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

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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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Treat: WPC

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It is once again the favorite time of the year, not because of gloomy, windy and cool weather. But because it is the season of festivals and treats. Diwali and Christmas are on the way, definitely a lot more reasons to have more treats.

Guess who is another happy person with me. It is Ash, my baker, photographer and a cook 🙂 He is baking every weekend, a lot of experiments are being carried out recently. Like for this weekend it’s going to be Cinnamon Buns.

Here is picture from last weekend, another treat of Coconuts Lamingtons. In response to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/treat/

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The Long Walk – Windsor

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I stay in the royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and lucky enough to have access to beautiful walks around the county of Berkshire & Buckinghamshire. This area os just beautiful with a lot of traditional English villages, woodland walks, riverside walks and forest walks.

It is not possible to go for a holiday away from home every weekend, so me & ash use this opportunity to go walking in these hidden treasures, which are known only to locals. So I thought of sharing these little quaint walks with all of you so that if you are in the area you can have an opportunity to roam in this beautiful wonderland.

Those of you who love visiting Windsor or have not been there yet, I will recommend a beautiful walk at The Long Walk that is just behind the magnificent Windsor Castle.

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From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George II (The Copper Horse) , it is a 2.64 miles walk. It is here at Snow Hill  where, King Henry VIII sat and waited for news of the execution of his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn. The Long Walk was commenced by Charles II by planting a double avenue of elm trees on entire length of the route. There were 1,652 trees planted to create the basis of the landscape we know today. Charles wanted to remodel Windsor in a modern popular style and the Long Walk was just one aspect of his improvement scheme.

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Later in 1710 Queen Anne had a road constructed down the centre of the tree lined avenue with a comfortably smooth surface.

The Long Walk is still used by the royal carriages every year as part of the route from Windsor Castle to the Ascot Races. Cycling is not permitted on any part of the Long Walk.

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Another beautiful attraction of this park is the a large number of deers grazing around the park. Yes at times when deer are crossing the road to get across to other part of the park, you have to wait. Deers have the priority over humans 🙂

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It is a beautiful for all the seasons. I love going back there again & again.

 

Mount Snowdon – Highest in Wales

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Snowdon Mountain.

Snowdon Mountain.

Earlier this month, myself and Ash finished our long awaited hike to Snowdon Mountain. We have visited wales a number of times, but because of the famous welsh weather we could never hike this peak. But finally we got such a weekend with a bright beautiful sunny day to hike the summit.

Snowdon is the highest mountain in the Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level. It is located in the very famous Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd. It is beautiful from every corner of North Wales.

There are number of paths to start your Snowdon hike to summit from easy grade to hardest one.

1.Watkin Path 2. Llanberis Path 3. Pyg Track 4. Miner’s track 5. Snowdon Ranger 6. Crib Goch

We took a combination of two routes to see different types of world around Snowdon, and I am very much glad that we opted for that( You will see in the pictures, why am I saying so) We went up by Pyg track and came down via Miner’s track. Both of the path starts at the same point at Pen-y-pass car park. If you are planning to drive there, I will suggest you to reach early as on a good day you will not get a parking space. If you do not get a parking here, your next parking point is 3miles down towards Llanberis, so either you come back via a Sherpa bus or walk (Pheww!!!)

Pyg Track-  It is not known how the Pyg Track got its name – it could be as it passes over the Pigs’s Pass (Bwlch y Mocl), because it is close to the Pen y Gwryd Hotel, or because pyg, in welsh, also means pitch, and part of the surface of the path looks like black pitch.  Whatever the origin, this path starts 1,170 feet above sea level which gives you a helpful start on the way. This walk is rugged, and very challenging, but the scenery is absolutely stunning.

View from Pyg Track

View from Pyg Track

Miner’s Track – The track was built during the 1800’s to serve Britannia Copper Mines which were abandoned in 1917.  Mine Manager Arthur Lockwood drove his car to Llyn Glaslyn, and the track to this point at the lake still resembles a road so is a good walking surface.  The track does get considerably steeper towards the summit.

At the foothills on Miners Track

At the foothills on Miners Track

Do not worry if not in the mood of walk, during the summer months you can reach the summit via Snowdon Mountain Railway.

Whatever path you choose believe me you will never fall short of mesmerizing views around you. Here are some pictures of the day, as always feel free to get in touch if you need help in planning a similar trip.

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Done & Dusted -We did need a celebration 🙂

 

Oban- You may fall in Love

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On my search of beautiful coastal towns in Scotland, I came across a website that introduced me to the town called Oban. How Oban was quoted on the website is – Be Careful! You may fall in love.  And that’s it those lines were just more than enough to lure me into visiting this little town. And Guess what? Yes I did fall in love with Oban.

Oban, meaning a little bay, is a small town on the west coast of Scotland in the county of Argyll. It often referred as ‘seafood capital of the Scotland’ .

The town is colonized by the hills surrounding Oban Bay and is a very busy summer town with great cafes and restaurants, and a big list to select your activities and day trips across various islands & in the highlands itself.

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A very popular attraction within Oban is McCaig’s Tower, the Colosseum lookalike which stands above the town. The Tower is 10 minutes hard walk uphill from the centre of the town that provides spectacular & mesmerising views over the town and onto the neighbouring islands.

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There is an Oban Distillery too right onto the high street, beneath the steep cliff that overlooks Oban. Built in 1794, this is one of Scotland’s oldest sources of single malt Scotch whisky. Unfortunately we could not take the tour due to time issues. But I am sure it will be worth a visit for people who loves the whisky making technique.

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Imagine all of this, and you do not even need to walk a lot or rent a car, all these attraction as visible as you enter the town. We walked down the whole town, walked upto the pier that opens up a wider view of the seascapes and tiny islands at the far distance. It was truly a magical place.

We never planned to stay in Oban as we had to drive to Fort Williams that evening, but may be I will come back sometime to re-visit this little town and spend few days here.

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Monsal Trail

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During the bank holiday weekend, we went hiking/walking to Monsal Trail. Yet another fantastic walking trail 🙂 I had heard a lot about this trail from different people praising the beauty that prevails around it. But sometime you have to be physically at the place to admire what we have in front of you. And Monsal Trail was one such beauty.

The Monsal Trail is a traffic free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders  through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular dales, stones and green landscape. Perfect for a family holiday with young kids or older generations.

The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell. You can choose to bike or walk, most of the way is a flat surface. It is definitely a long walk, but not a strenuous one. I would personally advise for a cycle trip, but make sure you arrive early morning if plan is to hire the bikes. Unfortunately we could not get hold of bikes.

Most of the route was opened to the public in 1981  and it passes through 6 tunnels -Headstone Tunnel, Cressbrook Tunnel, Litton Tunnel, Chee Tor Tunnel, Chee Tor No.2 and Rusher Cutting – all open for trail users. Each tunnel is about 400 metres long and will be lit during normal daylight hours.

I have no doubts why it has been regarded as one of most spectacular route for liesure walking, you pass through bridges, woodlands, monsal head, tunnels, cafes, ice cream shops, mills, little villages and what more do you need on a walk 🙂

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Plan was to to a round cycle trip from Bakewell to Wyedale and back to Bakewell, but we could not get the bikes to rent 😦 Hence planned to do a 8.5 miles long walk from Blackwell crossings to back to Bakewell. If you are not in the mood to walk 17 miles, you can take a bus from Bakewell – named TP and buy a ticket to blackwell crossing. The drivers are very well aware of the fact that they are going to get a lot of hikers on board to get down at Blackwell crossing, so you will not miss the stop, he will advise you when to get down.

Yes, these people were hogging before we start walking down the trail.

Yes, these people were hogging before we start walking down the trail.

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Me & Ash are always happy on a trail 🙂

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Breakfast point, sadly nothing for me. Drawbacks of Gluten free diet

Breakfast point, sadly nothing for me. Drawbacks of Gluten free diet

WPC: Connected

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I could not think of anything better than this picture to represent my picture of connection. Me and Ash are completing 13 years of knowing each other, yes the classic college love 🙂

4 years ago we decided to get connected via ring for lifetime 🙂 No it’s not my marriage anniversary today 🙂

In response to – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/connected/

Meeting the Unknown Faces :)

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I find myself fortunate enough that I am getting the chance to travel the world, may not be a new country every other month but travelling all over the little island I have been living in from last 5 years.

The more fortunate thing is I have so many of you around me that love to read my posts, take out time to comment on those and sharing feelings. Last 1 year have been so beautiful and I met you, the wonderful blogger friends through this platform.

This thought gave birth to an idea of meeting all of you. How about fixing a day in our calendar to meet in person and greet each other?

I understand many of us are away from the UK, or may be in different corners of the UK. But if we can decide a place and a date for those who can make it. Wont it be wonderful?

Let me know what do you guys think. And I shall initiate the conversation ahead.

Those of you are interested, please leave me a reply on the post.

Love to All.

Castleton Walk, Peak District

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Continuing the last post 🙂 So we walked from Hope to Castleton Village. It’s a pleasant walk of around 4 miles.

The village of Castleton was laid out in a grid pattern at the base of the slopes that surround it. It is a market town around 100 years later. There is evidence to suggest that before it became known as Castleton, the land was home to settlers from the Ice Age, as traces of Ice Age mammoths have been discovered in the magnificent caves of the village.

The earliest, historically recorded settlers were actually the Celts during the Iron Age, who built an imposing fort at the top of Mam Tor, which is also known locally as the shivering mountain. To this day, the remains of a Celtic hill fort are situated on the summit of Mam Tor, standing at an altitude of 17,000ft, standing above Castleton. It is one of the highlight of Castleton.

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Castleton is also well-known for the four underground show caves that surround the village. Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Peak Cavern.

Few pictures of the village and our walk.

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