National Parks USA Part 1

National Parks USA Part 1

On the 14th of July my boyfriend and I got on a 14 h (!!!) flight to San Francisco to embark on one of the longest road trips I've ever done! In the total trip we drove almost 10,000 km!! Starting of at SFO, we picked up the car and headed north towards Portland than Montana for Glacier national park. After some incredible time in Yellowstone we then headed south to Arizona and Utah, exploring the epic landscapes there.

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August Review

August has simultaneously gone so fast and yet felt like such a long month - it's the 31 days I reckon - plus all the travelling that often happens in the winter/summer break.

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Over half of July I was in the United States on a road trip with my boyfriend exploring over 10 national parks - it was one of my favourite trips I've ever done, so I'll definitely be writing more about it in upcoming posts. I don't feel like I have enough content from each park to write a single post about each, but I'll definitely write about where I went, and tips on how to travel there. So at the beginning of August I was just finishing up the US trip in San Francisco and I got back to Sydney on the 3rd.

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I had less than a week left in Sydney before moving to Europe on the 8th, so I tried to catch up with as many people as possible, figuring things out like my bank accounts/phone plan etc, and of course packing! One of my last stops in Sydney was Shortstop donuts in Barangaroo- one of my favourite donut and coffee shops in the world! 

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So, literally 2 days after I got to Europe, we went on another trip! Since it'll be our last holiday time for the foreseeable future, we decided to take advantage of it and travel as much as possible. We went on a road trip to the Balkans, starting of in Poznan, driving first to Vienna, then down to Croatia to see a few cities, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Budapest. It was an epic trip with a lot of driving but the views at Dubrovnik (in the photo above) were some of the best EVER. Also the fact that Game of Thrones was filmed there was really exciting :) I don't know if I would actually do a GoT tour there but I did a sneaky walk-by of a couple of tours and there were quite a few scenes done in the old town there.

Another highlight of the Balkans trip was seeing Budapest - the Fisherman's bastion and the parliament building especially at night were some of the best structures I've seen in Europe.

The travelling did not stop there! After going back home, my boyfriends family had planned a trip to the seaside (Baltic Sea) with the entire family so we joined along. It was about 4 hours drive from Poznan - and I have to say the beach was really nice! It was wide and sandy, but unlike Sydney beaches the temp was a lot lower! I actually appreciated that because one of my issues with going to the beach in Sydney is the scorching temperatures and risk of sunburn. Unfortunately though, because of recent warming temperatures the algae blooms in the sea were at a high, and my skin did not like it - my entire body broke out in hives when I got out of the water... 

It's been such a big month and I hope I can keep doing exciting things in September! Right now it's correcting my thesis, applying for jobs and working out visa stuff so not that exciting, but there's heaps of video and photos to sort through from the last two months so I'm looking forward to that.

How to see 8 cities in 4 days

This is not a "Guide to speed-travelling Europe", but kind of what happens when you don't intentionally plan out a detailed trip, and just go with it. That's exactly what we did when we drove from Dresden, Germany to Lyon, France last December. It was a really fun trip and not what I expected at all, and I saw so much just by sitting in the car. Here are some photos from the trip and all the cities we visited! We set off from Dresden on the 27th of December after Christmas with the fam, and headed to Lyon to meet some friends for a few nights before heading back to Poznań.

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We started of in Dresden, after spending Christmas Day there with family. Unfortunately a lot of things were closed (markets) when we were out and about, but the old buildings, churches and bridges were surreal to see. 

The next morning around 7am we set off to Neuswanstein castle, (Disney/Snow White Castle?). There were a LOT of tourists there which makes sense because this is probably the most famous castle in Germany. Tickets were sold out to go inside, but frankly you get a great experience walking up the hill to the castle and to the bridge where you get the best view.

That night we stayed in Liechtenstein, a tiny but very wealth country wedged between Switzerland and Austria. We stayed about 5 min drive from the capital, Vaduz, from where this picture was taken. (Across the river is Switzerland!).

The next day we hit the road again aiming to drive down next to the Alps to Milan, but the main highway was closed going there (probably for snowy conditions). So we ended up taking an unexpected detour through Zurich! This wasn't on the plan but we spend a couple hours walking around Zurich and climbed up the tower of the cathedral - its beautiful!

We crossed the border to Italy and made it to Milan by the early afternoon. We saw the basilica which you see in all the photos of Milan, and the galleria. Interestingly we also visited an old fortress of Milan which is just a 15min walk from the main square, which was really nice.

After an afternoon in Milan, we drove onwards to Turin for that night's accommodation. Turin is a smaller but very nice city. Unfortunately we arrived after sundown, but still managed to see the old town area and square. They had really nice lights up and Christmas decorations still. The best was being able to see the sun rising from our apartment!

The next day was something I was very much looking forward to - my first time in France! I pretty much ate 6 croissants while walking around the picturesque town of Annecy, which is called the Venice of France because of all the canals and bridges. It was very cool and the buildings were so colourful:) I also tried a French hot chocolate but couldn't even finish it because it was like drinking liquid chocolate

Our journey ended in Lyon, where we were meeting a few friends that night (before driving back to Poland the day after). We arrived a few hours before sunset, and walked around the misty city centre, crossing the bridges a few times! Lyon is placed amazingly on two rivers; the Sâone and the Rhône. The city is at the same time really modern and upbeat, but the old town is really extensive and goes on for ages. Walking around after dark was really one of my favourite parts of the trip. And also almost dying riding on the velo on the street. 

If you've never been to Lyon but are thinking of visiting, do it! I found this link afterwards, but I highly recommend everything on this list on the 12HR guides website. 

12 HOURS IN LYON GUIDE

CITIES VISITED:

DRESDEN, FÜSSEN, ZURICH, MILAN, TURIN, ANNECY, LYON

 

Iceland: the Golden circle

Our trip to the glacier was amazing, but ran late and as a result we were not where we needed to be at 6pm that evening... another 3 h of driving was not possible considering how tired we suddenly were, so we checked in again to the same hotel as the night before. (This was the night we saw northern lights!). 

The next morning we got up early and set out to reach the Vik black sand beach before sunrise. Luckily we made it just before the sun was truly up, but the tide was certainly still high and was a bit too dangerous to walk too far around the cove.

After Vìk, we set off back towards the east, to enter the Golden Circle from the west side. First stop on the way was Skógafoss, which was an epic waterfall that also allowed you to walk up the side of the hill to watch it from the top. It was absolutely freezing here and so windy, but worth it to reach the top.

Next we hit the actual Golden circle, (after a bit of driving!) and first up was the Strokkur geysir!

After watching the geysir erupt about three times, we went on to see Gulfoss, an epically big waterfall with a LOT of layers very close to the geysir. It was snowing, hailing and windy but that didn't detract from this amazing waterfall.

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The last main stop we watned to reach before 4 pm / nightfall was the big faults at the Þingvellir National Park.

See Pt. I, where we explored glacier caves here.

Glacier caves in Iceland

Oh boy. These photos have been sitting in my Lightroom for weeks now, and I've been editing them again and again probably to do Iceland justice but finally I've decided to post them. After arriving at sunset (around 3 pm) at Keflavik airport, we headed straight for our rental car and drove towards the south coast, since we had a glacier cave tour booked for the next day. We barely made it. Almost on the dot at 6 pm, we both felt the tiredness creeping in, possibly a consequence of flying from Australia to Europe just two nights before. 

The first full day we spent in Iceland was at Jokularson lagoon, which was a 1.5 h drive from our accommodation. On the way there were already, so many waterfalls greeting us on the side of the road with a LOT of water gushing down. 

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If you've done any research on Iceland before then you know the weather can be incredibly fickle. I can confirm this... 

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When we got to the lagoon it was hailing off/on. The hail was so dry and hard and flicked me in the face so many times... but really it was the wind that gave the harshest treatment. The lagoon was very cool - crystal clear ice chunks literally everywhere.

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After a bumpy ride in a van to the beginning of the glacier, we trekked out onto the ice. I was quite scared of slipping and was half-convinced the whole time my crampons were going to slip/slide off. Luckily I had no accidents on the ice, and I had a great experience walking on the glacier and in the cave/hole. It was so blue, unimaginably blue (and also tasty ;)). We even spent some time trying to suck out an air bubble from the ice... but it was not meant to be. I still don't really know why the ice has this almost uniform wave pattern...

You can only hike on the glaciers and caves in winter, so if you're in Iceland at the right time, I highly recommend it - its a great trip for the price. The glacier is melting now faster than ever :( so do get on it while you still can.