we would go back to iceland
It’s early October and the long summer days are no more. The chance of spotting the northern lights increases while the temperature decreases. The days are getting shorter and the blue skies are fighting to be seen.
Iceland is like nowhere else we have been. It is “out of this world” without sounding too cliché.
Our romance with Iceland was ignited when we were welcomed with nature’s light show on the evening of our arrival. We couldn’t believe our luck when the day we flew into Reykjavik there was not a single cloud in the sky. It was only the night before we arrived, the auroras were so fierce and strong that the mayor switched off the lights in the city for the phenomenon to be experienced by all, not just the over-zealous aurora-hunters.
Our number one travel wish list item was finally ticked off.
We know we are very fortunate to have witnessed the aurora borealis in all of her dancing glory. The following 7 nights, Aurora became shy and only appeared briefly or poked out occasionally behind dense clouds.
How do we begin to describe the sheer beauty of this country?
Jam-packed in its modest 103,000 km2 are massive glaciers and mountains sprawled across the horizon; waterfalls gushing loudly and proudly; thermal activity performing on cue. Even the knowledge of the volcanoes impatiently rumbling nearby with the earthquakes increasing in frequency and strength didn’t hamper our spirits. This country was truly something special and in a league of its own.
Every time we stopped to get that little bit closer to nature, we were greeted with harsh winds wanting to leave our cheeks numb and our teeth chattering. It didn’t matter though, we were easily distracted by what we saw.
Maybe we’ll just show you a little bit of what we saw.
Aside from the beauty of the country, the people are welcoming, friendly and frank. The food is also great but we might leave that for another post. And well, the language and pronunciations had us equally fascinated!
Our experience in Iceland was unforgettable, although we do wish the prices were forgettable. Ha! Thus is travel… One of these days we will be back for those long summer days, expensive or not!
Have you been to Iceland? What is your opinion?
Feel free to leave us any comments here.
a budget day in the ‘gong
Sydney is meant to be heading into autumn but certainly has not felt like it. We have been getting a steady 30 degrees Celsius every day with the lovely humidity to go with it (except maybe for today – with the welcome cool change)
When we woke up on Saturday, the day was too gorgeous to waste on anything other than a day trip somewhere. So we chose a drive south to Wollongong; an easy 85 km drive from home.
Our one-day itinerary, mixed a bit of culture and a bit of nature, was not only glorious but “budget” too 🙂 … winning!
So here is a list of the free things to do in Wollongong in a day (and on the way too).
A “road trip” wouldn’t be right without viewpoint stops. It does not matter how often we do these types of trips, we always make sure we stop to take in the shoreline that maps out this side of Australia.
Stop at Sublime Point Lookout, Bald Hill Lookout or both and soak in the excellent views. Both are great vantage points, delivering 180 degree views of the coastline.
* Drive the Sea Cliff Bridge
Either on the way down, on the way back or both directions, choose to take the 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge route. You can walk, drive or cycle across this bridge – feel the South Pacific Ocean breeze in your hair. It is always certainly a highlight for us when we head South.
* Nan Tien Temple
Include a visit to the largest temple in the Southern Hemisphere. The grounds are beautifully manicured and provides a sense of serenity. Visiting here actually made us feel like we were overseas. It took us immediately back to the temples in Japan and China.
Any budget day anywhere probably could easily include a visit to a beach (if they are accessible) and it is no different when you head south from Sydney.
The soft warm sand between our toes was enough for us to forget that winter was coming. Sydney was not ready to say goodbye to summer. In and around Wollongong, there are numerous beaches to go to. But remember swim at patrolled beaches and between the flags for your safety.
* Botanical Gardens
Another great little free spot to escape the hustle bustle of urban life, with plenty of paths to weave around and explore the many different garden collections on display. Ideal to leisurely stroll through and absorb the natural surroundings. See if you can spot the various birds and butterflies. There is a big playground area for children and also picnic areas perfect for a BBQ or a picnic.
Although it’s a pretty jam-packed day, it was enjoyable and affordable.
It is so easy for us to forget that we don’t have to travel far and wide to experience a getaway. There is so much to explore so close to home.
Have you got a favourite day trip from home?
Share with us in the comments.
overnight in arthur’s pass
We were towards the end of our New Zealand South Island driving holiday. After several stops along the way, we finally made it to Arthur’s Pass National Park from Hokitika. It was late afternoon by this time and we still had to find where we were staying but at the same time, we didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for at least a walk in the National Park.
So we settled on seeing the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. After parking the car, we could hear the water before we caught a glimpse. After weaving through some trees, we crossed a suspension bridge before climbing gradually to the viewing platform. The views around were so spectacular. It was an easy-moderate 1-hour return walk to the platform and we were not disappointed. Gosh, we love waterfalls, no matter how big or small – though the teeny trickly ones are disappointing. (We should probably add that we are yet to see the likes of Niagara, Iguazu or Victoria, so if we are blown away by any waterfalls… imagine what will happen when we see the real BIG names in waterfalls).
So after returning to the car following the bush walk, we made our way through the winding road to our accommodation for the night. We chose to stay in the heart of the National Park in a little roadside motel. And surrounding us were mountains as far as the eye could see! It was isolated, peaceful and with no wi-fi. We made good use of their foosball table 😉 Open up our curtains and the view was a wee bit surreal for us…We had to go for a walk in the evening to see that it was for real.And it was a full moon that night.
Have you visited Arthur’s Pass National Park?
Drop us a comment.
our visit to trakai castle
So here we are in summer (supposedly – but let’s not talk about that) in Sydney. And it seems like the Northen Hemisphere has been snowed in of late. Our Facebook newsfeed is filled with photos of places covered in snow. Whether it be because of this winter or previous ones, we can’t be sure… but there are plenty going around. Trakai Castle in Lithuania was one of the ones that we came upon. Such a beautiful castle and even more magical and elegant in snow.
We saw it a couple of summers ago now and it was a stunning blue sky kind-of-day. What we saw and what it looks like at present is no doubt very different.
We do have a fascination with castles… Lured to them when we travel to old countries. Lifestyles of the rich and regal.
Trakai Castle is one of these castles we fell in love with from the outside. There is something so ridiculously “magical” seeing a castle out on an island in the middle of a lake, Lake Galve to be exact.
The castle was built in the 14th Century and was updated in the 19th Century. And no doubt has a colourful history like most castles do.
To reach the castle, we had to walk along a wooden bridge before entering the main gates. Once inside, it is as if we are stepping onto a movie set, half expecting knights or lords or ladies to poke their heads out and jeer at us. Exploring this castle is much like any castle – there’s a left wing, a right wing, Chapels, spiral staircases up into towers or down into dungeons.
Here is David (red top:LEFT) looking around in awe as we sat and appreciated the Chapel and its architecture (and to rest our feet).Back up on our feet, we walk through doorways, and hallways and balconies. Up, down and around….
Artefacts from archeological finds are displayed in the different rooms and we always love looking at things like that. To think how old some of the objects are simply blows our minds. And even more surreal when we are able to stand in the room that the royal families used to sleep in. Who would’ve thought! And it’s not only within the city walls that visitors can explore. We walked around the island outside the city walls.Seeing too many castles whilst visiting Europe can happen but even so, we love visiting them.
So much history, so much intrigue and how humbling that we can catch a glimpse into what life once was like.