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66degreesNorth

Iceland

snow 0 °C

Hvar sem fjandinn er par hafur hann sina (A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will).
Emanuel Strauss

Iceland. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be boarding a plane, crossing the North Atlantic Ocean, heading towards Reykjavik. However four days ago, this is the exact position I seemed to find myself in.

Many people asked me, ‘why Iceland?’ and my response was ‘why not?’ This fascination with this little country with a population of 320 000 stems back to the start of this year. A guy I met traveling was heading there in search of the Northern Lights, and I never really thought anything more of it. Another friend of mine headed there in Summer where it’s light twenty-four hours of the day, again, I didn’t give it another thought. Then, whilst I was planning, booking and researching my end of year travel, Iceland made her way into my mind. I began looking into the wild idea of actually going, where I became hooked to my computer screen at the captivating images of this magnificent country. Then, another friend went to Iceland and I thought, that’s it, I’m doing it. So that brings me to Reykjavik in the middle of winter.

As we descended through the clouds, I was breath taken by the rugged, barren and untamed landscape before me. The bus ride into town was pretty majestical, I listened to Sigur Ros’ album Valtari, and my senses were overloaded. I was captivated by the dark mountains blanketed ever so delicately in snow, the mysterious sky swirling with grey clouds to such a brilliant album was truly such an amazing experience.
I stayed at the KEX hostel which is one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in. It used to be an old biscuit factory which is now converted into a retro, funky hostel. That night I had some beer at the bar with our little KEX crew, people from England, Germany, America, Canada, Taiwan, Malaysia, Holland and of course, Australia.

My first day in Iceland was spent relaxing and lazing around the Blue Lagoon. Whilst steeply overpriced, it was so worth the money to be in such a warm, beautiful place. The hardest thing about these geothermal pools is the pain staking run from indoors to the water. And I’ve never run faster. Once submerged in the cleansing waters, all of life’s troubles were forgotten. We watched the sun rise over the mountains, witnessing the darkness disappear to golden hues. I had my underwater camera so we took some pretty awesome photos, the only issue now that I believe some of the sediment made its way through the cracks and now I’m experiencing technical difficulties, but the photos are fine so that’s all I need. After a few hours of heavenly bathing in nature’s goodness, we headed back to the city.
That afternoon, we trudged our way around the town, and that is no exaggeration. I have never been in wind so strong. Your face stings, coat is flapping everywhere and your words are lost to the roar of the skies. In hind sight, it’s all hilarious but at the time, ever so painful. We saw the renowned Viking statue and walked up to probably one of the strangest churches I’ve ever seen. The main street is so cute and lovely, with Christmas decorations still swaying above. That night I enjoyed a long hot shower, some awesome cheap food and more beer from the bar before completely passing out in my little cocoon of a sleeping bag.

A very early start to the day as I embarked on a journey around the Golden Circle. At 66°N, the sun doesn’t rise until 11am so the first part of the day was spent napping. The Icelandic Highlands are absolutely incredible. Words cannot describe the vastness of the place. How people managed to inhabit the land hundreds of years ago is beyond me. Our first stop was Gullfoss waterfall, and I thought Reykjavik was windy, oh wasn’t I mistaken. The hurricane strength winds flew off the icy earth and whipped across my face like knives. I literally could not feel my nose and occasionally reached my hand up to check that the wind had not swept it from my face. We were walking across the ground which was dangerously covered in ice so people were slipping and sliding in all directions. However, the view was worth the numbing pain. The waterfall was such a vivid cold blue, as the edges of the earth were frozen the water plummeted down. I took my photos, took it all in and then retreated back to the bus to defrost.

The next stop was the Geysir, which as we arrived was spurting high into the air. Here was much less windy and they sky was a rich blue with the sun actually showing its face! Afterwards we stopped at the tectonic plate boundary between the Eurasian plate and North American plate. The Rift Valley was amazing and having studied environmental science at school and being a mega nerd about it all, I was fairly excited! The view over the valley was incredible and difficult to take in. On the ride back to town I was listening to Of Monsters and Men, another great Icelandic band, and let my mind wonder beyond the mountains and clouds.

That night there was a jazz band playing in the bar so we found a corner complete with a cool swinging chair and lots of beer to enjoy each others company, the music and my last night in Reykjavik.

Iceland was such a beautiful surprise, a gem hidden in the middle of nowhere. I really didn’t have many expectations but I can tell you they were all exceeded. Despite the pricy nature of the country, it’s so worth getting up hours before the sun rises and exploring this mostly untouched land. I would love to return one day, maybe in the summertime, but who knows when I’ll next be 66°N again? I met some absolutely lovely people, drank some really awesome beer, saw natural wonders like glaciers that I may never see again. And in an environment that is so fragile yet fierce, it really got me thinking about the immense power of nature and how it can influence our mind, spirit and body. Iceland, you were absolutely magical and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my year abroad.

Xxx

A

Posted by missadelaide 04:00 Archived in Iceland Tagged waterfalls beer unique friends beautiful love amazing geysers windy cold iceland arctic reykjavik Comments (1)

A Wee Trip To Scotland

Make It Count

overcast 12 °C

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful

- Joshua J. Marine

Somewhere between place and time, day and night… OK somewhere between Edinburgh and Newcastle, I sit staring out the window of the train with vivid memories of the past week flashing across the emerald horizon.

Scotland… you have delivered once again. 10 days is definitely not enough time to embrace all you have to offer, I’m not sure if a lifetime is enough. From your wee village of Largoward, mysteries of Loch Ness, the pristinely untouched Isle of Skye, ruins in St Andrews and the incredible cobblestone streets of Edinburgh… you are such a gem that will forever have a strong hold over my heart and fiery red hair.

My year abroad is rapidly coming to an end, and with only four weeks until I return home, there is some much needed travel to be done. I decided to revisit Scotland for two reasons; to spend some time with my UK family and to get one last encounter with the beauty of Scotland. At the beginning of the year, Edinburgh was the first destination I journeyed to purely alone. I believe this was a life defining moment for me. To be in another county, alone, no idea where I was going or what I was doing, but knowing that there was something there for me, is a pretty remarkable feeling.

If you can’t be inspired by Scotland, then I genuinely don’t know what can. Everything from the people, the architecture, culture and the breath taking scenery is screaming to be captured in a photo, painting, book or (on a more amateur note) blog. I had such a lovely time relaxing in rural Fife. Sleeping until the afternoon, playing dress ups with ‘the wee pest,’ drinking red wine and Prosecco, and just chilling was such a nice change to the routine, dreariness London offers. I completely understand how so much great literature has come from Scotland, and I hope to be published one day as someone who was ever so inspired by this country.

Returning to Edinburgh, that feeling hit me again. Walking the familiar cobblestone streets, I felt a sense of home. Edinburgh is definitely somewhere I could see myself living, which says a lot. I checked into my hostel (High Street Hostel) and was immediately told about the free pub crawl that night. For any of you looking for accommodation in Edinburgh, look no further. Really cheap, awesome kitchen/lounge area (pool table and all) Thursday nights they have the free pub crawl and Fridays are burger nights which are wicked. Anyway, the people in my room were so cool and friendly. From all over the world, they invited me to join them for dinner and drinks… who could say no right? We got some vodka and lined our stomachs with amazing pasta, to kick off the start of a memorable night.
Before we go any further, vodka redbulls for 1.75… enough said.
The drinks went down, we danced and sang the night away, I think, with some cool and very attractive locals.

Night 2 was very similar to the first, though we were at a slight disadvantage due to our hangovers. Nonetheless… we carried on. The second night I met up with some of the locals we met the previous night and ended up at a house party drinking rum and eating home-made Tiramisu, before heading to a club in the city to dance the night away until 4am. What a night!

The next afternoon as I was walking down to Waverly Station, a strange feeling overcame me. Maybe it was a mega hangover from a big weekend… but it was some sort of closure. That Edinburgh had done its job. Saw me arrive as a young, naïve, girl and leave as a (still young) open-minded, strong, confident, slight alcoholic, young lady who knows I can achieve anything. Cheesy I know, but I guess that’s one thing that will never change.
I know I will return to Edinburgh one day. It is no doubt one of my favourite cities I’ve experienced, each time meeting new friends, having different adventures, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and creating new memories which will last a lifetime.
So to Edinburgh and your beautiful country, thank you.
Peace
Xxx
A

Posted by missadelaide 11:01 Archived in Scotland Tagged food rain beer winter scotland home history travel adventure friends life beautiful old uk amazing drinks vodka cold cobblestone Comments (0)

All These Little Things

semi-overcast 9 °C

Somehow, it's all the little things that can influence your life in the greatest way.
They may not be ground breaking or completely radical... but this beautiful little moment I experienced this week, is definitely blog worthy, warmed my heart and in a way, you could almost say mind opening.

So, I was at work, when my favourite customer in the world, a 10 year old boy along with his mum, walk through the door.
His mother smiles and walks to the racks of clothes whilst Buddy, waves and comes straight towards me.
He's dressed in his school blazer with his violin slung across his shoulder.
I say the usual, 'Hey Buddy, how's it going? How's school/football/violin? Are you looking forward to Christmas?
We talk as he walks around in circles feeling the textures of different clothes.
Today, he just didn't seem himself.
I asked him what was up.
He responded with a typical child's answer, 'I HATE MY MOTHER.'
He told me his story (he was misbehaving so she took his gameboy off of him) and I listened intently.
Being the polite young man he is, he changed the topic and asked me how I was.
I broke him the news that I would soon be leaving work and heading back to Australia.
And his reaction captured the pure essence of being a child that I absolutely love.
'Ah, but Australia is so far away! Why do you need to go home?'
I told Buddy that like him, I had family and friends that care about me very much at home, and that it was time for me to go back.
'But that's.... a million miles away!'
I smiled at the thought.
I told him that my family makes me upset sometimes, but they're always just trying to do what's right for me because they love me.
His mother was finished shopping and returned, announcing it was time to go home.
Buddy then suddenly wrapped his arms around my waist and began crying.
I was overcome by emotion.
I couldn't believe how much trust and compassion this boy had towards me, someone he barely knows.
I hugged him back fighting tears.
His darling mother then said, 'baby, I'll bring you back in next week so we can say goodbye, ok?' He reluctantly agreed, took his mothers hand and together they left, both of them smiling at me.
I turned to my colleagues who had seen the whole thing and I went out the back to compose myself.

This beautiful little moment touched my heart and made me think about the pure beauty, innocence and compassion that children possess, something we could all learn from the little ones in our lives.
Children live with such honesty which I think if we adapted just slightly, we'd all be much happier people.
This little boy will probably never know of the gift he has given me, a genuine insight to a child's mind and love from a child, but I hope to carry his legacy with me.
I hope I see them this week so I can say, au revoir, and wish him the very best of luck for his future and to remind him to treasure all the little things, because that's what makes life so beautiful.

xxx
A

Posted by missadelaide 03:59 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged children london home australia beautiful love uk amazing retail respect compassion going_home Comments (0)

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