Actual Danger vs Perceived Danger: Tips For Travel Safety

A common conversation I have with people about travel usually winds up going something like this:

Person: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Mexico.”

Person: “Like, I just don’t understand why you would want to go there, it is like sooooo dangerous and people get shot at and stabbed by cartels and there is just such a huge drug problem that you will never survive there. It is just too dangerous. You’re crazy!!”

This ‘perceived’ idea of danger in other countries is in many cases ridiculous. Yes it is dangerous in some areas of the world. There are many places that I would not consider going as they are warzones or in severe civil conflict. But for the most part, provided that you are street smart and don’t make stupid decisions like walking down the street in the middle of the night instead of catching a cab, there is quite a low chance of these things happening. People see the one off cases on the news, the media makes a huge deal out of it and people think, well that place is clearly too dangerous to go to. Oddly enough, I have travelled to over sixty countries over nine years and the only place I have been attacked in the street and hospitalized for it was in my very hometown where I grew up in Australia.

I remember my very first trip to South East Asia. It was my first time out of western society and I was terrified. My mother had pleaded with me not to go for fear of my being raped/mugged/murdered/stabbed/shot at/put in jail for having drugs planted in my bags like Schappelle Corby/dead. To the point where I was terrified to be going. I got on the plane after ziplocking, padlocking and then cling filming all of my bags before I left in an excessive frenzy. I got off the plane in Bangkok and went over my bag with a fine tooth comb to ensure nothing had been tampered with or touched. I picked up my bag nervously, told them I had nothing to declare and I was out the door within 5 minutes flat thinking to myself…. ummmm…. is that is? Post this the worst thing I encountered in South East Asia was petty theft. People would have their bags and pockets picked. Again. Be aware this happens. Don’t carry things in your pocket, get a bag with a zip. The other trick is, don’t get so drunk that you aren’t aware of your belongings. Most people who get things stolen off of them are drunk. Me included. One morning I was drunk and sleeping on a beach in Nicaragua with my iPod in my hand and I awoke to find it gone. I was angry for all of a minute and then I started laughing because if an old iPod was all I lost in 4 years of travel, I am doing pretty well.

Some people I met through Central America had experienced muggings. Again, majority of the time, if you just give over all of what you have and let them go, you will not have any problems with your physical safety. It might shake you up a bit, but this for the most part is the worst of what will happen provided that you follow the major safety rules. Which are as follows:

1. Don’t walk around at night EVER, especially alone. Take a cab, or organize yourself so that you have everything that you need. Night, just like at home, is the biggest time of day for predators.

2. Keep money and credit cards in different places, including sewn into the insides of your pants. So they took the 20 bucks in your wallet and one of your ATM cards? You have another ATM card somewhere else and $20 in your bra.

3. On the topic of ATM cards, if you do by chance get held up and they want you to go to an ATM, don’t keep a large amount of money in your transaction account. Transfer the amount you need to take out online right before you take it out and leave the rest in an untouchable savings account.

4. Take photocopies of all of your important documents and cards including your passport and send them to yourself in an email. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are robbed of everything, at least you will have everything you need when you get to your consulate on file online. Also send copies of this email to your Mum or someone you trust that can help you.

5. If you can avoid it, don’t travel at night and don’t travel when you get dropped off in the middle of nowhere at night or very early in the morning. These are the times of day where less people are around and you are less visible in the public eye.

6. Listen to advice about do’s and don’t’s from smart locals and from your hostel/hotel workers. Most of the time the locals will tell you what the dangers are in the prominent are, where to go and where not to go.

While this is not a comprehensive list, this is certainly helpful in avoiding any potential dangers and getting caught out with things. For the most part, following these rules, the amount of trouble you will find will be minimized. It is very much a shame that some people do not have common sense enough to look out for their own safety. It is also a shame that places that have incredibly friendly locals get a reputation through the media for a few events that occur with horrific outcome. For the hundreds of thousands of people everyday who travel, have a great time and come home safely, you will get a handful of stories that end in tragedy. But this also fares for the people who get in a car and drive everyday. There is always that risk. In life, everything that you do has risk. But don’t constantly get lectures from people who don’t drive telling you about every car accident that happens and why you shouldn’t get into a car to go to work. It is always those that haven’t travelled and don’t understand that are dishing out these lectures based on what they see on television. But really, it is not as bad and horrific as it is made out to be. Travel broadens the eyes and the mind. I honestly believe if you haven’t travelled then you haven’t lived. You haven’t understood the amazing diversity of the human race and the things that make us different and yet the same. So take the leap. Take the risk. And you might just find that maybe it isn’t actually that ‘dangerous’ after all.


Shit I Learned In Egypt

Egypt is an incredible country and one that both wowed and intrigued me, which is a pretty big thing for me these days given how much of a get around I am. I learned quite a large amount of shit while I was here, so here it is! Enjoy!

Arabic words and Phrases

(NB. all spelling is how I would pronounce it, not how it is actually spelt because I am too lazy to look it up.)

Lano. A word that again is quite frequently used and also quite frequently interpreted as ‘yes’. This is nothing new in the land of travel, especially with hawkers and shop owners.

Yalla yallalet’s go, lets go! Said anytime you are going somewhere.

Heidi lancome on bro. What we used to say to the bus driver when he was too busy drinking coffee to drive the bus

Fi el mesh meshwhen pigs fly. A great phrase to use when someone tries to sell you shit you don’t want for a ridiculous price or for when men hit on you.

Beleshfree? Also a great thing to ask when people try to sell you shit you don’t want.

Meshi meshiOK, OK. Also used in my case as ‘yeah yeah, whatever, I’m coming’.

Psora PsoraQuickly, quickly. Note that for emphasis everything is repeated twice. As if saying quickly twice will make me move more quickly. This is usually followed up with ‘meshi meshi’.

Habibimy love. This is what the bus driver would call me and what I started calling the bus driver. Well actually he called everyone ‘habibi’ and one day I threw a strop. “I thought I was the habibi?!?” He says ‘you are assistant driver (because I sat in the seat behind him) and habibi royale’. I will accept this.

I was also quite surprised to see that many Arabic words are the same or similar to their Spanish counterparts… like sabon in Spanish, is sabun in Arabic, meaning ‘soap’. And pantalones (pants) and camiseta (shirt) are also the same.

My name in Arabic and a few other different languages.

Then of course there are words in English that are derived from the Arabic…..

Candy – is from the Arabic word ‘Qand‘ meaning sugar.

Alcohol – from the Arabic ‘al kuhl’

Algebra – the famous branch of maths that kids loathe, is ‘al jabr’

Cotton – from ‘qutn

Cheque – from ‘sakk‘ a vow to pay for merchanise.

Orange – from the Persian ‘naranj‘ which also translates to the Spanish ‘naranja’

Sofa – from the Arabic ‘suffah‘ which was the rulers throne. No wonder they are so comfy.

Shit About The Pyramids

The Sphynx and two of the three greats!
  • The Great Pyramids of Giza took 2.3 million blocks to make by over 100,000 workers in the space of 20 years. On average, this is one block cut every 3 minutes.
  • The outsides of the pyramids were covered in red granite. This no longer exists as the blocks were pilfered for other building ventures.
  • The pyramids are 100% aligned to face north and this was done using the stars and their positions in the sky.
  • The apex of the temples was covered in a metal alloy consisting of a mix of gold and silver called electrum, which was naturally occurring in this area and Anatolia.
  • Each of the temples have a slope of fifty two degrees. This makes the centre of each of the temples a point of high energy and electrons. Apparently an apple sitting in the centre of the pyramid will not decay for this reason. Energy seekers come here and pay ridiculous amounts of money to experience the energy found in the centre of the great pyramid.
The amazing Abu Simbel

Shit About Other Temples

  • The people who made the pyramids and the temples were not slaves, but skilled workers. These workers even went on strike in the Luxor Valley for two months when they stopped receiving their wages… possibly the first form of industrial action of the day. The working week was ten days long and 8 of those days were working (I wonder if the Beatles came here before they wrote 8 Days A Week? In which case, they were a bunch of little hussies cheating on their misses’ for the weekend because the 9th and 10th day of loving didn’t count…. ponderance…. hmmm….). The workers also had holidays and health insurance.
  • There is a type of snake that jumps up at people to strike them from the sand depicted on the walls of one of the temples. What a scary fucking thought. As if snakes aren’t dangerous enough without letting them have springs for ab muscles.
Inconspicuous and somewhat cute looking fucker of a jumping snake
  • All tombs in Luxor and in most of Egypt lie on the west bank of the Nile river. This is because this is the side of the river that the sun sets, or ‘dies’.
  • Majority of the medical tools we use today in surgery can be seen in the hieroglyphs on temple walls. They also had birth giving chairs that look very similar to squat toilets…. just let gravity take care of that.
Birthing chairs and medical tools on the right
  • The guy who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb died several days later. This is because he shaved the day he went discovering and deadly bacteria from inside the tomb got into the cut, infected it and he turned septic. From here on in, all awesome tomb raiders were equipped with manly tomb raiding beards.
  • They mummified loads of crocodiles. Well fucking cool.
  • The Romans are really good at building shit but even better at fucking up proportions. If you look really hard on Roman made Egyptian temples, you can find hands with thumbs on the wrong side, arms that are too long, and all kinds of ridiculousness. Artists they indeed were not.
  • Ancient Egyptian women only appeared to have one boob. An evolutionary anomaly…. hmmm….
A one boobed lady

Other Random Shit I Learned In Egypt

  • The Cairo cemetery is a giant land of satellite dishes. Apparently 80,000 people live in the cemetery.
  • To sort out a dispute between two men back in the Bedouin days, the leader of the tribe would place a hot knife on the tongues of both men. The idea was that the liar would have the tongue stick to the knife as his mouth was dry and the guy with nothing to hide would be relaxed and salivating at the thought of hot knives….. thus not sticking.
  • Snake poison and milk were given to newborn babies as a form of vaccination.
  • Majority of French perfumes from popular brands we know of today that were made post 1967 come directly from the recipes of perfumes used in Ancient Egypt. The French dude who deciphered the Rosetta Stone passed these on, so we can thank the Egyptians for Chanel No.5 and Armani’s Code, among many others.
Egyptian perfume bottles
  • When the Nubian guys were all fighting over girls and wanting to marry them the girls would respond in a simple way. If she wanted to marry the guy his tea would come loaded up with sugar. If she didn’t, no sugar for you sonny Jim.
  • The king at Sakkara used to have to fight and kill two bulls and cut of their tails as proof of worthiness of being king. They didn’t enforce this on Ramses the second who died in his nineties but was a total pimp. He would have been the Hugh Heffner of the Ancient Egyptian days fathering 162 kids that we know about…
  • There was a princess mummy on the Titanic when it sank. Cool!

Anyway, there are a few tidbits. There were loads more stories of things that happened in Egypt, but I will save those for another time. Til then x

Revisiting Toronto

When I left, I never in a million years imagined that I would be back in this city. The love/hate relationship that I had with the city and its people when I lived there had me all kinds of conflicted and when I eventually left, I vowed that I wouldn’t return. And then the travel gods made it so that transiting through Toronto from Amman to Bogota was the cheapest way for me to go and so I returned. The massive influx of memories that I had during my two days here was huge. I remembered so many things that I had forgotten and look upon fondly. Majority of the memories were oddly from my first 6 months living there when I was young, bright eyed and had never lived overseas before. So for me, and for those that were with me during those times, here are some of the memories that surfaced as I strolled around the streets of Toronto.

The first thing I remembered as I walked out of the Toronto Pearson Airport customs area was my friend Dayna greeting me on that very first day I arrived with a Tim Horton’s hot chocolate and a box of Timbits. It was almost like a homecoming. Unlike that day, I made my way to the new UP Express train to the city and got on board.

My first view of Toronto arriving this time

As I exited Union Station onto the street, that crisp cold hit me. I walked along Front Street past the Hockey Museum I said I’d go to and never did with the statues out the front. I couldn’t see the top of CN Tower that my ex used to call the ‘seeing tower’ as it was too foggy, but the lights of the lower half let you know that it was there and waiting. I made my way to the hostel where I lived for my first six months with one of my best friends and checked in.

Outside the hockey museum with the boys

The hostel had been newly renovated. The blue and orange colours of old were now replaced with white and black. The reception had moved to the front instead of the side and I made my way to check in. Despite the place being completely renovated, the bones reminded me of the old place. There is a new kitchen now where I won a beer and toothpaste in the pool competition and Tash and I carved a pumpkin on the floor for our first ever Halloween.

The first ever Halloween pumpkin carving

The couches we used to jump on while singing the Shakira Africa song, and where we drew on sleeping people’s faces has now been replaced with dining tables and chairs. The downstairs area in the Cavern is now a bar and bistro with live music, instead of the living room and kitchen. I went down to visit. The memories of dancing on the cavern tables for New Year, reading erotic literature from the bookshelf to the masses, threatening people who kept stealing my chocolate milk with laxatives, hiding in the laundry room to gossip with Del and Cian and just general shit talking with the other long termers came back.

Threatening notes on my chocolate milk

The rooms are pretty much the same. Too hot. I got up in the night to turn off the heater and another girl got up and turned it back on. Tash and our other roommate used to fight over this all the time. It made me smile. I remember her coming home frequently with shit that she had stolen from out on the street when coming home drunk. The room we shared was so full of massive real estate signs, traffic cones (Tash’s doing), dildo’s and sex toys (my doing – stolen or acquired from the drag bar but more on that later) that we had an interesting time on our last night there trying to sneak all the shit down several flights of stairs and out the back door so that the staff members didn’t find out. I had quite the fetish for chocolate coated peanuts in those days too. I disgustingly used to keep a bag of them beside my pillow and eat them when I woke up after nights out so that I didn’t have to get out of bed to eat. That then became a daily occurrence. For my birthday Tash bought me 20 dollars worth of them and they were gone in the 2 days I spent on the couch feeling sorry for myself with a cold I contracted from a guy I made out with after Dirty Bingo.

New Years Eve dancing on the tables in the Cavern

That first day I went to get Timmy’s for breakfast and made way to the Eaton Centre where I used to work. Fossil was the same but the Aveda had been renovated. I walked around inside and sampled some new product before checking out what else was different. The Sears is now a Nordstrom. For that first Halloween, Tash and I went shopping at the Sears for my costume, a pillowcase that I cut up to go as Wilma Flintstone. In the process we tried some granny panties on our heads and took dumb photos.

Sears granny panties

I still remembered how to navigate through the PATH so I explored my other old workplace noticing that all the places I used to eat lunch have now gone except the Yogenfruz. So I got a Yogenfruz to go. As I walked along Queen St W I noticed that quite a lot of things had changed. There is a Toronto sign now in Nathan Philips Square, the shops have all changed. Luckily for me my favourite underwear store was still there and I went in to get some more bras. In those days I was obsessed and literally bought the store out of sets. I walked past the large car park where they had the Much Music concert and I got to see Lady Gaga perform among many other acts.

At least they still have Tim Hortons!

Up into Chinatown I went. Chinatown became a haunt of mine in Toronto because I was poor. Unfortunately the five dollar barbecue pork I loved no longer exists, but the Mashion Chinese bakery where Anthony and I used to eat all the time still did and I went in for some egg tarts. Just as I remembered them. Chinatown has lost a bit of its charm these days as people have started making upmarket places in the middle of something that was fabulously grimy. It doesn’t have the same feel anymore.

Home of the ever popular egg tart and hotdog in bun

Over in Kensington, nothing had changed. The College Backpackers where I lived for a while looked exactly the same from the outside as it did six years ago. This place was filled with utter nut jobs. I remember sharing a room with one woman who thought that all Tim Horton’s employees were in cahoots with her husband who was trying to poison her so she couldn’t eat there. She wore a mask at all times too just in case. There was also a woman with some kind of schizophrenia who used to pace the kitchen having conversations with herself. One minute she’d be a lawyer defending Prince Charles as the father of Prince Harry and the next she’d be having a conversation about gardening. I did however meet some lovely people while I was there. We bonded over not being crazy. And I still have the thermos cup that the lovely Irish guy, Peter, gave me for doing his Canadian taxes for him.

Trying on stuff in the army store in Kensington

From here I walked along College St where I used to spend a large number of my days walking flyers for a living for eleven dollars an hour. Because I was pretty quick at my job, I used to take an hour for lunch at Hero Burger and stay on the clock for it. Unfortunately all the Hero Burger’s in Toronto have magically disappeared along with many of my other favourite things. But the building where I studied my TESOL course was there and I was fortunate enough to catch up with a friend I made on that course and learn some interesting gossip.

My first ever Marlies hockey game

I walked down Yonge St, past the Zanzibar…. flashback to that one afternoon where Del, Cian and I decided to do Culture Wednesday and went to the museum and then somehow managed to wind up at 4pm in the Zanzibar stripclub laughing at the men wipe the poles between each woman that came out to dance. Past the Stag Shop where I spent some time shopping with a friend as she convinced me that the government liked to fuck people so we were getting vibrators courtesy of her government tax rebate.  And past the place Zelda’s was, where Dirty Bingo once took place. After getting a free drink voucher from a guy who was leaving, we went in to watch the drag queens lead the bingo and wound up with one of the guys we were with getting hauled up for naked bingo. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Then with the help of Del’s jacket, we stole a giant double ended dildo that we waved at people and slapped taxi’s with the whole way down the street home before I put the thing in Tash’s bed with her. I am trying not to laugh hysterically as she wakes up and something goes ‘thump’ on the floor and she puts her hand on it turns the light on her phone on and mutters ‘oh my god, my hand smells like giant dick’. She got her own back though, cause later that morning I was woken up by a giant dildo prodding me in the face.

When shit got real at Dirty Bingo

And then of course there are the memories of the gay village and Crews and Tango. I went back on the Monday night which used to be Candice’s Star Search and watched Carlotta Carlisle perform. Once upon a time many years ago I was a support act for her. Just watching her made all the memories flood back. My friend DJ Quinces was there too and we had a chat about the good old days. I used to take part in some of her showcases at Buddies In Bad Times called Rendezvous to which some of the videos of my being a total hussy are still on the internet. I have so many fond memories of performing in that place. I remember doing an impromptu duet of Lady Marmalade with Amanda Roberts. Jumping up and down on the stage screaming out the Barbara Streisand song with Carlotta and Devine but saying our names instead of Barbara’s. I remember trying on the drag queens wigs and getting way more than I bargained for with bit tucking in the dressing rooms.

The girls and I into the wigs

I remember my crew spreading nasty rumours about other contestants I was competing against in the star search to get votes. I remember supporting Jade Elektra and meeting some lovely people to collaborate with. I remember filling my friends handbag up with condoms and having her empty them on the table in the middle of the hostel in front of everyone saying ‘I believe these are yours’. I remember how much of a kick I used to get out of singing the difficult diva songs. I remember meeting my ex there and the boys giving him shit for having straight shoes. They did the birthday draw and because we nearly have the same birthday we were up together on stage and they heckled him to take his shirt off……. whoa. And of course, how it helped me to survive through a time where money was tight and work was infrequent. Some of the fondest memories that I have exist in that place and I was so grateful to be able to go back there.

Doing my thing at Crews

Many people say that you shouldn’t go back to a place where you had the best time ever. And granted, those months were not exactly the easiest. There were a lot of bad memories and a lot of really tough times. But at the same time, I was really happy and thankful to be able to walk back and get reacquainted with a self that was wide eyed and so excited about getting out into the world. I am hoping that some of it encourages me now to take the same kinds of risks in my newest adventure. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my memories! Until next time x

Shit I Learned In Scotland

In the glorious half term from school I decided that it was about time I ventured up to Scotland to see what it was all about. Not only was it full of stunning natural beauty, but also full of fun and fascinating stories of the past. I learned  more than wee bit of shit while I was there, but here are some highlights.

  1. Loads of different sayings take their origins from the Scots


Back in the days, Edinburgh was full of high-rise buildings. Of course, being in the days before toilets, people used to just chuck that shit out the window. Literally. If you were in the lower floors and had your head stuck out the window you risked getting shat on. So they would yell out before the bucket load of crap went flying out the window and if you didn’t get your head in quick enough, guess where it landed. They say that those who were drunk were dumb enough to hear the call of pending doom and instead of pulling their heads in, they would look up. And wind up with shit on their faces. Shitfaced. Superb!

City views over Edinburgh

‘Doing a Bouch job’

Thomas Bouch was an English engineer who built a bridge that wasn’t structurally sound, it fell down and killed a whole stack of people. What a massive fuck up! A total Bouch job


As much as the English and Europeans love to moan about the fact that we call it ‘soccer’ in Australia, it is in fact their fault. They bloody well invented the word. It derives from the full name of the sport from back in the day ‘association football’. Abbreviation of the name and tapping and ‘er’ on the end (oddly a very Australian thing to do… maybe that is where we get it from) results in the word ‘assoccer’.

‘Going berserk’

The Beserkers were a Viking clan full of fierce warriors who apparently fought in such a massively drug fucked stated that people thought that they were crazy. As such, when people go crazy now, they are going berserk.

Stone circle from Lewis and Harris

2. Seagulls can drool.

I mean, I had no idea until I was sitting on the pier with what has been voted the worlds best fish and chips and this damn seagull is sitting in front of me and his beak is literally dripping all over the pavement. He stopped once the fish was gone and I got to the chips. Clearly not as tasty…. but just wow…..

3. Witches don’t drown in shit.

So the river that used to run through Edinburgh used to be full of people’s shit that they used to just pour in there. When they accused people of being witches, they used to throw them in the river and say that if they didn’t sink and drown that they must be a witch. Well given the viscosity of a pile of faecal matter, most of them really didn’t sink. So they’d drag them out and burn them on the stake. That right there is logic for you. Even better, they cleared all of the shit out of this area and turned it into a nice lovely park full of green plants and wonderful flowers fertilised by the remnant bits of shit and dead witches from the area. One may even say that when sitting down there having lunch that you are hanging in the shit pit.

The old shit pit is now a park….

4.  Braveheart the movie is an absolute load of shit and things really didn’t happen that way at all. 

  • Firstly, the ‘brave heart’ actually referred to the heart of Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace. Robert’s heart was carried into the battle that won the Scots independence after his death.
  • The Battle of Sterling win hinged on the fact that there was a bridge that the English had to cross and were eventually backed into a corner of the river bend and couldn’t retreat. Where’s the bridge?
  • Bruce did not betray Wallace and get him captured
  • ugh…. and the list could go on… very entertaining fiction for the most part.

5. Other random shit

  • The word Caledonia is what the Romans used to call Scotland
  • Fife is the alcohol and oddly enough, pregnancy capital of Scotland being home to the bottling of Schmirnoff, Barcardi and Johnny Walker
  • Half Hangit Maggie was a legend for surviving a hanging and waking up in the coffin on her way down the road to be put in the ground. She kicked on for another 40 years post that….
  • Greyfriars Bobby is also a legend. He was a dog that sat by his masters grave for the better part of 15 years, his love and loyalty never faltered.
Cute little Greyfriars Bobby
  • I still don’t like oysters…. the slimy thing went down and some shell got stuck on the roof of my mouth and gag reflex kicked in… yuk. Just feed me a kilo of mussels instead any day.
  • Stone circles are everywhere up north in Lewis and Harris. I daresay they are cooler than Stonehenge and…. free!
  • And…. I want to go back to Scotland! This country is amazing and the nature is just stunning. I want to go back and climb more mountains and take some more boat trips!


Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 2

As a continuation of the journey I spent travelling around Iceland in a camper with a friend, we have now made it to the south. If you missed the first half, check out Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 1.

Day 4 – Hofn to Dyrrholaey

This day was one of the most impressive days I have ever spent travelling for a number of reasons. It was such a diverse day and it presented itself with things I had never seen before, namely my very first iceberg. We drove straight to Jokulsarlon in the morning and got our tickets to go for a boat ride on the glacier lake with floating icebergs in it. I absolutely loved it! It was so cool driving around these massive chunks of ice that don’t even look like ice at times. The boat ride was over too quickly but at the same time, we had loads still to do for the day.

Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon

From here we drove on to Skaftafell National Park and went on a hike to some very cool waterfalls that had rock formations unlike anything I had ever seen.

Skaftafell waterfall

We continued to drive on through the world’s largest black sand desert with all of the massive chunks of rocks strewn across the landscape until we hit Dyrrholaey. I was obsessed with getting here because all I wanted to do while I was there was see a puffin. And I did! It was really cool to see them on the headland but I was so cold and so tired that I figured I would go sleep and see them in the morning and when I got up they weren’t there anymore. My friend thinks this is hilarious and will not let me forget it.

The lone puffin on the head

Day 5 – Dyrrholaey to Fludir

And so we drove on with the impressive glaciers in the background. We continued our way through to Skogafoss, which was a massive waterfall that you could walk behind and got soaked. Then we drove on to catch the ferry to the Westmann Islands.


The Westmann Islands are incredibly active volcanically and in 1973 there was a massive eruption that resulted in an entirely new mountain being formed on the island. Lava spat out of this new crater for months, destroying and burying houses that can still be seen in the museum and the entire island was evacuated. Thankfully, nobody died and people have since moved back to the island but the entire thought of it was super scary.

Vestmannajyer – The Westmann Islands

After taking the ferry back to the main island, we then continued to drive towards Fludir where we got a rest in for the evening.

Day 6 – Fludir to Reykjavik

This day was to be dedicated to doing the famous Golden Circle. We started by making our way up to see Gulfoss, one of the most famous waterfalls on the island.


We then drove through to see the massive geyser. It took a little while to wait for it to erupt but it certainly didn’t disappoint.


The event of the day however was the Thingvellir National Park. We spent some time wandering the fault line here and exploring the region before we headed down to do something that is still one of the coolest things I have ever done. We got into our dry suits, then we got into two degree water that was runoff from a glacier, and then we snorkelled between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe.

Snorkelling the Silfra – between the tectonic plates

After all of the excitement and getting a little bit sunburnt, we continued our drive back to Reykjavik where we parked overnight in a playground to get the car ready to return in the morning. Whirlwind romance with Iceland was over.

Day 7 – Reykjavik

I spent one last day of sightseeing in Reykjavik before I had to return back to work. While I was wandering around I went and saw the famous church, and of course ate a dirty hotdog that Iceland is so famous for. I also took a free walking tour and learned about the parliament and other histories of the country that were super interesting.

Hallsgrimskirkja church

Iceland is one of my favourite countries in the world. I love the people and I love the incredible diversity of the nature that you find here. I cannot recommend coming here enough and hopefully this gives you an idea of the things to see and how to do it!

Travelling Iceland By Camper Van – Part 1

It is the year anniversary of me going to Iceland as I write this and it is still one of my favourite countries for natural beauty. It truly is wild, rugged and stunning. My friend and I hired a camper van out of Reykjavik and because I had a luggage limit I bought about 20kg of noodles and tins of food with me from the Lidl Supermarket in London as I knew food was going to be expensive. We got our van, and equipped with a map and about 22 hours of daylight every single day we started driving north. Iceland still proves to be one of my favourite countries in the world for its’ sheer natural beauty. If ever you get a chance to go, you definitely should! Here is what my friend and I got up to in that week.

Day 1 – Reykjavik to Oxnadalur

After picking up the car in Reykjavik and getting equipped with some fuel for the stove, we drove north and despite getting semi lost on the way up, we eventually found our way out of the city, over the wrong bridge and on our way. We stopped in to see the Glymur waterfall and dropped in at Deildartunguhver, the worlds most powerful hotspring. We then drove via Reykholt and stopped in on a historical center before checking out the Barnafoss waterfall. These falls were impressive and we walked around for an hour or so taking pictures and checking them out.


Our last major stop for the day was at the Grabrok lava fields and craters, which were again, super cool. After there wasn’t too much in the way of things to see for the next couple of hours so we continued to drive towards Akureyri until we got tired.

Grabrok Crater and Lava Fields

As we came up over this hill, there were some amazing views of the mountains so we parked the van in a carpark, ate some dinner and crashed out for the night to the stunning views of Oxnadalur, which don’t of course disappear when the sun doesn’t go down.

The van camped at Oxnadalur

Day 2 – Oxnadalur to Jokulsa a Dal

We made our way to the larger town of Akureyri in the north and stopped in for a while and had a drink in a coffee shop. We wandered the streets checking out the quaint fishing village before we drove on through to the Godafoss waterfalls, and on to Namafjell and Jardbodin where they had some awesome geothermal mud pits and springs.


We decided that since it was bath time we should stop in the springs and swim about for a bit. They were so nice and warm and had incredible views. It was such an amazing experience. And after the bath we continued to drive on.  We arrived at this place called the Viti Crater which means hell in Icelandic. It was cold, but absolutely stunning, and oddly frozen over.

Viti Crater

We tried to head north to see Detifoss waterfall however we got stuck in a fog and decided that this wasn’t the safest path to take so we turned around and continued our way east along the ring road. We parked the car somewhere around Jokulsa a Dal and had another sleep in the bright lights of constant sun.

Day 3 – Jokulsa a Dal to Hofn

We drove on through towards Seydisfjordur, down the stunning winding roads before the coast and spent some time hanging out in the port town. On the way back up, there was a really cool waterfall, Gufufoss and we stuffed around for a while taking pictures of ourselves in our Cinderella and Dora the Explorer masks that came along for the ride with us.


As we continued along the winding road we stopped in a town called Djupivogur where they had massive whale bones on display and some really cool things in one of the garden shops there. We explored these some more before making our way to Hofn where we camped on the side of the road for the night.

Whale bones at Djupivogur

While we drove most of the north super quickly, I did really enjoy the time I spent up here. It was a really cool start to the journey…. but all of the things that we were both super excited about were in the south and we were yet to get there…

To see what we did in the south, check out Part 2 next time!

Shit I Learned In Bulgaria

This was quite a while ago and as such it is pushing my memory to remember what half of the cryptic notes I took about Bulgaria even mean… but here’s the decipher! Enjoy!

  • The word ‘lev’ in Bulgarian means ‘lion’. You can see that this is the national symbol of the country because lions are literally everywhere and the currency is called the ‘lev’.
Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral
  • In the times of Constantine the Great, the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, was actually called Serdika.  This was one of Constantine’s favourite cities in the Roman empire and was the gateway to Constantinople, now Istanbul.
  • You can find churches in Bulgaria that have amazing frescoes from years 1000 and 1300. They are amazing and some of the best preserved in the world.
Frescoes inside of the Boyana Church
  • Bulgarians are terrible with giving you directions on how to get somewhere. The locals joke and say as a tourist the only solid directions you will ever receive are for the destinations of either vodka or the beach. A couple of people I met in the hostel and I decided to try out our luck with getting to Seven Lakes on public transport. After much research and confusion, we finally made it there for the spectacular hiking and views.
The hazy views over Seven Lakes
  • During World War 2, the Bulgarian government was smart enough to save it’s Jews from Hitler’s regime by telling the Nazi’s that they needed the Jews to do labour work on the railroad construction.
  • The city of Plovdiv lies abound seven different hills.
  • There are huge numbers of incredible Roman stadiums and ruins throughout the country, and are home to some of the most incredibly well preserved ruins. One of the world’s largest stadiums lies underneath the main shopping street of Plovdiv.
The end of the Roman Amphitheatre in Plovdiv
  • They have a tradition of tying these red and white, handmade dolls called Martenitsa from blossoming trees as ritual to denote the arrival of spring.

Other than that I really can’t remember that much more shit from Bulgaria other than I really loved it. The people were friendly, the scenery was gorgeous and the history wonderful! Cannot recommend visiting this beautiful country enough!

A woman's lifelong aversion to the word 'No'….