26 May to 01 June 2011: England -> Ireland

26 May 2011 – Worcester

Finally we head off from London.   This is it, no turning back now.  First up is Peachley Leisure Touring Park in Worcester where we visit the local supermarket to top up before testing out the local pub.  There seems to be a theme to this motorhome travelling.  Anyway the weather is as usual (as it has been since we bought the motorhome) windy, wet and depressing, so we head back to the motorhome for a warm meal and glass of vino tinto. It would appear that a lot of people have made this campsite their permanent home tell-tale signs include garden sheds, walking stones, pot plants etc.

27 May 2011 – Holyhead, Wales

A relatively long drive to Ty Mawr Farm in Holyhead.  Again the weather isn’t the best, so we don’t stop along the way, instead finding the farm asap.  The farm is set on rolling green hills overlooking the beautiful bays and rugged scenery of North Wales.  We pull and plug into the electric socket and whilst Scott goes for a jog, I potter around the motorhome and enjoy some quiet time reading.  Eventually Scott finds his way back and the best thing with a motorhome as a warm shower inside – no more traipsing to ablution blocks etc.  We decide to go for a walk and have a look at the RSPB lookout sanctuary for Puffins, but alas every other type of bird but Puffins, I am beginning to think they are a myth.  We walk along to the lighthouse and the weather starts to get even worse, so decamp back to the motorhome and watch the wild weather come in over the seas.  Obviously not boding very well for our ferry crossing to Dublin tomorrow, but hopefully it will ease off somewhat.

28 May 2011 – Dublin, Ireland

We arrive at the ferry port at Holyhead and join the queue for the Irish Ferries crossing to Dublin Port, the closest port to Dublin. Irish Ferries advertises that they are the cheapest, but considering there are only two companies and they are both the same price etc not sure how that works!  I head into the terminal and get a copy of our tickets and we make a coffee and wait for boarding to start.  All very easy so far, the only difficult part appears to be that nobody will stamp Scott’s passport to show he has left the UK.  So hopefully we can track someone down on the Irish side.  Anyway the sign says rough crossing so I take enough Travel calm to sink a small army and after we board and head up to the deck area, I spend most of the crossing fast asleep.  Of course when I wake up, it turns out the crossing was smooth, hardly a ripple which is apparently a tad unusual for the Irish Sea. We get off the other end and drive around finally finding the Customs House and Scott is given a stamp – yeah, he has officially left the UK and his tourist visa.  We then set the tom-tom for the camp site at Camac Valley and head off through the motorway and street system.  However, we turn off the motorway at the wrong junction and Scott does the refuse to ask for directions manly thing. I eventually ring the camp-site and get directions which Scott decides can’t be any good so we do spend a bit of time driving through car parks until he gives in and follows the directions given.

We head to the local supermarket to get a few bits and pieces as well as some wine and beer to tide us over.  Before pitching camp whilst it was still light and pitch up in a nice spot with power and water.  Cooking a curry and having a glass of wine and settling down to watch a movie.  We don’t have a TV or satellite, so are using the laptop as both.

29 May 2011 – Dublin, Ireland

According to the tourist brochure, Dublin is one of Europe’s oldest cities, hmm they obviously haven’t been to Istanbul which is way older, oh well I am sure the writers of these brochures don’t let facts get in the way of describing the area. The tourist brochure also said the weather would be mild – instead we think it is exceedingly wintery conditions.

We jump on the bus from the campsite into Dublin and start on our tourist sites.  The bus lets us off at O’Connell Street, which is the main thoroughfare in Dublin and now home to the wonderful new artistic The Spire, which was built to celebrate the millennium and is a 120 metre spire. Not exactly scintillating and looking and some of the decline in this area, would have thought the money may be better spent on providing some sort of economic assistance to the shops. However, there are still lots of Georgian architecture intact and you can see bullet holes in some of the building’s columns from Irelands past troubles. We meander across the Liffey River and into the old part of the city along the old city walls and Dublin Castle, which is a tad disappointing, except for the gorgeous chapel what has a fantastic organ and some of the most beautiful stained glass windows we have seen for a while. We then bypass the model toy exhibition due to very nerdy people standing around and eventually head to the Guinness Factory. 

The doors to the hallowed brewer
The doors to the hallowed brewer

You can’t really escape it, as it seems to engulf a huge proportion of the city and every pub is a shrine to this beer.  We head into St James Park for the tour which is a self guided tour that you meander through seven floors of all things Guinness which includes the history from 1759 to today where some of the beer is still brewed at this site.  I don’t drink beer, so Scott has the opportunity to have my pint in addition to his own, plus we got a couple of samples along the way. 

Scott enjoyed this class.
Scott enjoyed this class.

So Scott does the Guinness learn to pull a proper pint class and gets a certificate and we continue the upward trek to the Gravity Bar where he recoups his final beer voucher.  I don’t see what all the fuss is about, it is strange stuff and doesn’t taste any better here. Of course Arthur Guinness was a busy man; he founded the brewery, created an empire and managed to have 21 children – a good catholic man! He was also a great business man, signing the lease for the Guinness site for 9000 years at a rent of GBP45.

On finally leaving the hallowed ground of Guinness, I find a lovely bookstore in Cow Lane, Temple Bar (The Gutter Bookshop) and spend a while browsing before we venture into Temple Bar itself.  Anyone would have thought we were in Scotland.  Ireland is playing Scotland in soccer and the Scots are out in force – never have I seen so many kilts in one place.  Even funnier is the Scots are wearing kilts etc with Irish hats.  The crowd is excellent and we have a drink and chat to a few of them.  We aren’t sure how many will make it to the actual game later on.  Temple Bar is in the Cultural Quarter and a maze of cobbled streets full of restaurants, bars, pubs, shops etc making it an interesting hodge-podge of sights.

We have missed our bus back to the campsite, so have to wait for the public bus and end up standing there with some of the people from the campsite this morning.  Eventually the bus comes and then takes the most convoluted trip back to our campsite, probably made more nerve wracking when you don’t really know if you are on the right bus.  People here just speak so fast, it is hard for us to understand what they say.

30 May 2011 – Dublin, Ireland

We caught the hop-on/hop-off red bus again from the campsite into the O’Connell Street and decided to stay on it today and see some more of the sights, but after sitting in traffic for what seemed like hours we got off at Trinity College which is Irelands oldest college, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is in the heart of the city on 40 acres, it is also the home of the Book of Kells which is a 9th century illuminated manuscript. Trinity College has some famous alumni, among them Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift.

We then walked around to St Patrick’s Cathedral is a huge landmark in the city and was also famous for having Jonathan Swift as Dean from 1713-1747 – okay for those that don’t know, he wrote Gulliver’s Travels. Handel’s Messiah was also sung for the first time in this cathedral.

We took the bus on a longer part of the route up through the main park in Dublin (Phoenix Park), past the Duke of Wellington memorial (which is massive) and past Dublin Zoo. Dublin Zoo is apparently famous for its breeding program of lions and tigers (most famous lion bred here was the MGM film tiger), not sure how it works as the weather is totally different. Anyway the bus-ride was absolutely freezing, so we jumped off and visited the Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield (or Smiffield as it appears to be called). We do the tour that takes you through the history of the distillery, unfortunately it is a bit rushed and you don’t get much time to take in the information. The Distillery is no longer used by Jameson’s and it is just an information centre. Scott was lucky enough to get picked as one of the whiskey samplers, so was able to have a few comparison tastes with other brands.

Yet more classes for Scott
Yet more classes for Scott

We managed to get the bus back tonight on time and did some of that boring house-work stuff that doesn’t end when you don’t have a house anymore.

31 May 2011 – Dublin, Ireland

Big day today and up early to ensure we are smartly dressed and have all the paperwork in place. We have an appointment at the UK Embassy for Scott to apply for his 2 year visa in the UK. So we jump on the bus and then gradually make our way up to the embassy. We were there an hour before the appointment but decide to go in on the hope we might get in early. After passing through some very strict security, we are number 41 in the queue; the number when we arrived was at 22. Good job we were there early as we would be even further along in the queue if we had arrived on time. Of course sitting there and listening to some of the stories you just think some people are having a laugh – alas let’s hope they don’t think so. Eventually it is Scott’s turn and he turns in the reams of paperwork etc and we now have to wait 15 days to hear if they will accept him or not.

Next up was a local pub near the embassy for a well earned and de-stressing pint and something to eat before catching the bus back into town via the Aviva Stadium, which is massive and something Perth should think about – a purpose built sports ground, radical concept.

On arriving into town we walk through Henry Street and have a look at a few prices which are much higher here than in London and then find a funky little pub called The Gin Palace where we have a snack and relax before we get the bus back to the campsite.  Dublin is a lovely city, except for the fashion sense.  There are way too many people in velour tracksuits and if you can’t tan naturally don’t apply fake orange tan, gross, however highly entertaining for us just to see how many combinations of tracksuits and high-heeled trainers you can get.

We are leaving tomorrow, not sure where, but somewhere J

27 April – 25 May 2011: London, Hampshire, Essex, packing up and heading off

A relatively quiet week was meant to beckon, but stupidly, very stupidly, well I just can’t explain how stupidly things happen.  On 27 April 2011, Scott and I signed up for ….. the 2012 London Marathon, well the ballot for a spot anyway.  Of course knowing my luck I will get a spot and Scott won’t and let’s face it, without somebody pushing my lardy ass I won’t do it.  So I spend the rest of the week in shock and listening to Scott coming up with a training plan for 12 months away.  Hmm need chippies and wine to contemplate all this.

29 April 2011

Monumental day for some.  Whereas Scott and I decide to spend the royal wedding day sightseeing.  Figured everyone would be watching the wedding.  And were we right.  At 11am we were on the London Eye just watching all the crowds, whereas we just wandered through the streets, going against the stream of people.  The London Eye is actually quite good, you get a map that tells you what all the buildings are and really gives you your bearings.  Should have done it earlier.  It is meant to be cheaper to buy on the internet, but it doesn’t save you much and you still need to pick up the tickets inside the ticket office.

After the London Eye, we head off to the Imperial War Museum.  This has a Holocaust Exhibition on at the moment and I thought it was incredibly moving and we ended up spending most of the afternoon there.  The exhibits are well maintained and vary from WWI through to more current wars. 

We headed back to the Morpeth Arms for lunch and a quick energy booster.  We found this pub just after we arrived in London and it still has a nice feel, good food and good staff.  We head back to Victoria and get a tube to Hammersmith and walk home along the river  If we had our time here in London again, we would live in the Hammersmith area as it is nicer, cheaper and more lively than Chiswick.

30 April 2011

Up early to pick up our hire car from Avis (Fiat Punto Evo Dynamic 1.4) as we are heading off to see some friends in Winchester (Susie, Jeremy and Alfie), but decide, as the weather is nice, to take a detour to the New Forest.  Seemed like a good idea – but in hindsight a bit stupid.  It was sunny and there are only a few roads in and out, these were the roads that everyone else was on.  Eventually we pulled off into a small village, found a pub (Waterloo Arms) with a beer garden and decamped there for a bit.  We then did a quick visit to the seaside (Lymington/Lindhurst) so Scott could dream about finding a girlfriend who liked packing up everything and buying a yacht to sail around the world in, before he came back to reality and we headed off to Winchester.  It was fantastic to catch up with Susie after about 15 years and meet Jeremy and her adorable 2 1/2 year old Alfie, who introduced me to Dr Seuss.  We were spoilt with food, drinks and company and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

1 May 2011

Well the beginning of May, omg the time has flown by.  We decide to visit the Submarine Museum near Portsmouth this morning and head off there.  There are three submarines to view – don’t know the details (Scott’s forte this section) but we do a tour inside one of the submarines and then wander around the other exhibits.  Afterwards we head to the Historic Dockyards in Portsmouth to see HMAS Victory, HMAS Warrior and Mary Rose.  Getting onto the boats is expensive, so we save our pennies, instead wandering around the outside and through the dockyards.  Fascinating place and I felt it was a shame that so much of it was taken over by shops and restaurants, the shops sell the same old trinkets that don’t have much to do with the things you even see there.  Anyway Scott loved it and we then went to a local pub for something to eat and to watch the world go by before heading back to London and dropping off the hire car.  I think we should soon be premier Avis customers, although would never hire or buy a Fiat Punto, very uncomfortable car to drive in and generally lacking in any performance capabilities.

2 May 2011

I am sure most people by now are getting sick of all the bank holidays, running out of things to do.  We decide to go for a walk along the waterfront and see what is happening, but things are very quiet.  Even though the weather is sunny, seems a lot of people are either further afield or at home.  We watch a couple of lasers ailing up the Thames and generally meander through the streets sticking our noses into some of the gardens and houses along the way.

4 May 2011

Off to see Rocket to the Moon at the Lyttelton Theatre at The National.  Been looking to this play for a while, gets a good right up and also stars Keelie Hawes from Ashes to Ashes.  We grab something to eat and head into the theatre.  The seats here are a 100% improvement on the last theatre, unfortunately the play was very long and quite boring.  We had purchased last minutes reduced price seats and it seems like they had put all of us in the middle section surrounded by nobody, very strange, you would think they would spread people out so the theatre looked fuller.  I am sure Scott nodded off at one point.  It also takes us ages to get home, so bit of a fizzer night really.

6 May 2011

I am actually taking my Friday off work and as the weather is nice we head into central London and go to the British Museum.  I went here years ago and can remember a huge egyptian exhibition, so am keen to see that and compare it to Paris and The Louvre.  The good thing about London is that most museums etc are free, so we wander into the fantastic opening for the museum, it is covered in glass and is just so light and airy, has a great feel.  Scott likes the fact that there are plenty of places to sit around, have something to eat and even get a beer!  We head into the egyptian galleries and Scott is disappointed with the Rosetta Stone – apparently was expecting something huge.  Whereas in reality it was tiny.  We then go through the exhibits and towards the end he asked when we were going to see the Elgin Marbles, I had to remind him we saw them at the beginning – again he was disappointed in the size of these.  We both agreed that the museum was lacking a little bit in some of their exhibts and after all these years I was disappointed.  We did find a lovely place called PJ’S Grill and had something to eat.  We walked down to Tower Bridge and caught the Thames Clipper (riverboat) to Greenwich.

We are seeing Proof at the Greenwich Playhouse tonight and after the theatre on Wednesday hoping it is a better showing.  On arrival it doesn’t bode well, the theatre is tiny and the box office isn’t open.  We had to go back a few times before we could get our tickets.  On going upstairs to the Playhouse there are two rows and the scene is amongst the audience.  I am sure Scott is going to kill me one of these days.  Anyway we settle in for a fantastic time, the play was good, the story good, it was great to be so close to the actors.  We were very pleasantly surprised.  This theatre has some great reviews of the productions they stage and would definately recommend it to anybody that is visiting London and wants to see fringe threatre at its best.  We were then not very pleasantly surprised at the 2 hour journey to get home on the tube.  Ridiculous.

7 May 2011

We are catching up with one of my oldest and best friends this weekend, but first head off to Cambridge.  The traffic is a nightmare and every road we go on is full of roadworks, make it a long and tiring drive.  We get to Cambridge to find that parking is at a premium, but eventually find a spot and walk into the old city, visiting several of the colleges (same set up as Oxford).  However, some of the universities I really wanted to visit are closed to examinations – very inconvenient, so we head along the Backs and watch people trying to punt – it looked bedlam.  We both felt that the town lacked the charm of Oxford.

We got back into the car and headed to Earls Colne to visit Nancy, Marc, Harvey and Mary.  We arrived to a fantastic welcome and loads of hugs and catching up.  It has been 11 years since I have seen Nancy in Australia and it felt like yesterday.  Scott was soon the big favourite by carrying the kids around upside down – he thought the novelty would wear off (hah!).  We spent the afternoon chatting, drinking more bubbles than good for us, having a great Indian takeaway and generally relaxing.

8 May 2011

Up late – this area is so quiet and the kids were obviously worn out and slept in as well.  We got up, played some more.  It is a lovely day with sunshine, although it did rain overnight, and then headed into the village to play in the park and have a walk around with Marc and Harvey while Nancy watched Mary pass her dancing exam. 

After some great fun on the swings, we headed to The Five Bells for lunch.  This was a lovely lunch spot and the staff were excellent.  So after eating our body weight in food, we walked back home and did some more playing.  In Scott’s case more walking around with the kids upside down before having to drive home.  Very sad.

11 May 2011

Back onto the culture trail tonight and we head off to the Globe Theatre to see Shakespeare’s Alls Well That Ends Well.  We have hopefully booked a seat with a cushion so with trepadation we finally get to the Globe, have a glass of wine and find out that yes we have a chair and cushion.  The Globe is designed around the original configuration so you either stand or sit on wooden benches.  I seem to have become accustomed to some sort of luxury, so am pleased I got the seats right.  However, we are at the side of the stage so that is a bit weird.  Wish we were in the box next door as the staff from HSBC were having champagne and canapes – things can’t be too bad in the banking sector.

13 May 2011

Well it is Black Friday and things have turned into a disaster.  After spending the week on the phone to Citibank, we find that because we don’t have a landline in London they won’t transfer our (yes our own money) to the company we are meant to be buying the campervan from.  It has taken them 5 days to tell us what the hold-up has been and understandably we are furious.  Instead we are now relying on ANZ to do the transfer over 4 days, so it looks like we may be homeless.  So as we then spend the morning cancelling bookings and tickets, I went to work for a few hours.  In the afternoon we decamped to the Bulls Head for one too many drinks to bemoan the uselessness of banks in Australia.  Even more annoying is that we have had to incur car insurance/breakdown insurance for nothing and we can’t change them, so fingers crossed the money eventually gets where it is meant to get and we soon have something tangible.

14 May 2011

Off shopping for the last bits and pieces of clothing etc that we think we will need over the coming months.  Things like Merrell, North Face, Mountain Hardware are very cheap here, so we stock up as we have a box going back to Australia, so replace a lot of things that were wearing out with some new stuff and sending back all my workclothes etc, so we have plenty of space in our bags.

15 May 2011

Back on the tourist trail and off to Hampton Court Palace, the home of Henry VIII.  We spend the morning trawling through the Palace and the huge gardens.  The weather was so nice yesterday, but alas today it rains and is cold – we certainly won’t miss this weather.  After  hours rambling around the palace, the gardens were disappointing, there are loads of aphids and bugs on the roses and some of the other plants, don’t seem to have been tended very carefully and weeding seems to have been ignored for a considerable length of time.  Eventually due to the cold, we decamp back to Kew and head to the Coach & Horses for a Sunday Lunch.  The pub is packed and they must have some new staff and it was a disaster getting the right food and drinks, very disappointing considering how many good meals we have had there in the past.

19 May 2011

Officially my last day at WorleyParsons, so now I am unemployed.  Can’t believe it has been nearly 5 months.  To celebrate the end of my working days I have a horrible cold and head home to bed.

20 May 2011

Yeah finally the money trickled through to our motorhome company and we head down to Kent to pick it up.  We spent ages with Graham from Select Motorhomes going through the home and how everything works, before we are given the keys, signed all the paperwork and now officially have a roof over our heads until Christmas 2011.  We tenatively leave the car yard and drive off to a local pub for a meal and a drink before tackling the UK roads and the motorway back to London.  Luckily with our apartment we have a parking bay in a secure complex, so we park the 6.3m long motorhome into a car space and start going through what we have and making a list of things we need to arrange and purchase.  The list seems daunting, but more daunting is actually finding the shops to buy things in – there isn’t a Bunnings here.

21 May 2011

We hit the shops with our list doing several trips back and forth to the apartment, shops and motorhome stowing and moving things around.  We have also had to pack a box which is being collected on Monday for Australia, so are taking the opportunity to sort out the huge amount of stuff we seem to have collected since setting up home.  Anyway many trips to the recycling center also follow and we eventually sit down at the end of the day exhausted.

22 May 2011

Up early as we are off to Twickenham for the London Sevens.  Scott has been looking forward to this for so long, I hope it is going to be good.  The theme for the games is “beach” but we give up as today it is cold and a bit drizzly.  However, there are many games played very quickly and plenty of things to look at and see.  It is quite a fun atmosphere and like previous Twickenham games is very biased towards the English who have a cheer squad (of the ugliest cheerleaders you can imagine who didn’t realise that the orange tan look isn’t no longer fashionable, if it ever was).  Anyway we stayed to the bitter end to watch Australia play awful rugby and deserve to get beat. 

23 May 2011

Our box is being picked up for Australia today, and we decide that we may as well give the motorhome a trial run, so we head off to Chipping Norton about 2 hours north of London to a lovely little campsite where we park up the campervan, unpack all our stuff and head on the bus into the local town to try out the local beers.  Scott is very taken with Hook Norton, so after one too many pints we stagger back to the campsite and have some dinner and gently chill out for the evening.  It has been a very windy, wet and blustery day.

24 May 2011

Heading back to London as the UK Visa agent has called and all Scott’s paperwork is being couriers to the apartment ready for our departure to Ireland.  So we can’t enjoy much more of the local scenery. 

25 May 2011

Last day in London and it is apartment cleaning time.  Scott and I firstly head off into Holborn to help  our my cousin and fix his computer if Scott can, before heading back to the apartment to do the final cleaning.  We are only eating in the apartment tonight and will be sleeping in the motorhome, so everything can be cleaned with a final inspection tomorrow.  Sad to leave our little apartment, we have got used to it and it is going to be a bit nerve wrenching giving up any form of stability and abode.

22 – 26 April 2011: Istanbul & Anzac Cove, Turkey

22 April 2011

Well we are off to Istanbul a major destination on our bucket list.  Have read loads about it, plus we will be attending the Anzac Day memorial at Gallipoli which Scott has wanted to do for years.  Istanbul just sounds amazing, originally settled by Byzas in 657BC, the city has constantly been inhabited by a variety of nationalities since and they have all left their mark.

We arrive at Istanbul Airport to be picked up and taken to the Ibis Hotel which is a short 20km bus ride.  Now we knew this hotel wasn’t right in the heart of the city, but had no idea how far away it actually was.  We checked in and booked onto the shuttle bus to the old part of the city.  We asked if we could be dropped off along the way and was told “yes no problem we could be dropped off before Taksim”, so we sat on the bus for nearly 2 hours going through Taksim and eventually getting dropped off exactly where the bus would have stopped in Sultanahmet.  The city of Istanbul is divided by the Bosphorus Strait (Black Sea and Marmara Sea) and divides European Turkey from Asian Turkey.  The traffic in Istanbul was amazing, it was almost gridlocked.  Lesson learnt!  Sultanahmet is a mega concentrate of shops, eateries and history all in the size of a postage stamp as well as being a World Heritage Site.  We found a lovely place to sit in the sun (it was warm when we left the hotel, but it was now getting very cold) and had a platter of meze which included humous, tomatoes, olives and the thinnest pita bread you can imagine.  Wow if the food anywhere else is like this, it is going to be a great place. 

Shopping and very contented pussy cats
Shopping and very contented pussy cats

We had a general wander around to get our bearings and see what else was happening.  There are loads of bazaars and beautiful coloured mosaics, ceramics, rugs – everything, may have to forgo the “buy a crap souvenir” and actually get something nice.  You are constantly drawn to the old parts of the city with the huge city internal and external walls and also the unforgetable sights of all the mosques and Topkapi Palace.

A small bazaar near the Blue Mosque
A small bazaar near the Blue Mosque

As it is Anzac weekend, the place seems to have been flooded by Australians of all ages, so there are some very lively pubs, but we ignore them and found a lovely restaurant, where we sat under a heater and had some wine/beer along with a fantastic fresh dinner, I had stuffed aubergines and Scott had skewers, along with vegetables and a wonderful apply tea for desert, not quite as good as The Snow Lion in Nepal, but up there. 

See the theme of Scott and beer
See the theme of Scott and beer

We met some lovely people, who were also there for Anzac services, before heading back into the cold air.  We managed to find a taxi and headed back to the hotel. 

23 April 2011

Up early and onto an early shuttle bus where we got off at Taksim, so we could walk back down through the hilly streets and get some pictures of the steep roads and also some of the architecture.  Taksim Square is the main square in this area and is on the European Side and supposedly the heart of modern Istanbul.  We stopped at the Galata Tower (build in 528 – see how excited we are, the architecture and city is just so old and fantastically maintained/resorted) and I thought it was all stairs to made Scott go up to take some photos, whilst I sat underneath and had a lovely local tea. 

All you can see are beautiful mosques every direction
All you can see are beautiful mosques every direction

On his return he said it was an elevator and not the 61 meter climb I was expecting.  So disappointed with myself could definately have managed an elevator.  We head off back back through the streets, walking over the Galata Bridge (built 1994 to replace the previous bridge built in 1910, which was built to replace progressively earlier bridges).  This bridge provides a stunning overview of the city and joins the two halves of Istanbul.  You get a fantastic few of the mosques that are atop the seven hills of the city and is also a hive of activity with ferries and boats.  The bridge is covered by people fishing, we didn’t see many people catching things, but it seemed like a nice way to pass the time, although how they manage not to snag passing passengers on ferries is beyond me.

Fisherman whiling away the hours
Fisherman whiling away the hours

Underneath the bridge is a maze of restaurants and stalls selling fish sandwiches – strangely neither of us felt like one of these as the fishy smell was just too invasive.  Next up on the itinerary was the Spice Markets and wow, they were just full of nuts, spices, cheeses, food – everything.  We tried a lot of the food and finally settled on some nuts and turkish delight to take with us to Anzac Cove.  I don’t like turkish delight at home, but here it is wonderful, not too sweet, but very tasty.  These markets were constructed in the 1660’s, originally being called the Egyptian markets as it mainly sold products from that country. 

Spice Market - decisions, decisions
Spice Market - decisions, decisions

We then went through the Grand Bazaar which is not as impressive as the Spice Market and seems to sell a lot of overpriced souvenirs, so we just scooted through, although with approximately 2000 shops, 64 lanes and the Suleymaniye and Beyazit Mosques this was no mean fete as it was a giant labyrinth. 

Grand Bazaar Entrance Gate
Grand Bazaar Entrance Gate

We were now officially a bit lost.  There are so many entrances and laneways it is hard to know where you are for sure.  We head where we think the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia Museum are, to be in the wrong area of town, so take the opportunity to do the long route stopping to have some freshly cooked chestnuts. 

Yum - there is nothing nicer than street food
Yum - there is nothing nicer than street food

It didn’t make a lot of difference by the time we got to these places, the queues were phenomenal, so we decided to try later and headed off for the Blue Mosque, which was now closed for prayer. 

Outside the Blue Mosque
Outside the Blue Mosque
Outside the Hagia Sofia
Outside the Haghia Sofia

After a lovely light lunch we wandered back towards the Aya Sofya (Haghia Sofia), which is Istanbul’s most famous monument.  Build in 537 it’s original purpose was as a church until 1453, then it became a mosque until 1935.  After 1935 Ataturk converted it into a museum.  There is a considerable restoration works underway and a lot has been lost in the intervening years.  However, you can’t help but be inspired by the gold mosaics that are so small and detailed. 

Inside the gold mosaics are just stunning
Inside the gold mosaics are just stunning

We wandered back behind the Topkapi Palace, which is immense and opulent.  It was originally home to Selim the Sot who drowned after drinking too much champagne, not necessarily a bad way to go.  The gardens the palace sits in is also beautiful and well maintained.  I stopped to grab a freshly squeeze pomegranate juice from a local vendor.

Hmm fresh juice
Hmm fresh juice

We called back into the meze cafe we went to yesterday and Scott had a Hooka while we snacked and grazed on yet more lovely nibble plates – somehow I don’t think you can lose weight here.  The food was similar to yesterday, but different enough to know it is fresh and the olives were fantastic.  Of course Scott enjoyed his Hooka and it was nice sitting back and watching the world go about its business. 

Scott enjoying the relaxation for once
Scott enjoying the relaxation for once

It was now getting late and we had a team meeting for the trip tomorrow, so we decided to get the train back to the hotel instead of a taxi.  On the way to the train station, we found an area that is full of seafood restaurants (next to Kumkapi Train Station) which all looked fantastic and have marked that on the list of places to come back too.  We found the train station, it was cheap, clean and frequent.  We got off at our required stop and took a wrong turn out of the train station, having to walk what felt like miles around the hotel, but it is a giant building site and eventually one of the guards let us do the short cut, which took us to the motorway where we walked trapped against a wall and oncoming cars – stressful.  We made it back to the hotel for a quick change, had a drink in the bar and then did the meeting to find out the details.  We headed back to the bar for a few too many drinks and then to bed.

24 April 2011

Up early today for the 8 hour drive to Anzac Cove.  The bus is comfy and we are soon all on board and barrelling out of the city.  It is a very agricultural scenery and we are soon near the coast.  Our tour guide tells us some history of the area and coastlines.  We do a couple of stops for food/toilets etc before arriving at the entrance to the national park, which is closed, so we all go for lunch and do some sightseeing to kill the time.  Visiting one of the Turkish monuments.  We have another go to get into the park at 4pm and made it through the gates, to soon be ensnarled in a traffic jam. 

Anzac Cove
Anzac Cove

It is a one-way system, but with so many buses it is slow going.  We get out and have a look at the trenches – it is now starting to sink in, that nobody in their right mind would have thought this a good place to land troops.  I doubt there are many english people here and nobody back in London seems to have the slightest understanding of Anzac Day and even what happened.   

The trenches at Gallipoli
The trenches at Gallipoli

We eventually start the long walk down the hill to get to Anzac Cove, stopping at some of the cemeteries and just appreciating the beautiful sceneary, I am sure 96 years ago the young troops never got a chance to even catch their breath.  We soon joined the throng to get through security. 

Anzac Cove - not much space to land the troops!
Anzac Cove - not much space to land the troops!

We made it through security who were very thorough and were given a bag by the DVA including beanie (to come in very useful), information on the event along with a timetable of all the things going on during the night, we had a wrist bracelet put on to say we had been through security and then headed into the melee.  Nearly every space of grace had been occupied so we headed up to the stands with others from the couch and put up some plastic sheeting, trying to make a little shelter.  It was a little disappointing not to get a spot on the grass, however, it doesn’t matter where you are going to be, it isn’t a comfortable night and nor should it.  We all raised concerns about the space available and how it would be managed for the 100th centenary – interesting times ahead for the organisers.   

The hills where the troops climbed
The hills where the troops climbed

It was only 6pm and it was getting cold.  We take it in turns to go for walks and see what there is to eat etc – it is very organised and although we were told to bring food, there seemed to be plenty, as well as places to buy cushions, blankets, water etc – yes it could be a bit pricey, but you are in the middle of nowhere.  We were considering nothing to be available. 

Bus L - getting settled in
Bus L - getting settled in

Finally the sun started setting on the cove.

Sunset at Anzac Cove 2011
Sunset at Anzac Cove 2011

It was about 8pm and it is now officially freezing and we are wearing everything we own and in our sleeping bags – only about 8 hours to go before the service. 

Me all rugged up with my Bulgarian muesli bars for dinner - thanks Jane
Me all rugged up with my Bulgarian muesli bars for dinner - thanks Jane

During the night we watch lots of video/movies/interviews about the event from both the Australia/NZ and Turkish sides which does pass the time.  There was a constant stream of people arriving during the night, so at least things going on helped to pass the time.   

25 April 2011

Then at about 4am, the band comes on and everyone starts to get organised and we are encouraged to wake up etc. 

Dawn Service - Anzac Cove 2011
Dawn Service - Anzac Cove 2011

At 06:15, dawn service started at Anzac Cove.  The service itself was good, as the cliffs were lit up and you are yet again reminded just how difficult this area was and impossible the task assigned.  It is certainly very humbling and moving and sadly you also realise it was meant to be the Great War, the War to end all Wars, if only people had learnt from the tragedies during this campaign.  After the service, it is then a very sombre 4km uphill walk along a trak to get to Lone Pine for the memorial service at 10:30.  Now I am sure this is very inspirational, but today the area is covered in grandstands and camera crews.  However, you are drawn to the Lone Pine. 

Lone Pine Memorial - Gallipoli 2011
Lone Pine Memorial - Gallipoli 2011

Not the original tree that was destroyed on that day, but another one that was planted afterwards.  We have the same MC who did the Anzac Service for the whole night before, who was really good and he went through what happened that day, the mistakes that were made by the allies in thinking the area would be minimally protected and the amount of people who died in the battle.  What a waste of very young lives.  Of course during the service, the weather seemed to get even colder and we were back into our sleeping bags.  Feeling bad that we were complaing about lack of sleep etc which was nothing compared to the Anzacs, Scott and I were going to go to Chanuk Bear to watch the NZ memorial, but decided to take some quiet time (and we were totally exhausted and cold) we walked around just looking at all the gravestones. 

Us in front of Lone Pine 2011
Us in front of Lone Pine 2011

The time ticked by and we met in the pre-arranged meeting point to get on the bus, which took forever, due to the number of buses.  However, we had been fully warned and prepared for the wait.  The good thing is that we had arranged to meet our bus slightly away from the main meeting place, so were organised and all ready to jump on the minute we saw it – even though we did walk down towards it as it was cold sitting on the hillside. 

A flower amongst all the memories
A flower amongst all the memories

The minute we were on the bus I think everyone was sound asleep, just keen to get back to the hotel for a shower and a bed.  We eventually made it back to Istanbul.  Now for the downside of the hotel – I don’t think they are used to large groups arriving at once as they just couldn’t handle the number of people and it took quite a while to get our room keys which was very disappointing.  We had a shower, grabbed a quick meal downstairs in the, again, seriously understaffed restaurant and bar and just headed back to bed.

26 April 2011

As part of the tour, we did a two hour Bosphorus Cruise and you realise that there is a very wealthy population in Istanbul, some of the houses and boats were just spectacular.  You also realise how big the city is and how much we still have not seen.  Good excuse to come back later.  After the cruise, we left the group and headed off on foot to see the remaining places on our list.  First up was the Blue Mosque which wasn’t closed for prayer this time.  This Mosque was buillt by Sultan Ahmet I to surpass the Aya Sofya’s grandeur.  I think it certainly does that, as it is spectacular inside, so peaceful and beautifully maintained and decorated – it was also free, so makes you wonder what some of the other churches do with their money. 

Inside the Blue Mosque
Inside the Blue Mosque

There doesn’t seem as many people about in town today, so we walked back through the park for Topkapi Palace.  There is a tulip festival here, so everywhere you look there are the most amazingly bright flowers, it just looks fantastic.  Everything is also clean and the people are really friendly. 

We head back into a market and barter for some bowls, a door number plate and some turquoise prayer beads before having a lovely meze plate in the sun.  We can both say this is one of our best city breaks and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

However, before you know it, it is time to get onto the plane and head for London.  On the plane we catch up with some of the On-The Go-Tour Bus L travellers and have a good laugh on the plane and on the tube afterwards.

12 – 21 April 2011: London

Well back from our wonderfully, albeit extended stay in Iceland, this week is fairly quiet.  We have some meals out at the local pubs and generally do some research on campervans/motorhomes, where to go and what to do once we finish up living in London on 27 May.

16 April 2011

Off to London Heathrow to pick up our hire care.  We have changed from Avis and trying Budget who were marginally cheaper.  We get there and eventually after a huge amount of paperwork (not sure why you need to fill it in on the webiste) and get the keys to a Peugeot 308 Verve Hdi.  Inside the car is filthy, don’t think it has ever been cleaned and the outside looks like it was cleaned with a muddy cloth.  Might have saved £5, but Avis certainly understands customer service.  We head to Cambridge in Kent to look at a motorhome and we put down a deposit.  We both really liked the look and feel of the home and it is available through a buy-sell back scheme which would save any problems with selling the campervan at the end of the holiday.  http://www.motorhomes-buy-sell-rent.com/prices/20k-30k/euramobil-635-2002-due-april-20th-2011.html

Hopefully our new home
Hopefully our new home

Of course one of the best things was an actual bathroom – no having to find somewhere along the way and I think this will be fantastic and because the toilet/shower and separate, we can hang up our wet diving gear without soaking everything else.  The other benefit is having a sepatate bed/lounge, so we don’t need to set up the bed each night.

Our new dining room/kitchen
Our new dining room/kitchen

Fingers crossed it all comes together.

So we then head back to Hampshire where we are staying at the Premier Inn as it is a friend’s surprise 50th birthday party.  We drive up to the hall to help do some set up and get reading for the big arrival.  Although I would be surprised if Sally didn’t have some hint something was going on.  But the look on her face when she walked in was priceless.  It was a great night and we got some great travel/dive tips.  Also topped off by the walk home where we came across a man being escorted by his girlfriend – we think he had had a few drinks as he was trying to walk with his pants down around his ankles and kept saying, his pants had fallen down.  Very interesting.

17 April 2011

The next day we dropped by Sally and Pete’s and catch up with the London Marathon news and headed to Windsor Castle. 

Poor guards - tourists like us taking photos all day
Poor guards - tourists like us taking photos all day

Last time we were here, it was too cold to do much, but today the weather was lovely, so we did the usual British thing and queues up to get in and see the sights. 

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

We did agree that it shouldn’t be called Windsor Castle, more like Windsor shopping castle as everywhere there are shops.  We did find out that if we got our ticket stamped, we could come back anytime in the next year, so we did that before heading out as there were a couple of places we wanted to visit within the castle that weren’t open at this time.  We then meandered around the town and had a nice lunch down near the waterfront at The George Inn, which had a nice beer garden, to enjoy the sunshine for once here, before dropping the hire car back at Heathrow and then tubing it back to Gunnersbury.

19 April 2011

The start of my manic period to see as much theatre as possible starts tonight.  We are off to the Theatre Royal in Haymarket to see the Terrence Rattigan Flare Path (starring Sienna Miller).  We had a drink in the watering hold next to the theatre – paying a wonderful £30 for 2 bottles of beer and 2 small glasses of wine – who said London was expensive!!!  We had booked last minute tickets and were seated almost on the roof of the theatre.  The play was really good, very enjoyable, lots going on and good witty dialogue.  However, the seats were shocking, I am sure they were designed to make you never want to sit there again and stump up for the expensive tickets below. 

20 April 2011

Scott has agreed to come shoe shopping with me – in fact he reminded me about it.  So we are heading up towards Seven Dials to the Birkenstock Store to get some summer shoes.  I am missing my shoes more than anything, so the excited it almost uncontainable.  I do resist buying too much and get one pair, with the hope to come back again (minus Scott) for some more.

7 – 11 April 2011: Iceland

7 April 2011

Up early and excited about flying to Iceland.  Neither of us have been there before and it just sounds and looks awesome in all the photos and information.

So we make it to the airport.  Due to flying Icelandic Air we can’t access BA Executive Club (Qantas Club), besides we haven’t been to Terminal 1 before, so it is a chance to wander around and see the huge array of shops, eateries etc.  Wish Perth would learn a few lessons from other airports, but we all know what Perth is like so no point in hoping for something vaguely interesting to be implemented.

We board our flight and are blown away – fantastic plane, huge space for the seats (and yes we are in economy), Scott didn’t even have to get up when I went to the toilet – yes there is that much space.  It is a budget airline, so no food etc unless you want to pay for it, but we settle in with our Lonely Planet and pick what we want to do, or try and do, in addition to Scott’s hope to see the Northern Lights.

It is only a three hour flight, so before you know it, we are landing at Keflavik Airport, quickly pick up our bags and head straight out to the shuttle service into Reykjavik – all very well organised and so far so good.  We had booked a City Breaks package with Icelandic Air, which included flights, hotel, the Northern Lights tour and the shuttle service between the international airport at Keflavik and the capital Reykjavik.

The drive was approximately 40 minutes and it felt like we were driving through a lunar landscape – huge lava fields, moss and the clearest water you can imagine.  We then arrived at Cabin Hotel, which was targeted towards the discerning traveller looking for a good hotel but at budget prices.  We were at the back end of a huge group of school children and were immediately in panic mode.  We fought our way to the front of reception, checked in and got our room key – there is nothing “good” about this hotel and as soon as we walked into the room, we quickly backed out in dread.  The room was tiny (and I mean tiny), it had twin beds, there wasn’t any room to put your bag anywhere and it was noisy.  I quickly headed back down to reception, and asked for another room, to be told – it is busy, there is nothing else and we are more than welcome to find another hotel!  So we grabbed our map and wandered towards the old part of the city, which was a long walk away and found a hotel (Foss Baron), who let us look at a room, which overlooked the harbour, was clean, tidy and perfect for us.  So back at the Cabin we grabbed our bags and left – what a start to the holiday.  I have since complained about the hotel, but did not receive any feedback (no surprise). 

View from our hotel window
View from our hotel window

We checked into the Foss Hotel, who changed our trip bookings etc, and walked into the old part of the town.  We were meant to be going on the Northern Lights tour for tonight, but due to the cloud cover etc it was cancelled and rescheduled to the following night.  It is very very cold and windy here today, but we walked into town.  There are several streets that are small and although open to traffic, there isn’t a lot around and the shops are a good variety of clothes, shops, bars and eateries along with art galleries and studios.  Most of the streets have a glimpse of Hallgrimskirkja, which is an immense concrete church (Lutheran?) 

Night view of the Church
Night view of the Church

The town is quite large with lots of shops, cafes, sites.  We headed to the Reykjavik Hotel/Restaurant so Scott could have an Icelandic buffet of seafood and I had veggie lasagne, which was surprisingly good. 

Scott is non-plussed about the beer
Scott is non-plussed about the beer

There is also meant to be an ice bar here, which he had a quick look into and the term “crap” came to mind.  It was a tiny room, where most of the ice had melted – even worse you had to pay just to get into the room.  Very strange.

Anyway, we had a couple of drinks in the other bar, before walking back towards the hotel.

8 April 2011

The Hotel does a buffet breakfast, so Scott attempts to eat his body weight in salmon and other fish whereas I stick with the fruit.  Today we are off to the Blug Lagoon at 10am.  The bus picks you up and drops you there, then you just catch any shuttle bus back into town.  Apparently the average length of time people stay here is 2 hours.  So the Blue Lagoon is touted as the Eiffel Tower equivalent to Paris.  It is set in a black lava field inbetween Keflavik and Reykjavik with the water being a milky-blue colour.  It states that it is 38oC, but it is definately hotter and cooler in different areas.  There was a constant rolling mist coming over the thermal springs when we were there, just giving it an other worldiness. 

We arrived and it was snowing and bitterly cold, but after running from the warm building we were into the fantastic warm waters of the blue lagoon. 

You feel like you are on another planet
You feel like you are on another planet

This is everything it is described as.  You are in the middle of nowhere and the water is warm (varying degrees of warm) and it is a whitey/blue colour.  We spent ages just floating around and putting loads of silica mud on our faces hoping that I came out of the water looking like a super model. 

Yep - super model material or what
Yep - super model material or what

Not convinced it will work – but hey, have to give it a go.  The water is rich in blue-green algae, mineral salts and fine silica mud, all supposedly to condition and exfoliate the skin.  I have also booked at salt glow treatment at 1:30, so we jump out of the lagoon and have something to eat, before getting back in for yet more silica mud and just floating around.  At 1:30, I head to the treatment area, which is still within the water and have a wonderful salt scrub and massage.  You are on a mat where you just float near the surface on a sort of floating lilo and then you are kept you warm with large blankets.  Weird feeling, but sooooooo relaxing, just floating while you are also being pummelled by the masseuse. 

Sadly it is over all too soon, and we are back to floating in the lagoon.  You don’t just have to be in the thermal spas, I am sure on a warmer day you can lie out on the wooden decks, plus there is a pumelling waterfall that Scott was particularly partial too, in addition there are sauna’s and steam rooms to keep you occupied. 

When the bar opens you realise there are quite a few others here as well
When the bar opens you realise there are quite a few others here as well

At about 3 they open the swim up bar for beers/cocktails, but after a whole day in the thermal springs, we decide to give it a miss and eventually drag ourselves out of the springs and head back to Reykjavik on the 4pm bus, definately getting our monies worth of the whole trip.  If you are heading there – note:  take conditioner and plenty of it, even after using the toiletries provided, my hair was like straw for days.

On the way back we decide to hire a car for the following day, as the weather is still raining and cold and we can get out of the city and head towards the coast line, so back at the hotel, the receptionist organises everything for us and we head out into the nightlife for dinner and drinks.

Another quiet night in town
Another quiet night in town

Reykjavik is meant to have a heaving nightlife, not sure if the global financial crisis has quietened things down, but there aren’t a lot of people around and we find a small little bar/cafe where we had some drinks and snacks for dinner whilst watching the Icelanders wander by.  There are some interesting sights of people and due to the cold nearly everyone is rugged up to the eyeballs.  We have stupidly only brought one pair of thermals each and are feeling the cold.  So fortified with drinks and food, we call it a night.

9 April 2011

We pick up our Hyundai i30 hire car (with Garmin gps) from Procar in Reykjavik and head off with our limited maps to go past the black lakeof Kleifarvatn and down towards the coast.  This area, although on the Reykjanes peninsula doesn’t seem to attract the tourists heading to the more extreme glaciers to the East and North of the city.  The first problem is remembering to drive on the other side of the road – something we need to get used to and also work out road names which aren’t in English.  Kleifarvatn is the largest lake in the Reykjanes peninsula.  It is a deep grey (black to us) lake with submerged hot springes and black-sand beaches and although it says the lake can be reached by a track, on the maps it definately is described as a “road”. 

The city is much bigger than we expected, but soon enough we are heading along the road – which suddenly becomes a non-road and the gps tells us we are off road?  It is bleak weather, the snow is coming sideways and we are almost blown off the gravel path on many occasions.  We are soon off the gps map and heading up into the mountains where the tarmac becomes gravel, becomes potholes and continues to climb.  We now have no clear idea of where we are except somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Kleifarvatn.  We feel like a million miles from anywhere.  Driving along the roads is amazing, the roads seem to have been carves through giant lava fields where the boulders have been covered in moss which go on fore miles.  We pass fish drying racks, some of which just seem to have collapsed, but you are reminded that fishing is what Iceland is famous for.   This area is meant to be covered in walking trails and we did see lots of signposts etc, however I would suggest the weather needs to be a tad warmer and not blowing a gale force wind to enjoy which I would suggest is fantastic scenery. 

We get to Kleifarvatn which is awesome, looks so fantastic with black water, black sand, black rocks.  Big downside was the wind which meant our car was soon caked in black sand, along with everything else we owned. 

Positively balmy
Positively balmy

 

 

 

We just out of the car for some pictures and a video, but it doesn’t do it justice.  

Not our idea of a beach resort
Not our idea of a beach resort

 

 

 

We continue along the twisting road which initially follows the lakeshore, before coming to Seltún. 

If only photos came with smell-o-vision
If only photos came with smell-o-vision

 

 

 

You can smell Seltún before you arrive there – it is a huge area of sulphur springs within a geothermal field.  The rain has continued, so photography isn’t fantastic, but we head out of the dry confines of the car following the path through the snow covered hillsides with wafts of steam and sulphur smells.  There is a wooden walkway (although collapsed in parts), which guides you through the area – be warned, it is extremely slippery in parts.  You do get close to the bubbling mud, but again it has an eerie out of world feel.  The Krisuvik valley has lots of sulfur springs, but we felt that Seltún was the easiest and best signposted/documented.  We then travel further up the road and stop at some sulfer springs.  Even though the weather is freezing we do a small walk around the area – with Scott deciding the best pictures can only be achieved when standing next to them and by ignoring the safety signs.  Oh well. 

This is the scenery we saw all day
This is the scenery we saw all day

We continue driving through the countryside and through some small villages, that you can’t even imagine what life out here would be like – this is almost summer but still everything is coated in snow and ice.  Then there is the wind which just goes straight through you and finally, the lack of roads, once you leave the main centre it is pretty much potholes held together with more potholes – glad it isn’t our car and that we also took out the additional gravel insurance.  We have now given up with the GPS it is a shocker – never buy a Garmin, or ensure that the maps are up to date and I am sure there are other things to check, but it was constantly wrong, gave the wrong advise and it spent most of the time sayign “drive 1.2 kms and turn around”.  We found a lovely spot in Selfoss for a warm lunch.  The one thing about Iceland is that food/drinks are very expensive, but it is good quality.

After lunch we decide to drive back to Reykjavik a different way and end up heading towards Blafjoll ski Resort.  The road was trecherous, you could hardly see due to the fog and then all of a sudden it said the road was closed, hmm, reverse out and head up another route to find that the ski resort was closed. 

Poor Scott - finding the car was even difficult in this weather
Poor Scott - finding the car was even difficult in this weather

The weather was by now even worse, you could hardly see a hand in front of your face – enough time for some photos before back into the car. 

Ski Resort?
Ski Resort?

Doing down the mountain to the main road, I just out and take a few photos of the lava rocks with moss and was absolutely drenched through and I am sure on the way to frostbite.  Anyway, once back in the car we decide we are not leaving the car again.  The weather has not improved all day, so we head back to Reykjavik.  We did however do a small detour to through the city and dropped the car back.  Had a long hot shower and as the Northern Lights tour was cancelled again, we headed back out for some dinner/drinks. 

The church in daylight (yes it is still raining)
The church in daylight (yes it is still raining)

The weather then decided to change and became clear, so we took some night photos along the harbour. 

Unfortunately with the night clearing, it also became even colder.

Reykjavik is full of art and sculptures
Reykjavik is full of art and sculptures

10 April 2011

Last morning in Reykavik, so we went for a walk along the harbour. 

The city
The city

The area is meant to have many bird spotting places, but due to the wind and crappy weather, they are probably rugged up warm somewhere else. 

The beach
The beach

We checked out of the hotel and got our shuttle bus (yep on time again) back to Keflavik Airport.  Now the fun started.  It was windy, very very windy, so just as we arrived, they started to delay flights.  No planes were taking off and only a couple landed, so we waited.  Eventually we decamped to the bar and Icealandic Air gave out food vouchers, so we had a comfy spot, some drinks, some sandwiches.  By this time, the people who had landed were still stuck on the planes, as the docking stations couldn’t meet the planes and they had the planes all stacked up tip to  tail so they wouldn’t blow over.  The Airport room sounded like it was going to blow off.  After a few hours, Icelandic air gave us vouchers etc for the Hilton hotel and we headed back into town for a luxury night in the Hilton Executive Club. 

11 April 2011

Okay the choice is be at work – or be here in Iceland.  Overnight the wind had dropped, but now it was snowing, so we stayed inside the hotel. 

Snow, snow everywhere
Snow, snow everywhere

Scott taking advantage of the constant supply of salmon and various other fish treats while we waited for our shuttle bus to take us back to the airport.  I am sure my boss didn’t believe me when I sent him a message about being delayed.