In Iceland: My Experience in January

In Iceland: My Experience in January

I spent three days in this beautiful country and I am no where near done. This is what I have done so far. Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.21.23

Reykjavik: 

I love the city, no skyscrapers, colourful houses, beautiful street art makes this city a perfect place to wander around and relax. I loved shopping downtownwalking from Harpa to the lake. Going to Hallgrímskirkja and looking at the amazing view from the top. It’s also so close to the sea which is my favourite place to be! The entire sea front area is beautiful. I loved seeing the Sun Voyager sculpture

Exploring this city is a must and I can’t wait to find more places next time. Here is my post on the food I experienced in Iceland! PhoebeGill150109076 PhoebeGill150109144

The Golden Circle:

The Golden Circle is a great tour to do in winter, it runs all year round and is generally easy to do if you want to self drive. First stop is Þingvellir National Park it is a beautiful location which is steeped in geographical and historical information. I definitely want to go back in summer/autumn! Next up is Geysir and Strokkur beautiful location to see the amazing power of nature, Lastly but in no means least is the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall this place is so beautiful! A must see.

PhoebeGill150110208 PhoebeGill150110416South Iceland:

I had one day to get a glimpse of South Iceland and the short amount of time I spent there was amazing! I drove to Vik but the weather was so bad that I couldn’t see anything. I got to stop and take lots of photos of the amazing landscapes and I got to say hello to the cutest most lovely Icelandic Horses.

I did get to see two beautiful waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss

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Tips:

  1. Save up your money! I know people say it’s expensive all the time but it really is!
  2. If you want to do a lot, go on tours. Iceland is amazing but in Winter bus tours and super jeep tours are the easier option. Icelandic people know how to get around their country in Winter.
  3. Here is my post on my self drive experience
  4. Get a good jacket! I got a insulated Regatta Jacket and it was perfect!
  5. Also get a good pair of boots, if you want to do any walking get ones with good traction and waterproof shoes.

Things to note!

  1. The hot water smells like sulphur, it’s geothermal water, it’s normal don’t worry.
  2. In January daylight is from 11am-4:30pm. It does mean you get beautiful light for photos but not a lot of time adventuring.
  3. Everything is accessible. All attractions mentioned above are all just off the road. Really easy to get to and they all have toilets.
  4. Parking is really good in Iceland, there are car parks and on street parking, you can pay by card on the meters which is also really handy.

So that’s it, I can’t think of anything else. I think 14 posts for three days travel is pretty good. Have I missed anything? What should I see next?

Happy Travels!

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In Stellenbosch: Eagle Experience at Spier Winery

In Stellenbosch: Eagle Experience at Spier Winery

Stellenbosch is wine country, it is stunning lands of grape vines for miles around. Wineries are scattered around providing tastings, restaurants, horse riding, animal experiences and shops. I visited Spier winery, not to taste wine, I am not interested in it at all but in order to go to the Eagle Encounters.

To Eat:

There is Eight and Eight to go, they are a restaurant and a deli shop respectively. In the shop they have delicious food and drink, you can arrange a picnic on the grounds of Spier, Eight provide all you need for this lovely outing. The setting is lovely, sitting outside in the shade of the trees. Even the way they design their grounds is really nice. It’s a great place to visit.IMG_9405PhoebeGill141024747

To Do:

The Eagle Encounters is all about rescue, rehabilitation, education and conservation. They take in animals that have been treated badly, abandoned, hurt or given to them. They have an amazing collection of animals they use to teach people about these magnificent creatures. You can opt to hold one of two birds a black eagle R50 or a Wahlberg eagle R25 . I got to hold the beautiful Wahlberg eagle. Birds of pray are stunning animals, they are often killed in my own country because they are a nuisance, this sanctuary wants to protect these magical birds.IMG_9176PhoebeGill141024765

There are many events during the day so the animals can get exercise and stretch their wings. It’s such a shame that these birds are tied up but the fact is people need education about how to look after animals properly.IMG_9175

There is also a wonderful creature named Sonic let out at 11:30am and 15:15pm for people to interact with. So go and see what he is.

I really recommend this winery. It is a beautiful area with really amazing things to experience.

Happy Travels!IMG_9173

In Hermanus: Whale Watching

In Hermanus: Whale Watching

Whale watching has been something I have wanted to experience for years and after this trip I want to do again and again. What is so magical about this location is parking up and looking out at the bay. The second I got out of the car I loved Hermanus, there was a female Southern Right Whale with her calf swimming in the water. The calf breaching and playing beside its mother, it was absolutely amazing and this was two hours before the trip was scheduled  to start.PhoebeGill141021049

We decided we’d have lunch an hour or so before the trip, make sure you take in to consideration that South Africa is very relaxed and your lunch may not go as fast as it does in Europe but that is what makes it nice.  You don’t want to get on a catamaran with a full stomach, could end up a very unpleasant journey. It can get quite choppy so do look at the weather before you book.PhoebeGill141021174

Southern Right Charters is located in New Harbour, Hermanus. There are three tours a day 9am, 12pm and 3pm. There is a member of staff that can speak english, dutch and german. All the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly. A lovely employee told me where to stand and we had great informative chats. You also get a snack and a drink which I saved for later.PhoebeGill141021613

The captain parked away from the whales and thankfully they swam over to us. A female and calf ended up right next to the boat. They are amazing creatures, we also saw seals, penguins and dolphins.  Whale watching was as captivating as I thought it would be. The members of staff give you so much information so I encourage you to take a trip and learn for yourself how wonderful these creatures are.

Tips: 

  1. It can get choppy at sea, don’t eat directly before and don’t go crazy on the snacks provided. Look at the horizon and try to think about something else. Some people also say to stay on top of the boat, don’t sit inside, that can help too.
  2. The people who take this tour don’t care if you see a whale or not, don’t be rude but certainly don’t wait for another person to move out of the way for you. Get your pictures and video, the whales move so everyone should get a turn to view them.
  3. Ask questions, don’t be afraid, they really are lovely people!
  4. Bring a windbreaker and suncream, the sea air can be a little cold but the sun is strong as well, be prepared.
  5. Definitely get a memento from the shack shop, they have really cute magnets and t-shirts.

It is an amazing trip and I really recommend it!

Happy Travels!

In South Africa: Kruger National Park

In South Africa: Kruger National Park

I have wanted to go to Kruger National Park for so many years. It has been on my bucket list to go on safari and ever since I watched The Wild Thornberrys I have wanted to see wild animals in Africa (also to talk to them but I don’t think I can achieve this). It has been a dream of mine for about 16 years.PhoebeGill141014048

The flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit is thirty five minutes, very quick flight, you even get a carton of juice and a pastry, what more could you want.

Kruger about the size of Wales, so there is a lot of terrain you can cover and lots of gates you can enter and exit. You can go wherever as long as you are out of the park on time.

We stayed right next to the Paul Kruger Gate. A fantastic location, it is amazing as you are driving down the road you see wildebeest or zebra, it’s amazing. There is a bridge right in front of the Paul Kruger gate over the Sabie river. Before you even get into the park you can find wildlife on the river. The first animal we saw was an elephant in the tall grass.PhoebeGill141014029

We had a Jeep so we were able to go on the dirt roads, we generally stayed along the Sabie, I am very glad we did. Naturally animals go to water, so it is very likely you will see everything you want to see.

We went on three drives. First when we arrived at our hotel so around 2pm. One 5:30am – 9:30am and 1pm – 5:45. All amazing.PhoebeGill141014155-2

Tips:

  1. Look at previous sightings, there is a facebook and twitter page dedicated to what people see in the park. https://twitter.com/latestkruger Know where the animals are so you have a better shot at seeing them.
  2. Get a map, know where you are and how you can get back, don’t get stuck in the park.
  3. Bring suncream and sunglasses, you have no idea about the wind whipping you will get sitting in the back of a car and also the wind in your eyes for three hours is painful. Sun is hot, it’s africa.
  4. Get up early. I mean really early. Morning time is incredible in Kruger.
  5. If you see an elephant in the middle of the road. Back up. Elephants can be aggressive, they have killed people before. I am not sure about Rhino or Hippo but again these animals can be aggressive so be careful. Reverse is your friend, do it.
  6. Look in the trees! You never know what you could spot.PhoebeGill141014032-3

Animals I saw:

  1. Elephants (Probably around 90 in the total three drives)
  2. Black Rhino
  3. White Rhino
  4. Hippo
  5. Buffaloes
  6. Vervet Monkeys
  7. Chacma Baboons
  8. Giraffe
  9. Wildebeest
  10. Impala
  11. Greater Kudu
  12. Hyena
  13. Zebra
  14. Lilac Breasted Roller
  15. Sable
  16. Springbok
  17. Yellow Billed Hornbill
  18. Warthog
  19. Water Monitor
  20. Crocodile
  21. African Fish Eagle
  22. Martial Eagle
  23. Egyptian Goose
  24. Mongoose
  25. Bush Baby
  26. BatsPhoebeGill141014171

Some of my favourite moments:

  1. Zebra walking past our room. They were just grazing outside the window…amazing.
  2. Sitting in between a herd of elephants; they were at the river, females and calfs. We just turned off the car, rolled down the windows and watched these beautiful amazing creatures drink, eat and play. Absolutely amazing to watch such an amazing family dynamic.
  3. A whole herd of elephants coming up behind us at sunset. Absolutely amazing they were walking beside the river and we drove along beside them until they decided to walk on the road behind us. Incredible moment.
  4. A whole herd of buffaloes crossing the road causing a traffic jam.
  5. Coming across a huge beautiful black rhino. Just amazing.
  6. Watching a hippo cross the road. She decided she wanted to go to the other side of the river so right on the bridge, where everyone drives in and out, she just pottered across the road. It was just incredible.
  7. Lightening storm at dinner, sitting listening to the thunderous air and flashes of lightening.
  8. Watching bush babies at dinner.PhoebeGill141014069-4

Kruger is my disneyland. It is the happiest place on earth. If you take the 11 hour flight to Johannesburg and you don’t go to Kruger you are a fool. This place is just amazing and I can’t wait to go back.

Happy Travels!

In Sligo: Surfing in Strandhill

In Sligo: Surfing in Strandhill

I have a lot of goals for my bucket list in 2014 but my sisters was to go surfing in Ireland. Now if someone wants a road trip across the country with a new adventure attached then I am in. She had heard about Strandhill being a good spot to surf but also as she is a vegetarian she heard about good eats also. From Dublin to Sligo it takes about 3 and a half hours so very doable.

Accommodation:

We stayed at the Surf n Stay lodge. On arrival I was greeted with a not so friendly member of staff, he didn’t make himself known to us also so it was a little confusing at first but then we were introduced to Carmel who was lovely, she put on a great breakfast of coffee, juice, toast, cereal, fruit and yogurt. Everything you could want. She was always around at breakfast too, to answer any questions or just have a chat. A deluxe twin room was €25 per person a night and we stayed for two nights. There is also a hostel next door so you can get a range of rooms and prices.

Surfing:

We had never surfed before, I had paddled on a board but never attempted to get up on one. I did not know this before I went but when September hits Summer is over, it’s time for good surf (for people who actually have surfed before) These waves were big, strong and the current was changing very quickly! I was nervous because the sea is a lot more powerful than I am.IMG_8452

Our instructor that I booked through the lodge (Michael organised this, he was very friendly and helpful) was Rory, a very nice guy who was very patient and was very helpful. A lesson is €30 per person.

It was a lot of fun, the sea bet us up quite a bit as we were exhausted afterwards but it was definitely something I would try again. And hopefully be better at!

Things to do and eat: 

Walking is big in Strandhill. There is a great long beach walk you can do. When you are standing on the promenade you can choose either left or right and you can go on a long walk. You can also visit lots of archeological sites around Strandhill which again is a lovely walk.IMG_8481

Shells Cafe is a great place for food! Really lovely spot with big portions of yummy food and great coffee. There is also a shop attached which I wanted one of everything!IMG_8476

There is your usual eats which is chinese, italian but there is a nice ice cream shop that does crepes also. I didn’t eat there but everything looks really tasty and delicious! Also Sligo town is also 20 minutes away so if you are stuck you can always go exploring there.

Strandhill is a lovely get away. It is small and friendly with good places to eat and fun activities to do. It’s great going for walks along the beach, collecting shells or watching surfers ride the waves with a coffee. It’s a peaceful place and well worth a visit.

Happy Travels!

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In Laois: Electric Picnic 2014

In Laois: Electric Picnic 2014

Something I have had on my bucket list for a while is to attend a camping festival. Electric Picnic is an annual music and arts festival in Stradbally, Co. Laois. The festival ran from the 29th to the 31st of August 2014. There was a great line up with acts gracing the stage who haven’t been to Ireland in a long time! I was excited to see what the event was like, I am not a massive fan of crowds or drunk people so this was going to be a challenge. For first time festival goers the amount I payed was around 200 euro with booking fees and so on but if you are a returning festival goer the prices vary.IMG_8289

Getting There:

I drove to Kilkenny first to meet the friend I was going to the festival with and from there it was a 45 minute journey to Stradbally. There is a car park but I am not sure if it’s easy to get in and out of. And there are also buses that drop you into the town of Stradbally but again not sure how often they run or prices.

Also you will be queueing a fair amount so be prepared. Tip: the earlier you go the less you have to wait.

The Music:

There were some great acts, I stayed around the main stage a lot but there are lots of different tents and stages. I saw Hozier, OutKast, Blondie, Paolo Nutini, Foals, Lily Allen, Wyvern Lingo, The Wailers, James Vincent McMorrow, The Stranglers, Orla Gartland, Cathy Davey and best of all, Beck.IMG_8305

The best thing I found was that there were artists that I wouldn’t have got to see normally, as they don’t do their own tours or I just wouldn’t have thought to go see them. Festivals really opened music and genres up for me again. Live music is just wonderful and it is worth it.IMG_8297

Some things to bring/remember:

  1. Hand sanitiser, bring your own, the one they provide is sticky.
  2. Sun cream, I know it’s Ireland but stranger things have happened and sunburn is no fun!
  3. A good, comfy pair of shoes, irregardless of the weather.
  4. A blanket
  5. Blister plasters.

Some general guidelines:

  1. Don’t be an inconsiderate idiot.
  2. Have a great time and have fun but don’t make things uncomfortable or upsetting for others. Don’t play football at 5 in the morning and scream into peoples tents. Don’t start randomly touching people, they don’t like it. Don’t get angry at someone if they aren’t enjoying the music like you want them to. Don’t do anything that makes others want to physically want to punch you. Oh and also don’t just urinate where ever you feel like it, it is gross. Come on now.
  3. Remember to bring the essentials, food, water and the like but don’t carry too much. It will probably be muddy and raining.IMG_8295

I found the experience a generally positive one, the music is great, the drinks are tasty and for the most part the people are fine. This festival is only going to get more and more popular, so before it turns into the new Oxygen, buy a ticket.

Happy Travels!