I relish being a tourist in my own backyard and showing off some of my favourite hangouts to visitors. With my sister and brother-in-law visiting from Brazil, I got a chance to give the newly-wed couple a little dose of Dorset and a quick dash across the border into Wiltshire to visit neolithic Stonehenge.
If you have been following this blog, you know that my sister Angelita and her husband Juliano chose Europe as their honeymoon getaway. On my previous posts I wrote about how my other sister Virginia and I gatecrashed their honeymoon and accompanied them to Paris and Amsterdam. On our return from Continental Europe to England we did not lose anytime to get in my car and drive South from London, minus our sister Virginia who had to go back to work the very next day. We arrived at my home in Dorset in the early evening where my husband Brian had cooked us a nice dinner.
“Built on 11 million wooden poles (houten palen) and more than 100 km of canals”…with open mouths we listened to our tour guide “Michael” enthusiastically informing us of how Amsterdam is a city built on a swamp. We chose to do a free walking tour on our first full day exploring the Dutch capital as a way of getting our bearings. Our guided tour started in front of the National Monument in Dam Square where a group of people quickly gathered around Michael, an American guy with an interesting hat and an orange umbrella with a sign saying “free walking tour”. We spent about 2 hrs following him around and learning a great deal about the history and other titbits about this intriguing city.
So happy our sister Angelita and her groom Juliano chose to come to Europe for their honeymoon, following their recent wedding in Brazil.
We are sisters that love spending time together, but we live many miles apart and therefore we grab every opportunity for a get-together. Although Virginia and I were not surprised that our baby sister chose to visit us in England to kick off her honeymoon, we were delighted ( if with a little trepidation) that she invited us to come to Paris and Amsterdam with them for the next leg of their honeymoon.
Many of our favourite travel bloggers have been raving about the advantages of staying in rented AirBnB properties when travelling for short and also for longer stays, so we felt it was time to check it out for ourselves.
After joining the AirBnB site, giving our details and having few attempts at choosing a good photo of me and hubby (easier said than done, since some were too serious, others were too smiley, or too cheesy…) and scouring available and suitable properties in the town of Seaton, we opted for a hill top property that had good reviews and looked rather old and charming. We sent the owners a request for a one night stay over the weekend of May 7th /8th 2016 and full of trepidation waited for their reply.
We visited the protected Curieuse Marine National Park on an organized day trip from Praslin. We were particularly interested in seeing the giant Aldabra tortoises that roam free around Curieuse Island.
The boat tour was organized via our Resort and a small minivan picked us up at around 9 am from our apartment to take us a mile down the road to a small beach where our tour boat was anchored and waiting for us. Our tour crew consisted of another dozen people from various different resorts around Praslin, our boat Capitan, and one crew. After boarding the boat we were told what our day was going to be like, and all information was given both in French and in English. The boat ride to Curieuse Island from Praslin was a very pleasant ride of only about 20 minutes.
Brian and I were truly wowed by the pristine, unspoiled beauty of the Island of Praslin in the Seychelles, our home for two amazing weeks of relaxing, exploring, swimming, snorkelling, making new friends, fishing and eating delicious food.
There is a reason why these beaches are so pristine and unspoiled; it is quite a trek to get here, we had to take three flights from London since there are no direct flights from the UK. We flew from London to Abu Dhabi with Etihad, and from Abu Dhabi to Mahé, which is the main island, with Air Seychelles and then finally a very small aeroplane with scary little propellers took us from Mahé to Praslin.
Ever since doing my very first mountain hiking up Mount Snowdow, North Wales, in July/15 I felt compelled to hike again and so Brian surprised me by organising a trip for my birthday.
There is something very inspiring about hiking up high places and the challenge of pushing oneself physically. After climbing Mount Snowdon I felt a great sense of accomplishment, exhilaration and gratitude to be alive… although half way up I was already regretting it and thinking of excuses to turn around and give up.
From 18/09/15 to 27/09/15 we travelled around Iceland’s Ring Road in a Camper Van.
September is a great time to visit Iceland since in the shoulder season prices are lower, there are less people on the road, and there is still plenty of day light but there is also a good chance of seeing the elusive Northern Lights since the nights are getting longer and temperatures are still mild. We spent 9 days in Iceland with 7 night sleeping in our Camper Van and our last 2 nights in a hotel in Iceland’s Capital Reykjavik. Iceland’s Ring Road, also known as Route 1, encircles the entire Country, covering about 800 miles of good tarmac road, and many of the main attractions are on the Ring Road or a short distance off it. We did not have a 4 wheel drive and therefore we drove only on Route 1 or used other equally good roads. Read also my posts on our amazing road trip.
It is day 4 of our Iceland road trip and we left the small fishing town of Hofn behind and continued on the Ring Road (Route 1) towards the East Fjords. We knew that today was going to be specially scenic, we have driven more than 650 km from Iceland’s Capital and we started noticing that there is hardly anyone on the road. We travelled on a virtually empty road for ages before we come across another car. We are now too far for day trippers from Reykjavik and also this region is very sparsely populated and therefore road traffic here is very minimal. As our little van climbs higher and higher the drama starts unfolding, and we get more and more excited to see what is around the next hairpin bend on the road as sheer mountain side drops etched with waterfalls reveal themselves in one side of the road and the cold waters of the sea in the other.
From 18/09/15 to 27/09/15 we spent 9 amazing days in Iceland, including 7 days travelling the Ring Road, also known as Route 1 and our final 2 days we spent in Iceland’s Capital – Reykjavik.
As we landed in Keflavik, Iceland’s main airport, it became clear to us that this was going to be a place unlike any we have visited before, and I could see why people describe it as like “landing on the moon“. We looked out to see a breathtaking landscape of solidified lava flows covered in a velvet green moss with reds and yellows thrown into the mixture; steam was coming out of the ground in the nearby “Blue Lagoon”. Iceland has been in our bucket list for ages in fact our son James visited it with his High School Geology class few years ago and loved it so much he is coming back again with his girlfriend Meghan, they are both Geology students at University and Iceland is like a big playground for them. It is a relatively young country in geological terms and it is still growing, moving and transforming itself by powerful natural forces that will continue to shape the Icelandic landscapes.