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Our Iceland Adventure!

This trip was a long time coming after a cancelled cruise in 2020. Rather than wasting loads of time hunting online I decided to head to our local travel agent Murray Travel to see what they had to offer us and booked it all through them. When we went to Iceland in 2016 we flew from Aberdeen sadly this is no longer an option. The best option was flying from Glasgow. The flight is around 2 1/2hrs then a 45min bus ride to Reykjavik.

We returned to the same hotel Center Hotel Plaza as we had stayed there on our honeymoon. It is centrally located and the breakfast is pretty tasty too. I was unsure about who to book our trips through so I used Viator to find day trips that fitted with what we wanted to do and booked through them.

We arrived before lunch on Thursday, so we headed for our hotel to drop off our luggage and start our adventure. First stop was get some food and we found a fab seafood grill on the main high street called Sjavargtillid. On the specials there was beef cheek so we both had to try and it was fantastic.

Just outside our hotel!

After we was fed it was time to explore! First we headed up the rainbow street towards the amazing church called Hallgrimskirkja. At 74.5 metres tall it is the largest church in Iceland and it dominates the Reykjavik skyline. It is free to look round downstairs if you want to admire the views from the tower you can do this for around £7 per person.

We kept seeing these E-Scooter’s parked up so we decided to find a pub and do some googling! So we just had to download an app add our Apple pay and away we go! So after we got in to our hotel room we went for a walk to the harbour! After a wee argument of trying to get it all working we was off on our scooters! This is a great way of getting about to cover a few miles in no time at all and at about £10 for a hour its pretty cheap and a right laugh!

Cruising on our e-scooters

The rest of the day we just walked, scootered and did lots of sight seeing. The other highlight of our first day were Tjörnin the city pond where there is abundance of ducks, swans and geese paddling, wandering checking out the architecture, the Sun Voyager Sculpture and just admiring the beauty of the city! For tea we went to Svarta Kaffid and had their amazing meat soup in a bread bowl. This cost around £18 each with a drink! We did not stay out too late as we was simply knackered after out early flight!

Next day we was up at the crack of dawn to get our breakfast and catch our bus for our full 12 hr tour of the South Coast! Our tour provider was Hidden Iceland and we had an amazing guide/driver called Robert! After a hour or so of travelling and admiring the views and wee snack/toilet stop we arrived at our first waterfall Skógafoss. This waterfall is a impressive 60m high and 25m wide that you can stand right beside but be prepared with waterproofs on! If you want to view it from the top there is a eye watering 527 steps climb but 100% worth it!

Skógafoss

Back in the bus and on to our next stop Black beach with its black sand and sea stacks! The rock formation at the beach has the look of the Giants causeway in Ireland and Fingals Cave on Staffa. This beach can be very dangerous and you really need to stay safe when the waves are wild.

We then went to visit the beautiful village of Vik with the stunning wee church on the hill.

Vik

After going to the view point we headed to the Lava show. The Icelandic Lava Show is a unique exhibition about the volcanic active in Iceland, what happens when a volcano erupts and what the residents do to deal with it! You are then treated to a fantastic experience of seeing real lava! After the show we tucked in to some soup at the cafe before heading off to our next stop!

We had a quick stop at Dyrholaey Lighthouse beside the black beach it was rather misty but was still great!

The weather cleared up a bit by the time we got to Sólheimajökull the glacier between the volcanoes Katla and Eyjafjallajökull. There is a viewing area and there are companies that can take you hiking on the glacier!

Our last stop on our fantastic South Coast tour was at Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It is around 60 metres tall and in the summer months it is possible to walk behind it.

Seljalandsfoss

After the waterfall we was heading back to Reykjavik we spied a beautiful rainbow. Robert stopped so we could take some photos! He dropped us off and we headed back to the hotel before getting something to eat!

We chose a lovely restaurant beside our hotel called Fjallkonan. We had been there before when we was on our honeymoon in 2016 so had planned to return! We enjoyed an amazing 7 course taster menu which included puffin, minky whale, lobster and lamb! It was as lovely as the last time we visited. It is a great place to go if you want something a little bit special!

Next day was more a chilled day for us so we had a slightly longer lie and after breakfast we had another scooter adventure! We headed along for a look at the Harpa concert hall and conference centre that opened on May 4, 2011. The building features a distinctive coloured glass design.

Harpa

Along the road we then stopped at Hofdi House, a major world historical event took place here in 1986 when the presidents of Russia and the US, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, met to end the Cold War.

Hofdi

We dropped off our scooters and thought it was time to grab a coffee as it was rather chilly! We had a wee look round some shops then had a snack and drink at the Hard Rock Cafe. In the afternoon we visited the Settlement Exhibition which was really interesting and well worth a visit, admission is around £16 per person.

Our final place to visit that day was Magic Ice a super cool ice bar!

Magic Ice, ice bar!

We had a wee pub crawl in-between window shopping and in the evening we visited another soup cafe called Icelandic Street food. Later on that night we had a Northern lights tour that came as part of our holiday package. We knew before we left there was a small chance of seeing anything but just went for the wee bus run! We was taken to a lovely location at a beautiful church called Kálfatjarnarkirkja but sadly no Northern lights to be seen!

Kálfatjarnarkirkja

Next day was our last day and another early morning for a full day tour! Our tour provider was Nice Travel and we had a great driver/guide called David. We set off on our Golden Circle tour with some added extras!

First stop was one of Iceland’s National parks Thingvellir, here is the only place on Earth where you can touch with your both hands the North-American Tectonic plate and Eurasian tectonic plates. We had a explore before walking down between the plates! It is certainly an amazing place you could spend the day here wandering!

Thingvellir

Due to running ahead of time we manage to get a bonus wee stop to see where they bake the Lava rye bread as seen on Gordon Ramsay’s F word. Laugarvatn is a hot spring town with beautiful views across the water at the mountains. Here they bake rye bread in the ground. There was several mounds where the bread was baking when we stopped although it is rather smelly due to the sulphur!

Lava bread baking!

Our next stop on our awesome adventure was Geysir to see the highly active hot springs Strokkur geyser is the one that is most active and spouts water around 30 metres high every 4-8 mins and is an amazing sight to be seen. After we watched a few eruptions and had a wander round we headed for the cafe and a look in the shop before our next stop.

Strokkur geyser

A few miles along the road was Gullfoss Falls. This waterfall I would describe as massive with 2 tiers, the force of the water is incredible. There are several viewing areas to view the falls and I would go to them all to get the full experience.

Gullfoss

We got an extra stop to see some Icelandic horses we had not seen any up close so far so they were great to see. There was also some sheep at the croft they were still inside for the winter. The croft has a small shop selling handmade knitted items.

Our penultimate chapter in this epic adventure was Kerid crater lake! A huge crater is thought to have formed when the magma in the center simply depleted itself, and the empty chamber beneath caved in. Leaving behind this massive water filled crater thats is surrounded with red volcanic rock. You can walk round the crater as well going down to the edge of the water/ice.

Kerid Crater

Our last and ultimate stop which marked almost the end of our holiday was the Blue Lagoon. This has got to be one of most famous places in Iceland and people come from all over the world to have a dip in the cloudy blue water! This costs around £80 for the 2 of us and includes a drink at the bar, towel hire and a mud face mask!

Blue Lagoon

After chilling out at the Blue lagoon it was time to return to Reykjavik, say goodbye to our driver and get packed! We had one last meal out at the American bar cause I just wanted a burger! Then an early bedtime as we was heading off early to catch our bus in the morning to the airport!

Happy People!!!

Just like that our holiday was over! Can’t wait to return we still have so much to see!

Latest Blog, Moray Walks, Places to Walk

Millbuies Loch Circular

This is a fantastic short walk for all the family only a few miles out of Elgin. It is beautiful no matter what season it is.

Distance: 1 1/2miles Time: 1hr Level: Easy with a little elevation Terrain: Woodland paths can be a little muddy and uneven. Some steps Access: Arrive by car, Millbuies Country Park is situated in the village of Fogwatt around 6 miles from Elgin. Postcode is IV30 8FW. There is a good size carpark.

Route: Leaving the carpark head for the Millbuies sign passing by the house and you come to the large stone cairn.

Large man made cairn next to a woodland track
Cairn at Entrance

Follow the path till you reach the loch. We went straight on here passing the boats then the wooded hide. There is footbridge a 1/3 of the way down the loch.

Wooden footbridge with loch running under
Walk way over the loch

Keep your eyes peeled for ducks on the loch. Further on there is a path your left that takes you up to higher ground and rejoins the path you are on further on. I like to stick to the lower ground beside the loch.

Male and female mallard ducks on the loch
Ducks on the loch

When you reach the end of the loch loop back by going over the footbridge and up the steps.

Grass area with view of loch with trees at each side
View at the end of the loch

Return by walking along this side to you come back to the start.

Don’t forget to visit Willow & Birch for coffee and cake after!

Latest Blog, Places to Stay

Swim, Walk and Explore at Red Squirrel Campsite

We have been going to the Red Squirrel campsite for a good few years now and it never disappoints. The campsite is located in the heart of Glencoe and a great base for exploring the area.

The site itself is suitable for tents and off grid campervans they also have a couple bell tents that can be hired too. Around the site there is shower, toilet and dish washing facilities. There are no electric hookup but you can charge small devices in the office if required. There are plenty of firepits across the site that campers can use and firewood can be bought onsite.

Down by the river there is a fantastic area for wild swimming that is usually busy on hot days with the young and old going in for a dook! When we visited there was a hot food van and an ice cream van came round at night. There is a cracking shop & petrol station called Claymore Filling station a few miles along the road that stocks everything I mean everything its like an aladins cave.

Clachaig Inn

Just a short 10 minute walk from the site you will find the Clachaig Inn which is a cracking place for drinks, food and often have musicians playing in the evening.

There is also a cracking walk to Signal rock (this is said to be the place where the MacDonalds gathered when faced with danger during the Glencoe massacre). If you fancy a hike you can head up the Pap of Glencoe or explore the beautiful Glencoe Lochan.

Glencoe Lochan

If you are like us and you want to explore the area there is so much to do within a 10-15 mile drive.

The turf house.

Glencoe Visitors Centre is around a 3 mile drive where you can learn more about the history and scenery in the area, outside there is beautifully contructed turf house and amazing views of the mountains. Entry fees do apply or free to National trust members.

The lost valley

The Lost Valley is a fantastic walk and starts a 3.5 mile drive away. This is a beautiful walk into the lost valley where the Macdonald are said to have hid their rustled cattle. This walk isn’t just a wee walk in the park so be prepared but well worth it.

Glen Ettive

Glen Etive is around a 12 miles drive and a beautiful scenic drive with various spots that you could have a dook in the clear waters of the River Etive. You could stop of the ionic spot that James Bond stopped in Skyfall.

Kinlochleven

Kinlochleven is around a 10 mile drive and is a beautiful villiage with shops, cafes and pub. It is also home to the world’s largest artificial ice climbing wall, the Ice Factory. There is also a beautiful short along to Grey Mare tail waterfall.

Grey Mare tail

There is so much more to do this is only a small selection and there are plenty of mountains to climb!

Glencoe

Red Squirrel is a fantastic site in beautiful surroundings wether you are a munro bagger or enjoy a chilled out holiday.

https://redsquirrelcampsite.co.uk/camping/

https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/glencoe

https://discoverglencoe.scot/

Places to Eat

Aberdeenshire

The Bank, The Square, Huntly

  • Cafe & Restaurant (licensed)
  • Open daily for breakfast, lunch, coffee, and evening meals!
  • Great selection on the menu, lovely staff and a great place to relax enjoy a meal out in cosy warm surroundings!

The Pitstop Tartan Bus (Roy’s Bus), A96, Inverurie

  • Cafe and takeaway
  • Open Wednesday – Saturday 8am-3pm and Sunday 8.30am-3pm
  • They serve a cracking breakfast as well as main meals and snacks.

The Larder Gordon Street, Huntly

This is where I get my lunch from on work days!

  • Takeway
  • Open Monday – Thursday 10am-2pm Friday 10.30am-2pm
  • Amazing range including cakes, pies, savoury pastries, soups and made to order sandwiches
  • Dog Friendly

The Soo’s Lug Main Street, Alford

  • Cafe and takeway
  • Open Friday & Saurday 9am-3pm Sunday 10am-3pm
  • Cracking bacon rolls made with Piggery Smokery bacon and coffee

https://piggery-smokery.co.uk/


The Market Cafe, Huntly Mart, Huntly

  • Cafe
  • Open Tue & Thur 8.30-3pm, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun 8.30-4pm
  • They serve lovely wholesome homemade breakfast, lunch and coffee’s & cakes

Places to Eat

Moray

Threaplands Garden Centre, Lhanbryde IV308LN

  • Cafe/Restaurant (Takeaways also available)
  • Open 7 days
  • Lovely breakfasts, meals, snacks, cakes and coffee
  • Dog friendly area in the large gazebo at the front

https://www.threaplands.co.uk/


19 Crepes & Coffee, 19 Batchen Street, Elgin

  • Cafe
  • Open daily Monday – Saturday
  • Amazing sweet and savoury crepes and waffles, breakfasts and coffee

https://19crepescoffee.business.site/


Grampian Hotel, Regent Square, Keith

  • Restaurant, Hotel and Bar
  • Open daily Tuesday – Sunday for breakfast, lunch, afternoon teas and dinners
  • Great pub grub and homemade cakes.
  • Dog Friendly

https://grampianhotelkeith.com/


The Humble Burger, Munro Place, Elgin

  • Takeway
  • Wednesday – Saturday 12pm-3pm & 4.30pm-9pm Sunday 12pm-3pm & 4.30pm-8pm
  • Very tasty range of burgers, fries and burritos

https://www.thehumbleburger.co.uk/


WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre Cafe, Speybay

  • Cafe
  • Lovely soups, sandwiches, cakes and coffee

https://dolphincentre.whales.org/cafe/


Lily’s Kitchen Cafe, Seafield Street, Cullen

  • Cafe
  • Open Tuesday – Saturday 9am-4pm & Sunday 9.30am-4pm
  • Winner of the world Cullen Skink championship they also service breakfast and a good selection of meals, snacks and cakes.

Willow & Birch, Millbuies Country Park, Fogwatt

  • Takeaway/Outside Seating
  • Open Thursday – Monday 10am – 3pm
  • Lovely coffee, hot chocolate, soft drink and delicious tray bakes and cakes.
  • Dog Friendly

Portknockie Fish and Chip Shop 7 Union Street, Portknockie, AB56 4LF

  • Takeaway
  • Open Thursday – Sunday 4.30pm – 7.30pm order ahead to avoid disappointment from 10am.
  • Traditional fish and chips, their famous pop pop chicken as well as your usual chip shop favourites.

https://portknockiechipshop.co.uk/

Places to Eat

Highlands and Islands

Oregano Mobile Catering, Banks of the River Ness, Inverness and various other locations.

  • Takeaway
  • Locations and days vary see social media for updates
  • Delicious food served such as macaroni, breakfast rolls, soup, paninis and homebakes

The Seaforth, Quay Street Ullapool

  • Restaurant and fish and chips takeaway.
  • Reopens 27th of February
  • Great range of pub grub and seafood (seafood platter is amazing). Lovely fish and chips served in the takeaway next door.

https://www.theseaforth.com/