Sunday, 5 February 2017

Iceland - the land of fire and ice - part 5

Day 5

Day 5 dawned dark and slighter warmer than what I had become used to.  We checked out of our fancy hotel and headed west this time towards the Blue Lagoon.  I scoured the Iceland guidebook I had for mudpools or geothermal fields and found one named Krysuvik - Seltun and programmed the sat nav to it.  It started to snow just as we were passing through the outskirts of Reykjavic and it came down hard and heavy.  A few kilometres out of the city we turned south onto a narrower road which by now had been completely snowed over but had tracks from a previous vehicle so we followed it (and the sat nav).  Things got hairy at that point.  The road was off the main road and clearly not overly used (or so it felt) and with the snow pounding down and visibility much reduced we just kept going and hoping for the best.  We passed a lake on the left hand side and weaved through mountain passes and then suddenly had the ocean on our left hand side.  It is such a thing of beauty!  The ocean to one side, the mountains to the other and the snow white and thick on the ground.  After just a little while further the sat nav told us we had to turn right and we had arrived at our destination.

Krysuvik - Seltun

Stunning!  I am so glad we went here as it was another show of nature being all fierce and magnificent!  Its true its a little off the beaten path but if watching boiling water bubble out of the earth and enjoying columns of steam erupt from the ground is your thing, then this is a must.  Of all the places with high geothermal activity we went to, this was definitely the most active and also most certainly the most stinky!  The rich toxic smell of sulfur almost had us gagging.
There is a wooden meandering path that leads up along the side and you can walk along reading all the info about the area and geothermal activity.  We had the entire place to ourselves for most of the time and just took our time taking it all in (All this while it snowed heavily on our heads!)


After spending around 30 minutes here we decided to head out and make our way to the Blue Lagoon.

The car - after traveling for 1 or so hours in the snow



The Blue Lagoon

Hidden in the middle of nowhere, close to town called Grindavik is the famous Blue Lagoon
            The Blue Lagoon (Icelandic: Bláa lónið) geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.[1] The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Bláa lónið is situated approximately 20 km (12 mi) from the Keflavík International Airport and 39 km (24 mi) from the capital city of Reykjavík, roughly a 21-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík. - Source - Wikipedia

Its like arriving at an oasis surrounded by a massive lava field of jutting volcanic rocks that stretch out for as far as the eye can see. Here lies a stunning building offering you every kind of pampering while you soak your body in the 37 - 40 Deg C thermal blue water.  Pete and I arrived and got into the long queue and immediately decided to upgrade to the premium package which included robes and slippers.  You are issued with a wristband which you use to buy anything you need and are then ushered to lockers and showers where they insist you shower before entering the waterYou can leave everything in your locker and use your wristband to lock it and then follow the exit out towards the pools.
It was still snowing outside and felt rather surreal as we walked into the water, the cold air hitting my bare arms and back, snow drifting down on my face, and then, as you step into the warm water and become enveloped by the steam as it rises off the surface, it feels as if you are stepping into some alternate universe.  OK, Ok, maybe I am slapping this on a little thick and poetic but it truly was wonderful!



 Entering into the pools you are immediately hit by the warmth of the thermal water and the subtle hint of silica and sulphur.  Don't taste the water!  It doesn't taste all that good but simply allow yourself to be washed over with the warmth and goodness of this relaxing thermal spa.  We slowly moved around, snow still falling on our heads, amazed at the contrast of the white outside, snow covering the rocks that surrounded us and the heat that was enveloping our bodies.  Its a calm relaxing atmosphere and you almost feel like you are floating in space as you see faint figures in the distance, obscured by the steam that is coming off the water and who gradually come into view as you move closer.  Ok, I know, I am waxing poetic again.


 As we moved we came across a bar which offered your free drink (that came with the package) along with more beer and wine and prosecco, including healthy options of smoothies and Blue Lagoon green concoctions made up of vitamins, fruits and spinach which was actually delicious.  All you had to do was wave your wristband over the scanner and it was charged.  There are built in seats in the water and Pete and sat there slowly drinking our drinks, enjoying ourselves immensely.  Moving further around the pools we came across the face mask area.  Here they offer first the silica mud mask and then the algae mask.  Either one or both included in your package, depending what ticket you had bought.  5 to 10 minutes of each mask and your skin felt fresh and replenished so it surely was an all round pamper session.  Steam rooms, waterfalls, sauna's - all of it scattered around the pools makes for a wonderful spa day experience and I would say that no trip to Iceland is complete without adding this to your places to visit

We spent roughly 3 hours there.  In and out the water, the steam room, our face masks, helping ourselves to the bar and simply enjoying it all.  By the time we were ready to leave, the sun was trying to come out from behind the clouds and the snow had long since stopped.  We headed back to the showers, dressed, paid for our 'extra's' and then made our way to our final hotel, The Northern Lights Inn, which was literally 2 minutes drive away.


 The Northern Lights

Of all the hotels we stayed at, including posh hotel number 2, this was by far my favourite.  After we checked in the lady at the front desk showed us to our room and on the way showed us where the lounge was which was a giant room with a real fireplace, an abundance of sofa's, chess games, board games, puzzles and free coffee, tea and waffles which you could make yourself.  Also, we passed an 'honestly bar' which was a fully stocked bar that you could help yourself to, provided you wrote down everything you took in the book.  The rooms were the largest by far that we had been in and our window overlooked the lava field that stretched out over the snow covered hills and mountains that was sprawled out in front of us.  With two comfy arm chairs and a huge bathroom I didn't want to leave my room!  Also, they have a raised conservatory platform that you can access if you wished to view the northern lights (if you are lucky enough for them to show) in the comfort of the inside without having to go outside in the cold.

At around 6.30ish we went for our evening meal and decided to treat ourselves by NOT looking at the prices and ordering whatever looked good.  I ordered the free-range lamb fillets and it was absolutely delicious!  So good I had to share some of it with Pete just so I could enjoy seeing his face when he took his first bite.   I think we both agree it's the best lamb I have ever had in my life (I am not exaggerating) if ever so slightly underdone.  We shared a bottle of wine and ended our meal with coffees and then retreated to the lounge were I challenged him to a game of chess.  While playing our first game of chess the waiter came into the lounge and announced that the northern lights were out.  It was only around 9.30 and we had expected them much later.

Oh My God!  They were absolutely incredible and lasted for hours!  We took many pictures but at the time of writing this blog I only have access to two pictures.  



For hours we moved around the outside of the hotel, following the best angle for the lights, taking a million pictures.  We were truly lucky to get such a magnificent display on our very last night and I am so grateful we did as the northern lights was ultimately the real reason I had booked the trip in the first place and would have been somewhat disappointed if all we had got was that first night we went on the excursion.  Pete made a number of trips to the 'honestly bar' drinking Irish coffee after Irish coffee and I eventually said I was going to bed and left him outside to enjoy the magnificence of mother nature as she continued with her light display in the sky.

That night felt like the longest night ever.  I woke up many times, always looking out the window to check to see if something was going on in the sky, but eventually, it was time to get up, get dressed, have breakfast and pack to go to the airport.
Our car was a block of ice as it stood in the parking lot but we were eventually on our way, in the dark heading toward Keflalik airport and our trip home.



As we stood outside the entrance to departures, smoking a final cigarette it started to snow again and I reminisced about just how wonderful Iceland was and how much I hoped to one day return.  I am not much of a cold weather person, anyone who knows me knows I bask in the sun and tend to hibernate in the winter but this was truly a fantastic experience and the snow, ice and cold winter weather made it for me just that little bit more special and unique.  I would go again, surely and do some things differently, but I would also surely do it again in the cold dark months of winter.






Iceland - the land of fire and ice - part 4

Day 4
The south coast

Something amazing happened over night.  Where everything had been all snow and ice the day before, it had rained the previous night and as we headed out in a southerly direction, all the snow was GONE.  At first I was a little confused thinking that perhaps the snow started further into the journey but as we drove and I recognised places I realised that indeed all the snow from the day before had all disappeared in the rain.  Now I don't know how much it rained the night before but this was a different Iceland that was rolling in front of my eyes and I came to appreciate the green of the moss that seemed to grow on everything and the black of the volcanic rocks that lay sprawled out everywhere.

On the agenda for the day was a portion of the south coast.  We wanted to see the volcano that had erupted in 2010.  You guys all remember the one that halted all the European flights and left all that volcanic ash on your cars a few years ago?  So we headed out in the now greenish snow free land making our way east along route 1 where there is miles and miles of open space filled with mountains and streams and rivers with the odd town (Selfoss) and others that you pass through.

The first thing to catch our eyes - right from the road was - Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. 



Now I have seen a lot of pictures of this, but all the ones I saw were taken in summer so I didn't at first recognise this as the place that Ryan (Nicky's boy) had been to.
It's a stunning stream of water cascading off the mountain - its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull into a pool of water that runs swiftly off to the ocean which you can almost see in the distance.  If you follow the path you are able to go around and behind it - which Pete did - but you certainly do end up completely soaked!
I ended up soaked just standing in front of it.

The picture above is what it looks like in the summer (enhanced perhaps?) and to the left what it looked like for Pete in the winter.  Its stunning and one of Iceland's most popular attractions

A video that Pete took from behind the fall can be seen here





Next we were off to the Volcano Glacier Eyjafjallajökull

Literally just around the corner from Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, this was a bit of a surprise.  When you think of volcanoes you think of high pointy-top mountains so we would have almost driven right past this one had it not been for the signs and the welcome centre.  At the welcome centre they offer a 20 minute movie (which I highly recommend) which tells you a little of the history of the mountain but focuses on the 2010 eruption.  This volcano is a glacier and it erupts from the top of a a rather flattened crater.  Back in 2010 this erupted spewing hundreds of millions of tonnes of ash into the air, affecting millions of people and flights all over Europe.  There is a farm at the foot of this glacier that stood then and still stands now and its their welcome centre that they built and their side of the story that they tell.  Slightly to the north east of this volcano is his big sister Katla, which usually always erupts after Eyjafjallajökull but always on a bigger scale.  That's the really bad one we were told.  However, Katla didn't erupt after the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull so she is surely due.


Eyjafjallajökull glacier - photo by
Andreas Tille


Drangshlid

Heading further east we made our way to a little town called Vik that was suggested to us by the lady at the volcano.  There, she told us, we would find a famous Black beach.  As we drove, we noticed cars parked up and the typical sight of tourists with camera's

flashing so pulled up outside this farm (turns out it was a guesthouse) to see what was going on.  There, built into a giant rock were these smallish houses.  About 3 or 4 of them.  If you didn't know this, Iceland has a love affair with elves (not kidding) and many a construction has been stopped so as not to upset the elves.  Drangshlid offers such a place where you can see the houses that have been built (by people of course) to keep the elves happy.  There are much smaller ones and these, by comparison to some pictures I've seen are quite big but they are still quite stunning to see. and the way its been built into the rock is really quite amazing. 

Vik
Traveling on, we made our way to Vik which is a lovely little town hiding in a bay behind more mountains.  When I say little town, it really is with perhaps 30 houses, a church on the top of the hill, a school, a police station and a pit stop for petrol, souvenirs and a bite to eat.  (Forgive me citizens of Vik if I missed anything) but what it has to offer is the most stunning beach with pitch black sand and roaring waves.  Pete is NOT a beach guy.  He usually waits on the sidewalk while I go get my feet wet and full of sand, so I was impressed when he ventured right onto it and walked towards the waters edge.



It was surprisingly warm.  Well, when I say warm, I mean it wasn't freezing bloody cold and here Pete is showing off by taking his jacket off.  Me, being me, had to go stick my finger in the water to feel just how cold it was and yep....its cold enough to gasp and hurriedly take your finger out of the water.  We stopped here and had a late lunch and just enjoyed the lovely tranquility that Vik had to offer.

The Abandoned DC plane at Solheimasandur




It would have been about 3 or 3:30pm by the time we decided to head back home to Reykjavic and we didn't want to have to drive too much in the dark.  Route 1 - the main road that goes right around the island of Iceland is a good road but not much lighting and there is a lot of nothing between towns.  Shortly after leaving Vik, Pete mentioned seeing a lot of people walking to somewhere and wanted to know where they were walking.  Judging by the direction they were walking I suggested the beach but it did seem a bit odd when they could just drive a little further to Vik and not have to walk on some unmarked path.  We parked up when we came to it - there was an actual car parking section with roughly 20 or so cars parked and Pete debated if he should or shouldn't go walk and see where they were going.  I grabbed my iPad and searched google maps and saw this tiny little spec of white when I zoomed right in with the heading 'Solheimasandur Plane Wreck' and told Pete.  He got all excited and said he had heard about it and he was off....for a walk!  What he didn't realise was that it was going to be an 8km round trip!  I read all this up after he left (thank god I stayed in the car!) and decided to go for a nap for what I knew was going to be a long wait.  After about 30 or so minutes he texted me, complaining and was all like 'WTF?' and it was then that I broke it to him that he had a 4km walk each way.  Anyway, kudo's to him he did it and has the pictures to show for it.  His cross face in the pic of him with the plane is explained now :)


 By the time he returned it was almost dark and we headed back to Reykjavic to spend our last night in the countries capital

Please continue on to part 5






Iceland - the land of fire and ice - part 3

Day 3
The Golden Circle

So day 3 saw us up and out quite early (and in the semi-dark as the sun started to rise)  Everything was still so pretty and white and as we traveled we drove straight into a snow storm and I filmed it as Pete was driving - I loved it!  and again all i wanted to do was get out and go play snow angels or build a snowman or have a snowball fight (I'm such a bloody child sometimes!)



We drove further east this time, past where the tectonic plates were on display onto a place called the Geysir Geothermal Field.  The name is where geysers actually got their name from and this particular one is the 2nd largest in the world.  But its not so active and from memory, the big mother 'Geysir' hasn't erupted since around the year 2000 - though when it does, it is said to erupt around 80m into the air.  The whole area smells like sulphur and there are mud pools and cracks open up in the earth where boiling water comes bubbling forth. Again you are astonished at mother nature and her ferocity and are constantly reminded of just what is going on under your feet.

Only around 50 or so feet from the big mother is another smaller geyser which does erupt around every 5-10 minutes called Strokkur geyser and this was hugely fun and awesome to watch.  She would spout huge amounts of water around 30 or so metres into the air drenching anyone who was downwind.  As the water hit the ground and flowed down the tiny streams it would turn to ice but that water that flowed all the way to the little boiling pots would hiss and turn to steam.  Pete and I watched this geyser blow a number of times, never getting tired of hearing the hiss and watching this huge plume of water get thrown high into the air.  At times it would go really high and other times less so, only making you want to stick around and wait for the next one to see if it would go higher.

There is a massive shop where you can buy all sorts of clothes and geyser souvenirs and 2 places to eat and even a hotel right across the road if you fancy staying the night.


After Geyser we headed a little further north east up towards Gullfuss.  Its not too far at all from Geyser but the contrast from the brown, sulphuric, potholed landscape is astounding.  Its also not a case of one minute you are driving and you round the corner and boom you see it.....No....you have to walk slightly down into a valley and then boom...you see it.  And it blows you away!

Gullfoss waterfall is something quite beautiful.  Its an awe inspiring display of the power of nature as hundreds of thousands of litres of water come tumbling over not one, but two precipices.
         'Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. The wide Hvítá rushes southward, and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 metres or 36 feet, and 21 metres or 69 feet) into a crevice 32 metres (105 ft) deep. The crevice, about 20 metres (66 ft) wide and 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) in length, extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running down the waterfall is 140 cubic metres (4,900 cu ft) per second in the summer and 80 cubic metres (2,800 cu ft) per second in the winter. The highest flood measured was 2,000 cubic metres (71,000 cu ft) per second.
As one first approaches the falls, the edge is obscured from view, so that it appears that the river simply vanishes into the earth.' (source - Wikipedia)

 If you look to the right of the waterfall you can see the huge columns of ice that has formed and this can be seen all over.  I can only imagine how beautiful this must look in the summer when its all green.  I can also honestly say I have never in my life been as cold as I was here.  Trying to hold my iPad and take pictures - I had to remove my glove to press buttons on the screen - I could not feel my face or my hands due to the cold and the water from the falls hitting my face.  It was truly beautiful to behold but I was glad to get out of there and get back up to where the spray couldn't get me anymore.

I can't say which of the three Iceland landmarks that make up the Golden Circle was the most beautiful, or the most amazing.  They were all humbling and awe inspiring in their own way and if you ever make it to Iceland, summer or winter, it's definitely a must-see.

After, we headed a different route back towards Reykjavik, down towards the south coast but then turning west as we started to lose daylight. We crossed over small bridges and saw that same river that had cascaded down the waterfall rush underneath us towards the sea.  Driving between narrow little mountain passes and appreciating the volcanic rock formations as they just lay there either side of us.  A stunning, stunning landscape!

please continue on to part 4



Iceland - the land of fire and ice - part 2

Day 2
The Golden Circle

On our second day in Iceland we hurried out of bed, had our breakfast (while it was still dark outside at 9:30am!) and headed out to go take in the sites of Iceland.  After first picking up the rental car and figuring out the sat nav we programmed it to take us to þingvellir national park and traveling east out of Reykjavik we were on our way.  Admittedly we left rather late in the day.  A combination of only been able to pick the car up at 12 and getting lost trying to find the rental place it would have been more like 1pm before we were finally on our way.  As we traveled east we drove through a sprawling Reykjavik and then up over a snow covered mountain.  I was blown away at the beauty of it all, so white you couldn't be sure where the land ended and the sky began. To the left and to the right of me everything was white, covered in so much snow all I wanted to do was to stop the car and go play snow angels in it.  



The þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park offers breathtaking views of where the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates meet.  Or rather, where they are slowly pulling apart. The plates are moving around 2.5cm apart per year, meaning that the Atlantic ocean is getting wider in an east-west direction by this much every year. For a little more info on this please go here.

Þingvellir is also the national shrine of Iceland. It is, for one, a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. (source - Wikipedia)


It is quite humbling when you stand between the two and look up at the rock on either side and realise exactly what it is you are looking at.
We were able to stand on a platform and look down on it and also walk around and between the two but even as we got back into our car and traveled away we could still see evidence of this with rocks jutting up on either side in an obvious straight line, stretching out for miles on either side as we drove on.









 There is a huge lake and lots of smaller frozen ponds surrounding it and its clear to see why this has been turned into a national park with so much natural beauty for as far as the eye can see.  Looking at the picture of Pete and I and if you look just behind my head you can see the rock jutting out...that would be the Eurasian plate slowly pulling away.

  We did climb back into the car and thought about going to the second landmark (The Geyser) but drove only a few kilometers when we hit snowed and iced over roads and decided to head back to Reykjavik instead as we were starting to loose day light.  And its a good thing we did too as the roads were treacherous and we would have had to travel back over those iced over roads in the dark if we had continued on!



Arriving back in Reykjavik and finding hotel number 2 was a little bit of a let down.  I took one look at the front door of the hotel and thought 'Oh dear!' as the steps we had to carry our suitcases over were covered in what looked like spilled beer and possibly something else!  'This is an adventure' I kept telling myself and to be fair, it looked decent enough inside and felt and smelt like heaven.  On trying to check in we were giving the best news!  'We are terribly sorry but we have had to move you to another hotel' she told me.  'But not to worry, it is an upgrade for you and they offer hot breakfasts along with a spa and a restaurant.'  Well....that was lucky!  This is the second time this has happened to us.  We once got upgraded at Sun City in South Africa from the Cabana's to the Palace Hotel and I literally had to pinch myself when that happened!  And now again and while this upgrade wasn't quite as epic as that, it was still pretty awesome when I got to see where we were heading!

Upgraded from a £90.00 per night hotel to £230+ hotel a night, CenterHotel Arnarhvoll was really rather nice.  We were lucky enough to get a sea facing room and were treated to a full mini-bar, breakfast included and the best part was this hotel was going to be our longest stay hotel so we were set for the next three nights!

The down side is we could hear the wind howling all night long and only opening the small window would stop that but would mean we were letting the arctic in.  The restaurant on the 8th floor offered fabulously pretentious dining and while I rather like that, the limited menu didn't have a lot on offer.


Opposite the hotel we had a wonderful view of the harbour, the mountain across the bay and the much acclaimed Harpa Conference Centre, or Concert Hall which is truly an amazing structure to be seen at night.  The windows are set to lights and all during the dark hours its like witnessing a light show as different colours dance across the windows of the concert hall. Pete mentioned that they were probably trying to imitate the Northern Lights and I reckon he is probably right.  The hotel itself had a spa which I would have loved to use but due to our time constraints and chasing of the sunlight all the time there simply wasn't enough time   We ate there 2 of the three nights we stayed there and the food (and the breakfast) was very good.  A very very lucky upgrade indeed!






For that evening I had booked an excursion for Pete and I to go see the Northern Lights.  It was a rather cold night, standing outside next to a bus in the dark waiting for these magical lights to appear.  And we waited and we waited and to be honest, I wasn't really sure exactly what to expect.  Would fantastic green lights just suddenly start appearing in the sky?  At around 10:30 the tour bus dude came to me and said to look in another direction...the lights had appeared and I was like ...where?
I really was confused.  There was no magical green swirls in the sky?! But there was something that looked like a thin grey cloud that seemed to be getting lighter and was moving in a rather odd way.  THIS turned out to be the northern lights and I have to admit I was rather disappointed and underwhelmed. We stood around watching it and it disappeared soon after and I am not really going to blog much about that excursion because in comparison to the Northern Lights we DID see on our last night, this really wasn't much to write home about.

Please continue on to part 3





Iceland - the land of fire and ice - part 1

Around a year ago, I was considering what to get my husband for his 50th birthday.  Because it was a milestone birthday, I wanted to make it special so after consulting the kids, opted for one item on his wish list - the northern lights - and started preparing for a trip of a lifetime to Iceland, where the northern lights abound during the winter months, if you are lucky!

I have to be honest.  I managed my expectations right down.  People complained about how expensive it was in Iceland and I knew I was going to be traveling to a winter country and if anyone knows me, they know I am not a fan of the winter.  I kept telling Pete to not think of it as a holiday and think more along the lines of adventure and I imagined us packing picnic lunches and suppers as the food would be too expensive and eating on the road as we ventured around.  I went out and bought thermals, boots, gloves, the whole shebang and didn't get too excited when the time finally arrived for us to go.  I couldn't have been more blown away and in awe of a country which is really not that far away and yet, so incredibly different, beautiful and surreal.

Reykjavik



The first little bit of odd to hit me when we touched down at Keflavic airport was the fact that it was 10.15am and the sun was only just rising.  This became the main challenge of our holiday - chasing the sunlight - as there is a very limited amount of day light in the winter months.  With the sun rising around 10-10:30am'ish and setting between 5-5:30pm'ish you are very limited to how far you can travel especially if you are based in Reykjavik. 


Sun rise at 10.15am as we landed at Keflavic Airport Iceland
 


My second surprise was Reykjavik.  I totally had the wrong idea in my head!  I had seen some pictures and imagined it to be a small harbour town - pretty of course - but I was totally surprised by the actual size of it.  Don't be mislead, Reykjavik is big!  The main area - or centre of town if you like, is smallish with one or two narrow main roads which pass along a stream of restaurants and hotels and seem to lead straight to the harbour.  But move outside of that and it sprawls out ahead of you with tall buildings, more hotels, and a conglomerate of industries.  I saw HP and Mercedes Benz, to name just a few and while it won't compare to any of the major cities in the UK its not a tiny little hamlet either.  With the amount of tourism Iceland is getting right now, I imagine they are growing at a rapid rate and by all the construction cranes that I saw dotted all over the city, it would certainly seem so.



 That first day we booked into our hotel, walked around and became acquainted with Icelandic Krona and found out just how expensive the beer and wine actually was...and its dear folks..its really expensive!  You are looking at around £6+ (cheap in Iceland!) for a beer but its not unusual for it to be around £8-£9 for a pint.  Food is expensive too, but not as bad as alcohol.  The reason its so expensive in Iceland is because they have to import EVERYTHING.  Their chief exports is aluminum and fish. Everything else is imported and I am hoping that if the tourist boom continues as it is to Iceland at the moment, they may manage to cut down, even if just a little, on the price of food and drink.

That night I got to feel, with my own bare hands and ears just how bloody cold it gets in Iceland!  As the sun set (Around 5.15pm) I wrapped up warmly and Pete and I headed out to get some supper.  It had snowed in Iceland the day before and the ground was covered with ice and we had to be careful where we walked so that we didn't go slipping everywhere.  It wasn't too bad in Reykjavik centre but you could feel the biting wind cut through any thin layers of clothing you had on and ducking into a warm bar or restaurant became a very welcome relief to not only us, but to the many tourists who were meandering around.  
 
Feels like -11!
lets hit the town, I'm ready!


























The Golden Circle

If you are going to Iceland and start talking to people or doing some research you will come across this term a lot.  The Golden Circle is made up of 3 awesome Iceland attractions.  Where the tectonic plates meet, (2 on the map) the great geyser (3 on the map) and the Gullfos waterfall (4 on the map).  Each of which are awesome to behold and introduces you quite literally to the wonders of our natural world. 

You can, if you have enough daylight, do all three in a day if you push it I guess, but we did this over two days, exploring first the tectonic plates and then returning to Reykjavik and then the geyser and the waterfall on the next day.  In the picture above they show a 4th attraction (Kerid - which is a giant crater) but as far as my knowledge goes that is not generally considered as part of the Golden Circle and I am going to be a bit guttered if it is as that is one we didn't see.

More to follow in part 2




Monday, 23 November 2015

Invictus 

by William Ernest Henley


Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Truth Will Out by Jane Isaac - A review

The Truth Will OutThe Truth Will Out by Jane Isaac
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'The Truth Will Out' was for me the much anticipated second novel from the author Jane Isaac. I thoroughly enjoyed her début novel 'An Unfamiliar Murder' and am pleased to say that as much as I enjoyed her first, this one was even better.
Gripping and suspenseful it kept me hooked from the very beginning and is, without a doubt one of the best books I have read in a while. A page turner from the start, I loved being re-immersed into the drama-filled police world of DCI Helen Lavery, who balances being a single mother of teenage boys along with solving criminal cases while also trying to deal with her own personal dilemma's. Ms Isaac has written a well rounded character who from the onset, will have you identifying with her on a very human level.

The novel begins when Eva witnesses her best friend Naomi being attacked on screen in front of her while they Skype together and when she sees no other option, goes on the run and into hiding. Add to the plot drug smuggling and murder, a psychopath, a little bit of romance on the side and a detective who will not stop until she gets to the truth, you have a story that will keep you reading late into the night.

I had much praise for Ms Isaac's first novel but I believe she has really come into her own with this second one. She has proved herself an accomplished author who I have no doubt will develop a strong following if she hasn't already, and I for one am thoroughly looking forward to her next novel as well as reading a whole lot more on the crime and intrigue in the world of DCI Helen Lavery.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis - a review

One Step Too FarOne Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew I was going to do a review around 90% of the way through this book. Although at the time I wasn't quite sure what I was going to say, what I did know was that I wanted to find a way to convey how this book kept me gripped and how, when finally the big secret was revealed how it felt as if I had been punched in the chest. I had had a quick look at the reviews of this book before i started and was a little weary, I admit, when I saw there were quite a few negative ones. So I went in with an open mind, not too many expectations and although I wasn't instantly gripped from the very first page, I certainly was by the 25% mark.
It's easy to see how some would judge Emily/Cat for the choices she makes. I'm sure some of us could never imagine walking away from our family like she does but appearances can be deceiving and I love how Tina Seskis weaves a tale that does just that, keeping us in the dark, even though we don't realise we are.
I enjoyed how she told the same story from different points of view and I did find it easy to follow. There wasn't a single character I was bored with and simply fell in love with soft, sweet, caring Ben, my heart going out to him and hating Emily/Cat just a little for what she did to him, but never enough that I stopped caring about her too. Caroline, oh sad tortured Caroline made me rage with disgust at her behaviour yet I couldn't help feeling empathy for her too.

But it was that last 10% of the book that really did it for me. The brilliant way the tale comes together, all the secrets revealed, everything starting to make perfect sense and the tears that I couldn't stop from rolling down my face as I sat reading -no, devouring - the final few chapters on the bus on my way home tonight that convinced me that I absolutely had to do a review as its not often that a book makes me feel such profound feelings where I have to stop for just a few seconds to look out the window and try to compose myself.
I don't know if this book was recommended to me, many that I read are, or if I just randomly selected it from Amazon but I am very glad I finally got to it.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it and will be downloading her second book just as soon as I can.

View all my reviews