Month: February 2017
Planning a vacation can be taxing but surely rewarding and if everything goes as planned, then its a cherry on the cake 🙂
Continuing with my travel itinerary, here is the exciting part, fruits of what you sow, places I visited and experiences I cherish:
Total Days: 5 days and 5 Nights, 5 complete days is more than enough to explore the country. Even though the day light was only for about 5hours, I did not feel that I missed out on anything, at all. If you are visiting in the summer, then with extended day light for about 20hours (its tempting to visit again in Summers, which I will for sure), 5 days will be more than sufficient.
Day 1 – Things I did:
- Walking tour: Took a 2-hour walking tour to know the city better. This is something one should do first thing when you visit a new place, explore the place either on your own or with somebody who knows the city really well. There are free tours offered, so you don’t even have to spend a dollar. www.citywalk.is
- Blue Lagoon: This needs a booking at least 1month in advance since this is the most visited place in Iceland, though I felt it was very expensive and little hyped, it is definitely worth a visit.(pictures I accidently deleted and couldn’t recover unlike other pictures I could after a long time:() www.bluelagoon.com
- I had booked a Northern lights tour which got cancelled hence I went to explore city in rain, which was fun. Though, I did not get to see Northern lights even one night, I would suggest you book the northern lights tour on the first night, if you are not lucky the first night, you can at least try your luck remaining days.
Day 2 – Things I did:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls: The highlight of Seljalandsfoss falls is that you can walk behind the waterfalls, which is spectacular. I spent good 20 to 30min behind the falls admiring the majestic beauty, I could do that because I had my rain coat on, though a lot of people were just there for about 5min. Even if you have a winter jacket, make sure to carry a raincoat which is very helpful, if you are travelling in winter.
- Skogafoss Waterfalls: This is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland and there is also a belief that the first Viking settlers have hidden the treasure behind the waterfalls. Looking for some treasure hunt, this could be the one 😛
- Glacier Hike: I can go on about my glacier hike adventure but I feel pity for the reader who have already read “My Iceland Adventure” article, hence not saying much.
- Black Sand beach: This is the most gorgeous beach that I have seen so far, though it’s also one of the most dangerous beach and tourist are advised against going even close to the beach, forget dipping your feet. Make sure you visit the beach when there is day light.
Day 3 – Things I did:
- Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon: This is my first ever experience seeing a glacier lagoon and it could not have gotten any better. Words or pictures cannot do any justice to what you witness in-person. Just go visit is all that I would say. Btw, a lot of films and music videos are shot at this place.
- Diamond Beach: Diamond beach is just opposite to Glacier Lagoon and you can see the glacier washed off to the beach. Glacier in a beach, doesn’t that sound exciting?
- Ice Cave: This is something which attracted me to visit Iceland in winter as the cave will be filled with water in summer, so if you are even thinking of a visit to Iceland in summer, look at the pictures, though not very impressive, I can bet you will thank me after visiting this place.
Day 4 – Things I did:
- Gullfoss Waterfalls: Gullfoss waterfalls is also called Golden Waterfalls, this is in South of Iceland and part of Golden Circle. There is a very interesting story behind this waterfalls. This was privately owned by a farmer who wanted to sell this waterfalls to foreign investors to harness electricity but his daughter opposed him and took him to court only to have won the case. Icelanders are grateful to Sigridur Tomasdittir for saving it from being destroyed. Frankly, this waterfalls is as majestic or ever more than Niagara Falls.
- Strokkur: Strokkur, natural fountain Geyser is located in Geothermal area. Well, this is something which left me spellbound. I was not really expecting something this phenomenal when I reached the place. Just when I was trying to figure out which way I should be heading to see the natural geyser, it just shot up right in front of me leaving me speechless. The feeling is something which cannot be put in words. It has a lot of hot water blow holes too.
- Pingvellir National Park: Pingvellir also called as Thingvellir is a National park and a historic site. This is located between two tectonic plates Eurasia and America. Though its a little crowded comparatively, I loved visiting this place. There are a few waterfalls which has some interesting stories of their own and who wouldn’t like to be in Europe and America at the same time. The landscape is just enthralling and makes a good walk just exploring the place.
Day 5 – Things I did:
Snorkeling Tour: Booked it with www.Dive.in, you can be picked up from your hostel/hotel with extra cost. As I have already written about my experience, I am not saying much here. This is easily a day activity, even though you get back to your hotel by 4pm, you need to sit back relish the experience, when you are there snorkeling it doesn’t hit you as you are trying to fight the cold, but when you are back and think of the experience is when you feel so good about yourself for doing it in such cold weather.
Iceland is surely one of the places which will stay very close to my heart for the longest time and I am already thinking of visiting it again in next summer. If you are looking for some adventure, Iceland is the place.
Decision to travel alone was impulsive, but booking a one-way ticket to Iceland was just crazy. That’s exactly how my planning started, after I was back from my Rockies trip. People say “you need a vacation to get over a vacation blues” that was pretty much the case with me. When you have a supporting husband, an amazing daughter and understanding parents, everything falls in place and a solo travel can be done even after being married and having kids.
Iceland is definitely very travel friendly and safe for solo travelers. Since the economy of the country is majorly dependent on Tourism, the planning gets very easy and there is so much information on the web.
As I had everything booked beforehand, things went very smooth and I dint have to think what I should be doing next day and where to book.
Flight: I booked my flight tickets with WOW Air and it cost me about $249 for one-way ticket from Toronto and two-way would have cost about $350, which is not bad at all. I travelled mid-week, so that was another advantage.
Airport Transfer: I highly recommend you book this well in advance, unless you are doing a road trip. After a tiring flight, it is very nice to just get out of the airport and find the bus right in front, without having to wait in the counter to buy the ticket. Buses usually go to the central Bus station but, if you pay a little extra while purchasing the ticket, you get dropped off at your hotel/hostel and also, get picked from your hotel/hostel/other destination, while returning.
Accommodation: I booked 3 days in Loft Hostel, this place is right in center of the town, walkable distance to everything in Reykjavik, right in middle of all the good restaurants and shopping places.
Link: http://lofthostel.is/ (3 days, 1st night and last 2 nights)
Hotel Hofn (1 night): After the Glacier hike and in search of Aurora, we settled in the Hotel Hofn as the Auroras are visible from the hotel. You get the best fish dinner which made my taste buds happy after a tiring day. Beautiful and very clean, cleaner than Marriott or any other hotels in the category.
Hotel Eyjafjallajökull ( 1 night): Another gorgeous location and impressive room. It was just perfect in every angel, food, cleanliness or location.
Tour Booking: I booked a three days 2 night’s tour with “Guide to Iceland” which included everything that I wanted to do. Most of the activities that I wanted to do had to be booked through a guide, so this was perfect. If you do individually tours, it would pretty much cost the same. We were connected to Wi-Fi throughout the trip, so you don’t have to buy a sim card or internet package.
The daily Itinerary will be posted in my next article, watch out for some exciting stuff.
Looking at the gorgeous weather of 10 degrees in February, it looks like Groundhog -Wiarton Willie was right and spring is just around the corner. After forceful skiing on the roads to building muscle shoveling the snow, it’s almost time to enjoy the Spring time!
With little time that we have spent in Toronto, we have always made sure to take advantage of the warmer weather in Spring. Here are some of the places we have had fun during spring:
Ottawa’s Tulips Festival: Driving to Ottawa during the Spring time is by far the best outing we have had during Spring. Though the Tulips are not really equivalent to what it looks like in Netherlands or in Skagit Valley in Washington, it is still one of the best we have. Hiring bicycles and going around the Rideau Canal and exploring the beauty of the park makes it all worth it being there.
Festival time this year: 12th May to 22nd May, 2017
Toronto High Park Cherry Blossom Festival: No need to head to Japan (though that’s on my list to visit soon) to see the Cherry Blossoms, they were kind enough to give a few samplings to Canada and you can see the beauty blossom in High Park mostly during April (depending on the weather). The flowers last only for a week so don’t miss out, here is a link where you can keep a watch on when the flowers are in full bloom.
Kite Flying Festival: As kids, we have made our own kites and flied it from our roof top but it’s not the same everywhere, Toronto hosts Kite Festival during Spring and trust me it just takes you back to your childhood. If you fancy flying kites on a beach or in a conservation parks, there are quite a few festivals which takes place during April and May, here are a few links where you can pick which one to go for –
Easter Egg hunt in Blue Mountains: Good Friday long weekend gets better mostly because of the egg hunt that happens pretty much everywhere, but it gets even better when you are not confined to a space and expected to run around the Village in Blue Mountain hunting for the easter eggs. Its not just for kids they also have some amazing rides for adults and you can even try skiing (if it’s not too warm for the snow to have melted), as Blue mountain is mostly famous as a skiing destination from Toronto.
Maple Syrup Festival: If you are in Canada, you better like Maple Syrup. Pouring it over on pan cakes or just having them as a maple syrup candy, it’s a treat to our taste buds. There are a lot of farms hosting maple syrup festival combined with wagon rides and fun activities. Here is a link to all the festivals:
Happy Spring Time and do let me know your favourite spring time activity!