Sorrento: Frequently Asked Questions!

We recently stayed in the beautiful coastal town of Sorrento, as part of a wider visit to the Amalfi Coast. We absolutely loved our time there and since we got back have been inundated with questions about where to eat, where to stay, how to do day trips etc. So this is your handy guide to everything Sorrento!

IMG_7949

1. When To Visit

The best time is when we were there, April or May. Tourism season hasn’t quite kicked off yet but everywhere has already reopened. Restaurants, shops, ferries, buses etc are all running so you won’t be missing out on anything. If you want to visit the Blue Grotto on Capri for instance, your wait time is already shortened by virtue of the time of year; in the height of Summer, queues of boats waiting to enter can take upwards of an hour or more. Also, heat-wise, you’re looking at temperatures of 24 or 25 degrees at most, whereas in July or early August, it can rise to 40 degrees, which I personally could not handle. Worth noting that if you go there at a more touristy time, you’ll end up queuing a lot more too. Pompeii, buses, ferries, etc. Save yourself the hassle!

IMG_7367.jpg

2. How To Get There

We flew in to Naples with Ryanair. You’ll find a coach directly outside of the airport that brings you to the bus and train station in Sorrento for €10 each. You can see their timetable on their site, HERE. We bought our tickets from the driver but you can also purchase online. From there, we got a taxi to the marina where our Airbnb was but that was the only taxi we got the entire stay- more on that later.

IMG_7591

3. Where To Stay

For us, Sorento was very much divided into two areas; the marina and the town itself. We stayed in the Marina Grande, a little hub of activity involving fishing, boating for tourism, restaurants, the local mini supermarket, gelato bars and regular bars too! Hotel accommodation was really quite pricey and we wanted to do a lot on this trip so we saved on where we stayed so we could spend more elsewhere. Our apartment was lovely- quite small but perfect for two, with a newly built bathroom, comfy double bed, kitchen and best of all, a balcony! We really felt immersed in the community where we were and it felt like coming home each evening after a day exploring. It’s really worth scouring Airbnb for a good bargain like this. Otherwise, there are lots of hotels in the centre of the town, if you’re happy to spend a bit more (for a honeymoon for instance).

IMG_7586.jpg

4. How To Get Around

We did some research beforehand and realised that renting a car was a terrible idea- the roads are notoriously windy on the Amalfi coast and the driver can’t possibly enjoy the spectacular views as they’re working so hard not to kill you both! In Sorrento itself, we walked pretty much everywhere unless we had a deadline or had our bags with us- in which case there’s a bus that leaves the marina every day quite regularly (check the timetables HERE ). To get to other towns we got the Italian equivalent of a Bus Éireann coach, that again was reasonably priced and brought us from A to B with air conditioning and lovely views! A word of warning though; these buses were really busy when we were there and that was April, not considered tourist season for Italy so if you’re visiting during the height of Summer, be aware that you might have to wait for a second or even a third bus to carry everyone. You can of course hire private coaches or do specific tours. We looked into this but didn’t feel like they afforded us the same freedom we would have liked for ourselves.

IMG_7391

5. Where To Eat & Shop

I’ll do a whole separate post on food and shopping; there’s too much to tell you here!

IMG_7378.jpg

6. How To Do Day Trips

We used Sorrento as our base and did day trips to Pompeii, Capri, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. We’ll do separate posts for these as there’s much to tell! But for the purpose of planning; we got a train to and from Pompeii. These leave from the Circumvesuviana, or the regional railway system (I’ve linked the timetables in no.4 above). You can buy your tickets there, again much cheaper than going on a private tour. It brings you pretty much directly to the main entrance of Pompeii where you then buy your tour ticket (although you can also get these online). We got a bus from the same station to Amalfi, and from there another bus to Ravello and back. For Positano, we decided to go by sea to get a view of that beautiful bay so we got a ferry from Marina Piccola (the opposite Marina to where we stayed, which was the Marina Grande) directly to Positano. It’s a quick crossing and also reasonably priced as it’s public transport. Lastly, we got to Capri via a private tour boat, which brought us there and back and provided us with lunch and drinks. Sipping wine while doing a full tour around Capri island is really lovely to be honest! More detail in a future post!

IMG_7596

7. Is It Expensive?

Parts definitely are. You can easily spend money here and certainly some restaurants do charge more than others- it’s a good idea to look at online recommendations before you go and have some idea of where you’d like to eat. Sorrento isn’t that big so if you wanted to eat out every night and picked 5 good restaurants to try, you’d manage that easily. We also bought our breakfast in the local mini market so that we had fresh bread, mozzarella and tomatoes every day, which was very cheap so that was a big saving. Alcohol and snacks are also much cheaper to buy this way and we really enjoyed sipping our pre-dinner Belinis on our own balcony before heading out for the night! Otherwise, I’d say it’s no pricier than Dublin.

IMG_7732.jpg

8. What To Pack

While we were there it rained really heavily one of the days, so I’d suggest packing a light rain coat or an umbrella if you’re visiting at the same time of year. It does cool in the evenings so a light jacket and scarf for sitting outside and a pair of flat shoes that you’d be happy to wear in a nice restaurant- no one wears heels here, it’s cobbley in places and there’s a couple of steep areas to walk up. Light summer dresses and hats for daytime, shorts, flip flops for the beach, a good pair of walking shoes for Pompeii, sandals, t shirts, the usual really for a sunny destination. Oh and SPF!!! Factor 50!

IMG_7428.jpg

I hope that was helpful so far! We’ll visit each stop we made in more detail in future posts!

Chloe & Cilian

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Take A Canal Cruise in Dublin

Now that the good weather is finally making an appearance in Dublin’s Fair City (I’ve probably jinxed it by saying that..I’m sorry), it’s a great time to look into doing a cruise on La Peniche, Dublin’s canal boat restaurant. You’ll find it docked on Mespil road, leaving for dinner time cruises at 6pm and 9pm. A 2 course meal is €24.50, while 3 courses will set you back €29.50. We got a good deal with The Taste.ie, so it’s well worth signing up to their emails to avail of similar offers, HERE.

BeFunky Collage-9

When you arrive onto the boat, you’re seated upstairs in the outdoor section and your drink order is taken.

From there, you place your dinner order and the boat takes off!

It’s a really pleasant, slow pace down the canal, especially if you’re there during the Summer, as we were. This is probably my favourite part of Dublin, we’ve lived in the area for eight years now and this has always been my preferred spot to go for a walk so I love it in pretty much every season (Autumn is my fave but Winter can be surprisingly lovely too) but Summer has a lovely brightness to it around there; there’s so many leafy green trees, people out walking their dogs in the warm night air. Lovely.

BeFunky Collage-10.jpg

You’re then taken into the downstairs cabin for your starter. The decor is cosy and inviting and there’s atmospheric music playing while you eat. At this point you can’t really see the outside world as the windows mostly show the canal walls from down there, so it’s no surprise that everyone left to go back up on deck before the main course was served. After the meal you can head back upstairs to finish your drinks in the night air as the barge makes its last trip back to its spot on the Mespil road. We left not long after it had docked again for the night and strolled home but I noticed others were still up on deck having the craic!

BeFunky Collage-8

This was a really enjoyable evening and a new and interesting way to spend time on the canal. The meal was nice- nothing too outlandish but we liked everything we were served! Overall though, our favourite part was the drinks at the start of the evening as the sun was just beginning to set. It was such a wonderful way to spend a quiet Sunday evening in August. We can highly recommend!

IMG_3997

(this was actually taken just at the start of Autumn, but it gives a good idea of how picturesque the canal is, regardless of the time of year).

Chloe & Cilian

*we were not paid or sponsored to write this post and we paid for the experience ourselves! Not an ad- we’re just fans!

A Look Back at 2017 & 2018 Travel Plans!

We started writing our travel blog in June of 2017 after we realised we wanted to chronicle our travel adventures in some way. This year we’ve loved our visits to Crete, Sceilig Michael, Monart Hotel & Spa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Phew! We have a lot to catch up on here but that’s the joy of blogging; you can take your time, write at your own leisure and enjoy it for the hobby that it is.

BeFunky Collage-2.jpg

For next year, we’re planning a trip to Copenhagen, followed by Malmö and Stockholm. Are you sensing a Nordic vibe there?! You’d be correct, we loved Norway and Iceland we really need to explore Scandinavian countries a bit more. We’re considering another holiday in Italy, having previously loved Rome, Venice and Florence. Perhaps further south to Sicily or Elba.

BeFunky Collage-3.jpg

If you read any of our posts this year or followed along with us on our Instagram account, then thank you! There will be more to come. Until then, happy New Year and we look forward to sharing more of our travels with you in 2018.

Chloe and Cilian.

Christmas in Bruges

Last year, we jetted off to Brussels for a weekend of festive fun. We stayed there from a Thursday night to a Sunday morning and did every possible touristy thing we could, including their very large Christmas market. While we enjoyed that, we both felt the day we spent in Medieval Bruges (only an hour by train from Brussels) was, although smaller, more special and more atmospheric.

IMG_9520

The town is only a short stroll from the train station and although you can hire a horse and cart, it’s an absolutely beautiful place to walk around. In fact, I think the word picturesque may well have been coined with Bruges in mind.

IMG_9496

Pretty idyllic, eh? The streets themselves are suitably old-school and a joy to walk through. All of the chocolate shops in Belgium seem to be located right here and yes, we did buy much chocolate-y treats.
IMG_9525
By the time we’d walked through the streets of Bruges, stopped for cherry beer and moules frites and got to the main square where the market was on, the sun was about to set and it looked even more Disney-esque than before:
IMG_9526
There was also a relatively small ice-skating rink, which we didn’t partake in cause I’m clumsy AF and manage to injure myself in my sleep, so instead we got alcoholic hot beverages and watched others enjoy the winter wonderland-ness of it all:
IMG_9527
After that, we strolled through the market itself, got hot dogs, churros, warm cider for me and hot chocolate for Cilian. We bought our obligatory Christmas tree decoration and stopped at lots of pretty stalls. Finally, we walked in and around the old church tower, which is beautiful by nighttime:
IMG_9522
You can pay to go to the top but it involves many steep and windy stairs and we had to get back to catch our train on time, so we gave it a miss.
And that’s Bruges at Christmas! One of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to; you could come here any time of the year and fall in love with it but at Christmas it has extra special magical vibes!
Happy Christmas everyone and thanks for reading throughout the year,
Chloe & Cilian

Halloween in New Orleans

Last year we visited New Orleans at Halloween time and it was AMAZING!!! I’m a big fan of the day anyway and Americans go all out!! We had been in Salem the year before and Cilian had previously been in New York for Halloween so we had a good idea of what to expect but NOLA is a completely different beast! Halloween fell on a Monday last year and when we asked a waitress the previous Wednesday about what night we should dress up to go out she replied ” mmm..Thursday or Friday..definitely Saturday or Sunday..and of course, Monday”.

IMG_8663.jpg

She wasn’t wrong to be honest, we only dressed up one night but every night we were out, pretty much everyone around us was in costume. I’ve said it before but it’s so true- NOLA is a party city. It’s a seriously fun place and you’re guaranteed a good night out there.

Prior to all that though was the Halloween parade that took place on our first night there, which was so much fun and was the perfect introduction to the city:

IMG_8631

IMG_8636

IMG_8645

Where else are you going to see a giant Dracula on the back of a tractor?!

Of course, most of the houses are decorated too, people’s gardens get the creepy treatment and it’s well worth taking a look out the window of your streetcar as you head further out of the city.

IMG_1588

IMG_8669.jpg

For nights out, you can pretty much go anywhere but you’ll find that Bourbon Street is just one big street party and is so much fun!

BeFunky Collage-2.jpg

We had great craic chatting to people about their costumes plus I got to pose with Labyrinth era David Bowie, so win-win!

We also did a bit of Halloween shopping, perfect place for it!

BeFunky Collage-4

The atmosphere in New Orleans at Halloween was electric, you could visit the city at any time and enjoy it but it seemed particularly special at Halloween!

Chloe & Cilian

What & Where To Eat in New Orleans

Think New Orleans and you’ll probably think “Gumbo” but there’s so much more to try food-wise. There’s amazing restaurants, food festivals and some pretty great cocktails.

Pêche

BeFunky Collage-14.jpgBeFunky Collage-15.jpg

Pêche is a seafood grill, in the warehouse district, on Magazine street. It has a few sister restaurants, another of which we tried. Both were excellent! A lot of the fish is cooked over a coal grill but there’s also a raw deli for oysters etc and they serve local brews and delicious cocktails. It was pretty busy for lunch and we waited a little while for a table but it was well worth it! We shared the Smothered Catfish, Fried Brussel Sprouts with Chilli Vinegar (I swore I was going to try and make this when we got home but you need a specific type of vinegar, which I still haven’t looked for!) and a Pecan and Parmesan salad. We then had to try the Key Lime Pie and Salted Caramel Cake. I had a very cooling Gintilly Shakedown; Hendrick’s Gin, Cucumber, Ginger, Lemon and Cava. Nom.

Cochon

IMG_8733

This is one of Peche’s sister restaurants, it’s on Tchoupitoulas street. Couchon leans on the cajun, southern side of things so it’s quite meaty, and a lot of it is cooked in a wood fired oven. Here we tried Ham Hock, Gulf fish and the most amazing trio of ice cream sandwiches and an upside down pineapple cake with dulce de leche ice cream for dessert.

Willa Jean

BeFunky Collage-13

Willa Jean is a restaurant/bakery focusing on Southern recipes with fresh, local ingredients. We stopped here for brunch after attending a game in the Superdome, which is only a few blocks away. This is also an option for breakfast if you’re more of an early bird. We had bbq shrimp toast; burrata, sourdough, bbq sauce and ham hock fried rice with a fried egg. The breads all looked amazing but we had to walk away as we were already way too full!

Maïs Arepas

6cd9d70da3837f322ea43c7a7d97a99a

This is a Columbian restaurant that was directly across from our Airbnb, we gave it a go one evening and I’ve honestly been thinking about it ever since. Here we had Pataconcitos; a trilogy of smashed green plantains with different toppings; skirt steak chicken breast and jumbo shrimp. Abborajados; sweet plantain fritters filled with mozzarella and Arepas Marinera; grilled jumbo shrimp, citrus slaw, avocado and salsa rosada in a corn bread pita. All so good. We were there midweek and there were no tables free so we sat at the bar. I’d advise booking in advance.

PoBoy Festival

BeFunky Collage-12

The PoBoy Fest is on in Oak Street and you can catch it this October, on the 22nd. You’ll find a wide range of both food and art stalls. PoBoy’s are soft rolls, usually filled with jumbo shrimp, but the fillings can vary. It’s a New Orleans traditional food and you kind of have to try one before you leave. There’s also dessert stands, like crepes, which I bought a very hot chocolate filled crepe from and after being warned by the guy selling it to me, I got to use the now classic line “this isn’t my first crepe rodeo, sonny”. Anyway, I also bought a beautiful necklace from one of the jewellery stands. Loads to see and eat here.

The Creole Creamery

BeFunky Collage-11

We stopped here after going to an old time vintage cinema one evening. There was an actual queue out the door of this place and we had heard how good it was so we had to stop in! They have a big selection of ice cream and in some really amazing variety of flavours. Cause we didn’t know wha to get, we went for the ice cream sampler. 6 mini scoops for $6. They were ridiculously large scoops so I can’t imagine what the large scoop looks like. We went for; Red Velvet Cake, Chocwork Orange, Pumpkin Praline, Goronzola and Walnut (not a fan), and I think..Butterscotch and Salted Almond but I can’t remember the last two! It was really good and a fun way to try lots of new flavours.

The Columns St Charles; Brunch

BeFunky Collage-10BeFunky Collage-8BeFunky Collage-9

We booked in here for brunch on our first proper day in New Orleans. We got a streetcar out to it, and as it was a really sunny day there were no free tables on the veranda so we sat inside for our meal but went out for drinks in the sunshine afterwards. There was a jazz band playing the entire time with a beautiful breeze blowing throughout the house. We had a balsamic vinegar strawberry salad, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo to start, then Old Charleston Shrimp and Grits and Roasted duck Breast with raspberry Chipotle Sauce. Creme Brullee and Strawberry Pin Wheels for dessert and a mimosa! Compared to everywhere else we ate, the food here was not our favourite but the experience was fantastic.

Pat O’ Briens; Hurricane

BeFunky Collage-5

This is one of the most well known cocktails in New Orleans. Pat O’Briens is a crazy busy bar/club with a big cocktail shaped fountain. Hurricanes are rum, orange, cherry and the mysterious “Pat O’ Briens Hurricane mix”, which you can buy everywhere, including the airport. This was good, as cocktails go and definitely had a holiday vibe to it!

Port of Call; Monsoon

BeFunky Collage-7

Another cocktail and this one is LETHAL. We picked these up on Halloween in go cups and drank them on the street into town. We were very quickly hammered. I still don’t know what’s in this and the website has left me none the wiser. I do know that as we walked along the street, several people shouted at us to be careful as “those drinks are crazy, man!” etc. Port of Call actually serves food too in case you were wondering…

The Ruby Slipper; Breakfast

BeFunky Collage-4

I feel like we had a proper New Orleans breakfast here. The staff were really friendly and we were served really quickly. We had grits, biscuits, eggs, bacon etc. Although I wanted everything on that sandwich board outside, I felt I’d better get something more filling before a day of cemetery walking.

Cafe du Monde

IMG_8716

This is where you need to go for Beignets. Delicious warm, icing sugar dusted doughnuts. Served with coffee, you will devour these completely. So good.

 

SO much good food and great places to eat and drink. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these or if there’s anywhere really good we missed!

Chloe & Cilian.

New Orleans; 10 Things to Do

Cilian will be doing a post about getting to New Orleans, getting around, where to stay and general tips for your time there. This post is to cover the classic tourist things to do. There will be another separate post on where and what to eat. Finally, there will be a post on New Orleans at Halloween, which I could probably talk about forever!

This was honestly the trip of a lifetime. New Orleans (pronounced Orlans, no-one there draws it out to sound like Or-leens. Top tip right there! For the purpose of this post , I’ll be using the abbreviation NOLA though, it’s just easier. New Orleans, Louisiana) is such a fun city but one that is also steeped in history, so there’s something for everyone.

Here’s a list, in no particular order about what you should put on your NOLA to-do list:

1. Do a self-guided tour of the Garden District

This is considered one of the more uptown areas in NOLA. It’s a good idea to set aside an afternoon or morning and take your time to stroll through this area, checking out all the beautiful old houses, including the Anne Rice house.

IMG_8669.JPG

There’s lots to see here and given how historical it is, you’ll feel mightily cultured! It’s probably easiest to get here via a streetcar (more on them later) but it kind of depends where you’re coming from. THIS website has a free PDF you can download to your phone to use as your guide and they list all the houses of note you should be looking out for.

2. Walk through the French Quarter, Royal St and Jackson Square.

These are kind of the obvious places people think of when they think New Orleans. The French quarter is the oldest section in the city and there’s lots of beautiful old buildings, balcony’s, shops, art gallery’s and restaurants in these areas.

IMG_1644.jpg

Royal St in particular has an abundance of antique and jewellery shops, if that’s your thing, while Jackson Square is where you’ll find Café de Monde, which is no.3…

3. Go for Beignets and Coffee in Café du Monde

This is a famous spot for producing the best beignets in the city! If that’s new to you, you’re not alone. Beignets are like doughnuts with the hole or filling, warm and fresh, covered in powdered sugar and served with a milky coffee. Very satisfying!

BeFunky Collage

It can be hard to get a seat here cause of how busy it is but things usually move along quickly enough, Try and get a seat near the railings so you can people watch.

BeFunky Collage-7.jpg

After that we strolled down to the French market where you can drink openly (with I.D), while you stroll around and look at all the stalls; food, knick-knacks, clothes, souvenirs etc. This isn’t a must-do but it’s right there so no harm in having a look.

4. Take in some Jazz

We got tickets for a jazz show in Preservation Hall– a no frills, no chairs venue where people literally queue up all the way down the street to get in and stand for an hour to listen to a group of incredible musicians play together.

IMG_9074

This is the real deal, if you love jazz and want to hear, see and feel it, live, in all its glory then this is the place for you. Check out the gift shop on the way out, we have a Preservation Hall Jazz Band cd in the car now! While we were there, we also went to a Jazz in the Park event (various musical acs, food and drink. It was class!), but that’s only on at certain times of the year.

5. Go for a drink on Bourbon Street

Bourbon St is actually in the French Quarter, so you’ll be there anyway but it’s really worth going here at night, when it’s party time. Obviously, we were there at Halloween so literally every night we were out was party time and it seemed like everyone was in costume, constantly. Bourbon St. was definitely the place to be.

BeFunky Collage-4.jpg

A lot of people will say it’s messy and tacky and full of drunks. People say that about Temple Bar too, but visitors to Dublin still enjoy going there and the same can definitely be said for Bourbon Street. Honestly, you may just want to walk through it instead of hanging around for too long (and to avoid being hit by falling strings of beads- yeah, that actually happens) but either way, it’s a bit of craic!

6. Take a Streetcar

You can’t go to NOLA and not get a streetcar. More than likely, you’ll be getting one to get around anyway but let’s just say you’re situated in the centre and have no intention of going anywhere, hop on a streetcar anyway.

BeFunky Collage-3.jpg

They’re famous for a reason, apart from the Tennessee Williams connotations, they’re the city’s original tram cars so there’s a serious vintage feel to them and many people feel they’re the heart of New Orleans. If you do need them to get around, get yourself a Jazzy Pass, It’s a 1-5 day pass you buy and display on your phone. Super handy, no need for jangling around change in your pocket.

7. Head out of the city and do a Swamp Tour

We booked into the Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour. We rented a car and drove out to the pick up point but there’s also coach buses that do trips from the city centre out. We took a swamp tour, rather than an airboat tour, lasting an hour and 45 mins.

IMG_1805

There was enough room for everyone on board and it was very safe! We were brought right out into the bayou, where we saw lots of alligators, plantation and other wildlife. This is really worthwhile to do as it’s such a unique experience.

IMG_1844.jpg

Oh, and you get to hold a baby alligator! Fun! There’s lots of other companies you can go with , including ones that do joint swamp and plantation tours, but we did them separately. Speaking of which..

8. Do a Plantation Tour. 

Again, this is outside of the city but it’s not too far of a drive from where the swamp tours are so its worth doing both in the same day. We went to the Laura Plantation Tour, which was so interesting (and obviously very grim) but there’s also the Oak Alley Plantation, which is the one you always see used in films.

IMG_1862.jpgIMG_1889.jpgEither way, there’s huge historical significance to these settings, just be prepared to be horrified by slavery, if you weren’t already, I guess..

9. Do a tour of the St. Louis No.1 Cemetery

This is one of the most visited cemeteries in the US. We spent a full morning sweltering away in the St. Louis cemetery, our tour Guide was excellent and it was such an interesting thing to do. She showed us all of the famous vaults and talked through so much of the history of NOLA.

BeFunky Collage-2

You have to book ahead for these tours as they have a strict limit for how many people can enter the cemetery. Bring water, wear a hat and sunscreen cause you will need it!

10. Visit the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

This isn’t a major must-see, but we always try and get to an art gallery wherever we go and this one was fantastic.

IMG_1966

The Ogden Museum has a wide and varied collection of mostly modern Southern art. There’s exhibitions and different events on there throughout the year so it’s worth checking out the website HERE for more info.

We also checked out the PoBoy Festival, the Sculpture Garden and the WW2 Museum, all well worth checking out if you’re going, and more on those in future posts!

Chloe & Cilian.

Iceland: The Golden Circle!

We did this route coming from the west and stayed in a hotel near Gullfoss but these three sights are often visited on a day trip from Reykjavík. While Reykjavík is a lovely small city we would definitely recommend trying to see some of Iceland’s incredible countryside if you are able to at all. This circle (or triangle) consists of three main stops, Þingvellir ,  and Gullfoss.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 23.28.42

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) was our first stop – a national park which lies on an intercontinental tectonic plate where the national assembly, or Althing, met for 800 years from 930AD. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and we had a lovely stroll down along the rift, overlooking the plains of the grass covered lava fields. We spent a couple of hours here, there are lots of walking paths and the views are stunning.

IMG_0058

IMG_0087.JPG

Next stop was the Geysir fields of Haukadalur, where the  impressive Strokkur came to the boil every 5-10mins.

IMG_0113.JPGIMG_0103

A short trip down the road is the very impressive Gullfoss (foss are waterfalls), where we were able to walk along the boardwalk overlooking the falls but the lower section was closed off due to weather. The power of the water was palpable and the view spectacular. There is a big tourist café and shop by the carpark if you need to stop to get refreshments or random souvenirs!

IMG_0121

IMG_0129

Let us know if you’ve traversed the Golden Circle or if you have any questions about our trip!

 

Cilian and Chloe

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón is a glacier lagoon located about 200km east of Vik. It is a stunning landscape; the glacier is melting into the lake, which is at sea level so the ice drifts out to the ocean and then is washed back on to the black sand beaches!

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 13.54.40

IMG_0279

It really was a beautiful place. There are boat trips that go out on the lake but we were too early in the season and they hadn’t started yet.

IMG_0398

IMG_0327The road from Vik is the main ring road and was in good condition. The drive brings you through the desolate lava fields of Eldhaun, a remnant of the enormous volcanic eruption in the 18th century. There are lots of other places to visit off the main road (such as hiking in Skaftafell) but we ended up spending so much time in Jökulsárlón that we didn’t stray off the main route though there were still some nice stops!

IMG_0431

This was one of the most incredible places that we saw in Iceland and was worth the day round trip from Vik and is a must see if continuing your journey east!

 

Cilian and Chloe

Iceland: Itinerary

One of our favourite trips of the last few years was our  week  in Iceland in April 2016. It is a stunningly beautiful county, with an interesting history and everyone was warm and friendly. We did get very lucky with the weather – it was cold but clear skies on all but one of the days – that day the rain and cloud cover was so heavy that the stunning vistas we had enjoyed from the car for the previous few days were entirely obscured. This is our general outline of the trip with a  few more posts to follow.

Flights: We flew from Dublin direct to Keflavik Airport, which is about 40 mins drive  south of Reykjavík, with WOW. They charge for large carry on as well as hold luggage and we got one of each bringing our total to €660 or €330 each. The flight was only 2 and a half hours and we were met by our car hire company at arrivals.

Car Hire: We booked with Greenmotion through rentalcars.com at a cost of €382 for the and our pick up was straightforward, their lot only being a short drive away. Our first, and one of only two negative experiences of the trip, occurred with the negotiation of the excess fees, which was both stressful and unexpectedly pricey. They required a deposit of ISK290,000 – about €2,500! We also didn’t upgrade our excess cover (partly because a chunk of the money we had planned to use was now tied up in the car deposit). This meant that we couldn’t leave the car at the airport with the keys in (the lot wasn’t open for our early morning flight), so we had to get the car back the evening before we left. The deposit is mentioned on the Greenmotion website in fairness but wasn’t in the rentalcars confirmation.

There was also a lot of emphasis on the possibility of damage to the car due to Iceland’s extreme weather conditions. It really is an incredibly windy place and there is a chance of volcanic ash windstorms which can cause damage to the body work – I have rented cars all over the world and this was the first time I felt nervous leaving with a rental car!

Greenmotion advised us to check http://en.vedur.is – the national weather service updated regularly – which was incredibly useful and reassuring – as we said we had great weather when we were there and the bad day was wet and cloudy but no doomsday ash! I dropped the car, unscathed thankfully, to the Greenmotion Reykjavík office on the Saturday. I did have to wait for a while as an unfortunate Chinese man was trying to sort out the issue with his car that had been damaged during his trip. One of the car doors had been caught in a gust of wind – the door had bent back on itself and one of the windows had smashed resulting in few thousand euro worth of damage. I felt very sorry for this poor guy and it showed that their scaremongering wasn’t entirely about getting us to pay for extra insurance!

The guy behind the counter was very pleasant and dropped me back towards my hotel which went some way to assuaging the general unpleasantness of the initial rental experience. He told me that every kid in Iceland learns to always hold the car door when it’s opening and closing as the wind is so powerful and gusty.

So if you’re going to rent a car make sure you’ve read all the small print! I’m not sure if the excess is worth it if you’re appropriately cautious but always hold the car door!

Driving in Iceland: We were in a Hyundai i40 and it drove just fine. Driving is on the right side of the road. There is a main ringroad which encircles the entire island and we never ventured too far from that. Some of the inland roads were still unpassable when we were there and there are plenty of 4 wheel drive only areas but we stuck to the main arteries and the driving was mostly pleasant. There is a huge tourism industry but we went in a relatively quiet month and at times had the roads to ourselves. There are lots of speed cameras about and these were well marked. The landscapes were otherworldly and by driving ourselves we got to see a huge amount in a short space of time.

IMG_0041

Accommodation: We booked everything through booking.com.

Fossatun Country Hotel: We stayed one night in this lovely chalet style accommodation for €85 which included breakfast. The rooms were warm and clean and overlooked a beautiful river. There was a hot tub which we enjoyed under the stars. There was a lovely dining room and the hosts served a very pleasant dinner as they played their collection of vinyl records!

IMG_0029

Hotel Gullfoss: One night with breakfast cost us €118 and though half the hotel was under construction our room was clean, warm and the restaurant was nice.

Grand Guesthouse Gardakot: Our room here was lovely and cosy and there was a gorgeous living area with cooking facilities (which we only used the fridge to keep a few beers cold!). A delicious breakfast was served around a big communal table where we met the other guests. Two nights cost €290 so it was one of the pricier options but was only a short drive to Vik.

Skuggi Hotel: This is a modern hotel with stylish bar and lobby area. It was very central and cost us €287 for two nights.

Money: Everything was expensive in Iceland, even by Irish standards. We found a nice pizza joint in Vik which we ate in twice and as the hotels were isolated we ate in their restaurants a few times. 100 Icelandic Krona is about €0.85.

Language: Being a large, fair, bearded Irishman with probable Viking ancestry a lot of the locals approached Cilian in Icelandic but after brief bewilderment everyone spoke perfect English!

Itinerary:

Day 1: After getting our car we drove north, straight past Rejkavik and on to Borgames which is about a 90min drive. We visited the Settlement Centre which had an interesting exhibition on the Sagas that make up so much of Icelandic history. We went to Hraunfossar Waterfalls, where the water seeps out of the rocks, and then spent the night at Fossatun Country Hotel where we were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights in the distance on our first night!

IMG_9983

 

Day 2: We left Fossatun and headed East to see the Golden Triangle of Thingvillier, Geysir and Gullfoss. This is often done as a day trip tour from Rejkavik and they really are spectacular. We will post soon about this well worn but well worth tourist trail.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 23.28.42

Day 3: Vik was our destination and we enjoyed the waterfalls of Selijalandsfoss and Skogafoss and the Skogar museum along the way. We stayed for two nights in Grand Guesthouse Gardakot which was lovely.

IMG_0213Day 4: This was a day of a long drive to Jokulsarlon and back to Vik – it was absolutely worth the drive through the desolate yet stunning lava fields and we have a post here about it.

Day 5: We drove from Vik to Rejkavik and this was the day of absolutely awful weather so we didn’t see much en route. It was still raining when we got to the Blue Lagoon but that didn’t stop us having a wonderful relaxing time – despire somebody taking Cilian’s pair of shoes and leaving him with one that was way too small!

Day 6: The sun came out again and we walked all over Rekjavik and we will have a post on it here soon!

IMG_0514

Day 7: Very early morning flight – there was a shuttle bus service from our hotel which got us there just in time after a truly wonderful trip!

 

Let us know if you’re planning a trip – we really couldn’t recommend it more highly as a place to go with some truly unique landscapes and lovely people!

 

Cilian and Chloe