5 Dec 2016

Iceland Itinerary: The Golden Circle

*inserts photo of JW who has back-modelling potential*, Kerid Crater

When in Iceland, you've got to make a trip to the Golden Circle (if you have no time to take the ring road that brings you one round around the country). The Golden Circle consists of three stops: Þingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall, and Geysir. Some people may or may not include the Kerið crater. 

We started off the day from our airbnb at Selfoss and our first stop: Kerið Crater (pronounced as Kerid)
While taking this photo, I was getting slapped on the face by the strong winds blowing snow right at me. Never thought I would get to experience this but damn, it really hurts a lot. (I hope you don't  get to try it)
Went there, walked one round around the crater and that was it. Sounds pretty simple aye? Now include in strong winds which can go up to 65 km/h, that sweeps you off your feet when you try to stand straight while on the edges of the crater. Also factor in paths that are covered in ice/snow that makes it hard to walk. We look pretty glamorous in the photos all over our Instagrams and Facebooks, but in fact a lot of us were slipping/falling/toppling/struggling with every step we take haha oh well.

I am pretty sure that if I came here in summer, we could see greens around the crater. But we went in winter so, its snow and ice everywhere (Iceland, yes?) Everything around you is just covered in white, and after a few days, I swear it gets a little boring to look outside of your car's window. (Pretty sure I won't be saying this when I am back in Singapore)

Next stop: Gulfoss Waterfall
Ventured out to a closed-off area to get this photo. Wanted to sit by the edge but the winds were pretty damn strong, I think I'll get blown off if I did so.

This was the best attraction in the Golden Circle imo. Or maybe I just love waterfalls... It was a pity that the route that could bring us closer to the falls was closed as it was winter (ugh again...) and the road was covered with a thick blanket of snow/frozen when we looked down. We were pretty lucky as the day that we did the Golden Circle was more or less the ONLY day that we were blessed with good weather (rest of the days were just snowstorms/hailstorms/blizzard/strong winds/rain). 

Awesome weather = Awesome mood (I mean you could just tell from the smiles on our faces. We finally didn't have to struggle to smile in the middle of a snowstorm)

Final Stop: Geysir
"Geysir" consists of two geysers: Geyser and Strokkur. Geyser sadly doesn't erupt anymore as it was shut down by an earthquake (typical iceland again), but Strokkur still does. In fact, it erupts every 10 minutes and the (boiling) water jet can shoot up to 100 ft in the air! (stay far away from it when that happens pls) 

When we went there the roads are almost all frozen and the entire place (apart from the geysers) was just like an outdoor ice-skating rink. *slip* *fall* Plus the winds were savage. Sadly, we were turning into icicles before we reached half of the whole geyser trail, so we turned back to our car and made an attempt to get to Black Sand Beach before sunset (of which we failed) (lesson of sunk cost learnt).

But still, enroute to Vik, we were rewarded with stunning pastel coloured sunsets that we doubt we will get to see elsewhere. Attempted trip well-made still, I guess?

Oh and just in case if you were wondering where the photos at Thingvellir National Park went, we gave that a miss because of shitty weather and road conditions on the day before we did the Golden Circle. We attempted to drive to the National Park, but the main road leading to the park was closed, and we took this super long alternate route and had some hiccups along the way... We were so done by the end of the day and we just decided to head back to the Airbnb and rest.

But if you're interested, here are some of the sceneries you can see on the way!


28 Nov 2016

Bath Bombs

A stone's throw (or a 30 min train ride) from Bristol lies the beautiful township of Bath! Bath is most well-known for, duh, its Roman Baths. Since Sheri and I had so many days to kill in Bristol, we decided to take a day trip there! 

Bath Cathedral in all its full glory
We visited the Bath Abbey after a slight (random) downpour, and while we were about to leave, we spotted a rooftop climb of the abbey at the gift shop. 

"Go for it", whispered the voice inside my head. 

300 plus steps and many claustrophobic moments later, we reached the rooftop and was awarded with pretty astounding views of the surroundings. That marked the first tower climb we did on exchange... and trust me there were many more to come when we travelled to Italy in the following week.
The Roman Baths, imo, were pretty overrated. Worth a visit, but I would not pay that much to go back in again. 

The exhibits were quite amusing though, as there were some exhibits whereby there were faces of personalized cartoon characters on the wall, and you could key in their audio guide codes into your (free) audio guide, and they would tell you their own Roman empire living-stories in their own accents. It was quite hilarious and entertaining to listen to while just seeing ruins and stones and ruins and stones (repeat process for 30 mins).
We asked Sheri's Grand Aunt what's there to do and eat in Bath, and she highly recommended this "Sally Lunn Buns". Before I went, I was wondering how good can buns even get. But boy, I was so wrong.

The semi-sweet buns were buttered with creamy butter, and there was a wide array of toppings, sweet and savoury, to choose from. I opted for the smoked salmon and cheese. YUM. 

Apart from the food, there are plain buns available on the spot for takeaway. There is even a mini museum in the basement of the house explaining the history of the place. Make sure you look out for the "Faggot Oven"! 

Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House
4 North Parade Passage
Bath BA1 1NX
Opening Hours: 
Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm.
Sundays 10am – 6pm

Pulteney Bridge
We ended our day with a mini picnic at the lawn in front of the Royal Crescent. It is typical of the British architectural style to have these terraced houses laid out in a neat row, and in this case, a crescent! Sheri's aunt made us some freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning, so it was the right moment to bring it out and enjoy it while taking in the last views in Bath.

I remembered wanting to spend 2D1N in Bath but Sheri's aunt dissuaded us from doing so as she said "There isn't much to see there!". Yes and no, but we were kinda thankful that we didn't spend 2D1N there as there was not enough to see! All in all, Bath is a perfect destination for a day trip, and no more. AHHHHH I'M FINALLY DONE WITH THIS POST AFTER SITTING ON IT FOR MONTHS ok stop being such a lazy sloth MR. Till the next post~


13 Oct 2016

Bristol, A Stone's Throw Away.

Hola peeps! Pretty sure this first post pertaining to my first destination I made for exchange has been long overdue for a month. So here goes: Exchange travel posts! 

First stop: Bristol, England.

Fancy having breakfast in a Mongolian Yurt? Check out Yurt Lush! I had their full breakfast set,while my friend, Sheri, had their poached eggs on spinach and sauteed mushrooms.

Yurt Lush
Clock Tower Yard, Bristol BS1 6QH
Never expected much from Bristol Cathedral when we saw its exterior. But when we stepped in, I think we lost our jaws.  The church is so beautifully architectured – A typical Romanesque church with thick walls and little light coming through. What took our experience up a notch was the church choir whose rehearsal coincided with our visit. 

Nothing beats watching a choir in a grand cathedral and reminiscing those good old days I had in Poland and Austria touring with my choir, sigh.
In my opinion, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Avon Gorge area, is the best attraction in Bristol. 360 degrees all round good views. Don't forget to climb up the small hill on your right when you arrive at the suspension bridge! There is a small observatory that has steps inside leading to a small cave below bridge level. But we shuddered at the thought of climbing steps as we visited Clifton a day after climbing up the Bath Cathedral... So we skipped it.

Clifton is also surrounded by its beautiful villages around the vicinity. Alert, all hipsters. This is the place to be at, apart from Stokes Croft in Bristol. The village is littered with many novelty shops and chic cafes. Well, we struggled with ourselves a little when we stepped into Papersmiths.
 ... And we had tea at Anna when we returned to Bristol to collect our luggages. Do try their Sea Salt and Caramel cake. I haven't had good cake since I started backpacking around Italy, Berlin and Cornwall, and that just made up for all that I missed out.
At Sheri's Grandaunt's backyard
If you have too much time to kill at Bristol (just like us), why not get lost in the streets of Bristol without a map? We managed to get ourselves from Rupert Street, to College Green, to somewhere near the SS Britain, then down the waterfront.
When in Bristol, be sure to join one of those Banksy tours that brings you around, starting from College Green to Stokes Croft. I never regretted paying £7.20 for a tour as it gave me so much insights to street art, and it honestly made me appreciate the street art around me so much more. I never knew there were so many different kinds of street art: stenciling, free-hand, e.t.c. So when you're in Bristol, go for it. You won't regret it! Sherilyn and I booked our tours from Wherethewall

I really liked Bristol because how everything is so close by one another. There's hills, rivers, waterfront, artsy stuff – There's something for everyone. There's even Asian supermarkets. 

I mean, everywhere IS better than Hatfield, where our main attraction is the University, then next up, ASDA. 

Exchange life has been so-so up till this day. Still getting used to how there's nothing much to do here apart from cooking dinner, having extended post-meal conversations with the NTUxHERTS peeps, rushing assignments, drinking, partying or playing sports with friends. I swear I don't even play that much sports back in Hall as I was mostly involved with the performing arts stuff, and it still feels really weird having no commitments whatsoever. And the only things I have to worry about is whether I will miss any submission dates, whether I can get to travel during the semester, what to cook for dinner, whether will I go broke from travelling.

I guess I need to get used to this easy game easy life thing. But still, am really glad for the company of the NTU peeps here :')

Till next time (which is very soon),