A Travellerspoint blog

December 2006

Reykjavik

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View Reykjavik, Iceland - Dec 06 on krissy's travel map.

Well this trip started with a few hiccups, a week of fog didn’t help with this problem. We finally got to the airport and man I have never seen queues like that. We queued for 2 hours before getting called for our flight. Thank god we actually got to Iceland I was almost thinking I would have had to stay n London for Christmas. Well the forecast for snow ominous and unfortunately due to overcast weather the Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) tour was not running so we didn’t get to do that one.

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We arrived on the friday afternoon and as we told Iceland was an expensive place to visit decided to wander around the town and check out some of the prices, we found the prices weren’t really that different to the prices in London, you just need to be able to do your conversions properly and stay away from the places that were more expensive than what we would normally pay. We found the info centre where we booked our Golden Circle tour for the next morning, now that was a little expensive but we chose the one that gave us the most value for money and there was really not much cheaper.

We started the day on a tour bus at 8 am and still pitch black. Luckily it took us about 2.5 hours to get to the first destination so we had a little time for the sun to come up so we could see the Geyser, that was cool to see we managed to see it blow a few times before freezing our fingers off.
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Back on the bus to defrost and on to Gullfoss waterfall, wow I have seen some really cool waterfalls and this one was up there with the best of them. We walked right down to the water itself so close that I got the spray of the waterfall on my lens.
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Once we finished at Gullfoss we headed on to see Stalkolt Church, which is the ancient seat of the Icelandic bishops in the south and where the first translations of the Old Testament was printed. This was a quaint little town, where they have the only remaining medieval ruins. It is also said that the founder of Reykjavik while sailing into Iceland threw two huge pylons in to the water and said that wherever they come ashore is where he would settle. While he was searching for the pylons he settled on this site, once the pylons were found he then moved to where they were and named the new town Reykjavik, which is now the Capital of Iceland.
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After that we headed off to see the Caldeira Kerio, which is a very colourful extinct volcanic crater that is filled with water. Another to add to the many beautiful things I have managed to see so far.
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Then we travelled around Lake Pingvillavatn where they have several hydro power stations and on to the Pingvillir National Park, where we were taken to see Alpingi which is the Icelandic Parliament in Pingvillir, which was founded in 930 making Alpingi the oldest know functioning parliament in the world and the most interesting thing about it is that it is held on wooden benches in an amphitheatre at the bottom of the American tectonic plate. Pingvillir National park has been created from the tectonic plates, American and European drifting apart over the years. The fissures and faults were quiet easy to see with my naked eye but unfortunately a bit harder to capture with the camera. We walked up to see Alpingi and took the opportunity to take some photos over the National park. After there we headed back to Reykjavik and had an early night as it was dark once again.
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Christmas Eve was a quiet one in as in Iceland it was a public holiday so everything was closed so no tours running. So we wandered around the city for a while, we had Christmas dinner buffet booked at one of the local hotels, which was quite nice but very filling. Christmas day Santa brought us a white Christmas it had snowed over night and it was fantastic to finally get some snow on Christmas. We didn’t really do a lot for those couple of days besides eating and relaxing but overall it was a lovely Christmas.
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Boxing day came round and we managed to get out to the Blue Lagoon, Wow that place is fantastic especially being that is was made by accident. The neighbouring geothermic plant thought if they dumped the used water that it would be absorbed back into the ground but the water actually had a chemical reaction with the volcanic rocks in the area and created the Blue lagoon as it is today. Well nothing like soaking in the mineral enriched hot geothermic water but first you need to get from the change room to the water itself trying not to knock over anyone on the way out trying to escape frostbite. Cat and I floated out in the lagoon for a few hours using the mineral slug left in the buckets on the side of the lagoon to exfoliate our skin, they pump boiling hot water was awesome but so was the waterfall, I could stay under there for hours it gave the best natural massage I have ever had. Well the fun at the blue lagoon had to end at some stage as both Cat and I were soon turning into prunes and that isn’t so attractive. We headed back tot he Guesthouse and got some dinner and called it a night as we had an early start in the morning to get out the airport. So overall I would have loved to see more but would advise if you want o see it all don’t go when they have public holidays as nothing gets done.
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Posted by krissy 11:36 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Salzburg

semi-overcast
View Salzburg, Austria - Nov 06 on krissy's travel map.

Photo Library - 3641.jpgPhoto Library - 3655.jpgWell we have just been to Salzburg, the birth place of Mozart and “The Sound of Music”. Salzburg is yet another of the absolutely beautiful cities I have seen lately. It is busy but peaceful at the same time. We arrived Friday afternoon and managed to read enough German to get ourselves to the hostel. We had an early night so we had a fresh start in the morning. Well the morning came and no fresh start to be had. Hostel was fantastic but we had some very noisy Asian ladies in our dorm, one was wearing high heal thongs while we were sleeping so we weren’t really impressed them at all. After breaky we headed off on the original sound of music tour, we saw quiet a few places of course all of them being sets used in the movie or places of interest about he real Trap family who actually lived in Salzburg. We had a ball singing along to The Sound of Music Soundtrack on the bus while driving around the beautiful country side around Salzburg, the mountains, rolling hills and lakes are just jaw dropping. We were going to do another tour the next day but we found out that we could do it all on the same day and get a decent discount so we ended up doing the Bavarian Alps and Salt mine tour as well. The Bavarian Alps are fantastic, we drove up the road to the Eagles Nest/ Hitler’s Retreat but we couldn’t get all the way up to there as it is only accessable during summer months, I didn’t managed to get any decent photos as the bus keep driving, it would have been really nice if they had stopped for a moment so we could take some photos of the alps as it was truly amazing. Anyway on we went down to the Salt mines in Bershtesgaden, little did we know until we got to the Salt mine that we had actually crossed the border and were in Germany, wow another weekend were I get to see 2 countries at once. Anyway back to the salt mines the tour took us an hour and half to wander and slide our way through, it was interesting enough but I wouldn’t really do it again. After we managed to get out of the mine due to problems with the train there was a bit of a delay the bus took us into Bershesgaden for a little while to have coffee, Cat and I decided to have a look around but everything was closing so really didn’t get to see much there. After the bus dropped us back both Cat and I were shattered so we just had some dinner and a drink and passed out. Mind you I should say we were both very tired prior to getting to Salzburg as it had been a very busy week, I had been out to a couple of theatre productions the nights prior to leaving for Salzburg, thus being knackered on Saturday night.
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Sunday we decided to wander around Salzburg for a bit and had a look around, we saw the Building where Mozart was born and grew up, then found some really nice Christmas markets in Old Salzburg (Salzburg is known for its fantastic Christmas markets) we had a quick look around and then made our way up to the Fortress on the top of the hill/mountain in Salzburg. This is really the most amazing fortress I have seen so far, it’s very impressive and really quiet large. We caught the funicular (train that goes up the mountain instead of a chairlift) up the mountain and decided to walk down, so after looking around we started to wander down, as it had been quiet cold over night there was still ice crystals on the shrubs so I thought I would be silly and touch it as I hadn’t seen snow in quiet a while, silly me didn’t think of the ice on the ground and fell flat on my back hitting my head on the cement in the process, so if you are here in winter and decide to walk down, TAKE CARE, as it really did hurt. While looking for a chemist with pain killers we wandered around well I hobbled around and saw the Nonnberg Abbey where they shot the movie. You can’t describe Salzburg it was just picturesque. After walking around all day we decided to head back to the hostel to thaw out before heading out for a traditional Austrian dinner and schnapps. While we were at dinner we ran into some interesting characters who, then turned up at our hostel later that night. They were having some Christmas celebrations and there were students dressed up as demons and saints wandering the streets of Salzburg. Not sure of the reasoning but it was interesting to see and that was the end of our trip to Salzburg. Overall this was not an overly busy trip, it was definitely at an easier pace than some of the others so far but still very enjoyable.
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Posted by krissy 08:18 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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