• IMG_3051

    After a morning spent in Jökulsárlón, and frozen toes, we hit the road back towards Reykjavik to complete the rest of the Golden Circle - Geysir, various small waterfalls and Gulfoss - and a Glacier walk. The both of us used to driving long distances in Australia and favourable weather, we left Jökulsárlón to head to Mýrdalsjökull where an afternoon hike was awaiting us.

    The next stop, was the the drive back to the glacier to do a Glacier Walk at around 1pm - making it just in time, we grabbed some lunch at the cafe, and commenced our hike of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Covered in black, what seemed like soil at first, and ice - I was surprised to understand that the glacier was covered in volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. Using crampons on our boots, we walked up and down the glacier with our guide. Climbing into caves was incredible.

    After an exhausting day in Jökulsárlón and Glacier Hiking on the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and with the late afternoon light fading, we headed towards Selfoss for a well earned relaxing night.

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    Iceland - Jökulsárlón

    11/06/2014 7:03:00 am

    Exhausted from the long day of driving the day before, I was awoken at 7 by Ryan, saying its time to go. I got ready quickly and jumped into the car. We took a quick drive around Höfn as blue hour began to commence.

    We hit the road, and watched a majestic sunrise or oranges and pinks over the snow covered peaks that simply appeared in front of us as we headed back the 1 hour or so to Jökulsárlón.

    Jökulsárlón is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The ice breaks off the glacier and slides down into the lake below, where the icebergs gently float out to sea through a narrow channel to be broken up by the tide, and washed along the beach on the other side of the highway. A certain calm and stillness was evident as the pieces of ice gently clunked together whilst seals swam around them, and dove and bobbed their heads in the lake.

    A quick 1 minute drive over to the other side led us to see the pieces of ice, all shapes and sizes, crushed and broken along the beach. A sight that I think it is likely I will never get a chance to see again in my lifetime. 

    Walking along the beach, Ryan comes with this idea. "When will we every get a chance to swim with icebergs again?". My reply, "Are you kidding?". Ryan: "No, no, we can do this, where are the keys, I will run back to the car and get our towels and boardshorts". Passing the keys to Ryan and he was off, I was still unconvinced. Arriving back, we found a safer place further along the beach, and Ryan ran in with explicit instructions to make sure I included the massive iceberg to his right in the photographs. After a very short period of time, note, it was a mere 1 degrees celcius outside, and even colder in the water, Ryan ran out and I then bolted in and dove into the waves. Simply unable to breath, I lasted a similar amount of time before absolutely sprinting out of the water, Ryan bolted back for a 2nd even shorter dunk before I followed suit. Frozen and numb, we dried as fast as we could and legged it to the car where we turned on the heater. The toes were the worst. It took a long while for the warmth to return, and also for a few hours to realise my socks were full of sand.

    The rest of the day was spent visiting the Golden Circle - the Geysir, Gulfoss and other attractions along the way.

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    Iceland - Reykjavik to Höfn

    08/06/2014 12:00:00 am

    Packing up my life that was starting to commence in England was, tough. Feeling like I needed to spend more time there, with the new friends I had made was quite difficult. Eventually, I made the decision and I paid for the flights and set a stopover for Reykjavik. Ryan, decided to also come along to Iceland as well. Leaving in the morning, and myself in the afternoon, we met up at the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik. After some dinner and toing and froing, we decided that well, maybe the best way was to book a car, a mere 100 meters from the hostel and head south. My main goal was to see Jökulsárlón, everything else was a bonus. I can say that hiring a car saved a lot of money on tours and allowed us to travel as we pleased.

    The first day:

    The view from the front of the hostel:

    We immediately headed to the thermal springs close to Reykjavik with the hope of finding a thermal bath. After searching and following signs, we gave up and kept heading south towards our hostel that was booked for the night in Höfn, past Jökulsárlón. Along the way we stopped by the famous waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Stunning falls. Just stunning.

    As the day progressed we keep on driving, stopping the way to admire the sunset.

    Getting late, we were running low on fuel and by chance, we discovered on the GPS a self serve petrol station near Höfn. Filling up we made it to the hostel and crashed for the night after a very late dinner in town. I must add that this was the first time driving on the opposite side of the road for me, in a manual car also after just getting my manual license before leaving Australia. A great experience.

    Exhausted, I was awoken at 7 by Ryan, saying its time to go. I got ready and jumped into the car to watch a majestic sunrise over the snow covered peaks of Iceland. Oranges and pinks covered the mountains as we headed back the 1 hour or so to Jökulsárlón.

  • IMG_2223

    Ireland is a place I have often thought about visiting - the green rolling hills, the amazing people, the pubs. Before making plans to leave the UK, I decided based on a recommendation to do a tour. It's not something I do too often, but it is fun, if you have a great tour guide and a group of people.

    I departed London on an afternoon and arrived in Dublin. Catching a bus to the hostel wasn't too difficult and soon enough I was settled in, ready to awake early to head to departure location. I wandered around Temple Bar, and other parts of Dublin to get a good understanding of the layout of Dublin. I caught an early night and arrived at the pickup location 30 or so minutes early. Upon walking to the bus and meeting our fantastic tour guide Lee, and leaving Dublin, the group had already started to bond and I am so happy to have met an extraordinary group of people. I would rate the trip as one of the best travel experiences I have ever had.

    Leaving Dublin, we stopped along the way to a church where one of the famous saints of Ireland head is on display in a glass box, Plunkett. From there we travelled, to an old graveyard and onwards to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    By the time we'd reached Belfast, it was like we all best friends - an excellent group of Americans, Brazilians, Australians and New Zealanders.  In Belfast we did what is called the Black Taxi tour, where we explored and learned the history of the Catholic and Protestant history. During this tour we also visited the Peace Wall, which is locked every night and separates the Catholics and Protestants, where you can view various inscribed comments by famous people and everyone who visits. I would recommend doing this tour. After a late night out in Belfast, we retired to the hostel and left early for Derry.

    On the way to Derry we visited Carrick-a-Rede, know for the famous rope bridge, and the famous Giant's Causeway, know for the famous hexagonal basalt columns. Fingal Head in New South Wales, Australia, close to the Queensland border, also has a similar formation - whilst smaller, though not by much, it bears a very similar shape to the main rock formation of its namesake in Ireland. Arriving in Derry, we took a walking tour of the town to learn the history of this town. 

     After another night out, we left early the next morning to head further south, back to the Republic of Ireland and to the very picturesque town of Galway. Here more people joined out tour and others left. The new people who joined were just as fantastic and become apart of the group instantly. We spent time in the city commencing another walking tour and completed another pub crawl that evening. Tired, it was yet another early morning on the road south to Killarney.

    Spending the night in Kilarney, involved exploring the city more followed by a horse and carriage ride the next morning to the Killarney National Park. Further adventures that day included visiting Blarney Castle, and kissing the famous Blarney Stone to obtain the 'the gift of the Gab' and the poison garden. Onwards, to Dingle - a beautifully small town, and eventually a little further up the road some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen - rolling green hills and golden light.

    Crashing in a hostel with just the tour group, the next morning we departed for Dublin.

    Saying bye was tough to my new friends, I'll admit, we all became great friends in barely 6 days. After another a few nights in Dublin, I caught my flight back to London where it was time to finally book that flight to North America, with of course, a stopover in Iceland.

  • IMG_1778

    Upon arriving back to London, within the next few days I decided to use the remainder of my London Heritage pass to see a few more sites, such as, a very important place I have always wanted to see, Stonehenge.

    I departed London towards Bath early in the morning with the intention of spending a few hours in Bath seeing the famous Roman Baths and then another train back towards Salisbury, to catch a bus to Stonehenge, before returning in the early evening to Salisbury to meet Megan, whom I hadn't seen for a nearly a year.

    As things often never work out as planned when travelling, I got lost leaving Clapham and went to the wrong direction and had to pay another 30 pounds or so to take a train from Liverpool Street. This however, turned out to have a lucky silver lining.

    Arriving in Bath, a very stunning English city, beautiful and elegant, I immediately went to see the famous Roman Baths and the beautiful Bath Abbey very close by.

    With time of the essence, I walked around the town square and into the church. I decided best to head to the train station to catch my train to Salisbury. Here, I sat and waited for the train to arrive. Not paying enough attention, the train arrived at the far end of the station and was only a 3 car unit. As it went by, I clicked and realised, I had missed it. I checked my tickets again and realised that, the new ticket I had bought expired days later. Thinking quickly, I asked Megan if she was free the following evening, she was and I decided to spend the night in Bath. This would also allow me to attend the baths, where they pump the hot water from the hot spring onto a rooftop pool. With the afternoon free, I decided to head to Bristol and take a look for the afternoon, and then return to Bath in the evening. Having only a daypack with me, it made it a lot easier to travel. Returning to Bath, I enjoyed the warmth of the hot springs whilst looking out over the city. Relaxed and refreshed, I wandered Bath more during the evening and crashed at a hostel for the night.

    The next morning I visited the Royal Crescent, before boarding my train to Salisbury. Arriving, I took a quick stroll through the town before boarding a bus directly to Stonehenge. An amazing place. Smaller than I had expected, yet, exciting to see something that I have wanted to see my whole life.

    Returning to Salisbury, I visited the Salisbury Cathedral. What a stunnng church! Elegant outside and inside, and flush with incredible English history. After spending the later afternoon in the church, I caught up with Megan for dinner and a few drinks, before saying goodbye for what may be a lengthy time before catching up again. Reflecting on the train back to London, I realised I'd had a fantastic few days.

    With plans to depart England earlier gathering momentum through my mind, I decided that I needed to make sure I had seen more of London. Having not seen St Paul's Cathedral, I decided that I should see this amazing place. Amazing indeed. And the views were incredible also.

    After a few more days in London, I decided that I couldn't wait to see North America, I was bursting at the seams to see this continent. 

    Though, there was one more place I wanted to see - Ireland. I couldn't have made a better choice.

  • IMG_1220

    With a bit of time up our sleeves, Ryan and I decided to hire a car to visit the north of the England and Scotland. Having both Scottish heritage, it was a real eye opener to visit this country.

    Our first stop out of London was drive directly to York. With the car sorted, and an upgrade at that, a black Audi A8 with leather seats, and of course, the music situation organised we drove out of London up the main highway towards York. Arriving by the evening, we walked around the city by night, thoroughly enjoying the charm of this fantastic place. The local pubs have such an amazing charm and the small alleyways give the city a distinctly medieval feel.

    The next morning after some breakfast, we headed in the direction of Newcastle making stops along the coastline and inland.

    Scarborough:

    High Force:

    Durham:

    Making it by the evening to Newcastle, we wandered the city, hopped in the car and drove towards Edinburgh, catching some sleep along the way.

    After a long day of driving, with stops to Hadrians Wall, the wall built by the English and keep an eye on the Scottish, and to Lindisfarne where you can drive to the island only at lowtide with distinct signs indicating that you cannot leave after a certain time. Perhaps inspiration for the house in The Woman in Black? Unsure, but you can walk to the lighthouse and then along to the ruins of an old church. Departing before the tide was too high, which does indeed cover the road in water - we reached the Edinburgh by the afternoon. A distinctly stunning city with great people. Here I tried some Haggis and also a deep fried Mars Bar.

    Hadrian's Wall:

     

    Lindisfarne:

     

    Edinburgh: 

    Stirling was where we spent the next day. A very historical site where William Wallace fought a battle against the English, and won. A monument dedicated to William Wallace stands over the city of Stirling and is an absolute must to visit. Even William Wallace's sword stands in glasscase. I couldn't help but feel patriotic in a sense given my heritage from generations long past. Shortly after, it was a stop at Stirling Castle. Expecting a stop of only an hour or so, I spend nearly 3 hours in the castle which is where the Stuart family were based and reigned in Scotland, and eventually in England as well via links to the Tudor family and Henry VIII. Curious, given there are multiple spellings of Stewart/Stuart, I was rather stunned to understand that Stuart was the French spelling of Stewart, adopted by Mary Queen of Scots, during her time in France. Does that mean that my lineage comes from a royal family? Perhaps, very distantly. As I greatly enjoy English and Scottish royal history, this was very fascinating for me.

    William Wallace Monument:

    Stirling Castle:

     

    From Stirling, over the next few days, we headed north towards Loch Ness, Inverness, the Isle of Skye and Glasgow.

    Falls of Dochart:

    North of Stirling:

     

    Isle of Skye:

    South of Loch Lomond:

    Glasgow:

    From Glasgow, we drove 8 hours south to London to return the car. Upon returning to London, I decided to head west to see Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol and Salisbury.

  • IMG_1097

    A late flight out of Barcelona returned me to London in early September of last year, where previously just less than a year before I visited and I decided that I had to for myself, spend time travelling the world, including more time in the UK and eventually North America.

    Departing Stanstead Airport, we caught a train to Liverpool Station where we caught another bus to where I was going to eventually stay for a period of time in Kennington. I can't thank Ryan and the other housemates enough for letting me stay with them.

    The first few days in London were spent recovering from travelling and enjoying the downtime. During this time, we cleared out the backyard in preparation for Ryan's birthday and organised the house for the party. The next week or two were spent exploring more of London including eating, visiting pubs, voting, seeing West End musicals such as The Book of Mormon and The Woman in Black and generally enjoying the English culture. London is a vibrant city. I found it large, yet the individual neighbourhoods are almost small communities within themselves. To me, it's city where you can achieve anything.

    The following days were spent doing a day trip out to Brighton and Hastings where I visited the Brighton Pleasure Pier and visited some of the local attractions in Hastings such as the Smuggler's Cove, and visiting Buckingham Palace.

    After a few weeks, with some time up our sleeves, Ryan and I decided to hire a car and drive up north through Britain as far as we possibly could in 8 days.

    Brighton:

         

         

         

         

    Hastings:

         

         

    London:

         

         

         

         

         

         

         

              

     

  • IMG_0923

    Arriving in Spain from Rome, a new country I had never visited before, I was astounded by how kind the Spanish were. After landing and collecting our bags, we boarded the metro and headed towards our accommodation. When leaving Rome, Ryan had an email from the hostel stating that the hostel was overbooked. However, we were upgraded to a self serviced flat with our own bathroom, a double bed and a double fold out couch with our own kitchen, all for the same price. Perhaps one of the best upgrades I have ever had. The first afternoon was spent in the search of Spanish food such as Tapas and Paella, which we found. Later than night we went out and bumped into previous friends made in Florence during the Palio di Siena.

    Waking early, we packed light and headed to catch our bus to Buñol for La Tom. Waiting in the rain, we watched many people try and climb to the top of the greased pole with a ham attached to the top. Only captured once in the last 10 years, this year was no different. People climbed and tumbled back down to the ground until the first few tomato trucks drove through the main street just before 10am. Chaos ensured, tomatoes everywhere. Ending by 11am, we washed off the tomatoes as best we could and bundled onto a bus to head back to Valencia. Having our own apartment to ourselves was invaluable. Tired and exhausted, we slept and went out for dinner. Deciding that a 1 hour bus ride to an afterparty was a bit too much for one day, dinner was Tapas and an early night. A few days later we boarded a train to Barcelona.

              

    The train to Barcelona was short and uneventful, bundling out of the metro after meeting some fellow travellers from Florence and Sorrento, we discovered our hostel and set out walking Barcelona. We wandered into the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, famously designed by Antoni Gaudi.

     

               

          

         

          

        

    Over the following days we ate Paella, relaxed on the beach and enjoyed Barcelona.

         

          

          

         

    Soon it was time to catch a flight back to London.

  • IMG_0721

    What can I say about Rome. One of the most stunning and visually amazing cities in Europe that I have been to. It has an air about it, combined with a late summer feeling of activity.

    After arriving from Salerno and finding our hostel, we dropped bags and headed in for a walk around the sights of Rome. First was a ride on the metro to The Colosseum. Walking the few metres from the train to see this massively famous structure was one of those great travel moments for me personally. After a few hours walking around, we headed out on foot around Rome to investigate the city a little further and a wander back to the hostel.

    The next morning we headed towards The Vatican Museum in the Vatican City. Being a Sunday morning, we watched many people wander towards the main square within in the small country. Following the crowds, we temporarily abandoned our plans to visit the Musee of the Vaticani and follow. Soon, it was obvious, the Pope appeared upon his balcony above the square. Afterwards, we wandered into St Peter's Basicilica.

    The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and everything else in between were amazing. After 3 nights, we caught a flight out of Rome to Valencia, to visit and attend the annual La Tomatina.

         

         

         

         

         

         

                    

                     

          

          

          

          

          

     

  • IMG_0525

    After saying bye to another traveller from Australia, Anthony, after the train ride to Sorrento, a quick adventure around town and dinner, we wandered around the Sorrento - a stunning city, beautiful and elegant. 

    Sorrento:

                      

         

           

    We awoke the next morning to catch a ferry to Capri. Here we walked across the top of the island. A chair to the top provided excellent scenery. The Blue Grotto was next on the agenda. It is a cave that when you enter by boat, lying down, the light in the cave is a stunning bright blue. The tour is quick, mere minutes, but something I will never forget. We then went for a quick walk and discovered a swimming location where you could jump off the rocks in the aqua blue clear water. Amazing.

    Capri:

         

         

         

         

         

    From there we took a bus ride back to the main area for a ferry back to Sorrento. Ryan decided to go Scuba Diving whilst I had a look through Sorrento.

    Early the next morning, we checked out and took our bags to the train station to catch a bus that headed to the Amalfi Coast. The twisting roads that travel along the coastline that can hardly fit a bus is well worth the journey. Our bus ride took us to Amalfi, where after a quick lunch, we walked to the next town, Atrani, in which we had our accommodation booked. A hostel run by Italian brothers was beautiful and relaxed. Here we decided to slow things down and headed to the beach which was a very short walk down the road. A lot of beaches are a bit different than back in Australia - gravel or small stone line the beaches rather than sand in most cases.

    Amalfi:

         

         

     

    Atrani:

         

         

    After a few hours there on the beach, it was a very short walk back into Atrani to pick up a few things for dinner, such as meats, olives, cheese and bread, to head back along the rocks. Later than night another wander around Amalfi was in order before retiring to the accommodation to chat with some fellow travellers.

    The next morning we headed down the road to catch a bus to Salerno, for a train to Rome. With a train leaving quickly, we bundled on and headed to the capital.