Amalfi Coast: Travel Diary

 

Welcome to Sorrento! We came from Rome to Naples by train, and Naples to Sorrento by ferry, so we were welcomes with a wonderful view from the water. We stayed at a place called Villa Lubrense. It was about a 15 minute drive from Sorrento, and an awfully expensive taxi ride. The accommodation its self was cheap and suitable, but that was the best we could say about it. While it was a bit of a pain being further out we discovered a bus that went past that would take us into Sorrento. The view from our villa was absolutely incredible, perched right on the top of a cliff over looking Vesuvius and Naples, with Capri to the left and Sorrento to the right. As we arrived we were told of a beach if you walk down the cliff for 5 minutes (walking back taking 15 mins). We made our way down and found the beach over crowded with children running all over the show, so we didn’t make our way down again. They did have a few places to eat and drink along here which would have been nice. We sweated our way back up the hill, and took the bus into Sorrento for our first night. It was a great city to take your time wandering thought the streets and little shops. We chose one of the many restaurants for a pasta meal and a drink at sunset before taking the bus back to our villa. This was the first time, on our ride back, when we got to experience the sun set over the bay, wondering can anyone ever get over this? The 4 nights that we were there we didn’t get over it once, we even endured the mosquitos one night to have a wine and set up the go pro for the sunset.

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20160621_202812.jpg20160620_205955.jpgWe were in Sorrento for the Monday to Friday, so we had 3 full days here. The first day we took the train from Sorrento to Pompeii, and made our way through the ruins. We tried to give the audio guide a go but the voice got to us and we couldn’t bear to listen to it after the first 5 minutes. There were many tours available to take you to Pompeii but they were all rather pricey, I’m glad that we did it the way we did.

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For one of the other days we joined an under 30’s tour to Capri, a boat with 12 passengers. This turned out to be a lot of fun, doing lots of swimming off the boat and spent a few hours on the island. If you care to plan ahead a little they had specific days when tour similar to this were quite cheap in price so that would have been good to look out for.

 

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20160622_143400.jpgOur 3rd day we booked our selves on a boat tour to Amalfi and Positano. While it was a really nice day I found that it wasn’t really worth the money to go around with family tourists. You could have taken public transport to Amalfi, trekked along the ‘gods trail’ to Positano, and gotten a bus back to Sorrento, saving your self a lot of money and making for a much more flexible day. We did have a beautiful day however, we had a few hours in Amalfi to wander the streets, and a shorter time to check out Positano were we had a bit of a swim. Amalfi was fantastic to see, however Positano, while smaller, was much more picturesque.

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We managed to find a few beautiful restaurants around purely by luck, where we had the best food from our holiday.

On the Friday it was time for us to move, so we got on the ferry back to Naples, where we caught the train to Venice for the weekend.

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Rome in a Day | Part 1 Travel diary

This was the start of a 3-week holiday in June/July. It was my last real holiday before I move back to Perth in September. The realization of this is slowly creeping in as the holiday gets closer. I’m so excited to spend the summer in Europe, but the thought that next winter I cant go to Switzerland for a ski trip is pretty tragic. To be fair, next winter in Europe will be my summer in Australia, so I get to a double summer. Also pretty great. Anyway, what I am saying is that its bitter sweet. I am so happy to come home to my boyfriend and family and friends, but so sad to leave behind the Europe travels and the new friends I have made.

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So this holiday starts in Rome, Isaac is coming straight up from Perth to Rome, so we will meet in the airport. Kinda romantic right? Meet you in Rome, that’s what I thought. Until staff travel had a different idea and I was stuck in Heathrow airport for 8 hours trying to leave the country. I was to fly with BA, and it seemed that every BA employee was trying to get to Rome, which means they have priority over me as I work for Qantas. So 5th flight lucky and I was finally on my way, my romantic ideas of meeting Isaac in the airport shattered. He made his way to our accommodation, and I was to meet him there. We stayed at Roma Camping Village, a common stop for contiki travelers. It was a great place to stay with a really nice atmosphere and good, cheap facilities, but it was a little out of the city. The first night we caught up and had cheap pizza and beer at the camping grounds.

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19-06-2016-10.25.09.jpg.jpegThe next day was our only full day in Rome, as we were out early next morning for Sorrento. We caught a bus into the city, and started our day at the Vatican. What we didn’t realize is that the only day we had in Rome was a Sunday, so the museum was closed the whole day. We were still able to go into the city, but we also found that we were a few hours too early for the pope’s speech, so we didn’t even get to see that. However the city was fantastic to see, and as we come in jeans (making sure our knees and shoulders were covered) we were sweating profusely by the time we lined up and were able to enter, but this didn’t deter from it at all. We walked into the city, past the castel san tangelo, up to piazza del popolo, and down to trevi fountain. Upon recommendation we went to gelato di san crispino, which was worth a trip. We made our way to the pantheon, took at look at the world’s largest freestanding dome, and had a pizza lunch in the square.

We made our way to the coliseum and joined the massive queues to see the inside. As it turned out it didn’t take too long to get through the queue so we didn’t mind so much. It was awe inspiring to be at this iconic location, to get a glimpse into the past. By this time our feet were aching from all the walking, and we stumbled and complained our way across the river Tiber. As walked along through all the pop up markets and bars, it had a lovely atmosphere. Isaac and I made our way close to badilica di santa maria in trastevere for a drink. There were many bars an restaurants in the area, it was really lovely, and we went to ai marmi for pizza, again by recommendation from some Italian friends. It seemed to be a popular spot for the locals and the restaurant was heaving, despite there being a pizzeria next door which looked quite quiet. We were a bit stuck of how to get back to our accommodation from here, and it has been a long day, so we got an uber to pick us up. On the drive home we caught a glimpse of Rome from above during sunset, and it was truly magical.

19-06-2016-01.57.56.jpg.jpegIt was time to move on, and we organized a train from Rome to Naples the next morning. From Naples we went to the port and took a ferry to Sorrento, the whole process taking about 4 hours and onto part 2 of our summer adventure.

Feeling Spanish | Barcelona Travel Diary


This was pretty impromptu trip. I had a week off in January 2015 with no real travel plans, so I put it out there to a few friends to come and join me in Barcelona. I went ahead and booked a room with 4 beds in a hostel, and told people to come and join me if they had any free days. The first night I spent there with a friend Hannah. She was just staying the first 2 nights. We booked our selves onto a city bus tour, so we had a great time getting the history of the city and seeing the tourist sights. We went down to the harbour that night for paella and sangria, with a beautiful sunset for the show.

 

As Hannah was leaving, my housemate Caroline arrived. We hired bikes for the day and rode along the coast all day, terrified of being killed in Barcelona, stopping for lunch before turning back. For January we had lovely weather, a big relief from our first winter in London. Caris and Dan arrived that night, and we stayed at the hostel for dinner as they had some flamenco dancers performing that night, which was great fun to see. We went out afterwards to a cocktail bar named after some famous rehab clinic in America, which we were told had great cocktails. Unfortunately the ones that we ordered tasted how band aids smell (plasters), but it made for a fun night anyway.

 

Again we spent the next day wandering by the harbour and the beach, and walking along the streets and shopping a little. We found a great place for tapas that night and continued with the sangria theme. The culture and the food were amazing and it made for a very social week, I cannot wait until I can go back and do more of Spain, Ideally incorporating it with a road trip through Portugal. That will have to go on the list of places where to travel! I only got a taster of Spain.

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Solo Lisbon Trip | Travel Diary

I had a few days off on my own so I thought that it was about time for Portugal. It was may 2015 that I went, so coming out of winter I was hoping for a place with a bit more warmth. I booked myself into a hostel and tried to use TAP airways with staff travel. This was a horrible time to travel to Portugal as TAP had pilot strikes going on, and they were the main carrier to Lisbon. So I struggled to get to Lisbon and out of, back to London. But I had 3 days to spend and I wanted to make the most of it. The afternoon that I arrived I just wandered around the city and trying some of the foods that they had to offer. Mostly the Portuguese custard tarts. That night I spent in the hostel for dinner. We sat in a large group setting with lots of sangria going around, so I met a few lovely people there that night.

 

My first full day I spent the morning on a walking tour, which went for about 5 hours. This was a great way to see the city and also meet other travelers. We walked from Rua Costa Do Castelo to Alfama, which has great panoramic views. I loved the old colourful buildings and the easy vibe to the city. There were lots of small streets and old bookshops to get lost in. This night I met up with some people who I had met earlier to go for dinner and find a spot to over look the city at sunset.

 

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I also spend a day in Sintra. You can get the train, it’ll take about an hour. It’s a resort town in the foothills of the Sintra mountains. I hiked up the mountain to reach the castle of the Moors. This took about an hour. There are a few paths and signs along the way but there aren’t many people on the trails. You can also choose to get a bus up, but I found the hike so beautiful and rewarding. From the castle I walked to the Pena Palace which probably took another 20-30 minutes. The palace was painted with bright colours and was truly unique. It has wonderful history and beautiful gardens, which I got lost in a few times. Finally I made my way back down to the town, where I sat outside and enjoyed some food before heading back to Lisbon on the train, exhausted.

That was the last night I spent in Lisbon before heading back to London the next day, having to deal with the pilot strikes again.

Mitte of Europe | Travel Diary

I had some wonderful delusions for this trip. I was sick of flying and obsessed with the idea of slow traveling. While I still prefer to go across land rather then by air if I can help it, I don’t think I would willingly do a trip exactly like this again. Going by bus is a very cheap, and very slow, and very uncomfortable way to travel. I left London on a night bus to Brussels, which was about 10 hours long. You leave from Victoria bus station and get dropped of in central Brussels. I took a few train stops to the hostel that I was staying at. I am really glad that I made my way to Belgium, however I wouldn’t recommend travelling there on your own, or perhaps if your going on your own there would be an event on that you were interested in. Traveling alone is a bit of an art form, personally I have found that you are going to have an awesome time if you have some kind of activity to do, for example hiking, snorkeling or diving. While I had a nice time in Brussels, I didn’t have an amazing experience. I found it difficult to meet people despite staying at a hostel. I arrived on a Monday and left on the Friday, and I thought afterwards it would be good to come for an event or perhaps even on a weekend when there is some more night life. I also found that just 2 full days would be enough. I spent 2 days just wandering around the city, eating chocolate and waffles and drinking beer. It’s a beautiful city and I made my way through the streets to view the architecture, and found my self in a music museum. I would recommend a walking tour to get the full history. I went to Bruges for a day on the train. This was a magical city, nice to walk and wander and get lost in the streets. It’s not a huge town, half a day here would be plenty. As I was leaving I decided to go back to Brussels via Ostend, which was the train stop after Bruges. I stayed for the sunset by the water before heading back. For my last day I brought some food and headed by train to Boitsfort to have a walk around the walking trails in the forest, which I really enjoyed.

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From Brussels, I got on a bus to Amsterdam. I was meeting up with my friends Caris and Dan and a few other girls here to go and see Taylor Swift, a love of Caris’. Isaac, my partner, was meant to meet us in Amsterdam, but we had a lot of trouble getting him out of Perth on staff travel. He ended up going via Sydney and London, making it 4 connecting flights before arriving in Amsterdam on the day that we were leaving. We only had the weekend here, and we didn’t do much other then eat, drink and shop. And see T-Swift, which was awesome. Isaac arrived in the morning of my last day extremely travel worn, and we spent the day walking around before our bus that night to Berlin.

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The Bus was about 9 hours long. We planned to spend 4 days in Berlin and this was a perfect amount of time here. It was pouring rain when we arrived, but when the sun was out it was the best atmosphere. We were staying at Generator hostel, which was a really friendly place to be. There were lots of art galleries around everywhere and we loved the relaxed vibe to the city. We made our way through monuments, parks, beer gardens and along the Berlin wall. We caught up with my cousin Gemma and her partner Matia, along with some friends of theirs who were living in Germany at the time. They were able to take us to a few nice places to enjoy the weather and recommend some great food and beers to have while there.

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We then made our way to Munich, again by bus. It was around a 6 hour ride. It was here that we first tried an airbnb, we booked our self a private place quite central. It was a great experience and saved us a lot of money. The weather was great in Munich, and we spent our days walking around the parks along the river, and watching surfers take turns along the waves that the river made. It was a great atmosphere, and all we wanted to do was spend our time outside. We also made our way to Dachau concentration camp. It was packed with information, and was a very interesting and ominous place to be. It felt very normal, just an average place to go in the country, and for me that was the strangest thing about it, to know that so much horror had gone on here and yet there we were strolling around on a summer’s day.

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This brought our trip to an end, and we flew back to London (in amazement and relief that it only took us 2 hours when we had spend so many hours on busses this trip).

The first Edinburgh adventure | Travel Diary

 

We had 3 short days off, so a girlfriend of mine Monty and I decided to head up to Edinburgh. We took the train up, about a 4 and a half our journey. It was quite expensive, but we thought it would be the easiest way to go. We were told that you had beautiful scenery, although it was foggy the entire way up for us, and we can home in the dark so we didn’t get to enjoy the view. It did leave plenty of time for good conversation though! All in all it was a great train ride and an easy way to travel. We were staying with my aunty Debbie, so after a few hours pocking around the city we met at her work and she took us back to her apartment. She had the most beautiful place right in the thick of things, and Edinburgh is obviously a lovely city to live in. It was great to spend some time with Deb and her son, who I had only met once before at Christmas the year before. We had a night in and Debbie made us a beautiful dinner.

 

For the next 2 days Monty and I organized a hop on hop off tour and did our best to get around to all the sites. We were on limited time so this was fantastic for us, we had a great time exploring the city! We walked through the amazing botanical gardens, had scones and tea on the royal yacht Britannia, wandered through Edinburgh castle and got rained on at the queen’s palace (its okay because we got to hide in the guard boxes). On the yacht the queen and prince Philip both had single beds. It was mid week when we were there so we made our way around a few pubs, ending with a (un)forgettable night at a karaoke bar. It was such a fun and beautiful city it was the perfect little get away with great company!

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Next week: England road trip

Fire and Ice | Iceland Travel Diary

I am so excited to write about this one and tell you all about it. I absolutely love this country. If I could I would live here and work as a tour guide taking people out camping on glaciers or scuba diving between tectonic plates in freezing glacial waters then I would. This is my favorite country in Europe to date, and if there wasn’t so much that I hadn’t seen of Europe then I would be spending the rest of my time in London holidaying back to Iceland. There is always that temptation when you find a place you love to just keep returning. However if I did that I doubt I would ever have gone to Iceland, I would have just kept going back to dive in Thailand’s tropical waters (my first love).

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So! We had week to travel. I actually had 2 weeks off, but we found that we just didn’t have the money to extend this trip. Instead Isaac and I spent Christmas and new years (on days off, which I was so lucky to get) in London with my flight attendant family, and my leave started on the 4th of January. Packing was a challenge. We didnt really have any ski gear which would have been perfect, so instead we layered! A lot. On a normal day we wore thermals with jeans over the top, thermal top, long sleave top, jumper or thin weather proof jacket with the biggest warmest jackets we had on top. A scarf and beany, and ski gloves or I had to do double layered gloves as i had no ski gloves. Thermal socks and hiking boots to top it off.

 

We went full fare with wow air, Iceland’s budget carrier. The entire flight we were looking out the window just hoping to get a glimpse of the northern lights from the air, with no such luck. We flew out of Gatwick, and obviously I had forgotten my vow to never fly out of there again. Gatwick is a nightmare to get to from where I live in west London and with all the train fares we may as well have just spent a bit extra to fly out of Heathrow with all the extra fees we ended up having to pay. Moving on, we arrived into Keflavik airport around 11pm. From there they have a shuttle bus that goes straight into Reykjavik, about a 40 min ride where they also have a hotel transfer option. This is about the only way to get to Reykjavik and we had pre booked tickets, but I’m not sure if that was necessary. It was really easy and there were busses every 20 mins or so. We got a transfer to a hotel, which was a street away from our airbnb. Our host left out a key for us and we found it pretty easy to get to. We were staying close to cabin hotel, near the water and about a 30 min walk into the city center. While for us this worked quite well, but it would have been nice to have been a bit closer around downtown. The walking into the city was a bit challenging due to the snow and ice, and its also an extremely windy country. Extremely cold in January, even though the weather reports said it was about -1 to 4 degrees. We didn’t think it would be so bad. So we arrived late at night and crawled straight into bed for a full day and early start the next day.

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Reykjavic City
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soup bread bowl:)

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Black and Blue! We very nearly turned black and blue ourselves. This tour picked us up around 9 am, in the pitch dark. There were about 6 other people on this tour, so they did the rounds and picked everyone up from where they were staying. We started to drive out to the lava caves (the ‘black’ part of the tour) and arrived around 11am, just when the sun was starting to rise and we were able to see our first glimpse of Iceland in the daylight. We were surrounded by snow and mountains, and were treated to a spectacular sunrise with clear skies. We put our hard hats on and chains to go over our hiking boots provided by the tour company (not the boots) and crawled our selves into the cave through a small opening. We stayed in the cave for about 40 minutes to an hour. They took us through as deep as we could go, and finally told us to sit down and turn off our lights. For minutes we sat in the darkness listening to the drips of the cave. It was completely pitch black, with no chance of seeing your hand if it was right in front of your eyes. It was a completely surreal experience. So for a few minutes we sat in silence and enjoyed this experience before turning our lights back on to start making our way out again. By the time we surfaced the sun was completely risen, although it was still sitting extremely close to the horizon.

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caving ready
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1oam sunrise

From here we jumped back into the car and took us between the American and European tectonic plates to go snorkeling in the glacial waters at Pingvellir national park. This was freezing! This was the ‘blue’ part of the tour. We spend half an hour or so getting prepared and into our dry suits. Isaac took charge of the camera at this point thank goodness, as I don’t think I would have been able to do anything with my hands. So we jumped in and drifted our way around. While we felt the cold on our face and hands (we were wearing wetsuit hoods and gloves) I didn’t find it too bad for the first 5 to 10 minutes. But before long my dry suite leaked and the uncontrollable shaking started with pains jolting up our hand and arms. The temperature of the water here stays the same all year round, so unfortunately going in summer wouldn’t have been any better, although you might have had the chance to thaw out after you got out. Despite this, the fresh water was incredibly clear and it was an absolutely fantastic experience. They also offer scuba diving here, but as Isaac isn’t a certified diver we opted for the snorkeling. After doing the snorkeling I’m not sure that I missed out at all by not doing the diving, the water was so clear you could see as far as there was to see, and the diving was much more expensive. Although as I haven’t done the diving I cant really compare it. So our lips and hands were swollen and blue with some bruising on our fingers, and I was quite eager to hop out. Isaac stayed a bit longer and had a swim around and did a little filming with our camera. We got back into our dry gear, although as you wear your thermals in the water under your dry suit and mine had leaked, I was still a bit wet and chilly. We tried to rub some feeling back into our hands as we went for a bit of a walk around the national park and enjoyed the 3pm sunset before being taken back to Reykjavik. My friend Hannah arrived late this night to spend the next couple of days with us!

 

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walk to entry point

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Pingvellir national park

 

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Pingvillir national park
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Freezing in Pingvillir national park
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Defrosting in Pingvillir national park

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The next day we had a bit of a sleep in and woke up with the sunrise. We had a bit of a walk around Reykjavik and checked out some of the sites and had a beautiful bread bowl full of soup, and then headed back to our apartment to get ready for the northern lights tour. We rugged ourselves up in about 6 layers of clothes before heading out. We chose to do the cheapest tour available, where they take you out on a big bus full of 50 people, take you away from the city lights and park up for the night while we wait and see if anything will happen. Most other more personal tours take you chasing the northern lights in jeeps, where as we just had to wait and see if we got lucky. And, we certainly did get lucky. When we had just arrived we could see a faint green glow that we were wondering if our eyes wee just tricking us. But after about 30 minutes the sky started to get more active, and it kept us out there for a few hours. We took along a make shift tripod out of paper cups that Isaac made, that was take by the wind on first opportunity. So while we didn’t get any amazing shots, we still tried our very hardest. All credit to Isaac.

We had one more full day with Hannah, and we jumped on the golden circle tour. At first I wasn’t to sure about this, it seemed a bit generic and I wanted to be out being an adventurer and a mountain climber. But it was one of the cheaper tours available and I read some good reviews. I was not disappointed, this was definitely worth doing. So they took us to the geysir hot springs where we spent about an hour. We had a great time here walking around the geysir’s and taking photos, and just enjoying the scenery. They then took us onto Gullfoss waterfall. It was starting to get incredibly windy now and us and everyone else were getting pushed across the ice. This was a fantastic sight to see, a real treat. We then found ourselves heading back to Pingvellir national park, where the first government was held. We walked a different way this time and were able to show Hannah where we had been snorkeling the day before. This was a fantastic day and I would have been sad to miss out on it. That night we tried to have a nice night in and buy some alcohol, but we couldn’t find any near by, as they don’t sell it in the supermarkets there. So we gave up and had an early night, and Hannah left early the next morning.

 

So it was back to just Isaac and I, and we didn’t have anything planned today. So we walked around Reykjavik and stopped for a few drinks. We were told absolutely do not miss this hotdog stand Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, by numerous people, so we had to go and see what they were talking about. Just so you know, it was terrible.

 

The next day we were all set up to join a whale watching tour. I was extremely excited about this as was very keen to see some orcas, however all we saw was a few dolphins and the followed them around for a good half an hour. I thought maybe winter wasn’t the best time to spot whales but there didn’t seem to be a particular season for the whale watching tours. So, we headed back to the city and sat at a wine bar for a few hours and grabbed some dinner. It was a very trendy city to be out in, with lots of nice places to hangout and enjoy a night out.

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For our last day in Iceland we had planned a glacier hike which included ice pick climbing. Unfortunately this was cancelled due to the weather. So we got a refund and instead headed by bus to Mosfellsbaer, the mountains which you could see from Reykjavik city. I would not recommend taking public transport, we found out later that the busses only ran once every hour or two, and was nearly impossible to find a timetable. We were trying to reach the hiking center to get some information and use as our starting point, which required us to take 2 busses, but our second bus never came so we gave up on that. Instead we just went for a walk for a few hours from where ever the first bus dropped us off, I couldn’t even tell you where that was. However it was still a beautiful walk and we were surrounded by lovely scenery.

 

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Mosfellsbaer
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view from Reyjavic of mountains

We flew home the next day on staff travel with British airways. We were a bit nervous as there was only one flight a day that we could get on with staff travel, but we didn’t have a problem (almost a shame, would have been good to have spent some extra time).

Next post: Edinbough