Iceland – On another planet

I just accessed my blog to make some updates and felt the urge to blog, so here I am. Life is pretty good at the moment, both at home and at work. I’m generally feeling very content.

We went on a short holiday to Iceland last month so I thought I’d share some photos and stories from that today. Iceland – wow, that’s all I can really say. It’s an incredible country, and the people are so friendly (and efficient. My kind of place).

Here’s some photos from the trip:

The photos pretty much speak for themselves. We hired a car whilst we were there and I’d very much recommend doing this, it saved us a lot of money and it’s a very easy place to drive around, even when you’re not used to driving on the right side of the road.

On a couple of the days we were there we ended up driving through actual snow storms with very little visibility. At first it was a little frightening but that quickly changed to invigorating. You soon realise that in Iceland you’re actually very safe. There’s basically one road around the whole island, and all of the cars are suitable for the kind of weather they get there. Our hire company automatically upgraded us to a 4×4 free of charge because of the weather warnings – really good of them I thought, and we were glad they did because we drove through a lot of snow! The company we hired with was Blue Car Rental.

Oh yes, we also saw the northern lights! Very briefly, but we saw them. It was one of the most unique natural things I’ve ever witnessed.

For our next trip we’re considering Japan, it will take quite a bit of saving but we know we will both love it.

More moments from France

The remaining photos from my recent trip to France. Something I’ve always loved about the French is their indifference. This indifference seems to make them less inclined to give any attention to what other people think of them, or to pick up unnecessary worry and stress.

Based on my experience of them – people we’ve met on holiday, my mum’s French tutor, my ex-boyfriend, a French girl who once worked at my aunt’s restaurant – they’re very good at living in the moment.

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I really enjoyed this holiday. It was so good to have some down time – time to live in the moment a little more.

A Day In Bordeaux

So, it turns out Bordeaux is like Paris only better. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Paris, but I’ve had the benefit of visiting with someone (my mum) who speaks almost fluent French and once lived there. Paris is incredible if you know where to look, but if you don’t it can be underwhelming, a bit dirty and smelly, overpriced and very touristy.

In Bordeaux, it wasn’t any of those things and I didn’t need to rely on a guide to make the visit worthwhile.

We spent just one day there mostly wandering and eating – I really want to go back and spend a few days there. It’s a beautiful city.

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This might be the most French photo I’ve ever taken. I almost missed him rolling his cigarette, had to move very quickly!

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Chateau Des Granges

Some more photos from my French trip today. We arrived on the Saturday night and had a restful day on Sunday, only venturing out in the evening for dinner. The French are exceptionally good at salads and pasta dishes – check out the beasts below!
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On Monday we drove to Courcelles, Saint Jean D’Angely, to see friends of my parents who are now running a B&B at their French home. Their property is called Chateau Des Granges and it is absolutely stunning, the husband and wife team have done an incredible job.

They took on a big challenge – the property is very old and needed lots of work, if I remember correctly they said it was built in the late 1700s.

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We were treated to melon and Pineau – a local dessert – after a very hearty meal.

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Views of the four acres of land

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Chateau Des Granges from the garden

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I love this lamp!

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It would make a magical venue for a wedding. The bedrooms would fill up very quickly but there is so much space in the garden guests could easily camp! Definitely doable in the warm summer months.

We arrived back at our holiday home late that evening so this was the only day of the holiday that I didn’t swim.

Four nights in Lisbon

lisbon_01At the start of September my brother and I spent a few days in Lisbon.

Since last year I’ve struggled to make the time to visit him down in London, and he’s been very busy with work, so we thought it’d be nice to have some sibling time together in a new place.

We stayed at LX Boutique Hotel right in the centre and spent our time there eating, drinking and walking – it was lovely!

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Our lovely hotel

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On the first day we did a walking tour with Lisbon Chill Out Tours – very, very good. We walked for about three hours and learned a lot about the history of the city. Our guide Joseph also took us through the Alfama district – an absolute must-see if you’re in Lisbon.

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A typical sight in the Alfama district of Lisbon

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There’s so much colour in Lisbon – beautiful

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Something I didn’t expect from Lisbon, was the stark contrast between rich and poor – it’s quite obvious everywhere you go.

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My only regret is not seeking out a Fado bar – but it’s good to leave a place with a reason to go back one day.

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Just around the corner from our hotel was a food market sponsored by Timeout –  we ate here quite a few times. We were also a stone’s throw from Cais do Sodré station, which we used to get just out of the city to view the Belem Tower and the Berardo Museum of modern art.

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We also took a day trip to Sintra to see the Palace – an absolutely stunning place to visit. It’s like a real life Disney land.

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We arrived home feeling well rested and well fed – just what I needed.

Have you visited anywhere new this summer?