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.
Chloe and I chose the Gorgeous Greek Island of Zakynthos for our annual mother-daughter holiday in June/2015. Every year the boys go fishing in France, and every year the girls go play in the sun!
We had been in the Island for about 3 days already when we decided on a boat tour to the Island’s most famous landmark, Navagio Beach, also know as Shipwreck Beach. We chose to go with a tour company called “my Tours” and we were picked up from our hotel at about 7:30 am and taken to the Harbour Port in Zakynthos capital town, which was just about a 20 minutes bus ride away from our hotel. We boarded our glass bottom boat with another 20 to 30 fellow cruisers of various different nationalities and found ourselves a seat at the back of the boat, and under a canopy since the sun was quite hot already. Both Chloe and I were very excited to visit the Shipwreck at Navagio Beach, which is a small cove on the Northwest side of Zakynthos Island. The cove is surrounded by high cliffs and accessible only by boat. I had seen pictures of this beautiful little cove made of white pebbles and surrounded by turquoise water and heard the stories about the Shipwreck (MV Panagiotis) which sunk on the shore around 1980, apparently carrying smuggled cigarettes, and so I felt compelled to visit it. The boat trip from the main Island Port to the Navagio Beach is about a 1:30 hours and the sea looked calm like a pond, therefore I was surprised when a started to feel a little queasy and headachey. I tried to distract myself by looking at the pretty scenery of caves and white sandy beaches. In the distance we could see the pretty Island of Keffalonia, but the nauseous feeling just kept getting worse, I felt very hot and my heart started racing, I realised then that I was experiencing motion sickness, but there was nothing I could do to stop it since Chloe and I were not carrying any anti sickness tablets. A big mistake that I came to regret.
I have never climbed a mountain before, never mind climbing the highest one in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands, but one can argue that if you are going to start climbing mountains why not start with the highest? (although the Himalayas usually is what springs to mind when we talk about high mountains to climb and maybe one day I will get there). Snowdon has been on my bucket list for ages and it has became even more appealing since my son climbed it last year with his girlfriend Meghan and loved it. From their account it did not sound like an impossible feat for an unfit couple like Brian and I, but let’s just say that I had totally underestimated how hard it was going to be for me.
I am embarrassed to admit that I have only recently found out about Cheddar Gorge in the neighbouring County of Somerset even though I have been living in the South of England for over 25 years . Recently Brian and I have been making an effort to discover more about our own backyard on short trips over a weekend either in our motorbike or car and choosing to stay in a camp-site. The original plan was to go by motorbike and to stay in a tent but since the weather forecast was for few showers over the weekend we opted for travelling by car instead. June in England can still be a bit chilly in the evenings and the idea of glamping was more appealing, particularly since the previous weekend in Devon under canvas was a fresh 4 degrees C. We arrived at the adults only camp-site and were delighted with our little pod, made of pine wood cladding, it looked lovely against the trees in a quiet corner. We stepped inside to find a sofa bed, cupboards, a kettle and even a small flat screen TV.
Our time in the South of Brazil was coming to an end, so we wanted to leave on a high note by visiting the Canyons of Itaimbezinho and Fortaleza and also to spend this last few days doing a fun activity with my father, sister and nephews. Unfortunately my brother and his family were not able to join us. These two Canyons are located near the town of Cambara do Sul, only about 1:30 hours from my home town of Canela or about 170 Km from the State capital of Porto Alegre. These Canyons are part of an area with over twenty other less well known canyons of the same geologic range located in the South of Brazil.
The setting for this Big Fat Brazilian Wedding, was Canela in the deep South of Brazil, the land of the gauchos and Bavarian style architecture, a town situated in the green, lush hills of the “Serra Gaucha”. See my earlier post about this little picturesque, Southern town named after a Cinnamon tree.
The bride is my niece Caroline, who like me was born and brought up in this quiet and quaint little town. The groom Benjamin, British, born and brought up in the Isle Of Wight (IOW), just off the coast of Hampshire in the South of England. They were already married in a civil ceremony in the IOW in early May 2014 which I covered in my earlier post, Take 1.
Canela is a pretty and picturesque town in the South of Brazil, located at 837 meters above sea level in a region called Serra Gaucha ( Gaucho Highlands) or Regiao das Hortensias ( Hydrangeas Region) named after its beautiful blue Hydrangeas flowers that frame roads and landscapes throughout the spring and summer months. Located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul ( it means Great Southern River) which is the Southernmost estate of Brazil, bordering with Argentina and Uruguay. Canela can be reached by car or bus, about 2 hours from the state capital city of Porto Alegre. The climate is subtropical humid with summer average temperatures of about 20 degrees C and winter temperatures below zero with the occasional dust of snow.