South Coast Iceland -Black Sand Beach,Reynishverfi

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Reynishverfi beach, near the village Vik in Myrdalur on South Coast of Iceland, is very popular and the most impressive black-sand beach in Iceland. It is also a popular destination for day tours that are organized by different tour companies in the Reykjavik.

We arrived at Reynisfjara on a winter but warm afternoon 🙂 To our luck it was sunny today and as a cherry on top, there was no wind. It was cold, very cold but these added benefits just made the day. Before heading to the beach, we took a short lunch break at Strondin Bistro and Bar, where they served Icelandic Meat soup, in addition to many other options. Food was warm and tasty to keep us happy. Infact through the windows of the bar, you can enjoy the Vik side view of the beach on a rainy day or a windy day.

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But if would like to see those huge 68m high rocks into a different perspective then you should take a right-turn about 10 km before Vík. A road sign will take you in the direction of Reynishöfn where you can take a look at the Reynishverfi beach. It is a black pebble beach and has an amazing cliff of basalt columns resembling a a rocky step pyramid, which is called Gardar.

You will several caves under these basalt columns, according to Icelandic stories, a monster was supposed to have lived in one of the many caves at the bottom of the cliff for many centuries. But since a landslide more than 100 years ago, the monster seems to have disappeared.

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Looking towards the sea you can see spectaculary shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar.  This beach is a nesting area of puffins, they migrate back to Iceland in summers for breeding season.

According to another Icelandic tale, two trolls attempted to drag a ship to land but were turned to stone as daylight broke, turning them into into the Reynisdrangar stacks. But Geological experts have a different view from those who think they are the stature of trolls 🙂

It is a beautiful landscape that is formed by motlen lava and you can see the effect everywhere around you.

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Hunting for Northern Lights, Iceland

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Like many of us, I also had one item in my bucket list to see dancing Northern Lights. And I have been so lucky to see those lights dazzling and dancing for us for one night during our trip. One of the most amazing nights of my life.

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s great exhibitions: a mysterious, colourful show in sky when suddenly it gets lit up with green, red, yellow lights twisting and dancing around like disco lights. It is an indefinable thrill that can make anyone overwhelmed with humble feelings.

One of the many reason to plan Iceland trip in winter was to try our luck to see Northern Lights. They are active and mostly visible during winter months.  The lights are formed from fast-moving, electrically charged particles that emanate from the sun. These are driven towards the poles by the Earth’s magnetic field – their varying colors are a result of the different gases in the upper atmosphere. Mostly green because of the oxygen present above  us.

While in Iceland, me & ash had a duty to check the Aurora forecast after every few hours.  The day we arrived in Reykjavik, it showed the Aurora forecast as Moderate. From what I have read that Aurora lights can be a mesmerizing affair even with moderate levels. Me and ash were in Iceland only for 5 days, so we did not want to miss the chance of hunting the moderate Northern Lights as well.

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So we headed out for our first NL hunting tour [ Organised by GrayLine Tours – http://grayline.is/] , our guide drove us into the darkness, away from the city lights and we reached Borganes. After spending few good hours in the darkness and cold night, very cold, we finally left the hope of seeing NL tonight. Just when we were walking back to bus, something appeared in the sky. It brought the excitement, we waited another 15mins for that something to glow a bit darker. And the there it was our first glimpse of  NL, a very low light in the sky. It was not dazzling, but were happy to see something and returned back to our hotels.

We still kept a check on aurora forecast over the week, and to our luck one of the nights NL became active again. Again that night we headed out towards Thingvellir National Park, and to out luck NL appeared and they were just not beautiful ,dazzling and bright, but they danced  for us for 4-5 hours. We were happy as a kid, at that moment it did not matter to us that weather outside is -10 degree C, what mattered was that lights decided to appear for us and the whole sky was lit up in green. And these moments were captured once again by Ash and his love lens 🙂

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Some interesting stories/myths/beliefs about Northern Lights that was told to us by our guide;

  1. Many beliefs around the northern lights see the phenomena as a good omen.
  2. Lights were the gods of harvest and hunting.
  3. It is still believed that a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed with good fortunes.
  4. On the contrary Icelanders believed that it would ease the pain of childbirth for pregnant women, but they also believed that pregnant women looking at the Aurora would have cross eyed children. [ I do not think so it is true, as I haven’t met anyone in Iceland who was crossed eye 🙂 ]

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Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Comments 27 Standard

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Iceland – Finally!!! After planning for a year, postponing and cancelling the plan many times , we made it to Iceland. And I am so glad that we finally did that. It is truly the most volatile and magical place on earth,  its vivid stories, molten lava fields, sea, geothermal pools and much more.

For next few weeks, I will be sharing my Iceland stories on my blog. I hope you will like them. I would also like to thanks my very dear blogger friend Gin (http://darwinontherocks.com/) who helped me with her suggestions on the itinerary. Her Iceland journey is fantastic.

So we landed at Keflavik airport on a cool Sunday evening, picked up a booked car at Budget/Avis Company and headed straight to Blue Lagoon.

So I did not drive during this trip, Ash did all the driving/photography  and I did my part of reading maps/directions/planning J  It was Ash’s first experience of driving in Europe on right hand side, as UK and India have left hand drive plus the added snow/ice made it even more trickier. But as good as he is at lens, he is no less on steering wheels as well, with in 30minutes he was comfortable and cruising over Icelandic roads.

Blue lagoon is not far more from airport, just 30-40 minutes drives towards Grindavik. You will see sign boards on the road with Bláa lónið, so no chance you will miss it.

At this time of the year there was not much of traffic, from what I have heard during the summer months as well it is more or less same, we reached on time at Blue Lagoon. It was surrounded by snow and snow-capped peaks.  Blue lagoon no doubt is very famous and touristy place. When we reached the parking, there were a number of tour buses and cars that were already parked out there. So we already knew, we will not have this place to ourselves (just kidding!!! 🙂 )

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When you enter the building, you will be provided with a wrist tag that you will be using to lock down your lockers, pay for drinks if you fancy one when you get into the pool, or a meal or even a fack pack or massage. You can pay all of it together while leaving the lagoon.

So when you will come out of changing rooms and head out to the pool,  I bet the first reaction will be something like – OMG, WOW, Am I really here 🙂 , I have been seeing these pictures from last year and Yey finally I am here.  Oh yes I was so delighted and joyful to be here. Initially Ash was not that interest in going to blue lagoon as he thought pictures on internet makes it look beautiful, one might not know how it will look in real. But guess what after an hour in the pool, ash was the one who was not ready to leave the pool 🙂 🙂

This pool is magnificent, with it’s blue waters & steam looks like a fairy tale place. It is truly in the lap of Mother Nature. Who will not want to have this experience once in life.

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The lagoon is a man-made lagoon which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant and is renewed every two days. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal water heating system. Then the water is fed into the lagoon for recreational and medicinal users to bathe in.

The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica  and sulfur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C . It also operates a research and development facility to help find cures for other skin ailments using the mineral-rich water. Few pictures from our trip.

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WPC:Shadowed- Mountains & Lakes

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I love this photo. There is story behind this picture- It was clicked in Norway, And you see a tiny human being on a kayak in the picture- He is Ash 🙂 I am not a good swimmer so was scared to get on to that deep lake with a Kayak. So Ash went for it alone, and there was no other person on that lake. I clicked this picture to keep an eye on him while he is over there, enjoying the tranquil nature that prevailed all around.

Luckily I found him through my lens in the shadows of mountains created on the lake surface, and I happened to capture the heavenly beauty that was all around me.

In response to : https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/shadowed/

Paris- A City of Love

Comments 17 Standard

It was an usual day at office, I was busy creating some design documents when I was called by my manager in a meeting room. I go In thinking what is coming on the way, and to my surprise my manager asks me to visit Paris on 3 days training program.

Paris was a dream come true which I cannot believe I got to travel.It was special for me as this was my first solo Europe trip. I was fascinated by Paris, it’s beauty and who is not amazed by this city. So many stories of love, music, art – it is birth place of many of these culture and arts. Not to forget about French wines, cheese and croissants. It is officially most romantic city of the world. Well I will not say that is the case for me, as I feel any place can be romantic if you have your partner with you 🙂

Unfortunately I just had two half days to see Paris which was definitely not enough to explore this beautiful city. But I tried to use my time and see places as much as it was possible.

First day in Paris take the Paris Bus Tour: The Red Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. They are going to tour the city and you can hop off and hop on in popular places to have a best knowledge about Paris. The stops are: Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Lourve Museum, Notre Dame, Orsay, Opera, Champs-Elysees, Grand Palace. When you leave the airport and take the Roissy Bus to Paris they are going to leave you at Opera. Being in Opera with your Paris Pass card collect your 1 day Car Rouges ticket from Avenue de l’Opera. Next days you can visit more quietly the same places again.

One more easy way to see Paris is via Paris underground railways, it is very well connected with the city and outskirts of the city and a cheap way of travel. They have printed maps for you to make your easy journey.

On my second day I visited Eiffel Tower, it was like living a dream. Until now I had seen this tower only in movies where couples are kissing each other, artist drawing the different views around Eiffel, people posing for selfies, And now I was right there witnessing all of it with my eyes. It is truly a master piece of architecture. Unfortunate enough I did not have time to go up on the tower as the queue was 2 miles long and I had a flight to travel back to London in evening, so during this trip I could see it only from the ground. But I am definitely visiting it back with Ash:)

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On the way back to Airport I also visited very famous Notre Dam, a beautiful and marvel of French Gothic architecture. Each carving on this cathedral is stunning, sculptures and beautiful stained glass, it is among the largest and well known church building in the world.

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I brought back home with me the memories of this beautiful city of love and a over joyed heart. My heart knew when I was departing France that I must come back here soon.

 

Amsterdam- City Of Canals

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Last Summer we went to Amsterdam with our friends and spent 3 wonderful days in this beautiful city.

Amsterdam- This word rings a bell for lot of words isn’t it? Night Life, Marijuana, Red Light District, very famous Space Cakes. Oh Yes! it will be a lie if I say these words did not fascinate me, it did and I wanted to see for myself after all what is this all about. And hence hopped onto a National Coach(cheapest option to travel across Europe), a ferry ride from Dover to France, and again back to National Coach to Amsterdam.

My this post is not going to talk about the bells I mentioned above, but I want to let you know how I fell in love with this place, by its poise canals, exquisite bridges,a pleasantry party of barge people who are in the boat, and people sitting/walking near the canals.

Amsterdam is a home to 150 canal and 1250 bridges. I always thought Venice is the city of Canals ( well It is) but did not know this Dutch city can give me that flavour or essence too. The best way to explore is this place is to walk or hire a bike or take a canal tour on a boat.

I discovered the canals via a boat ride and exploring through different alleys of the city that always links you to different bridge. I am sharing some pictures to show the beauty of this place.

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Am I high on Duvel or it it just the joy 🙂

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My Gang :)

My Gang 🙂

 

Antwerp

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Antwerp – A perfect combination of historic and modern city. As much as it is famous for its impressive historic architecture of museums, cathedrals, churches. But also famous for its reputation of Centre of fashion as the many designers and stylists who originated from this city.

It is a very large industrial port and currently one of the largest in the Europe. It is also famous. During the Golden Age Antwerp resembled present-day New York: it was one of the world’s fascinated city.

Must See in Antwerp

  1. Central Station – Most probably you will arrive at Antwerp via train, and if you do, make sure to have a stroll around this beautiful and magnificent transition train station.
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Central Station

  1. Antwerp Zoo- This is located just outside central station. It is the oldest zoo in Belgium. Kids will love it.
  2. Cathedral of Our Lady – An entry fee of 5Euros, but worth it. You will get to see amazing architecture inside the church along with works of the famous painter Pieter PaulRubens.
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  4. MAS Museum – brand new museum of which Antwerp is extremely proud. It is marvel of the modern architecture and offers a great view over the city.
  5. The Meir- While here you will not be able to stop yourself entering the amazing shops around, designers, stylist etc. A fashion street 🙂

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We were there just for a day and had an amazing sunny weather. Ended the day near to port drinking Belgium beers 🙂

In Bruges

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In Bruges, it is love at first Sight. Strolling along Bruges’ alleys, picturesque canals and verdant embankments  you cannot help falling in love with elegance and mysteriousness that prevails around.

Bruges to describe in few words- a fairy tale village, a romantic village, little Venice of north as some describes it.

Ask me I love Bruges, not only for its beautiful architecture but for many of the cobbled street that you are going to walk upon, those canals & bridges that automatically makes you fall for silence to listen to your heart beat, and that rustic feeling that stir all your senses.

Bruges’ beautiful and colorful buildings are incredibly well preserved due to Bruges falling into relative obscurity for quite a few centuries. It was also known as “the Dead City.” It came to life in the mid-1900s, though, when wealthy British and French tourists decided it would make a lovely holiday destination. Once the city decided to focus on tourism, restore and dapper up many of its historical buildings, Bruges came out as a romantic destination.

Bruges is a unique place that offers you artistic, cosmopolitan, unashamedly Burgundian, mysteriously medieval, and a Unesco World Heritage site to explore. It is undoubtedly a post card village.

Must Visit in Bruges 

  1. Canals of Bruges- You cannot complete your trip to Bruges without having a boat ride in the canals of Bruges. There are the arteries of the Bruges to discover beautiful gardens, picturesque bridges, and the beautiful postcard village. There is hop and hop off rides also available. This was one of my favourite.

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  1. Market Square – It is the heart of this beautiful town, beating up with the locals and tourists. The interesting houses, the clang of horses hooves, the fast-moving horse carriages and Belfry poses a setting of exquisiteness and charm, giving a medieval and modern feel to it.

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  1. Church of Our Lady, Belfry, Saint Saviour’s Cathedral

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  1. Walk near Beguinage- After strolling through streets, if you want to escape from the crowd for a quiet moment,take your time and walk along the romantic Minnewater for a mesmerizing view.

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As always please get in touch if you require further information on my trip to Bruges 🙂

 

 

Trip to Brussels

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Very often I have seen people neglecting Belgium to be a part of their Europe tour. I have heard and read people mentioning that there is nothing much to see and do in Belgium or may be a day visit is enough to see that country.

On the contrary to all these comments, we have discovered Belgium as a great country that offers your richness of its history, culture, beautiful villages to its country side and modern cities. A perfect holiday destination, explore and admire what you see around. And definitely can not be done in a day trip.

We have been to Belgium over a bank holiday weekend and spent good 4 days over there.Another backpacking budget trip.

Day 1 & 2- Brussels.

Brussels capital of Belgium undoubtedly is the most visited places in Belgium, it is a heaven for people who love architecture, museums, pubs and yes I am coming on it- Waffles J Brussels also share its love for Artists – Art Nouveau facades, the talent of its stylists and designers, its delicacies and its surrealism, which can be found on every street corner.

How to Get around I will say walking is probably the best bet to see each nook and corner of this town J You can also use trains to get to different corners of the town and out-of-town.

Must See in the Brussels.

  1.  The Grand Palace and the area around- UNESCO World heritage site.It was established in 15th century with few market halls, later on a town hall was established to do the trade. Bombarded by French Army in 1965, it was rebuilt and now a hotchpotch of Gothic, opulent Baroque, Neoclassical and Neogothic. Stroll around the area, some good pubs/restro and gift shops.

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  1. Mont Des Arts- King Leopold II wanted to surround his palace with beautiful things and a new square was built that is home to Royal Library of Belgium, Musée Magritte Museum, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts, the Coudenberg archaeological site, the Espace cultural,the BELvue Museum, CINEMATEK, Musical Instruments Museum. So much of richness in one square, definitely not to be missed.

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  1. Atomium – One more tourist favourite destination. It is a representation if Iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times, visitors can walk through the tubes and spheres along the 12 edges of the cube. The top sphere gives a panoramic view of Brussels.

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  1. Manneken Pis -Little man Pee is a bronze sculpture in Brussles, depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain’s basin. There are several legends behind this statue, but the most famous is the one about Duke God Godfrey III of Leuven. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen. The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung the basket in a tree to encourage them. From there, the boy urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle.

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Night life in Brussels It is one of the happening European city when it comes to-night life. While In Brussels, do visit Delirium Café and Pub. It is a true heaven for beer lovers; they serve 2000 types of beers from all over the world and the most amazing music. You will get high on music and beer both. Just next to Delirium café, there is a Tequila pub where they server 500 types of different tequila drink.

Note: Beware of pick pockets, there are many. Ash wallet was stolen too; thankfully we had forgotten the cards at hostel and there was not much of cash left in the wallet after spending quite a lot of money on drinks 😉

Once again do let me know if you have any queries or require any information on Brussels. And enjoy Waffles when you are there 🙂

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