In Reykjavik: Puffin Watching with Special Tours

Before I left for Iceland I wanted to do a tour of some kind that wasn’t too long but also was a great experience. Now I have written before how I love boats! So I instantly wanted to see what kind of boat tours I could do. There are loads of tour companies that offer similar tours and experiences so it can be tough to choose just one. I decided to go Puffin Watching with Special Tours.  PhoebeGill150814225I have wanted to see puffins for years and years! They are such lovely birds. The boat docks at Reykjavik Old Harbour which is where you will find the Special Tours booth where you check in. The tour takes about an hour and costs 5700kr (€48). Take Note: This tour runs from the 1st of May to the 20th of August.PhoebeGill150814116The species that are on the island are Atlantic Puffin. Puffins come to land for the breeding season. During the summer months Iceland has around 60% of the population of puffins on it’s coasts.  PhoebeGill150814424Puffins are very fast, they beat their wings up to 400 times a minute. Capturing these speedy birds is quite a challenge. Along with the waves getting pictures of these birds is pretty hard to do.   PhoebeGill150814462These waters can get a little choppy so definitely take a look at the weather and the sea the day of your tour. Our trip was really good on the way out but it started to rain and because we were going against the current the waves crash over the boat so you will get soaked.

Tips: 

  1. Bring waterproof clothing. It can get very wet, I wore jeans and they were drenched.
  2. Don’t eat right before you go. It can get choppy, although the boat ride isn’t long its never nice to feel sick on a boat. Also look at the horizon if you are feeling sick.
  3. Bring a long lens. I used an 80-400 mm lens and I feel like I was still too far away. Puffins fly away from the boat very quickly so it can be tricky with a standard lens.

I definitely recommend this tour. It’s amazing watching these birds, learning about their behaviour and habits. So if you have a spare hour and €34 euro I definitely suggest you go puffin watching!

Happy Travels!

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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.

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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 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 The Western Cape: Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

In The Western Cape: Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point are the two points that are a must see. These points are included in the Table Mountain National Park. It has some beautiful landscapes and seascapes. There are also lots of flora and fauna to spot along the way.IMG_9079

The Cape of Good Hope:

The area is impressive with the waves that crash along the rocky coast and the group of seals just off the shore. It is perceived, that it is where the indian ocean and the atlantic ocean meet. It is customary to get a picture with the sign. The sign does get a lot of traffic. If you are going to get a picture with the sign, make sure you clear the way, no point in ruining someone else’s photo and queue to make it fair for everyone, become British.IMG_9382

Cape Point:

This attraction is really nice, you can get the tram that brings you up to the top and from there you can get spectacular views and visit the lighthouse. There are lots of nesting birds and other species that fly around. It can get quite cloudy as you are up very high, so be patient and let the clouds pass.PhoebeGill141023009

The sea in this area is just beautiful, so many gradients from the aquamarine to deep blue. It’s amazing standing at these two points and thinking the next land mass is Antarctica. A place I hope I visit one day but for now being close will do especially when close is a place as beautiful as this.

Happy Travels!

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In The Western Cape: Boulders Beach

In The Western Cape: Boulders Beach

This gorgeous spot in between Simons Town and Cape Point is used by humans and animals alike. This beautiful coastal spot is perfect for the African Penguin and is home to a large colony. This area is now a safe haven for these endangered animal. There is a boardwalk which brings you so close to the animals.PhoebeGill141019025 It only costs R55 (€4) to get in and it is so nice seeing this colony swim in the sea and communicate with each other. For a colony of penguins to be in Africa is so strange I think it is a must see if you are travelling around the Western Cape.PhoebeGill141019029

Just Some Notes:

  1. Although it says this area is sheltered, it may not be as sheltered as you think, if it is a windy day you will get sand whipping your skin. It is really unpleasant and it does get in your eyes. Bring a hat and sunglasses and wear long sleeves to try to prevent real pain.
  2. Do not under any circumstances do anything to the penguins, they are happy doing their thing.
  3. Penguins nest all along the boardwalk so remember to look to the left as you are going down to the entry barrier.

Happy Travels!PhoebeGill141019040