Idyllic Iceland with a Whirlwind England Road Trip

August 21, 2014 at 11:55 am (Travel)

It’s hard to believe that the first three weeks of my Summer holiday are already over!  Time definitely goes fast when you are having fun.  At the moment I am back in Darmstadt for five days and trying to organise myself before my next trip to Spain.  So far this has basically been me lazing about in bed reading my book… I guess that is also what the school holidays are for.  🙂

IMG_1163After a cancelled flight and a night in a Frankfurt airport hotel I finally arrived in Oxford to visit Suzie and John.  We had a lovely weekend which involved shopping, good food, a 10km race and relaxing in the Roman Baths in Bath.  As always, the perfect start to my holidays.

On the Monday I picked up mum from Heathrow airport and our whirlwind road trip began.  In the next nine days we visited Nottingham, Scarborough, Newcastle and Wales.  It was lovely catching up with everybody and I particularly enjoyed my time in Scarborough and Newcastle.  In Scarborough I managed two amazing runs, an ice-cream at the Harbour Bar and most excitingly a ride on the little train with Isla and Dylan.

In Newcastle I also managed two runs along the sea front and I got to finally catch up with Brook.  I hadn’t seen him in just under five years and it was just brilliant spending the day with him.  He even came for a run with me on the Sunday!  We visited Durham Cathedral and I placed a Lego brick on the model of the cathedral that they are building to raise money.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the road trip mum (and a spontaneous quick pit stop at Suzie and John’s for a barbeque)  it was time to fly to Iceland.  This was my 30th birthday present from mum and it was absolutely amazing.  Iceland is very difficult to describe in words (cold does come to mind though).  The landscape is simply stunning and very different to other parts of the world I have seen.  If you look at my photos I am sure you will know what you mean.

We flew to Reykajavik and the next day began our six day walk from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk.  This route is called the Laugavegur-Trek and was just amazing.  We walked through lava fields, saw glaciers and waterfalls and even sat on top of a volcano.  Mum saw an ice cave but unfortunately I missed out as I had to spend a day driving with the supplies man after being sick the night before.  We had freezing cold river crossings but were also blessed with the weather.  There was only one day of torrential rain.

IMG_1183IMG_1267The highlight for me was on the last day.  We had done a short walk to the top of a mountain for a stunning viewpoint and had lunch there.  When we got to the bottom Tim and I decided to do the walk again in reverse but run it instead.  It was hard work but the views and the satisfaction I got for getting to the top were absolutely amazing and worth every strain on my poor muscles.  It was so much fun running down too!

Mum and I had two full days in Reykajavik before flying out.  On the first day we visited the only penis museum in the world.  Then it was mum’s turn to be sick so I spent a couple of hours wandering around the city.  It’s not like any other capital city I have been too, more country-like but with it’s own unique charm.  In the afternoon we went to the local swimming pool and chilled out in the geothermal heated water.

IMG_1315On the last day we went on a tour that visited the three main attractions of the Golden Circle – Geysir hot springs area, Gullfoss and Thingvellir National Park.  Watching Strokkur (a geyser) was just captivating.  Strokkur takes off around every six minutes and both mum and I were completely amazed at the build up.  The water would bubble in anticipation before making a huge bubble.  Often it would trick us, but when it went a beautiful blue we knew it was going to blow.  Simply spectacular.  Gullfoss (the golden falls) was a lovely waterfall but as mum and I have both seen many huge waterfalls we weren’t quite as impressed as the other members in our tour group.  Last we visited Þingvellir National Park, which is the site of the first ever parliament in the world!  It is also where the Euroasia and North American tectonic plates meet.  Therefore it also referred to as rift valley.

Þingvellir National Park is also the only place in the world where you can snorkel and scuba dive between two tectonic plates.  Mum was very taken back by the coolness of this possibility and decided that we were going to do it.  This was all fine and dandy until about five minutes before we were about to get into the water.  There we are, all dressed up in dry suits and wetsuits over the top and suddenly mum remembers that last time she went snorkeling she had breathing issues!  Completely at her limits mum managed the 35 minute snorkel.  It was absolutely amazing but both mum and I agreed that it was way too cold and therefore too long.

Our snorkeling route

Our snorkeling route

Exhausted after our outing mum and I were determined to find food close to our lodgings and were rewarded with a quite unique experience.  We managed to chance upon a hot dog shop whose main business was ice-cream.  While eating our dinner we marvelled at all the exciting ice-cream creations everybody was making as the small shop had a steady supply of customers.  First they chose whether to have vanilla, strawberry, chocolate or strawberry and chocolate mixed soft serve and then they could have their ice cream dipped in either chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or caramel.  Next they chose their topping and the ice-cream was completely covered in it.  There were SO many choices!  I had vanilla with chocolate covered in snickers mix and it was delicious.  Quite difficult to eat though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter returning to London we continued to be busy.  On the Friday we visited the Harry Potter Studios which were fascinating.  It was pretty cool seeing all the sets but even more interesting to see how much detail and hard work had gone into the costumes, sets and make up.  You didn’t even need to be a huge Harry Potter fan to make the Studios a worthwhile experience.  After Harry Potter we went to the Proms, where we particularly enjoyed Straus’ ‘Ein Heldenleben’ played by the Scottish Orchestra.  On Saturday we spent a lovely day with Jonathan visiting London Beach, Borrough Market and seeing ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime’.  It was my second time seeing the play and it was still absolutely brilliant.  Sunday we visited mum’s cousin Frances’ London getaway… Fen Farm.  I have heard so much about Fen Farm over the years that it was lovely to finally visit.  We spent the day picking fruit and were treated to a delicious roast dinner.

Sadly, on Monday it was time for mum to head home but I still had one day left which I used to catch up with two friends.  First I saw new Londonite Luke, who I don’t think I had seen since high school.  Afterwards I met up with Debra and we visited a wedding dress exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum.  We then met up with her friend Kerry who I had met when I saw them both in Frankfurt.  It was an absolutely brilliant way to finish my holiday and it was great catching up with all three of them.

Which brings you all up to date.  I have a hockey tournament on Sunday and then it’s off to Barcelona on Monday.  Fingers crossed the sun is shining there.


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