2019

Roadtrip though the North of Spain

Hello,

when friends get married abroad, it’s always a great opportunity to go out and explore new places and meet new people. Hence we we’re super exited when our friends told us they were going to get married in San Sebastian in the North of Spain. Bags were packed and flights were booked and off we went.

Once we arrived in Santiago De Compostela we picked up the rental car and headed south towards the coast. After a quick lunch-break we to Fragas do Eume National Park. The park is quite large so we rented some bikes for the afternoon. The Monastery of San Xoán de Caeveiro on the top of the mountain in the centre of the park is definitely worth a visit and a great vista point over the park.

We got up early the next morning to catch the early morning swell on the ocean. After some quick breakfast pancakes we headed off to the beach to get boards and wetsuits. The waves were nice an broke quite evenly, just about right as I hadn’t been surfing in a while. After a few hours in the water we got pretty tired to we returned the boards, packed the car and moved on.

The next stop was As Catedrais Beach. It’s quite a picturesque location, right at the ocean with gigantic limestone arcs that are quite impressive. However it is very busy and there are a lot of people. You have to pre-register your visit online (free of charge), also check the tide timetable as the beach is only accessible at low tide.

On the next day we hadn’t really planned anything, so we just drove along the cost and stopped whenever there was a nice vista point or deserted beach. The stone arch at Playa de la Huelga was probably one of the prettiest that day, we had the beach almost all for ourself. Near our accommodation was Playa La Tallada which faces west and therefore is perfect for sunset.

On the next day we headed inland towards the more mountainous regions of Northern Spain. Mirador del Naranjo De Bulnes has a small cafe with an amazing view over the valley. Roads are quite steep but totally worth a visit.

On our way back down we accidentally stumbled upon Puente la Jaya, an old stone bridge carved into the valley over a river. As the midday heat was slowly getting to us the quiet shade underneath the bridge was the perfect spot to relax. The water comes straight from the summits of the mountains and is freezing cold. We stayed almost the whole afternoon.

Another great spot is Jesters of Arenillas, a steep cliff thats covered with caves and arches. Probably not the safes location but it’s a lot of fun climbing and exploring the holes and dens.

The next morning we got up early to catch the sunrise at Mirador del faro de Cabo Mayor. It’s a much photographed scene and quite a popular spot, however it turned out we were the only ones willing to get up that early.

For the night we had booked an AirBnb in Zumaia, a little town right at the sea. However parking was quite tricky and the beaches were quite busy that afternoon. So we just walked along the cliffs until we found a quiet spot where we could sit, eat and watch the sunset.

The next day we drove to Hondarribia where we met up with out friends. It’s a really cute an picturesque town, perfect for a relaxed stroll. We hiked up to Guadalupeko Baseliza from where you have an absolutely incredible view. Not far from there is Mirador coma Jaizkibel, another great vista point over the Basque Country. Probably one of my favourite sunset on the whole trip.

The next day we got up early again for a sunrise stroll through Hondarribia before moving on to San Sebastian. The colourful houses and small alleys combined with the calm and quiet of the morning was a very nice and peaceful experience.

We arrived in San Sebastian just around lunch time. After a quick snack we decided to explore the Old Town on a small peninsula right in the centre of the city. Considering that it was quite a busy week the old town was really quiet. And even thou it’s constantly uphill there’s shade from trees and a nice breeze from the ocean. The view over San Sebastian from the top is incredible, definitely worth the effort.

There’s a cafe called Old Town Coffee not to farm from the old town and the beach. They do fantastic coffee and food, perfect for an afternoon snack or breakfast.

I’m gonna spare you the details of the wedding the next day, but needless to say we had an absolutely incredible time in San Sebastian. Big thanks to our hosts for such a fun weekend.

See you soon!

A weekend in Amsterdam

Hi,

welcome back everyone hello from the Netherlands. Amsterdam had been on our list for quite some time. Romantic walks along the canals and cosy little cafes is definitely something we love to do on a lazy weekend. Luckily Amsterdam is just a train ride away from London. We took a very early train and arrived at Amsterdam Central Station just before lunch. We were greeted by a lovely summer day, so we quickly dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed for the town centre.

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, and also the most populated city of the country with a population just under 1 million. As we were only staying for a few days we decided to focus our visit on the historic old town of Amsterdam.

 

When we arrived, the city spring was still in full swing. All trees and flowers were still very lush and green, which together with the colourful buildings along the canals was just so beautiful. We wandered along the canals for a few hours without much of a plan, stopped here and there for lunch and a coffee break. Definitely check out Herengracht, Brouwersgracht and Keizersgracht.

A great sport for sunsets is Leliegracht at the west of the old town. In June the sun sets perfectly in line with the canal. We did a late lunch at SLA Salad Bar, some great veggie friendly salat bowls and freshly made smoothies.

Night photography in Amsterdam had been on my list for quite some time. All the beautiful reflections in the canals just look a lot nicer at night. The corner Keizersgracht/Leidsegracht is probably one of the most iconic spots in Amsterdam and looks even prettier at night.

The next morning started a little grey and rainy, so we slept in and had a relaxed breakfast at Luza's Caffeine Club. We then explored the sweet side of Amsterdam: We went for some Stroopwafels from Confectionery Lanskroon and got some chocolate cookies from Van Stapele Koekmakerij. Great way to spend a rainy morning.

A little secluded sight of Amsterdam is Begijnhof. Nice little spot for a break and escape the busy high streets. In the afternoon the sky was looking a little brighter and the sun started to come through the clouds again. We went for a great lunch at the Vegan Junk Food Bar.

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For sunset we went to Brouwersgracht, just a few blocks North of Leliegracht.

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The next morning started late again at a cafe called The Avocado Show. Quite nice food and coffee that’s focused on, you guessed it, avocados. This has become quite popular in recent years, so if you’re planning to come with more that 2 people maybe book a table.

After breakfast we strolled through Vondelpark northwest of the old town. Very relaxed vibe, there was also a free open air concert going on. We almost got caught by a heavy rain shower so we took shelter a little cafe nearby called Coffee Concepts.

Little fun fact on the side: There’s a trampoline embedded in the side walk at 75 Ruysdaelkade. Very bouncy and even more fun.

In the afternoons we headed North to the other side of the river. There’s a great view from the A’DAM Lookout only a short free ferry ride away. To get tickets for the A’DAM a little bit cheaper have a look online. Later in the afternoon it’s definitely quite pretty and also not too busy.

This sums up our 3 days in the dutch capital. If you want see more travel pictures swing by our Instagram and Twitter.

See you soon!

Madeira - Wandering above the clouds

Hello,

welcome back to another travel blog. We just came back from an amazing trip to the Portuguese island Madeira, and long story short, we absolutely loved it. For everyone living in Europe it’s the ideal summer fix all year round. The flight from London took about 4 hours and takes you to directly to Funchal, the biggest city on the island. From there we rented a car to freely roam the island at our own pace.

Madeira is located just off the African coast, a little higher up north than the Spanish Canary Islands. Nevertheless the weather is generally very pleasant the whole year. We came here in May which was absolutely lovely as the whole island was literally in full bloom.

 

After landing and picking up the rental car we headed into Funchal to check out the farmers market for some lunch and coffee. The old-town is quite lovely and picturesque and well worth a visit. There are plenty of shops and cafes, so we strolled the streets for a little while and bought some food and supplies before moving on.

After leaving Funchal we headed west along the coast. It’s a beautiful drive along the coastline, and we stopped quite often to take pictures. Definitely stop at the Piscinas Naturais just outside of Funchal. The natural pools are really pretty and also quite safe to swim in. There’s a small admission fee but it’s totally worth it.

The first day was coming to an end quickly so we decided to watch the sunset from the hotel pool. We stayed at the Savoy Saccharum Hotel on the west side of Madeira. The infinity pool on the roof is a really nice gimmick, but also the bar on the top floor is great for food and watching the sunset.

The next day we continued the route around the island. Definitely worth a stop are the Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz in the North of Madeira. They’re free to visit and definitely quite picturesque. There are also a few cafes nearby so it’s a good place to sit, relax and watch the ocean.

Not much further away are the Piscina natural do Seixal, which is a natural pool as well but also safe to swim. It’s quite fun to swim around the natural stone arch and watch the waves from the sea swash over the edge of the pool.

Back in the car hunger started to kick in. Luckily there the was a cafe nearby called São Cristóvão Café, also in the North. And while sitting on the terrace of the cafe we spotted a little path on the opposite site of the valley, as well as a small car park. A quick look on the map revealed that there was in fact a road going down to that path (just off the ER101). The short hike from the car down to the sea was just so pretty, we were constantly surrounded by fields of flowers.

For the next day the plan was to catch the sunset on top of Pico do Arieiro, one of the highest mountains on Madeira just over 1800m above sea level. So we got up at around 5am to drive all the way almost to the top. The summit is very easy to access, there’s a spacious car park and paths are very well signed.

From the car park it’s a 20min walk to the first lookout point. And all I can say it that it’s absolutely worth getting up that early.

After we watched the sunrise we continued the path to Pico Ruivo, which is slightly higher at about 1880m. The distance for one way is about 4.5km but you’ll need to overcome about 850m elevation, it took us about 5 hours there and back. Also temperatures in the morning can be as low as 5°C and go up to about 20°C during the day, so be prepared. Once you’re at Pico Ruivo there’s a small cafe and fresh water fountains just a few meters from the summit.

It’s an incredibly beautiful hike but also quite tiring and exhausting, particularly the way back. So definitely bring enough water and supplies, and as you’re walking at high altitude don’t forget suncream.

Thankfully there is a restaurant at the carpark that sells coffee, cool drinks and snacks. After a little break and resting our feet we definitely had enough of walking, coincidentally there was a cable car not to far away. For a small admission (5£pp) it takes you all the way down to the ocean and back up.

Back at the car it was already quite late in the afternoon and we were still quite tired from the hike in the morning. So we went to our hotel for the night, Quinta Do Lorde in the far east of the island. Turned out the hotel had a really beautiful seawater pool, so we went for a quick swim and photoshoot.

Right next to the hotel is Prainha Beach. If you follow the path down from the street and keep right instead of left you will find a beautiful stone arch. All the natural pools are quite rough and and there’s definitely quite a few sea urchins around so this spot is only accessible on calm and quiet days. I’d also recommend some sort of water shoes as these will make walking on the slippery rocks a lot safer. But swimming through the stone arch was an absolutely amazing experience.

The next morning started early again at around 6am. The goal was sunrise at Ponta de São Lourenço, the most eastern point of Madeira. The hike from the carpark is about 4km to the sunrise point. Thankfully we brought flashlights as the path was still in complete darkness when we arrived. It’s a really beautiful hike, particularly in the morning, well worth getting up early. Also later in the day this route gets pretty busy as it’s quite a popular hike. When we were there at sunrise we were pretty much all alone.

The whole hike took about 4 hours, so we just made it back in time to the hotel to get breakfast. After about 4 coffees and an unreasonable amount of waffles we packed our bags and headed to the last hotel, Galo Do Mar not to far from Funchal Airport. For the last hike of the day we wanted to do the quite famous Levada Walk, a path that follows the ancient water channels along the very steep cliffs and sometimes even vertical rock faces. The hike has a reputation for being Madeira’s most picturesque hikes and I can confirm it is quite spectacular. It’s important to mention that there are a few tunnels that are not illuminated so torches or headlights are essential. Also on a warm day there are a few ponds where you can go for a refreshing swim.

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That pretty much sums up our trip to Madeira. All in all we really loved it, there are tons more hikes to do and things to discover, so we really want to come back some day. Also going off season turned out to be a really affordable trip, the quality of our accommodations was constantly really fabulous.

If you have any questions please send me a message or get in touch in Instagram or Twitter.

See you soon!

Iceland Road Trip II - Vatnajökull and the Golden Circle

Hello,

welcome back to Part II of our road trip around Iceland. In the last blog posted we travelled from Keflavík all the way to the East Fjords. After 4 days in the northern parts of the country we were looking forward to seeing some of Iceland’s greener areas.

 

Day 5

After a good night’s sleep we packed the car and headed south. The roads very still very icy and slippery, but after a few hours of driving and a quick break at the Vattarnes cliffs we arrived at Hvalnes Beach. Seeing the white waves crashing onto the black beach is quite breathtaking. There’s a small carpark near the lighthouse from where you can walk down to the beach.

Just a few miles further south is the Stokksnes Peninsula located in the southeast of Iceland. The area, also known as Vestrahorn, is one of Iceland’s most photogenic places. There’s a small admission fee (~8£, cards accepted) which is totally worth it. Stunning mountains on the horizon, an azure ocean, black dunes topped with green grass, the colours are simply unbelievable. The water is generally very shallow which gives the impression your walking on the sea. Come here in the late afternoon for Golden Hour and you will get plenty of amazing pictures, the opportunities are sheer endless. A wide-angle lens and water-proof boots will be the icing on the cake.

Day 6

The next day started again very early at around 6am. The plan was to catch sunrise at Diamond Beach and then go explore Vatnajökul Glacier. We arrived at the beach just when the sun started to peak over the horizon, making all the ice that has been washed ashore from the glacier glow like diamonds. Definitely worth getting up early.

After breakfast in the car it was time for the hike on the Vatnajökul Glacier. You can’t and probably shouldn’t just walk on the glacier all by yourself as it’s quite dangerous. Our tour-guide was from a company called Local Guide of Vatnajökul which was absolutely amazing, I would highly recommend them. The groups are quite small, ours had 6 other people and the whole hike takes about 6-7 hours, so definitely pack some lunch.

The guide took us in their giant 4x4 offroader to the foot of the glacier, where we got crampons and climbing harnesses for safety. From there we hiked for about 1.5 hours until we reached the first ice cave. Walking through the caves was an unbelievable experience, the whole scene felt completely surreal.

After the cave we went down to where the glacier meets the ocean. It’s absolutely beautiful and humbling, also quiet relaxing sight. And in some ways quite sad as the guide mentioned that the ice is becoming less and less each year. It’s a true wonder of nature and pretty sad so see them melt away, maybe forever.

On our way back we stopped in one of the biggest and most famous caves. It was already late afternoon and the sun was quite low, complementing the blue ice with some golden sparkles. Again big thanks to Stephanie from LocalGuide for a fantastic day out the the icy wild of Iceland’s Glacier.

Quite tired and exhausted we left Vatnajökull National Park and drove towards Vík for some food and sleep. We were just about to call it a day when we drove past Reynisfjara Beach, which just looked to good to miss.

Day 7

When we got up in the morning the weather was changing for the worse. Hurricane like winds with gusts well above 60mph and heavy snowfall made getting around a lot harder. Without a 4x4 getting around would have been completely impossible.

The first stop of the day was the iconic Skógafoss waterfall. The advantage of the bad weather was that almost no one else was around, which is actually quite rare since it’s a very popular sight.

Later that day the snowfall was getting heavier and driving became more and more difficult. Not to far from our accommodation was a waterfall called Urriðafoss so we headed there for a lunch break and some quick pictures. The weather and light really wasn’t great, so we quickly moved on.

One destination that had been on our list list since the beginning of the trip were the Hruni Hot Springs. These springs are still a bit of a secret and not too many people find them. It’s located literally in the middle nowhere and a 4x4 is mandatory during winter.

Once you get there the water is surprisingly hot, just need to bring a towel. There’s even a little hut to get changed. This was really a fun and relaxing experience, I would absolutely recommend those one over the very busy Blue Lagoon.

Day 8

When we got up around 6am the next morning the weather had finally cleared up. But with all the snowfall from the previous day and night the roads we’re still completely snowed in. Driving to the last waterfall on out list, Gullfoss, was honestly quite a nerve wrecking experience. I expected us to get stuck in the snow every second. Thankfully the 4x4 plowed through the snow like a hot knife through butter and we arrived at the destination just when the sun came over the horizon. And turned out that not many others felt as adventurous as we this morning so we were rewarded with another solo waterfall sunrise experience.

Sadly the blue skies didn’t last very long and a few hours later it was grey and foggy again. We did one last hike to a small waterfall and some rapids called Bruarfoss. The water is considered one of the bluest in Iceland. The hike is quite easy and there are many signs but the deep snow made it quite difficult to walk in some places. Nevertheless the colours of the water quite impressive and definitely worth a visit.

This wraps up our road trip around the Ring Road of Iceland. If you have any question about our trip please get in touch here. Also swing by our Instagram and Twitter for more frequent updates and stories.

See you soon!

Iceland Road Trip - From Snæfellsjökull to the East Fjords

Hello,

welcome back to another road trip. After spending the majority of last year’s trips in southern countries we decided that it was time to spend some time closer to the Arctic Circle: Iceland. Strictly speaking Iceland just barely scrapes the Arctic, but the landscape in nonetheless stunning.

We started our trip from Keflavík in the west of the island. After picking up our rental car we headed to the nearest supermarket to stock up on food and drinks. We wanted to spend the time mostly self-catered and some parts of the island can be quite remote. Regarding the car we went for a 4x4 and in hindsight this was definitely the right decision.

 

We wanted to circle Iceland on the so called Ring Road, in clockwise direction. The whole route was about 1400km with 8 overnight stops. The roads are generally in good condition, but the Icelandic weather is notoriously unpredictable and can change within minutes.

Day 1

So after sorting out supplies we headed straight up north along the coast towards the Snæfellsnes peninsula, a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano in western Iceland. The remains of the volcano are still very prominent in the landscape.

After about 2 hours of driving we arrived at the Búðakirkja church, also famously known as Black Church. We continued until we reached Arnarstapi, a small fishing village in the west of the peninsula. There are some very scenic walks along the steep cliffs. Around sunset this spot looks particularly beautiful.

From Arnarstapi it’s only a few miles to the iconic Lóndrangar cliffs, a basalt rock formation that almost looks like the ruins of an abandoned caste from afar.

Just after sunset we arrived at Djúpalónssandur Beach. The beach is mostly black sand and pebbles. We stopped here for a quick break before heading to our first accommodation.

Our AirBnb for the night was right next to Kirkjufell, one of the signature mountains of Snæfellsnes National Park. Luckily there was just enough daylight left to we quickly grabbed camera and tripod and managed to get one last shot of the day.

Day 2 and 3

The second day started early since we had quite a long trip ahead of ourself. As we left the Snæfellsnes peninsula and drove further north toward the West Fjords the landscape became much more arctic, and concrete roads soon became dirt roads.

Driving along the coast with the fjords and glaciers in the background looks incredibly beautiful. It truly feels like your entering arctic zones. Due to the Iceland’s northern latitude the light and the colours of the land are incredibly pastel, almost like a painting.

After a few hours of driving we arrived at Hvitserkur, another beach made out of black sand with a unique stone arch that somewhat looks like a dragon. When the tide is low you can climb down the cliffs and walk through the rock formation.

Day 4

The fourth day started very early at around 6am. The goal was to be at the famous Goðafoss Waterfall at sunrise. Fortunately we arrived just before sunrise and as it turned out the light is much nicer just before the sun peaks over the horizon.

In that area if Iceland it really payed off to have your own supplies. We had coffee and breakfast in the car, there really weren’t many shops nearby. The landscape became more and more deserted and the roads got very icy. In that part of the country a solid 4x4 vehicle definitely was worth it.

We arrived at our accommodation in the late afternoon and we were both quite tired from the early start and the long drive, so we decided to call it a day and just jump in the hot jacuzzi.

This sums up Part 1 of our road trip around Iceland. If you liked this post please check out our Instagram and Twitter or send us a message if you have any questions or just want to get in touch.

See you soon for Part II!