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ICELAND DAY 3

July 10, 2017

My favorite photos from this trip are of this beautiful flower field and church in Vík í Myrdal. Next stop, Reynisfjara Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Iceland with its black sand and rock formations. The beautiful waterfall is Rangárþing eystra. Loved walking close enough to feel the powerful mist. A campsite is located just a few feet away. I concluded with my list of favorite places in Iceland.  You might want to add to your travel bucket list!  Enjoy!

Favorite destinations in Iceland:

  • Bruarfoss Waterfall
  • Gullfoss Falls
  • Secret Lagoon *Admission $27 per person for swimming. Food, lockers, & bathrooms available. (Less crowds and cost than Blue Lagoon.)
  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Waterfall. * Ability to hike behind the falls. Bring a waterproof jacket and shoes.
  • Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, Þórsmerkurvegur
  • Skógafoss Waterfall
  • Solheimasandur Plane Wreck *1 1/2 hour roundtrip from parking lot to wreckage. Sadly site is being destroyed by tourists.
  • Dyrhólaey Arch
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Reynishverfisvegur, Iceland
  • Reynisdrangar View, Iceland
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur    *Canyon in south east Iceland up to 100 m deep and about 2 kilometres long, with the Fjaðrá river flowing through it.
  • Skaftafell, Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Jökulsárlón Skaftafell National Park

xoxo

A

Travel

ICELAND DAY 2

July 10, 2017

Skaftárhreppur, with beautiful waterfalls along the road and hikes to even more spectacular ones. These photos depict such incredible scenery!

We pulled over on the road so I could take the following picture. This rocky area is what covers most of Iceland and can be seen for hundreds of miles while driving.

xoxo

A

Travel

ICELAND DAY 1

July 10, 2017

My 23rd birthday weekend adventure in Iceland!  Although, I experienced a short layover here back in April, there was no time for exploring.  However, this trip was scheduled during their 24 hours of daylight. This allowed us to tour into the night hours, thus extending our weekend vacay.

Iceland is difficult to describe. The main cities remind me of Europe, the countryside… a mix of Kawaii and Ireland (with LESS people)..and the weather, unpredictable. One minute, it’s sunny 50 degrees  (their warm summer) and the next, windy and rainy.

Our first destination pictured was Bláskógabyggð. Glad to have GPS with names like this!  Although not pictured, our second stop was Flúðir home to Secrete Lagoon Hot Springs. Comparing this to the Blue Lagoon that Iceland is famous for, I prefer Secrete Lagoon. Blue Lagoon is larger, nicer facilities and future home to a 5 star hotel, but it also has the crowds. Secrete Lagoon is Iceland’s oldest, authentic swimming pool, and a great traditional, less crowded, Icelandic experience.

Last up is Jökulsárlón the Glacier Lagoon. This is the furthest point up the coast we ventured. This glaciers are GORGEOUS. Remember, this is SUMMER in Iceland. This lagoon flows into the Atlantic Ocean and leaves huge chunks of ice on the black sand beach. After visiting this lagoon, head across the street to the beach to see the ice on the shore. Surely not tempted to swim in that water!

Stay tuned for Iceland..Day 2 🙂

xoxo

A

Travel

EUROPE ITINERARY + ICELAND

May 10, 2017

Looking for a whirlwind trip around Europe? I have the perfect itinerary that allows you discover 5 countries in 9 days. Based upon low cost airfare, we flew in and out of The Netherlands and road tripped through Germany, Austria and Belgium. My scheduled date was based upon the tulip festival in the Netherlands which occurs mid April lasting 8 weeks. Since there was extensive driving required, we traveled into the evenings with late hotel checkins.  Thus how we were able to began most days in a new country.

Tips: When traveling by car through Europe, check on available parking and be aware of high rates.

Day 1:

       Departure LAX  (Flight duration 8 hours 45 minutes)

       Arrive Iceland 1:35pm – layover 1 hour 35 minutes

       Depart Iceland at 3:10pm (Flight duration 3 hours 20 minutes)

Day 2:

        Arrive 8:30pm in Amsterdam

Day 3:

      Amsterdam > Destination: Bruges, Belgium (2 hour 30 minute drive)

Activities:

  • The “Ten Wijngaerde” Béguinage (24-30 Begijnhof, 8000 Bruges, Belgium). The only preserved beguinage in the Belgian city of Bruges.
  • The Markt (Markt, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) The heart of the city. This includes medieval  architecture and The Belfry tower.
  • The Belfry  (Belfort, 7 Markt, Bruges, Belgium)
  • Rozenhoedkaai (Rozenhoedkaai, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) A famous corner area in Bruges that is ideal for taking pictures and obtaining a beautiful view of the city.
  • Wander canals eating waffles and chocolate!
  • Eat dinner in The Markt square. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants to choose from.

Hotel Van der Valk Brugge-Oostkamp.

Day 4:

  • When in Belgium eat waffles!  We ate them for desert and at Chez Albert the next morning with fresh strawberries.

    Bruges Belgium > Destination: Eltz Castle Germany (3 hour 50 minutes drive)

  • Eltz castle is closed for part of the year so check their website. Open daily from 9:30am – 5:30pm.  However, we arrived after closing but still hiked and photographed this spectacular castle from the outside.

Hotel Villa Vinum Cochem.

Day 5:

Hotel Villa Vinum Cochem > Destination: Reichsburg Castle, Cochem (4 minute drive)

Destination: Hohenzollern Castle (72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Germany) (4 hour drive)

  • Purchased tickets for castle but cash is required for parking and tram.
  • Destination: Neuschwanstein Castle (Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany) (2 hour 45 minute drive)
  • Entrance tickets are available only at the Ticketcenter Hohenschwangau in the village below the castle. Make sure to find the right tram since they have 4 different bus stops all going different places. Our bus to go up the hill came every 30 minutes.  However, we waited for a second bus because of volume of people.  Give yourself plenty of time. Tickets for the castle include a guided tour inside the rooms. Without a ticket, you can view the castle from a distant bridge.

Neuschwanstein Castle > Salzburg, Austria (2 hours 45 minute drive)

This whole day was unplanned. We headed south and discovered the beautiful town of Salzburg.

Day 6:

    Salzburg Austria

Things to do:

  • Mozart’s birthplace (Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg 5020, Austria)
  • Mozartplatz
  • Salzburg Cathedral (Domplatz, Salzburg 5010, Austria)
  • Salzburg Fortress (Moenchsberg 34, Salzburg 5020, Austria)
  • St. Peter’s Abbey (Sankt-Peter-Bezirk | off Kapitalpl., Salzburg 5020, Austria)
  • Wander the street markets
  • Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg.   Many tours and destinations to visit including Mehlweg where Julie Andrews sings the opening song in this movie.

Salzburg > Amsterdam (10 hour drive)

Day 7:

     Amsterdam

   Since we added the detour to Salzburg, we were unable to visit Giethoorn, Netherlands.  This is on my list if I return. However, we were able to visit a similar looking city Zaanse Schans, 25 minutes from Amsterdam. This neighborhood is known for its well preserved wind mills that can be toured. Besides the scenery, I enjoyed more delicious Belgium and Dutch waffles.

Zaanse Schans > Amsterdam City Center

  • Wander Jordaan Neighborhood known for its picturesque canals and houses
  • Walk through Centrum and Red Light District
  • I Amsterdam sign (Hobbemastraat 19, 1071 XZ Amsterdam)
  • Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam)
  • Flower marker (Singel 630 to 600 1017 AZ   Amsterdam)

The Amsterdam Flower Market is open Monday to Saturday 09:00 to 17:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 17:30. Market is located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein.

Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport (Rijnlanderweg 800, Hoofddorp 2132 NK)

Day 8:

Amsterdam

  • Keukenhof festival – Deemed one of the largest and prettiest flower gardens in the world.  Keukenhof goes back to the 15th century. Over 100 companies and 500 flower growers participate in creating the garden that includes 7 million spring-flowing bulbs. This year Keukenhof is open March 23 – May 21.
  • Viewed individual flower fields owned by local residents near Keukenhof.
  • Day 9

Fly out of Amsterdam > Iceland

  • With a  3 hour 50 layover in Iceland, we decided to leave the airport and explore.  This is not recommended unless you’re willing to plan every minute, your plane arrives on time, and are willing to run. I booked our seats in row 2 for an early exit with our carry on bags through customs. We then grabbed a cab on a 20 minute journey to Blue Lagoon.   Here we enjoyed a wonderful hour swim, fruit smoothie and two relaxing face masks. Due to its popularity, buy tickets ahead of time.  After the swim, we showered and quickly returned to the airport. Thankfully, we made it through security just in time for our flight.  Glad nothing hindered our departure.

And that wraps up the INSANE itinerary for this trip… 5 countries in 9 days.  Great trip but glad to be home!

xoxo

A

Travel

ZAANSE SCHANS

April 24, 2017

 

Zaanse Schans, a picturesque neighborhood in Zaandam best known for its windmills and quaint houses. Located 25 minutes from the center of Amsterdam, it made an ideal day trip.

xoxo

A

Travel

STREETS OF AMSTERDAM

April 23, 2017

Amsterdam is a unique city filled with bikes and peaceful canals. We spent a full day as tourists visiting the Jordan neighborhood, the floating flower market, Rijksmuseum and finally, the I Amsterdam sign.

xoxo

A

 

Travel

KEUKENHOF FESTIVAL

April 23, 2017

 Although one of the largest gardens in the world, Keukenhof in Holland is best known as the garden of Europe.  An average of 7 million bulbs are planted each year for this 8 week flower festival. By visiting while the tulips were blooming, a dream of mine has been fulfilled!  The following photos are just a minute portion of what can be viewed on these 79 acres of land. What I can’t share is the heavenly scent that engulfs this garden. 

After exploring the festival grounds, we drove through the town and discovered numerous farmers with their own gorgeous tulip fields.  Could you imagine this as your backyard garden???

xoxo

A

Travel

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE GERMANY

April 22, 2017

Last on the Germany itinerary is Neuschwanstein Castle. This is perhaps the most well known in Germany and the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle. The foundation is from 1869 and the towers  completed in 1892. The construction was delayed considerably because of the difficulty of working on a precipice. Personally I believe this was my steepest hike ever, but the view was extremely rewarding!

xoxo

A

Travel

ELTZ CASTLE GERMANY

April 22, 2017

Venturing four hours from Bruges into Germany,  we encountered my most favorite site of the trip Eltz Castle.  Years ago, this was one of my first travel destinations pinned on Pinterest.  During the Spring in Europe, the sun sets around 8:30 pm and remains light till almost 9:00 pm. How awesome is that!  We arrived  around 7:00 pm to an empty car park (closed at 5:00 pm) and started our hike.  Castles can typically be viewed  from a distance but up to 30 minutes into the hike, it still was completely obstructed.  However, the moment we turned around the last bend, we spied the most glorious picture. Peacefully perched  on the hill was this 850 year old medieval castle still owned by members of the same family that resided here in the 12th century. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed this magical creation.

xoxo

A

Travel

BRUGES BELGIUM

April 18, 2017

Just completed a 5 country whirlwind trip. Thats right, 5 countries in 8 days. I’ll post individually for each country,  then include a separate post with full itinerary for those desiring to duplicate my adventures.

First up, Bruges, Belgium!

This was the second  international road trip with my brother. We arrived in Amsterdam late Saturday evening and drove to Bruges early the next day.  We added this destination to our itinerary after hearing it was a favorite of our father.  Knowing he has traveled extensively, his choice intrigued us.  We were not disappointed.  Bruges is a small, quant city with cobblestone roads, curving canals, medieval architecture and delicious sweets. Hard to focus on anything but Belgium chocolate and waffles though.  Eating an authentic fresh Belgium waffle is an incredible experience. Such a tasty creation unlike those in the states. Within 8 days, I consumed 4 Belgium waffles and a Dutch waffle (half covered in chocolate and whip cream) with no regrets!!

I recommend the following sites:

  1. The Belfry and Markt –  A large open center outlined with restaurants in medieval architecture. There are carriage and fair like rides in the center. We enjoyed dinner with a sunset view.
  2. Ten Wijngaerde (Begijnhof Brugge) – This is the only preserved beguinage in Belgium. The women who live here have “semi- monastic communities without taking formal religious vows”.  In other words, a non commitment nunnery. This area is often visited for its peaceful flower garden and picturesque white houses.
  3. Canal ride – For the best view around the city, enjoy the canal rides.  A tour guide will instruct you on the history of this unique area.
  4. Sweets – Although chocolate shops are everywhere, I relied on Yelp for ratings. My favorites were Neuhaus and Dumon Chocolatier. For waffles, I recommend Chez Albert and a waffle truck located in the open square just a few feet away from Chez Albert.

Tip: Be sure to bring Euro currency for the small sweet shops and boat rentals.

Next up GERMANY!!!!!!

xoxo

A