In Iceland: Southern Region

The South will always be popular whatever time you go and there is a good reason why. I have been in January and in September and each time it has been beautiful. I wanted to get a different angle on some old spots and finally get to some places that I have wanted to go for long time.

Svínafellsjökull Glacier

PhoebeGill170417102I love this glacier, you can walk alongside it, take a seat and listen to the creaking ice. I had to fly the drone above the fissures and try and get closer to the source of the glacier, it is miles away so that didn’t happen but it’s stunning none the less. PhoebeGill170417187

Diamond Beach

I have taken pictures of this beach from the ground but from above it is one of the most beautiful sights. I think this is one of my favourite shots from my trip. PhoebeGill170422028

Jökulsárlón

Again I have taken many shots from the edge of the glacier but from above it is incredible. You can see the seals, huge icebergs and all the seagulls swooping below. I could honestly fly the drone over this area all day if I had enough batteries! PhoebeGill170422152

Fjaðrárgljúfur

This river canyon is a great site to visit, you can walk up to the top of the canyon and get great views of the river and the surrounding area. It gets very popular for a spot that doesn’t have great signage. PhoebeGill1704221131.jpg

Dyrhólaey

PhoebeGill170423017I have seen a lot of people sitting on the edge of this cliff however knowing my luck I’d fall off and be lost forever so I just flew the drone and sat in the sun. This was the first day where I didn’t need loads of layers and gloves, it was perfect. PhoebeGill1704231924

Gljúfrabúi

PhoebeGill170423159One of my last stops was back to the not so hidden waterfall. Unlike before, this time I was going in and I am very happy I did.There is something so wonderful about getting so close to a waterfall, blinded by the rushing water, getting soaked. Not staying too long because your cameras are going to get waterlogged. Can you tell I was happy? PhoebeGill170422001Iceland is somewhere you can go time and time again and you will find incredible things to do. I might not be back for a while but till next time Ísland.

Happy Travels!

In Iceland: Eastern Region

The East is a stunning part of the country that I didn’t get to explore fully. In April a lot of the north eastern roads are closed and impassable. A lot of my trip was dodging storms and high winds so my eastern adventure started with a small town of 1000 people. I hope these next few images inspire a trip of your own.

Reyðarfjörður

This was the start of a stunning drive around some of the most beautiful fjords. It is all amazing and the only bad thing is that there aren’t enough places to stop and take it in. PhoebeGill170421072-Pano.jpgI did the drive from Reyðarfjörður to Höfn in a day but there are so many more coast roads and smaller roads that you could explore for days in warmer months or if you are an expert in driving in snow. PhoebeGill170421097Around every corner was beautiful and serene, you just want to stop and take it all in. Towering snow capped mountains and the sun dancing on top of the water would be the most peaceful setting if it wasn’t for the strong winds that chill you to your core and does nothing for your hair. PhoebeGill170421960The East, like the Westfjords will be a place I have to return to, in Summer when prices go up but becomes far more accessible.  I know there is so much more to this area but it’s beauty will be forever something that I remember. Never boring, always beautiful. PhoebeGill1704221053.jpgIt’s also the first time I saw reindeer just hanging out at the side of the road. Not as amazing as when I saw moose for the first time but still such cute animals. They are skittish so I couldn’t get amazing shots but it’s always fun to sit and watch them.

The east is somewhere that deserves your time. Don’t just stop at Höfn, keep going, drive and enjoy. PhoebeGill170421132

Happy Travels!

In Iceland: Northern Region

I was on my way to the Westfjords, a section wild beauty in the north west of Iceland, I had so many spots on my list I wanted to go to but the weather was not going to be my friend. I drove through whiteouts and ice to get to the one road that was open, where it would lead, was the Arctic Fox centre. I was determined. My determination however, means nothing to nature who had a different plan for me. When I arrived at the road I found a barrier closed across it and red flashing lights telling me my dream was dashed.

I had two choices, set up camp in an N1 petrol station outside Hólmavík. A place that could only be described as barren, a place where the truckers of Iceland were stopping before heading on. One of whom waved at me…that was my cue to leave. The second option was to drive 111 kms to anywhere that wasn’t void of humans. I eventually found a place to rest for the night, the shining beacon of wonder, with running water and food, the N1 – Staðarskáli. Again, I don’t think it’s ok to camp at petrol stations but I think it was pretty evident that lots of people needed a place to stop for the night. As I have said many times before, be more organised than me. PhoebeGill170420550

Akureyri

The next morning was the first day of Summer and it was snowing. Perfect. It was time to head east and the first stop was Akureyri. Now I think I spent maybe twenty minutes in this city but I watched a plane take off and ate a hotdog so it was pretty ok. There is a viewpoint on the other side of the fjord. Which gives you a great view of the city with the mountains in the background. PhoebeGill170420553

Goðafoss

Continuing on my journey I arrived at the next waterfall, this area doesn’t look like much but just off the road is Goðafoss, a beautiful, powerful 30 meter wide pool. It was freezing, the spray was chilling and it was raining but the colour of the water still made me want to jump in.PhoebeGill170420644

Mývatn

I was cooking potatoes in the back of the car to avoid strong winds and hailstones when I saw a massive snow cloud moving fast past the window. I decided to follow it and what I found was amazing. I came upon a frozen lake, Lake Mývatn. When you are diving around in April you will see snow and beauty but for some reason this area feels like you are on a different planet.PhoebeGill170421030It was freezing but the wind was manageable and the snow had stopped so it was drone time. This area is disorientating from the ground, it’s a sea of lava rock covered in snow but it is awe inspiring from above. Seeing the snowy surrounds with the frozen lake was breathtaking. If my battery allowed it I would have flew all evening. PhoebeGill170421123There are a number of things you can see, if you are staying at a local guesthouse they will have maps will all the information you could want but two that I recommend are Grjótagjá cave, I think it should be something you experience for yourself but bring your bathing suit. The other spot that is amazing is Hverfjall, a kilometer wide volcano, in the colder months when there is still snow on the face of the volcano it is absolutely incredible! I had so much fun driving around the lake when the fluffy snow arrived it was time for me to move on. PhoebeGill170421034

Jarðböðin við Mývatn

When you drive a little further it’s as if you’ve left the other world and arrived back in Iceland, back to it’s geothermal land and patchy snow. Just past Lake Mývatn there is a blue lagoon of the north, the Mývatn nature baths, I didn’t go but it might be a bit easier to get into than the Blue Lagoon. You will find the turn for the Mývatn nature baths just before a similar turquoise pool, if you go past it, you’ve gone too far. PhoebeGill170421168

Hverarönd

Has your ma ever made egg sandwiches? Well that is what this area smells like, the sulphuric land is bubbling and emitting a strong odour but it is well worth stopping the car to check it out. The site would be amazing for a photoshoot, with it’s barren yellow landscape and billowing steam from the earth. It’s pretty incredible! PhoebeGill170421809

Dettifoss

There are certain points during a road trip where you have to take a chance and see if it goes well. There are two roads you can take to get to Dettifoss, one of them was closed and the other I feared would close soon, so I drove, kept going, through icy patches and wind I got to the car park. However that’s just the beginning. They clear the roads but they don’t clear the tourist spots. PhoebeGill170420732The wind was the strongest it had been in a while, rain was freeing in the air and pelting you in the face. Walking through with snow coming up to your knees, with hills and slippery stones, it might not be the best place to bring your granny but it is always worth it when you get to the final destination. Dettifoss is incredible, it’s supposed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe and it feels like it. The sound of it’s falls still echos in my ears, coming upon this amazing sight was something that wont be forgotten any time soon. PhoebeGill170420740Driving in the North was beautiful, awe inspiring and so much fun but I know I didn’t spend long enough frolicking in the snow. There are so many stunning spots along the road to stop and take amazing pictures. This part of Iceland is perfect for self driving and if you can get up to the North it is so worth taking the time to enjoy it. You wont regret it.

Happy Travels!PhoebeGill170421165

 

In Iceland: Western Region

The Western Region is just above Reykjavik and below the Westfjords. Snæfellsnes peninsula is the main point of interest with some amazing places to visit. I love it, I keep finding myself gravitating to the same places over and over again because they are just stunning.

Hraunfossar

This was my first stop on the drive around the Western region. This beautiful waterfall is powerful and peaceful however, it is quite popular with tour busses and you might find that you’re in the midst of a big group of tourists.

Driving around the Snæfellsnes peninsula should be on your list of things to do if you are going to Iceland for a week. The south is amazing but there is something about this area that is so gorgeous, if you aren’t into staying in Reykjavik longer than a day then try get here.

Búðakirkja

PhoebeGill170418165With the infamous black church, a small but picturesque sight. Stunning mountains, lava fields and look out points, there is so many things you can see and do. Driving around and exploring you can get the most amazing images.

Vatnshellir Cave

I am very annoyed that I didn’t visit this site, I love caves, they are dark and cool in temperature and bats live there. I just love them. I have no idea if it is good but for more information you can find it here. 

PhoebeGill170419247

Arnarstapi

This small fishing village on the south of the peninsula is absolutely beautiful and is so photogenic it’s crazy. With a stunning coastal walk, amazing rock formations and strong waves, this place is a must see.

 

Where to Stay?

The small yet lovely town of Grundarfjörður on the north side of the peninsula. I stayed in the Old Postoffice Gusthouse, a wonderful place to stay for a night before you set off on another adventure. The rooms are very comfortable with a clean shared bathroom. I think I paid €79 for a single room but got upgraded as it was quiet in the guesthouse and got an amazing view of Kirkjufell! If you want to know more about the mountain find it here.nvjh.jpg

Happy Travels!

In Iceland: Renting a Car with GoCampers

Driving in Iceland is a must, seeing this amazing country at your own pace is something I will always recommend. I have used KuKu campers before, if you want to see my review click here. I wasn’t going to use them again and I also wanted a 4×4 so I went on to GoCamper. PhoebeGill170417107I chose the new 4×4 camper, a Mitsubishi Pajero and I have to say I love this car. It is a lot of fun to drive and it’s really spacious inside. I forgot to take a picture of the inside but there is everything you could need. Pots, pans, utensils, a little gas cooker, a cooler box and a heater. The only thing that didn’t work was the mp3 system didn’t work with Spotify, which isn’t a big deal. PhoebeGill170425006-1I spent 10 days in the car and it cost me €2490. €249 euro a day seems quite expensive and of course you can get a cheaper camper out there but for a car and accommodation, it’s not too bad. I am very happy I got the 4×4. As I was April, there were roads in the north that were icy and I was driving in whiteouts but I still felt very safe in the car. PhoebeGill170425006-2Do I recommend GoCampers? Yes, I definitely recommend the new 4×4 as it’s a great car to drive, it has lots of room, everything you could need. Also GoCampers offer a free transfer to your hotel after you drop back the car which is very helpful. PhoebeGill1704241990I had so much fun driving around Iceland and this car made it so easy and I felt really safe. It also looks great! I would love to be back in Iceland in the Pajero, till next time.

Happy Travels!

In Life: My First Solo Travel Experience

Smith & SonsStory Time

I never get stressed before I fly I have been flying for years and I know what to do, it’s all good. This was not the case right before my first solo trip. I didn’t know where my passport was, I was dealing with a suitcase, weight restrictions and no online check-in and I got very angry.

Before I went my wonderful friend Jess, The Gap Year Guru, told me that problem solving was going to be the thing that made all the difference and if a problem did occur, being by yourself is going to be a much bigger challenge. I nodded and didn’t think much more about it. Don’t worry Jess, your words would come to fruition!

Day 1

As in most cases there was no need to be stressed at all. I got to the airport, sent my case away and got on my plane. Had a row to myself, I got to nap. All fine.

So as I stepped off the plane in Iceland, My laces got caught in my hiking boot eyelets and I fell over and grazed my knee, hilarious, if only I could have a gif of my falling over, it would actually make any situation a million times better. I am laughing thinking about it now but yes, I was in a lot of pain but I got my bag and changed my shoes and everything was fine!

I got picked up by my rental company and I got given my camper. I went to the shops and then I drove all day to the glacial lagoon. Wonderful, productive first day. Hurray!

Day 2

What a glorious morning, I wake up, go to the black sand iceberg beach at sunrise, take some photos, get annoyed by an ignorant german guy who kept standing right in front of me when I was taking photos. Swine! I then go back to the glacial lagoon, spot a seal, take some pictures, go for a walk. I then go back to the beach to take more shots. When I get back to my car to go off on my adventures, I can’t find my phone…I lost my black phone on a black sand beach. Well the profanities that were coming from me at this time was unnatural and I started to cry, then I started to problem solve.

I thought to myself, do I have to drive the 6 hours back to Reykjavik to buy a new phone? Do I go to a petrol station and ask to call home? How am I supposed to navigate anywhere? At this point I realised just how handy the damn things are!

Thankfully after two rounds of retracing my steps, two lovely girls held up my phone, I thank them profusely and I then went to hug an iceberg with happiness. Thank you kind strangers, I would have been lost without you!

Day 3 + 4

So these two days were fine, I drove, I explored, I went for walks, ate hotdogs, grand stuff. Apart from cooking, that really did suck. I can’t cook and I gave up pretty quickly. Also I did have to sleep in a petrol station car park because I was exhausted and the campsite in town was closed. Kind of felt like a tramp but gave up feeling anything once I was watching Firefly snuggled up in my sleeping bag.

Day 5

My final day, I had gone over my miles in the car so I decided to stay in Reykjavik and explore more, walk the entire length and breath of the city centre. I get quite weird on my own in a city, I feel like I should rush through things, I have no idea why I do this. It was getting pretty exhausting trying to find things to do and I had eaten everything I could. I now had to find a petrol station close to the airport that I could sleep in.

Luckily my parents rang me and said that they had booked me a cheap hotel room really close to the airport. I cried with happiness because living out of a van and walking/driving all day is extremely tiring. I drove to the hotel, got lost, had a cry, got into my room and at 7pm I fell asleep. Woke up at half 2 in the morning, watched some YouTube, ate some breakfast and left for the airport. Nothing could stop me…

Oh wait, everything can.

Getting to the airport

You see, I wrote an entire blog post about my rental. It sucked and at this point I hated it, like with a fiery passion!

It was really dark on the roads and the road I needed to take to get to the airport was closed, so I cried, I was driving around trying to find an exit and I go down a dead end.

This is where it gets fun; there was a giant patch of water in the middle of the road, that I didn’t see and of course I drive into it, I quickly get out of it and try to turn around but it’s too late. The wheels sort of lock up and I am in a lane behind a Subway and I can’t turn my wheels. I thought, I am 5km away from the airport, how am I going to get there, am I going to have to abandon the camper, there are no taxis anywhere. I cry more and I am just so done with this camper, it is a piece of shit. Thankfully I get out of this situation. Park at the airport. Run far far away from the camper and go stand in line for a hour to get on my flight. Then home.

What I learned:

  1. I am a stress cryer. I don’t mind a good cry to cleanse you of woes but good god I cried a lot! When I was in a tight spot I just started to weep. Damn it tear ducts!
  2. I do things very quickly. When you are with people you saunter places, you stop and chat and take pictures but when you are on your own, there is nothing left to do. I am Speedy Gonzales. In theory I could have driven the entire island in my 5 days but I didn’t know how quickly I could tick stuff off my list.
  3. I don’t need to talk to people. I think some people may have gone insane with the lack of human interaction I found myself in. I think some days I talked to one person. That is ok to me.
  4. Despite all this, I really do want someone or a small group of people who I can travel with. I like being by myself and doing my own thing but I’d like to have the option. I just haven’t found them.
  5. I am very capable. I have always known this but it’s nice to have confirmation. I can book, travel, explore, everything, by myself. Although I do ring home to talk things out, I can do it. It’s a nice feeling.
  6. I have a great relationship with my family. They may drive me mad at times but they get me, I am a product of their madness and it’s always nice to know that I can call and they will listen. Most people see this as a weakness and think that I get home sick because I call them. Thats not the case. It’s because I feel comfortable talking to them, I trust them when I may not be comfortable or trust talking to others.
  7. Taking pictures of yourself is such an ordeal! I know I could have asked people but I don’t like doing that. Also setting up a tripod is annoying. I saw a solo traveller take some photos of herself and I just wanted to give her props for not caring and doing her thing. I am not there yet.
  8. 5 days was a little long for what I had planned. This is something that will always be hit or miss. Maybe I should be the type that doesn’t plan too much and just go off and come back whenever.

Would I solo travel again? Hell yes! I love doing things my way, answering to no one and not worrying what my travel party thinks of me. It’s so refreshing.

Would I drive solo again? Yes! There is nothing better than being independent. I love driving and the freedom it gives. I will happily rent a car all around the globe if I can.

I think if you are like me and are socially capable but just not forward, start small and work your way up. Get comfortable with yourself in solo situations. That does sound strange but what I mean is, I didn’t know I would cry so much, I didn’t know how quickly I would get stuff done. Start small and see what happens, then go on to bigger and better projects.

Or just jump right in, who am I to tell you anything!

If you are taking your first solo trip I wish you all the luck and hope your tear ducts don’t explode like mine!

Happy Travels!