Blue Lagoon, Iceland

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Blue-Lagoon

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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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 🙂

 

Hope Walk, Peak District

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Peak District in Derbyshire is the second most visited national park in the world. It’s a paradise for walked, bikers, adventure seekers. This weekend we went back to Peak District to spend sometime in the Hope Valley and do some pleasant walks. This was a last minute plan, browsed 100 of pages for an accommodation and luckily got few beds available in a bunkhouse for the weekend.

We stayed in the village of Hope at Pindale Farm & Outdoor centre. A not so cozy but clean bunkhouse at £15 pp for a night was a great deal. It has everything for a weekend stay – a small kitchen, dining table, chairs, baths & toilet.

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We then headed for a circular walk from Hope to Castleton Village.To the north stands Win Hill and Lose Hill and the heather moors of the Dark Peak, to the south the limestone dales of the White Peak. A part of Hope Village valley was once a part of Royal hunting reserve.  There is a cement factory which has been the source of employment in the village since the 80s. The railway arrived in 1892 and opened up employment prospects for local people with easy access to both Manchester and Sheffield.

Hope (meaning “a valley’) is one of the very few Derbyshire villages to be mentioned prior to the Domesday Survey of 1086, the earliest surviving record dates from a charter of 926 AD which tells that King Athelstan won a battle nearby, and purchased land at Ashford and Hope from a Dane. Hope is also unusual for having kept its name with the spelling unchanged for over a thousand years. Now a days hoarded with Tourist, this village is a home to fantastic pubs, tea rooms and a plenty of walks all around it.

With clearly marked routes and a bit of detour via public footpath, you can do a circular walk from Hope to Castleton. In my next post I will be writing about Castleton.

But here are some pictures of Hope Village and our walks till Castleton.


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Lochshiel, Glenfinnan

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Once again back to my one of favorite place – Scotland. It was a week long trip with Ash and my in laws, great fun, we explored few museums, local sights etc. A lot of strenous walking was not in the trip list this time 🙂 Over the weeks you will be seeing a lot of small posts from the recent trip. Here goes the first extract 🙂

We visited Lochshiel in Glenfinnan, a 393ft deep fresh water loch in the Lochaber, Highlands. It is surrounded by the mountains, giving it a bit of Fjords look. This river ultimately drains out to the Sea.

It is a pleasant walk around the loch, a very much woodland area. While at loch Shiel always keep an eye on it’s surrounding as you might be able to spot an elusive Golden & White-Tailed Eagles, Red Deer, Black-Throated Divers, Hen Harriers , Osprey and many other species of Rare Wildlife that frequent the area. Go with a picnic basket if it is sunny out there, unfortunately weather was not that good for us that day 😦 and only thing we could spot was rain drops 🙂 There are several cruises company that organizes tour on Loch Shiel.

Get on top of Glenfinnan Monument for a mesmerizing view of the loch and to gauge it’s beauty.

Closer to the area there is a Glenfinann station museum as well as a famous attraction of the area. It tells the story of the West Highland Railway, it construction and development from 1889 till today. It also hosts the famous Jacobite Steam train 🙂

There is a Glenfinnan viaduct bridge you could see from the station museum car park area, And I am really not sure if it is the very famous Harry Potter movie bridge. But while we were there, I saw a lot and lot of people clicking pictures of the bridge and I assumed it is what people thinks. I am yet to validate that 🙂

For the harry Potter Fans- Loch Shiel is the location of the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the film versions of the Harry Potter series.

Few pictures I clicked on my phone, it was raining in between so pictures might not have come great.

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Mussoorie Hill Station

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Mussoorie in 1860

Mussoorie in 1860

I used to live in Northern Plain parts of India, where in the scorching heat of summers , people rush up towards northern hill stations of India to get some much needed relief from the heat. Our family also had our favourite destination for each summer and that was call Mussoorie. A very popular summer retreat among Indian travellers from the British Raj in India. This hill station which was once accessed only by the high class Indians and British Governors is now accessible to every common man of India.

Without a doubt it was one of my favorite place too as we got the chance to visit Kempty Water Falls each year and dip ourselves in the water, icecreams  and many other joys.

Mussoorie is situated in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, is also known as the Queen of the Hills. The name Mussoorie is often attributed to a derivation of ‘mansoor’, a shrub which is indigenous to the area. Mussoorie is also a house of hunderds of Tibetans who practice Dalai Lama practices here everyday.

Tourism is the bread & butter for Mussoorie economy, so over the years a lot of natural beauty has been commercialised to reap those benefits. Some of the popular tourist places are:

Mall Road- Every person who visits this hill station will pay a visit to Mall Road. Basically it is the busiest high street selling handicrafts items, clothing, perfumes, street food and many more things. During the tourist season, a bit of over priced.

Kempty Falls- Very very popular during summers and over crowded as well. You can stand under the fall (which I have done a number of times), and relax in the water.

Lake Mist- A boating point and picturesque.

Looking for some tranquality and peace, a lot of famous temples and lodges in the wood.

Nag Devta Temple An ancient temple dedicated to Snake God Lord Shiva.This place provides an enchanting view of Mussoorie and the Doon Valley.

Sir George Everest’s House Park Estate is where one can find the remains of the building and laboratory of Sir George Everest from 1830 to 1843. It is after George Everest that the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest is named.

Cloud End This hotel is surrounded by thick deodar forest. The bungalow, built in 1838 by a British major, was one of the first four buildings of Mussoorie and has now been converted into a hotel.

Mussoorie is a beautiful, calm and serene place, but one might have to find it away from the crowd of tourists.

"Panoramic view of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand" by Michael Scalet from India - Mussoorie

“Panoramic view of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand” by Michael Scalet from India – Mussoorie

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“Himalayas at dusk from Mussoorie, Uttarakhand” – by Nagesh

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Mussoorie – By Rajat Vas

 

 

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WPC: Serenity – Less Travelled Routes

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All you need is an eye to capture the serenity. I find it on the less travelled routes, hiking through the valleys, crossing the broken bridges and a desire to be at the top of the mountain to see the captivating nature around me.

Picture taken during my hike to Kinder Scout Peak in the The Peak district.

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

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/

Back to Scotland!!!

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I guess sometimes the greatest memories are made in the most unlikely of places, further proof that spontaneity is more rewarding than a meticulously planned life

It is going to be a long post as opposed to my normal way of writing small ones, So bear with me my people 🙂

It was the Christmas eve, we had a yummy, rich and heavy lunch of roasted lamb, gravy, baked parsnips & carrots, potatoes, veggie balls, prawn cocktail, champagne and Christmas pudding!!! I am already salivated with the thought of that drooly food 🙂 After this heavy meal, we cleaned up and sat to listen and groove.

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Well the post is not about what I ate for Christmas celebration, instead the story starts now.

My Husband (Ash) says all of a sudden – Let’s have breakfast in Scotland tomorrow, to be specific Edinburgh, at 11.30PM. And taking it as a joke we said Yes in uniformity and wore the jacket, put the shoe and headed out to our car. We sat, Ash started driving and what was racing in our mind- Aaah It’s the brandy in pudding speaking and after 30 mins we will be back home. But that did not happen and Ash kept on driving , it is then we realised Man we are going to Scotland, a 800 miles drive without any hotel booking, no extra clothing, no tooth brushes. Literally what we had- what we wore, a couple of us had their wallet (thank god)

I got super excited, a spontaneous & unplanned trip. I wanted to see how we will be managing all this in the season of bitterly winters and when we are on a real tight budget. The excitement gave everyone a high and we were already on this amazing trip.

Toddy & Hot Chocolate were a must for Minus Temp :)

Toddy & Hot Chocolate were a must for Minus Temp 🙂

Around 4AM, all of us started feeling sleepy (after effects of heavy meal and champagne), with no accomodation booked and everything pricey due to Christmas season, we stopped over York to stay in a YHA dorm room for £13 pp/night. Can you believe it? God Bless the guy at reception who entertained us at 4.30am in the morning and allotted us a room. We went In and slept like a log for next 4 hours. Got up early morning, with no brushes or facewash, we had to skip those rituals and replace it with a rinse. We had to have breakfast at Edinburgh as per the plan so had a coffee and went on driving to Edinburgh.

Coffee at YHA, York

Coffee at YHA, York

After driving for next 5 hours, Yey we reached Edinburgh- not for breakfast but for Brunch, Well who cares!! As long as it is a good meal in a beautiful historical city, all is well 🙂 Then we booked another hostel for the night and started to venture out pubs of Old Town Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a such a gorgeous city, with its untouched poised Victorian and Georgian architecture, those Gothic churches and beautiful town hall- it looks splendiferous. We went for a pub hopping, some visit pubs of the Ediburgh are :

The Last Drop (A haunted pub as per the stories)- http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thelastdropgrassmarketedinburgh/

The Three Sisters- http://www.thethreesistersbar.co.uk/

Guilford Arms- http://www.guildfordarms.com/

The World’s End- http://www.worldsend-edinburgh.co.uk/

Also visited Edinburgh Winter wonderland, It was a blissful experience.

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We called it an early night, as while drinking another plan took birth and that was for me. I wanted to drive to Scottish Highlands, see the snow and get my eyes all glorified with the beauty around. Next morning 5am we left for Fort Williams, one of the most beautiful drives of my life. Once you entered Highlands, what you see is Snow capped mountains kissing the sky, frozen lakes, bridges covered by Snow. It was a beautiful sight, a sight that could bring tears of happiness in your eyes. We just had a random destination post code of Fort Williams that was picked by our Sat Nav, we were not destined for a particular arrival.

 

We turned the car where we felt the road ahead will be beautiful, we stopped the car where we felt I want to get down and capture this sight in my eye. It was a spontaneous trip with spontaneously created memories. While taking one of the turn on the road we saw a sign board for Nevis Range Gondola Trip, and who could stop us. We took a ride to 300ft up to 2150ft on the north face of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain. Played in the snow, took pictures and had an amazing Mountain Hot Chocolate at the Cafe on the mountain.

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Now I am back into my world after having to drive 1200 miles for a breakfast and breath-taking view, and everything was worth it.

Beddgelert Village

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Here is another one from my Wales series, an another quaint and poised village, famous for it’s stories or myths, it’s mystical beauty – Beddgelert, the english meaning- Grave of the Gelert.

There are a number of stories associated with it’s name, some people believe that those stories are fictional and have been created just to lure tourist to this place, on the other hand some people believe it’s true. For me I guess it’s the stories and the google images of the villages that caught my attention and lured me to this another beautiful landscape of snowdon mountain ranges.

I will not forget to mention those stories for my readers here, so one of it goes like this- once upton a time Prince Llewelyn ap lorwerth sets out for a hunting trip, leaving son in charge of his dog Gelert. On his return he sees do with blodded paws, child no where to be seen. In rage he killed his dog, but later hear a baby voice crying inside the jungle. He finds out the baby alive with a dead wolve next to it. So dog had actually saved his kid and performed his duties as expected. Another story states that the village got its name from a great saint.

If you are planning to visit this little beautiful village, other than a village stroll do make sure you keep time in your itinerary for a round walk of the village through Afon Glaslyn (river Glaslyn), onto the mountains and valleys, crossing industrial area and brings you back to the village. It is a moderate walk with mostly even or flat walking area. Its 8miles walk and I feel a must do 🙂

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