Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Hallgrímskirkja church

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

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Hallgrímskirkja church is a Lutherin church that forms the focal point of Reykjavik. It is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland and situated on the top of a hill, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.

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Icelandic humour

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

Icelanders seem to have a good sense of humour. Take this t-short for example…

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What part of Eyjafjallajökull do you not understand? Or how about this one…

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Bars offer free wifi and Islandic beer…

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How could you possibly be confused by that? Said bars are clear about what they think of intolerance…

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And they like to paint their bathrooms like red-light districts…

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A perfect backdrop for a honeymoon.

Snæfellsnes peninsula

Monday, July 4th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

While staying at Hótel Búðir on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we spend some time exploring the area, including driving down to Hellnar for a closer look at the Snæfellsjökull glacier.

There are quite a few of them, so if you’re not on the post page itself, you will need to click through to that to see them all. Alternatively, if you can see more than one below, you are already on that page. Click any photo to get a larger version.

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Hótel Búðir

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 | Reviews, Travel

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Hótel Búðir, spelt Hotel Budir in English, is a hotel located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It does not have a hot tub, or proper blinds for the windows, but what it lacks in these features it more than makes up for in location. Not to mention the friendly staff, excellent food and lovely decor.

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You could definitely have a worse view. The other window, and the bathroom, look out across the Snæfellsjökull glacier.

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The hotel seems to have a bit of a rock and roll attitude. Some of the rooms only seem accessible by crossing the roof. This is definitely worth a visit even if you are not in one of those rooms, simply for the panoramic view.

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Their restaurant is busy, but the food is tasty, beautifully presented and comes in reasonable-sized portions.

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Just up above the hotel is Búðir church. It has been re-built several times since the original.

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Beyond the church is the ocean, and a surprising amount of sandy beach.

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Without a doubt, Hótel Búðir offered us the most beautiful location of the trip. Mountains, a glacier, a waterfall and the ocean, all visible from the same room.

Ion Hotel, Iceland

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016 | Reviews, Travel

ion-hotel

The Ion Adventure Hotel is located in Þingvellir, Iceland. You get there by taking route 36, unless it is winter, in which case you have to go a different way because the road is closed. Winter remember, is October to May.

With the whole area to choose from, they decided to build the hotel next to the geothermal power station. You really can smell the sulphur, which smells like eggs, but it didn’t bother us.

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“We have the whole of Iceland to choose from: where shall we build our hotel?” “Next to the power station!” “But won’t it smell of eggs the whole time?” “Yes, it will be a feature.”

The location is very convient for exploring Geysir, Gullfuss and Þingvellir. All of these are within an hour’s drive. When both the clouds clear and the wind blows the steam from the power station out of the way, you get a beautiful view.

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They have a huge huge tub (it is an eight metre pool, half a metre deep). If anything it was too hot, especially for Elina and the bump. I loved it. I went in twice a day, once after breakfast and once before going to bed. It was only really that Elina insisted on doing things that caused me to get out.

Once end of the building is given over to their Northern Lights Bars. We didn’t see any of the Northern Lights, given it was light the whole time, but we did get a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

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Click to see in full size.

They have a restaurant, and also offer a bar menu (which seems to be bigger than the restaurant menu) in the Northern Lights Bar.

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The room itself was nice. There was desk and chair, the bed was comfortable, and it came with a floor to ceiling window looking out onto the snow-capped mountain. The curtains did an excellent job of blocking out the light.

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Some of it felt a bit dated, and maybe in need of a little love. The above shows the handle on our window. However, the window did open fully, and much of the hotel was modern: every room had an iPad Mini and their communal areas were filled with Sonos Play:3s.

I would definitely stay here again. The staff were friendly, the room was nice and the view was excellent.

Geysir

Friday, July 1st, 2016 | Travel

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Geysir is the original exploding hot spring: the one all the other geysers are named after. Technically it refers to Great Geysir which goes off infrequently, if at all. However, there is a smaller, and still very impressive one (pictured above) that reliably goes off every four minutes or so.

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The hot springs around it really are hot. The hottest parts are behind a fence, but even sticking my finger in the run off is not something I would want to do for long.

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In the video below, you can see the steam coming off the water.

If you’re visiting, do not miss the excellent range of ice creams in the visitor’s centre. It isn’t more magical than seeing the eruption, but it is very tasty.

Gullfoss

Thursday, June 30th, 2016 | Photos, Travel

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Gullfoss is the largest waterfall in Europe. This is dubious claim because Iceland isn’t really in continental Europe. However, it is a very impressive waterfall. It is located quite high up and has a wonderful view of the mountains surrounding it.

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Click for a larger version. The spray from the water creates its own rainbow.

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I also recorded a video of the water going over the edge:

Grillmarkaðurinn, Reykjavik

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 | Food, Reviews, Travel

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Grillmarkaðurinn, Grill Market in English, is a sister restaurant to Fiskmarkaðurinn. As you might be able to guess from the names, this one is a little less focused on fish and a little more focused on meat. However, there is still a lot of crossover.

They make a good seafood soup for example, and can cook a decent steak too. The real winner of the meal was Elina’s grilled redfish. It came with a crab roll that could have been a main course in itself. I did not enjoy it as much as Fish Market, but it was still a fine meal.

Fish Market, Reykjavik

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 | Food, Reviews, Travel

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Fiskmarkaðurinn, known as Fish Market in English, is a restaurant in downtown Reykjavik.

They were fully booked when we rocked up and asked for a table. However, they said we could eat in the bar area. This was actually a stroke of luck. The seating was comfortable, and even a pregnant woman can eat at the little table. It was screened off from the main restaurant, giving us some piece and quiet.

We created our own tapas by ordering four starters and sharing them all. Each dish was carefully prepared and presented with it’s own unique accompaniments. These do not always get the attention they deserve in Iceland, but this was not the case here.

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It was, in my opinion, the best food we had in Iceland.

They even have a cookbook, which I purchased a copy of. It is full of ingredients I think I will struggle to find in Leeds, so it’s even more impressive that they can source them in a country whose entire population is half that of Leeds.

Blue Lagoon

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 | Travel

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After months of hyping the Blue Lagoon up to myself, I was sure it would actually be a disappointment when we got there. But it wasn’t. It was amazing. We spent seven hours there, and only left after that because Elina was bored.

We booked the 9am-10am slot, which made for an early start. However, when we got there there was no queue, whereas when we left at 4pm, the queue was huge. The ticket is for the whole day, so being lazy is the only advantage of booking a later slot.

The water is heated to around body temperature and there are warmer and cooler bits. There is a special section at the far end that is extra hot. The in-water bar is brilliant, once you pushed your way past all the Finns. You just rock up and order a drink, including alcohol, slushies and smoothies. Everything is charged to your electronic bracelet that you pay for at the end of your trip.

Some of the stuff was a bit naff: such as the cave, but the real area for improvement would probably by the additional of some shade. We spent some time hanging out in one little corner to avoid too much direct sunlight.

We had lunch in the Lava restaurant.

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The food was very good, and you could eat in your bathrobe. Our package included some sparking wine, which they had an alcohol-free version of.

After lunch we had an in-water massage. This was alright. You lay face up on a matt with a wet towel over you while the masseur does his stuff.

The water was almost completely opaque. This is something to do with the amount of minerals in it but was a big plus point. I thought I was going to have to get out every time I needed a wee…

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It was an expensive day. We paid to get in, then we paid for our in-water massage, and our extras, and lunch was expensive. However, for me, this was the highlight of the trip. A very relaxing and and enjoyable day.