Why You Need to Visit Zakynthos, Greece as a Food Lover

Fancying a fresh Greek salad? Cocktails for just €4? Or how about some traditional moussaka? Greece is home to some delicious dishes and fabulous cooks, which makes visiting a Greek island like Zakynthos a must. This post includes all the fabulous places where we ate and drank whilst staying in the town of Argassi in Zakynthos. All the prices were extremely cheap but the quality of the food was impeccable. We also found the service to be very quick no matter where we went. I cannot recommend this area enough if you are a food lover.

Here is the link to my previous post which includes all of the beautiful places we visited on the island during our trip.

1. Zorba’s- The BEST carbonara you will find

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It was the gorgeous blue and white rustic decor that caught our eye with Zorbas. The carbonara here was recommended to us by the waitor here and certainly did not disappoint. So much so that we re-visited before our flight to have it again before we left.

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Their vegetable risotto and calamari was also extremely tasty, all the portion sizes in every restaurant here are very generous!

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The banoffee pie here was also divine…

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Serenity

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Serenity was recommended to us from other guests staying in our hotel, it had a lovely view of the town and a gorgeous bright interior inside. I tried the sea bass with lemon sauce, which came with salad and chips. This was a beautiful meal to try if you enjoy fresh sea food.

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The Yard

We went here on our first night, a great start to our trip. We were given a starter of home-made tsatziki and pitta for free, every Brit loves a freebie. I then had calamari, the vegetable moussaka that my friends had also looked lovely.

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The Green Frog

This was the view out to sea from the front of the restaurant if you want to enjoy your meal with an ocean setting before you.

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We chose to sit in the back garden under these gorgeous flowers. We all had the halloumi platter which was one of my favourite meals of the trip. If you love halloumi cheese liek me then eating fresh Greek halloumi is certainly a treat.

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Stars Taverna

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Here I tried the ‘Village Pizza’ which was a veggie pizza option. Above is a Greek dish named ‘Gyros’ which my friend enjoyed, this is on all of the taverna menus here. It usually consists of pitta, salad, chips and meat.

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This was the beautiful location where we spent our Greek night, which consisted of food, wine, smashing plates, and dancing. I would thoroughly recommend going to a traditional Greek night if you are visiting Greece. We had a Greek salad here for a starter, and kebabs for our main course.

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Red Wine

This was another highlight meal; garlic bread and stewed vegetables in a rich tomato sauce.

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Yria

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This was the first time I  had eaten swordfish, it was delicious!

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Magik

If you love a cheap cocktail then Magik will definitely be the place for you! You can sit outside here, the inside turns in to a small club later on in the evening. They had a huge range of cocktails, the pina colada was definitely our favourite.

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Street Diner Cafe

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More seafood! This was a seafood tagliatelle which included mussels and prawns in a tomato sauce.

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St Nicholas Beach Club

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You can’t go to Greece without having a traditional Greek salad, which seem to always come with a lot of feta!

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Are you a fan of Greek cuisine? I hope this guide was helpful if you are travelling to Zakynthos soon!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Beauty of the Ionian Sea- Exploring the Greek Island of Zakynthos

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aristotle

Before heading back to university to start the final year of my degree, I enjoyed a fabulous week long trip to the Greek island of Zakynthos. We flew with TUI from Birmingham International to Zakynthos airport. This island was a brilliant combination of being incredibly scenic but also very cheap. We also found all the people we met there extremely friendly, and the food and drink was also completely delicious, in fact the best food I have tried abroad. This post includes some of the lovely places we saw whilst on the island. I will also be writing another post all about where to eat and drink on the island. I hope this post is helpful if you are looking for which Greek island to visit next on your travel adventures.

The town we stayed in on the island was called Argassi and was only about a 20 minute drive away from Zakynthos airport. Argassi was a great place to stay in, with its own beautiful beach, an abundance of restaurants, bars, shops and plenty of gorgeous hotels to choose from. We stayed in the Katerina Palace hotel which was a very pleasant place to stay. We had a spacious and comfortable room, the pool and bar area was also lovely. The main streets of Argassi were just down the road from the hotel which was very handy.

Adventuring out on a Boat Trip to Marathonisi Island (Turtle Island)

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We booked this fabulous trip through Peter’s Tours, we met Peter at one of his tourist offices just outside our hotel. We had several recommendations to book with him and he was incredibly friendly and helpful when we were enquiring about doing an excursion. The trip only cost us €20 each to our surprise! If you are taking children with you, it’s €15 each for them. Here is a link to the specific trip that we went on, the pictures on the website show the sights you see from he boat very accurately. We were picked up by coach in Argassi by Peter’s office and driven to the Laganas harbour, which is just a 15 minute drive away and where the boat is docked.

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We were in awe to be able to see the turtles as soon as we got on to the boat in the harbour. They were clearly unphased by having people around them in the harbour as they were swimming very close to the boats. The captain of our boat was great at pointing out where they were in the water so everybody was able to see them and take pictures. After waiting to watch the turtles for a while, the boat then set off towards Marathonisi island. The boat was fairly small in size, with about 15 people on it. It was surprisingly a very smooth trip.

Throughout the trip, the captain sailed the boat in to several sea caves, which were fascinating to be in and be able to see up close. There was also one of the two swimming stops here. We were able to jump in to the sea straight off the boat and snorkel near to the caves. We purchased snorkels in Argassi for just €8 so I would thoroughly recommend bringing one if you are doing a trip like this. The water was crystal clear and it was amazing being able to swim along side the fish.

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This was the view from Turtle Island which was where the other swimming stop was, we spent about an hour here. You are able to swim in the sea and use the beach on the island, but the majority of it is protected conservation land which is great to see.

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The water was not cold at all, this was a great snorkelling spot. We swam through the shallows by the rocks and saw many types of fish in the shallows, you didn’t have to swim in the deep to be able to see them.

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Clear Waters and Soft Sands- The Must See Beaches

St Nicholas Beach

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After a visit to the beach, it’s hard to believe that we live in a material world.”  Pam Shaw

This was a lovely day out, we got the free bus from our hotel at 11am and the beach is only about 20 minutes away. There is also a bus that takes you back again at 5pm. This beach was perfect for relaxing, you just have to pay a few euros for using the sun loungers. We also had some lovely food here from the beach club which is just up the path from the beach. This was another great swimming spot, you can also do water sports here if that takes your fancy. Bear in mind that during the peak tourist season in the summer, these beaches will be very busy.

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Banana Beach

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Banana beach is another great beach to visit, quite similar to St Nicholas beach too. We also got the free bus back and forth to out hotel for this trip, it was just a short drive away too. We had some more great food here too, you can order food and drink at this beach from the staff on the beach and they bring it down to you which is a great service. This was another brilliant ocean swimming spot.

 

Argassi Beach

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Argassi beach is accessible from various cut throughs along the front of the town of Argassi. We found that certain parts were sandy and some were pebbley, the beach is also quite narrow in parts. There are some nice spots to eat and drink along the beach too. The photo below was the cafe we went to a couple of times for lunch and a drink.

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My next post will be including all of the places on the island that we visited for food and drink, there were some truly delicious meals on this trip.

Have you visited Greece yet? I would love to hear from you in the comments if you have!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Top 10 Tips on How to Plan a Mini Break on a Budget: Edinburgh Edition

I have just returned from the most fabulous three day break in Edinburgh, Scotland’s magnificent capital city. This was a mini break with two of my friends, with all of us travelling on a student budget. We managed to compromise very well on costs without compromising at all on the quality of our city break. We managed to book our flights and accommodation for a total of £107.84 each. We flew from Luton airport to Edinburgh airport with EasyJet, and got the tram from the airport to the centre of Edinburgh. We stayed in a gorgeous apartment on Montgomery Street, in the centre of the city.

Here are my top 10 tips on how to plan a brilliant mini break on a budget wihtout compromising on quality…

1. Book as Far in Advance as You Can

The further in advance you book your travel, the cheaper it will be. This goes for any destination! We booked our accommodation and flights in May, and our trip was in September, so we planned it 4 months in advance. For return flights booked this far in advance, I only paid £37.78. Our airbnb cost £210.18 for two nights, so split between three of us we paid £70.06 each. There was a £28.18 service charge included in this. For a lovely flat, spacious in such a central location, this was a very good deal. Planning in advance really pays off!

Here are some photos of our gorgeous airbnb, it just shows you that by saving money, you don’t have to compromise on quality…

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2. Travel Outside of School Holidays

If you are a university student like me, then you have the advantage of having holidays that are outside of the school holidays and being more flexible with dates. Try and go before the school holidays if you can, May and June are much cheaper than July/August if you have finished your university year by then. The school holidays means that accommodation and travel costs can almost double in price. We also found that September seemed to be even cheaper as it was outside of both the Scottish and English school holidays (bear in mind that if you are visiting a different country then school holiday dates may differ).

3. Use Comparison Sites to Find the Best Deals

We used Skyscanner to find our flights. I cannot recommend this tool enough. You can input your destinations and it tells you the cheapest options for travelling. It also lets you add the option to include other airports and non-direct flights if these are cheaper options. There is also a feature to search for the cheapest month and destinations. You can also find hotel and car hire information on here too.

It’s also useful to compare if it’s quicker/cheaper going to your destination by train, plane, ferry or driving. We found that even with a student railcard, the trains were considerably more expensive and would have meant a very long journey.

4. Sit Separately on Flights

Another cost that can be avoided is choosing to not pay to sit together on the flight. If you are spending a whole holiday with people, then it’s not the end of the world if you don’t sit next to each other if you are on a short haul flight like we were. However, we checked in for our flights about two weeks in advance and this meant we were placed next to each other anyway on both our outbound and inbound flights.

5. Limit Your Luggage

For this trip, we took hand luggage alone. This means you can avoid the cost of having to pay for putting luggage in the hold. Small savings like this can add up to save you a fair bit of money. Additionally, it also means you don’t have to hang around waiting for a suitcase once you’re off the flight. Not having heavy bags to cart around with you is also a bonus, this applies if you are travelling by train too. Our flight landed at 10am on Monday and we could not check in until 3pm. On Wednesday when we left, we had to check out by 10am and our flight was not until late evening. Therefore we knew we had to carry our luggage with us for these times in between. By having just a light rucksack, it meant our luggage didn’t limit us. We were still able to visit the castle and walked up to Calton Hill without being weighed down by heavy bags.

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6. Don’t be too Fussy About Travel Companies

We flew with EasyJet due to their company in general having lower cost flights compared to other airlines. Other airlines may offer what is considered ‘a ore luxurious experience’ but if you are on a short flight and it gets you from A to B then going with cheaper options to save money is definitely a good idea.

7. Be as Flexible as You Can With Where You Travel From

The closest airport to where I live is Birmingham. But we worked out that the cheapest flight at the time was from Luton airport and that airport parking was only £30 here. The Flybe flights from Birmingham to Edinburgh were significantly more expensive. So even though we drove a bit further than we would have to get to Birmingham, it was more cost-effective for us to go to Luton instead. So if you can, it’s good to be as flexible as you can with airport/train station locations as this may save you a significant amount of money.

8. Plan a Rough Itinerary in Advance

We roughly planned out the main activities we wanted to do Edinburgh and what day we could do them on (weather permitting!). Due to only having three days away, this meant that we knew we could include our prioritised activities in the small amount of time we were in the city. By booking certain activities in advance it can save you money and often saves you queuing for long periods of time. Additionally, so many great things to do are often free! On our last day we walked up Calton Hill which gives you an incredible view of the whole city of Edinburgh around you. I would thoroughly recommend visiting if you are in Edinburgh. We also enjoyed a coffee and pastry in Gardener’s Cottage which is the restaurant set on the edge of Calton Hill. This was surprisingly very affordable at just £5 each, but avoid at lunch and dinner unless you want a very pricey meal! Walking round and soaking up the atmosphere of the Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens was another lovely experience which won’t cost you a penny. Most cities will have free galleries and museums you can visit, the National Gallery is free in Edinburgh, as is the National Museum of Scotland.

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9. Avoid Buying Food and Drink etc. from Tourist Attraction Shops

Often shops at tourist attractions have extortionate prices. Avoiding spending £3 on a disposable water bottle every time you want a drink and paying loads just for a sandwich is always a good plan in my book. Bring a water bottle with you that you can fill up before you go out for the day, and maybe some snacks if you’re likely to get hungry whilst out and about. We took a picnic with us to the zoo and bought snacks from a Tesco Express next to our airbnb so you can just grab something on your way out for the day.

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10. Choose Your Accommodation Location Wisely

By staying right in the centre of Edinburgh, it meant we were able to walk from our apartment to all the central locations that we wanted to visit. We were about a 15 minute walk from Princes Street which was great. It was also near the tram links that we used to get to and from the airport. So by staying in the city centre, we saved money by walking lots, where as if we had been much further out we may have spent more time and money on buses etc. Walking more is also a more sustainable and healthy option, and gives you the chance to see the city you’re in up close.

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I hope this was helpful if you are planning a trip on a budget. Here is a link to another of my Edinburgh posts which has more details on great things to do in Edinburgh once you’re there!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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A Sunny Day in Edinburgh: What to do as a Tourist

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” – Alexander McCall Smith

One of the most vibrant and fascinating cities I have visited. I am lucky enough to have several members of my family living in the bustling city of Edinburgh, a place that never seems to tire, no matter how many times you visit.

On this day, it was 30 degrees Celsius! For Scotland this is incredibly hot weather so I decided to have a tourist day out for myself  to make the most of the scorching sunshine.

I have been visiting my family who live in Bruntsfield, which is just a mile from the city centre. After having 7 years on dodgy and damp school buses I’m not usually one to enjoy a bus journey, but the 23 bus route going past the National Portrait Gallery, Greyfriar’s Bobby statue, and past the Royal Mile to the middle of Prince’s Street was surprisingly enjoyable!

If you are visiting Edinburgh, here is what I did to fill a beautifully sunny day, with many of these things being free!

The National Gallery, Prince’s Street

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Entry is free, WOOHOO! (Exhibition events may require payment)

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Opening hours are 10am-5pm and Thursdays until 7pm

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I do not have the best knowledge of artwork or artists, but there are some very well known artist’s work in the gallery such as Monet, Van Gogh and Botticelli among others such as Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer. The gallery is beautifully set out, the deep shades of maroon, forest green and tones of blue provide a striking contrast between the intricate gold frames that the paintings are embedded in.

The information boards around the gallery also make it very easy to learn more about both the paintings and their creators. There is seating inside the gallery, and it caters well for buggy and wheelchair access, there is a lift too. I went at around 11 am and it was not very busy at all, do bear in mind though that it is currently the school holidays in Scotland so it could be busier later in the day.

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The Royal Mile

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After coming out of the National gallery, I walked up the winding steps on the left of the gallery and if you keep walking up the hill (the mound) then you will get to the Royal Mile, the rows of old buildings and Scottish themed shops that leads you from the old town to the top where Edinburgh Castle is majestically stood.

From buskers to street artists, the Royal Mile is all you need to showcase the vibrancy of the city, from buskers, street artists to people selling whisky, and there are always melodies of bagpipes to be heard in the distance!

Despite there being large groups of tourists, and people everywhere it does not feel overcrowded, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, people from all over the world enjoying the patriotism and pride of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle

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As you can see from the photos, Edinburgh Castle towering in the blue skies is a spectacle to behold.

The photo above is the entrance to the Castle (at the top of the Royal Mile), but if you just wish to walk up to here and take a picture then this is free up to this point.

I paid £18.50 for an adult entry ticket which as a student, seemed expensive, however since being in the castle, you are easily able to spend a few hours there and are able to make the experience worth the price.

Also bear in the mind that the queue may take about half an hour or more in case you are planning around a time frame!

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This was the view of Edinburgh from the castle, an incredible photo opportunity on a sunny day like this one

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I was surprised at how much time I was able to spend in the castle and how many things there were to see. The Stone of Destiny and the Scottish crown jewels were. Some of the highlights of  things to see in the castle were St Margaret’s Chapel- the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Scottish crown jewels, the war prisons and the firing of the one o’clock gun is a great tradition to see if you are there at that time!

Discover more about things to do at the castle here!

Prince’s Street Gardens

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Again this is a free attraction, the atmosphere on days like this one was lovely, there were lots of people having picnics and making the most of the sunshine

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If you walk far enough along you are able to see the castle stood proudly in the distance. The gardens are below where the National Gallery is

This was a lovely and relaxing end to a day of walking and sightseeing, a relaxing seat in the park surrounded by the technicolor displays of flowers.

There are so many incredible things to do and see in Edinburgh, and you can fit a lot into just one day as I found out!

Thanks for reading,

Mol

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The End of the Iceland Adventure: Basalt Column Beaches and The Blue Lagoon

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These basalt columns set on the deep black sands were created when flows of lava cooled down and contracted to make these vertical structures, an incredible masterpiece of nature, almost looking like towering blocks of marble with the patterns that have been weathered into the rock.

Our guide explained that ancient Icelandic Folklore has it that these these formations were actually once trolls living in the beach’s caves (shown in second photo above). The myth is that the trolls were turned to stone due to being caught in daylight trying to pull a ship from the sea, and that they are now trapped here for eternity.

The Blue Lagoon

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From the photo above it’s clear why this stunning location is a UNESCO geo-park and was named in 2012 by National Geographic as one of the 25 wonders of the world.

There are few places on earth where you can lie back in naturally warm water, heated by only the ground itself, and take in the panoramic views of the lava fields that surround you. If you are looking to relax in one of the most unique locations in the world then this experience will be truly breath taking.

The pool itself was technically man made, while the lava fields around it were made by nature. The water is technically waste water of the nearby geothermal power plant, and comes from 6,500 feet underground where at this point it is around 24 degrees Celsius. The water of this geo-thermal pool is self-cleansing and this means that it renews every 40 hours. Due to bacteria not being able to thrive in such an environment, the water has no treatments in it such as chlorine, meaning it is 100% natural and great for your skin.

There are pots of the Blue Lagoon’s own clay masks dispersed around the lagoon, make use of this incredible product! My skin looked very dewy and fresh after using it and leaving it on for around 15 minutes, I have normal/oily skin and can be prone to break outs but I experienced no issues from using this product.

The package we chose was the Comfort Package, this gets you entry to the lagoon, a towel, a first drink of your choice and enables you to use the clay mask. None of the packages limit how long you can stay for but premium and spa packages are also available at a higher cost, details of what these include can be found here.

Children up to age 13 get in free! A very child friendly place and the frozen slushies at the swim-up bar are likely to go down a treat if you are bringing kids!

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Things to Know Before You Go

Prebook!

The Blue Lagoon is only a 15 minute drive from Iceland’s airport and is around 45 minutes from the capital of Reykjavik so is a perfect plan for either the end or the very start of your trip. It’s opening hours are usually from around 8am-10pm but keep in mind that pre-booking is required to due it being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland.

You get given a wristband on entry which the staff connect to your credit or debit card, meaning you do not have to take in a wallet or money if you are planning on visiting the swim-up bar, meaning your wallet or purse can stay securely in the lockers provided in the changing rooms.

Hair and What to Wear

The Blue Lagoon staff recommend that you take any jewellery off if possible, this is because the lagoon is not like a regular pool with chlorinated water, the ingredients in the water such as algae and silica could potentially affect jewellery, especially if it is cheap! However, many of the people I was with on the trip left in earrings and rings they could not remove and had no issues.

Swimwear should not be affected by the water, as long as your rinse it with cold water and soap after use to ensure the silica does not stick to it. Swimwear is however available to rent at reception.

Your hair can be affected by the water, especially by the silica levels which can make hair dry and very hard to manage. Make use of the complementary conditioner, you have to have a shower in your swimwear before you enter the lagoon anyway. I simply smothered my curls in the conditioner and tied it up in a top knot. After washing it thoroughly after leaving the lagoon, my hair experienced no change in the condition.

Bring your Shades

Due to the brightness of the gleaming turquoise water, I would recommend taking sunglasses!

Goodbye Iceland

The Blue Lagoon marks the end of the Iceland Adventure for this time around, but I have no doubt that I will be back at some point in my lifetime. Iceland has the amazing quality of making everywhere feel light and spacious, it was a very calming experience, even when trekking up glacier plains and trudging through snow. Even places that were popular tourist attractions never felt overcrowded. If you are looking for a destination where you can relax, but also be active and experience some truly unique creations of nature then you too will fall in love with Iceland.

Have you checked out the rest of the Iceland Adventure?!

Day One:  Travelling from tarmac to tundra

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Day Two: The Golden Circle and Gullfoss Waterfall

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Day Three: Sólheimajökull and Jökulsárlón Lagoon

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Thanks for reading,

Mol x

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The Iceland Adventure: Day Three, Sólheimajökull and Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Welcome to the third day of the Iceland Adventure! This day was filled with stunning glaciers, lagoons and icebergs…

Sólheimajökull Glacier

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Start of the hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This day was spent on the South West coast of the island and began with a hike up Sólheimajökull, a rapidly melting glacier set on an out-wash plain. It is part of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and is classed a a ‘glacier tongue’. This is where small parts of ice break off from the main glacier and fall into a lake below.

We walked for a total of four hours, sounding like a marathon now but the exquisite views were more than worth the long hike. We did the trip with a  great activity company which can be found at the Adrenalin website. Our guides were very informative and provided us with equipment such as crampons to make the hike easier, they made a tough walk surprisingly enjoyable! It is not recommended you do the hike here without professional guidance for safety reasons so bear this in mind if you are thinking of visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo above was the view from the highest point of the hike, incredible views of the snow covered plains for as far as the eye could see. The vast expanse looks untouched, a truly unique environment.

 

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

This jagged glacier lake is located on the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park, the lagoon has been created to due an increasing climate in the area. The contrast between the black rocks beneath you and the gleaming snow is another incredible sight and photo opportunity in Iceland.

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The black sand that can be seen in these photos of the edge of the lagoon is this colour due to the high concentration of basalt lava, meaning many of the coastal and sandy areas in Iceland have this dramatic colour covering them.

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Boat trips are available across the lagoon for only £12 if you want to mimic being James Bond in the film of Die Another Day as it was filmed here!

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This was one of the views from the beach across the aquamarine and the ice…

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And that marks the end of the third day! Have you checked out the rest of the Iceland Adventure?!

Day One: Travelling from tarmac to tundra

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Day Two: The Golden Circle and Gullfoss Waterfall

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Day Four: The Blue Lagoon!

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Thanks for reading,

Mol x

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The Iceland Adventure: Day One, Travelling from Tarmac to the Tundra

Welcome to the start of the Iceland Adventure series, day one!
Flying over Iceland for the first time was a truly serene experience, the clouds above us
and the snow beneath us collided to create a crisp white landscape, unlike anything I have experienced. Even from this high altitude it was evident that Iceland was a peaceful and calming place to be.

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The airline our group flew with; WOW airlines, provided a very comfortable three hour flight with no hold ups on either end, all in all a very easy and stress
free flight!
Booking flights around 6 months in advance can currently range from around £142- £211. This is from Gatwick to Keflavik airport (which is the only airport in Iceland). If you are someone who likes to book flights spontaneously, booking flights that are a week away from when you are booking them, can often range between around £600-£800 so it is definitely advised to book well in advance!
The airport is around a 45 minute drive away from the capital of Reykjavik, the express bus to the city is likely to be the cheapest method of transport but there is not a great deal of difference between this and a taxi. Due to being part of an organised group of students, we travelled by coach.
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View from Reykjavik waterfront
We stayed in Hotel Cabin in Reykjavik for this first night of our adventure. The rooms were clean and comfortable but very small! We did not require a large room so this was not an issue for us, but if space is a feature you are after and you are staying for more than one night then you may want to consider this. However, for a one night stay at around £100 it was just perfect for us students who needed a basic room for just one night.
The hotel was a five minute walk from the water front which had a stunning view out onto the icy cliffs, there were benches to use if you fancy sitting and taking in the sea air, there were also some lovely sculptures placed along the coastline which looked incredible against the backdrop of the still sea and snow covered rocks.
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Sculpture on Reykjavik waterfront

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Thank you very much for reading, have you read my other posts in this series?! This was mainly a day of travelling so the next posts are even more exciting, find them here!

Day Two: The Golden Circle and Gollfoss Waterfall

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Day Three: Sólheimajökull and Jökulsárlón Lagoon

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Day Four: The Blue Lagoon!

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Thanks for reading,

Mol x