Learning How to drive in Ireland

After a great week in Iceland where Gate 1 was in charge of our vacation and we just enjoyed it, we were about to start a whole different experience in Ireland. We landed at Dublin in the morning, got our rental car and with GPS in hand we were off to go to the city. The excitement started going like three times around on our first roundabout after leaving the airport. That warm up my husband to be over conscious about driving on the right seat. Once in the city it took us a few loopy loops around the area to find a parking. Although we started to feel the pain of our adventure we were excited to walk around, eat in am Irish pub and get some traditional food.

After tummies we’re full we visited our first castle of this trip, Dublin Castle. We took a tour, I highly recommend, here I learned the difference between castle and palace. Dublin castle is two in one.

We fell in love with the city, the energy and the movement of people throughout the streets. But energy was exactly what we were lacking in the afternoon. We had a long day after traveling from Iceland early in the morning. Still we were needing to drive to Limerick that was the place we were staying, so we had 2 and half more hours to go. Around 5pm we left Dublin but leaving that area was a little bit stressful because of the traffic and our tension of not taking the wrong turn because for us was completely new driving on the right seat of the car. Once we got into the highway was a sweet drive. Beautiful mountains, tower ruins everywhere, lots of green view. We got to the hotel around eight at night, we rested well and the next day we were off to go. I will tell you what we did on the next post.

Tour group versus traveling your own adventure

I love to travel, and until now I always had created my own adventures which require a lot of work before traveling. I enjoy putting the puzzle together. Experience had thought me, that even though my husband and me enjoy our freedom when traveling, also is exhausting at the end of every day. For once I wanted to experience traveling without any effort from my part. So here is our experience in Iceland and Ireland. Two magnificent destinations with two different approaches on our vacation.

Iceland

We started our adventure getting earlier to the airport at Reykjavik,  than our Gate One tour group. Gate One called me the previous week to advise me that our tour guide was going to be at the airport around 7 a.m. , our flight landed close to 5 a. m. . We found a very up beat coffee shop ready to serve to all those passengers, including us, getting off the plane at that lovely time in the morning.

Around 7 in the morning, we looked for our tour guide and we encounter few Gate One tour guides with their sign up waiting for their guests. We went one by one until one of them found our name in her list. She gather the rest of the group and soon enough we were in a very comfortable coach bus on our way for breakfast at Harpa Concert Hall and a full day itinerary. There was no time to rest, but while the driver was driving and our eyes close involuntary. I think that was one of the greatest things of not been in charge, I didn’t have to worry where to go, they just took us.

After breakfast we tour a little bit Reykjavik

After touring a little around the city they drove us to the hotel at Hella that was out of the city, basically  in the middle of nowhere. Finally we were able to rest and later we met for dinner with our tour guide and the rest of our group. Our room was very simple and rustic, but very comfy and warm. I loved the super hot water!

The next day our adventure started with included breakfast at the hotel. Our bus was waiting for us perfectly on time. Jorge and me were one of the first ones and we got the front seats. We loved it because we were able to see everything like in 3-D. We toured along the South Shore. The scenery was fill with spacious white valleys and mountainous horizons. On our way we saw one of the most famous volcanos Hekla, the country most famous volcano and Eyjafjallajokull volcano. We stoped at two different waterfalls, they were both beautiful. It was a great experience but because we were on a schedule we didn’t have much time to stay in each. Also we have to consider been on time at the bus because we were not the only ones in the group. Its incredible how organize the tour guide have to be for not to loose any one. Not everyone follow instructions.

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We visited that same day a museum of how life was for Icelanders on old times, we had a lovely lunch in another hotel, we visited the Volcano Visitor Centre and had dinner at our hotel. We did so much in one day that it seems unreal. I know now for experience that the only way of doing so much in one day is having a strict schedule and of course been guided by someone that knows the area and that speak the language. Our tour guide and bus driver were a great team. While we were driving to different places, me and Jorge took naps, posted pictures on social media or simply relax until we arrived at our new destination.

The next day we packed all our belongings because we were going to change hotels at the end of our day. We started visiting the geysers area, with the famous Strokkur Geysir that erupt every few minutes spewing hot water into the air.

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We continue with our schedule visiting the Golden Waterfall at Gulfoss, what an impressive waterfall. Was completely different of the ones we visited before.

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We then had lunch at the family-run Fridheimar Greenhouse, where they grow delicious pesticide-free tomatoes and cucumbers with the aid of the geothermal heat. I have to highlight again and again, we where able to accomplish so much in one day and learn so many things because of Gate 1 arrangements.

The lunch was lovely, great tomato soup and tons of home-made bread.

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Our last visit of the day was at Pingvellir National Park,  where there is a canyon that runs through the park that have the dividing fault line between two of the earth’s tectonic plates (Mid-Atlantic Ridge). We hiked there like for an hour. Nature is amazing! The beauty of this place is hard to describe, is kind of exotic and peaceful at the same time.

Even we had such an active day we were looking forward for night time to continue our quest of finding the Northen Lights. It was raining and very cloudy but our tour guide knew exactly where to take us so we could have the incredible experience. And so we did.

It was my first time photographing long exposure. It took me a while to play with the settings of my camera until I got it. The Northern Lights are breath taking and worth to wait in the middle of the cold night to see them.

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Next day was our last day adventuring in Iceland with our Gate 1 tour group. We went to the the famous geothermal pools in Iceland, Blue Lagoon. This was an amazing experience that probably was going to be difficult for us to schedule without the help of Gate 1. Once again we enjoyed the privilege of seeing a great wonder without no effort. Apparently the lines to enter to the Blue Lagoon are eternal, unless you are in a tour group or if you schedule with a lot of anticipation. Nevertheless we enter effortless, we were able to melt away in the frost like color and warm water for hours.

The next day we flew to Dublin, Ireland. That adventure we did it on our own and I can tell you that it went very different that the one in Iceland. It was super fun but we had to do everything. I decided to make the Ireland story in a different post because I don’t want to make this post any longer than it is.

So, until then, 🙂

Xamlinnette

Abracadabra your wish is going to come true!

I saw at the distance the a mist erupting the water, my heart was pounding as fast as the boat raft  we were on, that was speeding at full gear. I looked at my husband wondering if the captain was going to slow down. I kept looking at my surroundings and more mist in different locations blew out of the water. I counted like eight of them, and we were getting closer. Finally the captain slowed down and said while I was pointing out “humpback whales!” I took my face gear out, pull my camera, and start shooting pics. I stopped shooting for a minute and just looked. I was so happy, I wanted to do everything at the same time, take pictures, videos, and observe. I was looking for that perfect moment to shoot the fluke while the giant dive in. I tried before and I wasn’t successful, actually I was kind of frustrated to be honest. I had one more chance.

They were so close, I heard them breathing, I saw the mist of their breath going up to the sky.

Then, magic happened…

Tiny Fluke In a Vast Ocean

In the enormous vast blue ocean a tiny fluke waves us at the distance. Tiny is relative. After a magnificent whale watching day at Sitka, Alaska , we were leaving. Our cruise was heading to Ketchikan and in our way out the Sitka waters our giant friends kept popping out of the water. There was a big difference in the encounters we had previously in our tour, we had a close encounter and we were the tiny ones compare to the giants of the sea. But at this moment when we were on our big ship looking to the infinite horizon the whale fluke looks like a miniature whale. Amazing how things change depending how you look at them.

Keep traveling with me!

Until then,

xamlinnette

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny

When it rains

 

It was a rainy day on Sept. 5. When we got to the port in Juneau, the skies were dark gray and it was cold. Later on the day the rain was on and off. The rain or cold weather was not an excuse to stop our tour. First we went hiking to see the Mendenhall Glacier at Tongans National Forest.

We continue our day with the second part of the trip, to explore Juneau’s water for marine wildlife. The day didn’t got any clearer or brighter. Within the grayish hazy day the enthusiasm for a wildlife encounter was enough to brighten my day.

We got close to an island full of sea lions, at the moment we got there it wasn’t raining. There were all on their business, growling, moving around, scratching, fighting, sleeping and some swimming. We stood there and watch them.

 

 

Then, drops of water started to make marks on the ocean. More and more droplets fell from the sky, returning to where they came from.

Then, chaos began…

 

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The way the seals reacted it to the rain was funny. They all wanted to be all together at the same time, one on top of the other. Some of them wanted to go for a swim. It was like the rain drops activated them with a  warning message “GROUP HUG! or ” GO CRAZY  AND THEN SWIM!”  I don’t know, but I can tell you that something happens to them when started to rain, some kind of chaos

Until then,

xamlinnette