Glacier Hike, Iceland

With only 2 full days in Iceland, and a half day with a quick stop at the Blue Lagoon we had to maximise our time in the Island’s capital Reykjavik and see some of the majestic sites. We decided on a full day ‘Golden Circle‘ tour, seeing the great Geysir area, Gullfoss waterfall and Þingvellir national park,  scene of the separating tectonic plates, along with a full day glacier hike.

Our glacier hike involved attaching ‘cramp ons’ to your shoes, grabbing some spikes/sticks/poles and walking up  the frozen glacial tongue that is the Sólheimajökull Glacier on Iceland’s South Coast.

We had a small group, approximately 8-10 people and a very informed guide (who we were trusting to rescue us should we fall in a crevasse. Or crevice). After some quick instructions we were on the ice, heading somewhere upwards towards the Mt Hekla Volcano. This was 2007, two years before it erupted. “Oh we expect it to erupt any day now, we’ve been waiting,” the locals told me nonchalantly. Consequently I spent the next few hours looking over my shoulder expecting to see lava flowing down the glacier tongue and sweeping us out to sea. Dramatic? Me?

Despite the lack of volcanic explosions we thoroughly enjoyed our glacier hike and no one was lost inside a giant crack in the ice, swirling down below, Ice Age style. If you only have a few days in Iceland, a glacier hike is definitely a recommendation!

Naxos, Greek Islands

A travel documentary on television tonight made me reminisce of the fun times I had on Naxos in 2007. Not as infamous as your Santorini, Mykonos or Ios, Naxos is a big island that still has lots of attractions.

We docked our yacht right in town, literally you walked off the gang plank onto the seafront boulevard with shops and restaurants everywhere. For sunset we walked up to the Temple of Apollion ruins. A delicious local taverna served us dinner, then we wandered around the shops looking at lots of gemstones, jewellery and coral, munching on ice creams and baklava.

The next day took us on a whole day adventure riding quad bikes around the  island. We saw ruins, views, villages, local beaches where we stopped for a spot of swimming, dinner in the affectionately named ‘Mama’s kitchen’ – where Mama just serves up a dish for anyone in the village – no menu here! Not even any roads for cars; this village was so old, you just park at the top and walk down. More swimming at little fishing villages, then chasing the sun on the road back to town, for more Greek food and ice cream. What a lovely time!

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Causeway Coast

Our road trip to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Island meandered along the spectacular Causeway coast. The weather was outstanding, we could see all the way out to the puffin home of Rathlin Island, sadly not seeing any puffins though. We stopped in at Ballycastle after driving up from Dublin for picnic supplies. I choose a punnet of strawberries – the tastiest I have ever eaten.

First stop was the Carrick-A-rede Rope Bridge, swaying off the coast above the North Atlantic Ocean. Then onto the Giant’s Causeway, the strange hexagonal rock formations, the result of some weird geological activity or some weird giant activity, I can never remember which.

 

Sorry that some of these photographs are a little blurry, I had to copy them (highly compressed too) from the internet after my camera was stolen on one of my Europe trips.

Luckily I had been uploading my thousands of photos so I still could access them and have my memories, the downside is the quality was reduced.

Carcassone

Exploring a medieval walled city in 2005. Dam those bus trips and tour guides, no where near enough time spent at the South of France glory that is Carcassone. How can I fit site seeing, photo taking, eating and shopping in 1 hour!

Grabbed the world’s best meringues though. Living the fairy tale I tell you.

Love that the Kate Mosse book ‘Labyrinth’ is set in Carcassone in the 1200s!  It was a great book to read on the 20 hour flight back to Australia from Europe too.

Oh god, just discovered they’ve made a mini series of the book, straight to to the ‘to watch’ list!

Amorgos – Greece

Lesser known of the Greek Islands, but just as stunning as Santorini, Mykonos, Paros and the others. Amorgos is mainly famous for being the setting of the 1988 Movie “The Big Blue” .  Visit a taverna in town and it’s likely to be playing the movie or have retro posters on the walls.

Take a bus trip (precarious, eyes closed) to see the 1200 AD monastery built high into the cliff face. Cool down on one of the pretty pebbly beaches. As Amorgos doesn’t have an airport, the best way to visit is to sail in on a yacht, like I had the pleasure of doing.

Lake Bled – Slovenia

I was grateful for the suggestion from another seasoned traveller to take the train from Ljubljana out to Lake Bled. In the heat of summer the picturesque lake is turned into an outdoorsy playground, grass slopes, swimming, boat rides, bike riding, swan spotting and just snoozing lakeside in the sun. A very enjoyable day trip!

Rose Valley – Cappadocia, Turkey

There are memorable days while travelling. The day I hiked through Rose Valley, in the Cappadocia region of Central Turkey was one of them.

In summary:

I awoke at 4am in a cave hotel. By 5am I was in a hot air balloon rising over the valley of rock formations. By 8am I was back at the hotel having breakfast, then by 9am onto a day tour. 10am walking the Rose Valley, through fields, over rocks, between crevices, in caves. Lunchtime climbing a rocky hill full of abandoned cave dwellings and houses. 1pm buying evil eye jewellery. By 2pm descending 9 levels underground in an underground city. 4pm hanging with hashish smoking French Canadians Boys . 5pm riding a motorbike across the valley to see the sun set (with said French Canadians). 6pm crashing said motorbike and injuring leg. 7pm on overnight bus to Istanbul, nursing swollen and bruised injured leg where I meet another solo traveller that I randomly met again and partied with in Berlin 3 months later.

Those are the days you live for. Ahh travel. Double Ahh for solo travel…