experience flying in a helicopter over the Glaciers in New Zealand, but it is completely different walking up to the snout of a Glacier and seeing it's movements first hand!
 The landscape surrounding the glacier was really just surreal so I'm gonna leave the photos to talk for themselves as I can't begin to explain the surrealness of the white/blue ice and the rugged hills

 I still can't get over how blue the ice looked!
 I really loved the area as it's desolation was just so striking. Particularly with the melted ice water ceasing such still reflections!
 I wish I'd had longer as there's a few walks around these southern mountains that I'd have loved to do so next time I come back I'm definitely planning to do some hiking!
 I think I 'might' have been the last one on the bus since I was lingering and doing all the side walks!
 After the glacier we went to the most southernly town in Iceland of Vik! I say town.. I think if it was in the UK we'd call it a hamlet it was so tiny! Most people from my bus jumped off and went to the cafe but I headed down to the beach with my fruit to make the most of the incredible setting!
 It was just a beautiful spot for lunch, to sit and enjoy the sea breeze!
 Little shot of me and the bay! I met a guy, who's name I can't for the life of me remember, from Germany who was really friendly and a little crazy! 
(on a vain note, the last two days have been so grey and drizzly I just threw on a silly tshirt as I figured I'd have my coat zipped up and no one would see it again - typical that the weather picks up the one day I don't make the effort to wear a pretty top!
 I really loved Vik. It was tiny but utterly charming - especially this lovely little church!
 This was the entirety of Vik! Just a scattering of buildings really… 
After an hour or so at Vik we headed around the mountain to see the Reynisdranger Cliffs - which I was definitely looking forward to
 and I wasn't dissapointed!
 I think that so far I've managed to escape getting the hoard of people that tumbled off my bus from being in my photos, but I just found this a bit funny. I'm in such an idilic location, and if I turn around I just see this mass of people! I truly hate doing such big tours and today's experience has definitely cemented my dislike of them - as well as my desire to return to iceland!
 But anyway, the cliffs were just incredible!
I don't think I've mentioned this before but everywhere in Iceland are rocks piled like this, sometime just little pebbles, sometimes massive boulders! 
 perched on the cliff formations!
 There was also a bit of a random photo shoot going on just around the corner too!
 All along these cliffs are puffins throughout the summer! I was coming at the very last week and as such there were barely any - luckily I did actually get to see one or two high up the cliffs! 
 After the cliffs (the name is ridiculously long to keep retyping!) we went to the Skogar Folk Museum which I thought was pretty interesting, as I really didn't know much about Iceland's history
 two side saddles! I just thought these were so interesting!
We learnt all about traditional icelandic culture as well as the history and reason behind a lot of their traditions! Including the fact a man must be able to make a good spoon before a woman would consider marrying him… clearly good spoon making is the secret to every happy marriage!
 The Museum, like the rest of the country, was a unique blend of modern simplistic design and traditional detail and history 
 Just outside they had traditional homes too! 
 Although the entry way was tiny and a little claustrophobic they opened out a fair bit once you got in!
 After the museum was went to the incredibly powerful Skogarfoss Waterfall! 
 We only got 25 minutes here (don't get me started on that rant) but I opted to do the walk which was meant to take 20. All I can say is I hate climbing steps, I'd much rather just have a steep cliff… any who I climbed up the endless staircase!

 and the view down to the waterfall was pretty cool!
 After Skorgarfoss it was up to Seljalandsfoss (try saying any of these names 3 times fast!)
 I can't even put into words can amazing it was to finish the day here! There was constantly rainbows appearing in the waterfall and it was, quite simply, beautiful!
 I obviously needed a photo of me in front of the rainbow in the waterfall!
 The main attractions of Seljalandsfoss is that although its a waterfall, you can walk behind it!
 It was so, so, so cool to look out from behind the waterfall to the incredibly flat south lands and I spent alot time navigating the slippery, muddy path and just taking it all in!
 I fell in love even more with Iceland today, both with the people, and with the stunning landscape! I can't believe I only have one more day in iceland! Scrap that, I can't believe I only have one more day before I go home and my summer is over!! 

Where has this summer gone!? It definitely feels like the end of an era as once I'm back to the UK I know it's going to feel like coming back to reality with a bump!