Showing posts from October, 2014

How to Spend a Day in Amsterdam

Amsterdam was the first city I visited solo. It's a great city to walk around, and the trams make it easy to get anywhere that is just that bit too far. Everyone speaks English, so it's another great place to go for your first trip. It's a city that's got something for everyone, and somewhere I'm looking forward to revisiting.

You Have No Friends (& Other Misconceptions About Solo Travel)

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door. You step on to the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept of to."- J.R.R. Tolkien

Travel is addictive, and once you've been bitten by the bug you want to see and do more. Undoubtedly if you read my blog, you read other's and rarely do you hear about the days us travel blogger's sat at home and wanted to be there (for a long period of time at least). Some of us go with partner's, or friends and some of us go alone. It's those of us, The Solo Traveller's (particularly the female ones, but that's for an entirely different argument), who get singled out. So here are some common misconceptions about Solo Travel.

10 Things I Didn't Get to Do in Iceland This Time Around.

You're probably looking at this post and thinking, "Dude, what the hell? You just got home from Iceland". Every night whilst I was in Reykjavik, I'd go up to the bar for a drink for a couple of hours. I'd chat to people, anyone with an accent I'd recognise and you'd go through the same traveller talk, starting with, "How long have you been here?". The answer would unequivocally be, "I just got to Reykjavik today, but I've been driving the ring road for the last week/ 9 days/ fortnight/ month". 
Say what?!

Iceland by Night (or What Happens When the Northern Lights Don't Come Out).

Drive away from the city lights into the darkness.
Drive through the darkness and stare at the shapes of the mountains.
Keeping your eyes peeled, looking skywards.
Everyone piles out into the freezing pitch black night.
Set up the camera, and wait.
Everyone piles back in.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Things That Surprised Me About Iceland

What do you know about Iceland? 
If you haven't already been, it might be the financial crash that happened in 2008, or that one of it's many volcano's, Eyjafjallajökull, caused chaos in the skies of Europe in 2010, or that it's expensive, or how cold it is. Those things being the most well known (whether they are true or false), there were many things I wasn't expecting about Iceland.

Þingvellir, You Little Beauty

Something I have realised this summer is that I'm a bit of a National Park nerd (particularly when adding the labels into this post and four or five different parks appeared), so it won't surprise you that Þingvellir was one of the places I was most excited to visit on the Golden Circle tour in Iceland. Þingvellir is particularly important, not just a gorgeous location to visit. It was Iceland's first UNESCO heritage site, and is significant historically, culturally and geologically. Unsurprisingly, with all that going on, it definitely did not disappoint.

Discovering the Golden Circle with Time Tours Iceland

"Did you see the red sunrise?" Rúnar asked us as we clambered into the minibus.

There was to be no off- road- never- before- driven- mountain- tracks today (sorry to disappoint you all). Three of us, plus Rúnar, reuniting from our Northern Lights tour two nights before (the night we'd been unsuccessful). We had a quick stop to pick up Áslaug, also from Time Tours, before we headed on our way for our day exploring the Golden Circle. The sun rises later in the North, and at 8,30am it was still climbing in the sky as we drove away from Reykjavik. We'd missed the red as we swung around to leave Reykjavik, Rúnar told us it had been caused by the pollution from the Bardabunga volcano.

Hunting the Northern Lights with Time Tours, Iceland

My bag slid off the seat, as I clutched to the edges of it in spite of having a seatbelt on. I wasn't far from the front of the minibus, but couldn't see in the darkness where we were headed. I was almost convinced, at the angle the bus sat as we stopped, that we were going to topple over, die and never be found. In the darkness, half way up a mountain. Or maybe it was a volcano. The bottom of the minibus had scraped along the rocks below on the "track" we were climbing. The bus had stopped at a rather uncomfortable angle when Rúnar looked around with a smile on his face and announced,

"I've never driven up this track before."

Reykjavik Rules!

Reykjavik is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, with it's colourful Nordic style buildings and the sea right behind the city centre, and mountains gazing over the water. The most northern city in Europe, and one of the smallest, everything is more or less within walking distance. It makes for a great day to explore and visit famous sights around the city, and end the day in the perfect relaxing way all Icelander's do. Here's how I spent a day in Reykjavik.

The Beautiful Blue Lagoon

If you haven't heard about anything else in Iceland, you're sure to have heard about the Blue Lagoon, in fact if you're visiting, it's probably at the top of your itinerary. Yes, for sure, it's touristy, and yes it is expensive (especially in comparison with the seven geothermal pools in Reykjavik), but it's a must.

Foto Friday: Slovenia

Yeah, yeah, I know I've finished writing about Slovenia.However since I'm away exploring The Golden Circle in Iceland today, I thought I'd share some of my favourite photo's from Slovenia with you.

My 5 Favourite Cities in the Eastern Bloc

Last summer I travelled to countries that barely 20 years ago were running under a very different regime, with communism controlling these places it made it very difficult for people to get in and see these places. To this day people's misconceptions mean that some areas that were previously in the Eastern Bloc are still less visited than other areas of Europe. I've written extensively about my trips, both last summer and this summer, and there are definitely places I want to return to.

Here are my top 5

5. Zagreb

Having spent less than a day in Zagreb, I have to go back and spend more time in this city. I managed to get to the Museum of Broken Relationships this time, but would definitely visit again (as more exhibits get sent in and put on display all the time). The capital of Croatia, unlike other cities it's famous for, Zagreb is more like Eastern Europe. The mixture of Hasburg-esque architecture and grey communist buildings, the mandatory funicular, and the trams runnin…

Tim Burton Saves the Day in Prague

I'm the first to admit (and I'm sure Genevieve will concur) that I was grumpy on my last day in Prague. I was super sick- as in I phoned into work later that morning to call in sick for the following day and my boss didn't recognise my voice- and feeling sorry for myself. We'd got up super early to have breakfast with Nick & Pete (our awesome guide and driver for the week), and then half of us had set of on our merry way. The other half of us had gone to nap back in our dorm room- well, in Genevieve's dorm room since the other girls had already checked out. We checked out exactly when we had to, leaving our bags back at the hostel and got on a tram to re- explore Prague.

Packing List: Iceland

Crazily enough, given that it's winter, I am attempting to visit Iceland with hand luggage only. I'm there for 3 nights, so it shouldn't be a problem, right?

My hand luggage bag is from the World's Lightest Collection which I've had for just over a year now. It's great because it's size complies even with the Budget airlines, & I can really stuff a lot in there. My biggest issue is that I managed to break the strap so have to carry it on my arm, which can cause bruising issues, shall we say!

My travel outfit of choice (in spite of it still hitting around 15C here during the day) is going to be jeans, a thick sweater, my new coat, boots, and scarf. As well as attempting to shove my hat, and gloves into my coat pocket!

Iceland Itinerary

Eeek, it's finally coming up! With everything going on lately (more to come on that soon) my Iceland trip has snuck up out of nowhere. I've got a pretty packed schedule with only three full days in Iceland, I'm excited for what is my first ever press trip with the already awesome Time Tours Iceland.  I also only realised recently that Iceland is an hour behind the UK, it's my first expedition where time goes backwards, which excites my inner geek! Plus I'm determined to learn to say "Hello, how are you?" in Icelandic before I go!

Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside...

"A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles"
Sometimes you need to go some place else to come home. Sometimes home isn't a place, sometimes its simply a feeling, the way you feel by being surrounded by the right people. That feeling was what I was looking for when I went to Cornwall. I wasn't going to see anything, I was just going to feel at home for the first time in a long time.