In Iceland: 3 Spots on the South Coastline

Being able to explore the South Coast of Iceland is a wonderful experience. The scenery along the ring road is stunning and there are so many stops along the way. I definitely recommend you pull off and explore these beautiful spots.

Black Sand Beach In VíkPhoebeGill150916718

There is a small residential area just behind this beach, for my Irish readers, it reminded me of the area around Brittas Bay, Wicklow. It’s a quiet beach full of couples, holing hands, having a walk. I loved walking to the big cliffs at the end of the beach and looking at all the nesting birds soar above.

Reynisfjara

PhoebeGill150916908PhoebeGill150916685*Be careful at this spot! Tourists have been swept away and have died from the current. Don’t be foolish and read the signs. This area is wonderful. A beautiful beach to watch a sunset and go for a walk. This amazing basalt rock formation looks like it was man made, it is that beautiful. Like the giants causeway these amazing formations are stunning, along with the caves and the sea stacks this area is steeped in natural beauty!

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PhoebeGill150916508This cliff top site has some amazing views. Take the time to actually explore this area. I didn’t and I do regret it, I will just have to go back! There is lots to see and places to walk but be careful as this area doesn’t have many barriers are there are lots of people climbing precarious looking routes!

Definitely check out these spots and I am sure there are more hidden and secluded areas along the South for you to explore. If you know of any leave them in the comments! 

Happy Travels!

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In Iceland: Jökulsárlón and the Iceberg Beach

I tried to drive here in January but it was impossible with the amount of light in Winter and the snow. This time, I was determined to get there, it was the first place on my list. The first place where I was heading.

I arrived at Jökulsárlón at 10pm so it was dark and the only thing I saw were a couple of icebergs illuminated by my headlights. I was knackered so I went to bed and when I woke up I saw the most amazing thing. A huge lagoon full of icebergs. It was amazing.PhoebeGill150916805

This place is incredible. It really is. I can’t wait to go back already! I once again feel like I missed something or I didn’t take enough photos of it. (I’m sure I did but I love going back anywhere in Iceland)PhoebeGill150916986

Top Tip:

When you are standing at the shore of the lagoon, the sun will rise behind you so it will be a bit darker early in the morning until the sun fully rises. For the best pictures I recommend around 10am (in September). Although, sunrise on the iceberg beach next to the lagoon is pretty gorgeous!PhoebeGill150916833There weren’t any icebergs close to the shore for me to get close to and try and get scale but when you see chunks of ice break off and float down stream it shows you the scale of these hunks of ice. Watching an iceberg float out to sea is just amazing! Seeing it rock like a boat and then stop. It is just awesome.PhoebeGill150916596I would love to do a boat tour next time. Going through the lagoon would be immense. It’s been a dream of mine to go to Antarctica like my father so maybe it would be like a teeny tiny version of that.PhoebeGill150916987I am so excited I got to see this incredible place. Definitely worth the wait!

Have you been to Jökulsárlón? Is there any place like this that you have been to? 

Happy Travels!

In Croatia: Visiting Dalmatia in June

My trip along the Dalmatian coast was nice but it is the first place I have been in a long time where I felt very much like just another tourist. Croatia is a very popular spot in the summer months which means there are lots of people wanting you to eat in their restaurants, take a boat trip, sell you some nicknacks that you don’t want or need and there is going to be someone in your pictures all of the time! If you aren’t into this type of travel you have been warned but now lets get to the important stuff.

Croatia is beautiful, it’s got the beautiful sea, gorgeous countryside and perfect old towns that are steeped with history! I highly highly recommend you go to this beautiful part of the world, this country during the off peak season with a rented car would be perfect!

So lets break down each place I visited and the things I did!

Zadar

Although I didn’t spend a lot of time here, this tiny town is the perfect integration into Croatia’s beauty and relaxed vibe. Walking around old town is so easy and picturesque. A must do in Zadar is watch the sunset while sitting at the Sea Organ. It is so relaxing to hear the current. Read all about my 16 hours in Zadar here.

Need a place to stay in Zadar? I stayed in the most perfect apartment with AirBnb! It’s location is fantastic and it has everything you will need I highly highly recommend you stay in Apartment Sea Organ.PhoebeGill150614060-2

Plitvice Lakes National Park

A beautiful place to visit, it’s waters are a magical aquamarine colour with the most beautiful waterfalls and pools. There are so many to see in this small area, I definitely recommend that you take two days to do this park. It’s doable in a day but to have comfort and to take advantage of the area two days is best! Although I only spend one day in the park I have lots of handy tips in my post all about Plitvice Lakes National Park 

Need a place to stay in Plitvice? I stayed at the Hotel Plitvice located right beside the park at entrance 2 (so get off the bus at entrance two, it is right opposite the bus stop) This hotel is a really affordable, relatively comfortable stay, I don’t think the aircon was switched on at this point in the year so it got very hot but other than that it is a great place to stay! There is breakfast included and the food served downstairs is very tasty!PhoebeGill150615079-3

Split

Split is a really nice place to stop on the coast, it is in between Zadar and Dubrovnik and there are lots of fun things to do. I stayed in this area for three nights, two and a half days. Split is a really nice area, it has a great marina area with lots of bars so when it gets too hot you can sit and relax. There are really great shops and lots of restaurants of different prices and there are great cultural stuff to see and do. The old town is absolutely beautiful. Here are my top 8 things to do in Split. I also loved going to Marjan Hill, it’s a great place to get some exercise!

Need a place to stay in Split? I stayed in Studio Palma with Airbnb. I recommend this for a couple, although it sleeps three, any more than two and it feels like the walls are closing in. It is a very small space but it is very comfortable and has everything you need except a bottle opener!!PhoebeGill150616110-4

Dubrovnik

I really liked Dubrovnik, it’s a beautiful city. There are a few things to do, I recommend you go to Rector’s Palace and with your ticket that costs 100 kuna (€13) you can then gain entrance into 8 other museums around the city. Walking around the harbour is also a really nice thing to do there are benches for you relax and there are even places for you to take a dip in the water outside the walls. The number one thing you have to do is walk the city walls it is a great way to spend your time! Also something I definitely recommend is to take the cable car and watch the sunset above Dubrovnik.

Need a place to stay in Dubrovnik? I cannot recommend Apartment Paradise with AirBnb enough it is absolutely perfect! It is in the centre of old town, it is close to a supermarket, it is close to all the main attractions and museums. There is lots of space, although Croatian houses are narrow and tall this space feels airy and open. There is also a rooftop terrace and it is just perfect!PhoebeGill150620188-5

Also I definitely recommend you get into the sea, you can swim in lots of different spots along the Dalmatian coast here are some of the spots I tried.

What I Ate

So I really didn’t venture much with my eating. There is lots of fish on menus all across the coast but I don’t eat seafood for lots of different reasons. I ate pizza a lot. It’s the cheapest thing on every menu and I had some steak on my birthday which wasn’t good. So basically stick with pizza. Ice cream is everywhere! There are lots of flavours and it’s really tasty. Choose pistachio becuase it’s the best!

Take Note

  1. If you go from Zadar to Dubrovnik, it goes from ridiculously cheap to quite expensive so keep that in mind when you are budgeting your trip.
  2. It also gets busier and busier as you go down the coast, so it is nice to start with Zadar to relax and settle in.
  3. Buses are a great mode of transport but have to say Croatia Bus company was the worst journey I have had in a very very long time. I don’t know why we went through a different country but we did!
  4. Croatia adds it’s own soundtrack on attractions. You will be walking around an amazing historical place and there will be a stall or cafe blasting some crappy song. It was quiet common and a little annoying but you can get away from it pretty quickly.
  5. Their animal laws are horrible. I have already mentioned Splits zoo in my Marjan Hill post but I also went to an aquarium and it was just awful to see a critically endangered loggerhead turtle in a paddling pool where people had thrown their coins into. It was despicable. By law it is legal but it is disgusting, do not go to the aquarium in Dubrovnik!
  6. If you want to get €31 off your Airbnb stay click here 

So that sums up everything I did in my week in Croatia. I really enjoyed my time there but I am not done. I really want to go back in the quieter months of the year with a car. I really hope you enjoyed this post. Tell me have you been to Croatia? Is there somewhere you recommend? 

Happy Travels!

In Croatia: Swimming in the Adriatic Sea

I love being in the water, I love swimming, snorkelling and the small amount of diving I have done was incredible. I should have been born a mermaid! So these are the spots I found close enough walk from the city for a really nice swim.

Split

Split is a great place to go swimming, there are a few options for what you want. There are three spots just past the bus station that I really recommend. Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 18.10.12

I put a star on the main beach in Split, when I walked by the first day it was packed with loads of people, screaming children, terrible music and bounce houses. It really wasn’t the kind of beach I like, but there is a walkway that connects all three coves in the above image. I recommend the middle small cove if the weather is a bit cooler but still sunny and warm. The last cove is better if it is really hot because there was a stronger breeze so you might get cold on a cooler day.

DCIM103GOPRO

There isn’t much marine life in these little coves but it is fun swimming with schools of little fish and spotting sea urchins at the bottom of the sea floor.  DCIM103GOPRO

Dubrovnik

If you are on foot there is one beach close to Dubrovnik that is pretty nice (it’s on the right hand side of the picture). It is small so it will probably be very crowded on a hot day, so go early! Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 18.09.45

The views of the old city are nice to see from the water. This beach has a maker that is a safe zone for you to swim, there are a lot of boats that use the area outside the marker to go to different islands around Dubrovnik, so it is not safe to swim outside of it.

DCIM103GOPROTip:

  1. Get beach shoes! Wearing flip flops isn’t good as you can’t swim without them falling off. Get slip on shoes they are a lifesaver. From the beach to the water is all stones and can hurt quite a bit. I found in Split there are beach shoes sold in the kiosks by the bus station.
  2. Keep wandering, getting to the beaches and finding the entrances can be tricky but just keep walking around, the beauty of Croatia is that it’s small so it will never take you too long.

Swimming in the Adriatic is fantastic, the crystal clear, cooling water is a dream to swim in. I definitely would be interested in coming back one day and finding spots to dive and see more of what this water has to offer. Have you swam in the Adriatic? Do you have any places you can recommend?

Happy Travels!

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!

In South Africa: My Experience Overall

This is going to be my masterpost on this stunning country, you will find links to all my posts scattered throughout.

Where do you start with trying to sum up South Africa? Firstly, the amount of wildlife and beautiful landscapes have meant that I have completely fallen in love with this country but there is so much more to South Africa. The people, the oceans, the wildlife, the landscapes, the things to do, it all adds up to make such a fantastic experience.

Johannesburg:

I have to be honest there is nothing about Johannesburg that stands out to me during my two day visit, we stayed in the Intercontinental, Sandton. I have to say after a 11 hour flight and almost 24 hours of travelling, the Intercontinental is fantastic. The staff are nothing but kind and chatty, they give you advice and are so respectful. The rooms are lovely, so comfortable and clean. The Sandton Mall is attached to the hotel and is a great place to shop, lots of different brands and retailers, supermarkets and a big food court.

I then went out of the city to go to the Cradle of Humankind which was great, loved the vistas and the open plains.

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Kruger, Mpumalanga:

This area of South Africa is just amazing from the mountains to the must see Kruger National Park. I loved every second of it, driving for hours and hours seeing the most amazing landscapes and creatures. I cannot recommend this area enough! I stayed in the Protea Hotel, Paul Kruger Gate. It is a great place to stay and a perfect location, really really worth it.

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Cape Town (Central):

Like all cities, it is a little dirty but other than that it is very multicultural with great places to eat and really nice things to do. You can see Table Mountain from all over the city, it is wonderful to get such a panoramic view of one mountain. We stayed in the Holiday Inn at St. Georges Mall, really nice hotel, good area, really good restaurants and shops very close by.

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Cape Town (Surrounding Areas):

There are some amazing things to do on the outskirts of city centre Cape Town, the look out point Signal Hill, the wonderful Waterfront area. There are a number of different spots in the Table Mountain National Park, the park runs the length of the mountains of the western cape. Some sights to see include Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope and Boulders Beach. There are many more spots but these were a few of the areas I visited.

Hermanus:

Hermanus is the most stunning seaside town. There are mountains and beach that make this area beautiful and with the addition of the most beautiful mammals in the ocean, this location is just perfect. With whale watching and cage diving opportunities available there is so much to do and see while still being a peaceful, relaxing place.

Stellenbosch:

We rented an absolutely fantastic house in Haskell vineyards. This area of the world is stunningly beautiful, you would wake up to so many different species of birds flying around the trees, all different colours and sizes, you would see little deer or mongooses running around outside. This location is in front of the mountains. It is green and peaceful and always so beautiful. The area has lots of different vineyards and that means different restaurants, I didn’t eat in them but I can get a recommendation of 96 Winery Road restaurant that is 10 minutes away. The house is nicely decorated and really comfortable. It is great to buy and cook your own food, fresh fruit and vegetables are great! There are lots of things to do in the area I would recommend Spier Winery, great food and a wonderful experience.

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Eating:

I have only made a small list of places to eat and things to eat but really, the food is normal and always very tasty. There is nothing out of the ordinary or “strange” South Africans like their meat so even the most normal of palate is satisfied.

Before I sign off there is one more thing. There are things in this country that need to change but it will not take a day or a year, it is generations of work, hopefully one day the gap between sections of society will lessen. I am no where near educated enough on the matter but something about how there is almost two groups living on different paths in the same country makes me feel very odd. I do not know how to end this section but I want to make it known that it doesn’t matter what you look like it matters how good of a person you are and everyone I met in this country (Bar two very ignorant women) were nothing more than friendly, helpful and welcoming.

The only thing that went wrong on this holiday was my skydive. It was too windy and the pilot canceled it but out of two and a half week only one thing went array. That is pretty good going!

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So that’s it. They are all my posts on this amazing country. If you ever get the opportunity to go or want to save up the money, I urge you to do it. It is too beautiful and thankfully, in a country so big, there will always be more to explore.

Happy Travels!