Category Archives: Adventure

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.

Skogafoss

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.

Gullfoss

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.

Geysir

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!

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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.

Barnafoss

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.

Namafjell

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.

Gufufoss

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 Cornwall

For the bank holiday weekend, my friends and I hired a car and drove west to Cornwall for the weekend. I never actually thought that I would make it down that way however I am excited to say that we had an amazing time. And of course, because it is what I do, I learned some interesting shit. So here is the shit that I learned in Cornwall…..

The fabulous Cornish Pasty

Pasty’s were invented in Cornwall as a useful way for the miners that were working on the west coast to carry a hot meal with them that was filling. The pastry would act as an insulator for the hot meat and potato filling to keep it warm for a few hours. The crinkle part of the pasty was made so that the miners had a part of the pastry to hold and eat the hot contents from. Given that the miners would have trace elements of heavy metals and arsenic on their hands, they would throw this part away and not eat it. It was designed as a place to hold to eat and not for eating. Speaking also of pasty’s, we ate so many of them. The best ones are from Philp’s.

Munching down on a pasty outside Philp’s

When I grow up I am going to become a 70 year old nana in a choir

Whilst down in Cornwall we went to visit the Minack Theatre which is a giant, Roman style amphitheatre that was created by one woman in and around world war 2. There was a choir of 70 year olds there preparing for their performance that night. I will never forget the dancing of the people and the grooving of the nana’s as they sang Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’. I have decided that this is what I want to do.

Chilling out watching the choir rehearse with stunning ocean views at the Minack

I’m clearly out of touch

Whilst driving down the road I spent a lot of time listening to the radio. I had no idea about any of the songs on the radio. So I learned the words to loads of those. Not only that, but I also learned a few other words of interesting definition:

Kleptopenia – a person who picks up other people’s pens and walks off with them. This is me. I have kleptopenia. Pens fucking everywhere.

Neglext – the art of ignoring the person you are supposed to be chatting with because you are too busy sending text messages to someone else.

Voluntold – when you get told you are volunteering for something but it isn’t really volunteering, it is more like being told.

Marconi tested his radio’s at Lizard Point.

Nuff said really. Pretty damn cool.

The coastline at Lizard Point

My home town was named after a place in Cornwall.

I grew up in a town called Launceston. We pronounced it ‘Lon-ces-ton’. The Cornish folk like to call it ‘Lawns-ton’. Their Launceston has a castle on a hill for a view. We have Myer 7th floor. They have a river Tamar. We have one too. They have a Tamar Bridge. We have a Batman Bridge that goes over the Tamar. We both have town halls, but theirs is older and cooler looking as it has medieval style. I am quite impressed with all of this. Our Launceston is bigger, but they are still both quite pretty towns.

You can call me the Queen of the Castle, the Launceston Castle!

Cornish Seagulls are HUGE

I mean seriously huge. They look like no neck rugby players of the gull world and the greedy fuckers sit around and glare at you while you eat. One said gull even tried to rip the  wing off of another gull in our presence and there was blood and gore everywhere. But luckily not on my pasty.

People walking from one end of the UK to the other is more common than one would think.

The route from Land’s End in Cornwall to Dan O’Groot’s in northern Scotland has been walked by quite a large number of people. Considering that this is 947 miles this is a huge achievement and one I think I will pass.

The Land’s End sign at the eastern most point of England.

Cornwall is such a stunningly beautiful place to visit with so much to see and do. You will need way more than the three days that we had to navigate our way around and see everything. Honestly you would probably need a couple of weeks. Just get fuelled up and away you go!

 

 

Shit I Learned In Venice

Of course in traditional Dano fashion, I went to Venice in an array of disorganization. I decided when I got there to check into the hostel and go for a walk. And I didn’t really manage to get anything that day done other than walking. I walked, I ate, I went on a walking tour where I managed to learn some shit. Mostly I learned that I was too late after the walking tour to do any of the shit that I wanted to do so now I need to go back. But in the meantime here are a few little stories of interest from Venice.

The Capital City of THE WORLD!!!

In times where we were without such tools as cars and planes, man hit the trading route on horse and foot. The trading route passed through the former capital of the world, Constantinople. But the Venetians of course were not happy with this and decided that they must do something about it to steal the title. To become the capital city of the world there are a few different things that a city must have.

Firstly a city must have a saint. Venice was attributed to Saint Theodore… but who the hell even knows who this is?? So they decided that they wanted Saint Mark instead. Much better known. But wait………

Second rule is that the bones of the saint must be within the city. But of course the bones of Saint Mark were in Alexandria. Problem? Nope! No problem. Three Venetian merchants went to the city of Alexandria and stole the bones of Saint Mark. Before they could get the bones out of the city limits however, the alarm went out, “Marks bones have gone, lock the place down, we need to find them”. Every person’s goods were searched before exiting the city by the guards…. so how are we going to get out of this one?

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The Grand Canal of Venice

I know! We shall hide the bones of Saint Mark amid chunks of pork meat so that the Muslim guards would turn their noses up at it and refuse to touch the disgusting pork meat and we shall be home free! And this is what they did. The bones of Saint Mark were escorted back to Venice.

The Venitians were then set. So off they went to Constantinople to rape, steal, pillage and burn the place to the ground. And they did. Anything of value, like the horses at the gates of the city, were sent back to Venice. They melted down statues, stole marble pillars and used them to build their basilica. They were right demonisers. But they had their way. And after this they managed to instate Venice as the capital trade city of the world!! Hooray!

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Saint Mark’s Basilica with all of the looted columns from Constantinople.

Masks

The masks of Venice originated so that the nobility of the city could go out and do their business anonymously and without judgement. The gold mask in the photo below is typically what the rich people would wear and of course there is a little gap underneath so they can sip their expensive wine and eat their expensive foods without issue. The black mask was typically worn by servants. There is a mouthpiece on the inside that they must clamp down on with their teeth to keep the mask on their faces. This was to prevent servants speaking or gossiping to other servants about what their masters have been up to. The white mask with a birds beak was the plague doctors mask. Apparently if you were the length of the beak away from someone it would prevent you getting the plague. It was also how these people were recognized when they came about to clean up the streets of the bodies after family members turfed them out when they got sick to avoid getting sick themselves. Lovely hey?

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The traditional masks of Venice

Other shit I learned….

  • The theatre starts at 7pm and not 8pm.
  • There is a dress code for the theatre that doesn’t involve shorts and running shoes.
  • Getting lost in Venice is very easy
  • Never trust a restaurant that has pictures on their menu
  • One should actually do some research about what they want to do and when it is available before they get there.
  • Gondola drivers must be Venetian and earn approximately twenty thousand euro a month!

 

Shit I Learned In Cambridge

Of course being a scientist lends to me being a total nerdball when heading to the land of Cambridge. And being the grand educational facility that it is, I obviously learned a bit of shit.

Nobel Prize Winners

  • The first bit of shit I learned is that there have been 90 Nobel Prize winners that have come from Cambridge. They boast more than Oxford so they win that grand rivalry, and these are more interesting to me because majority of them are in science related fields.
  • One such Nobel Prize was won by Watson who discovered the double helix formation of DNA in the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge and then headed on down to the Eagle Pub to tell everyone about his discovery. We of course went in here to have a drink where all the great minds of science got smashed since the 1500’s. This pub is also full of RAF names, stickers and photos from those that went to serve in World War 2.
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The plaque on the wall outside The Eagle Pub declaring this is the place where Watson first announced his discovery of DNA double helix

  • Other Nobel Prize winners to come out of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge are Lord Rutherford for his work on the radioactive decay, Lord Rayleigh for the discovery of Argon and a whole bunch of physicists. Of course, I love the chemists more because that is what I trained to do, but the brains that have passed through these buildings are unsurpassed.
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Outside the Physical Laboratory at Cavendish. Where all the action takes place.

Cambridge Shenanigans

  • With the amazing minds of the world gathering here, there had to be some kind of mischief during the downtime. Favourite past times of many of the students here involved free climbing buildings. At one point during Christmas some unknown pranksters decided that scaling the famous church at King’s College and placing Santa hats on the spires would be funny. This was accepted as being comical. The following week when they decided to put a fluorescent orange traffic cone on the spire instead it was not well received by the college. So after putting all of the scaffolding up to safely take the traffic cone down, the pranksters of course rescaled the building and moved the traffic cone from where it was to the other end of the building that didn’t have scaffolding. Lol!
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The church at King’s College with the spires that have been home to Santa hats and traffic cones

  • As impressive as this was, I think my favourite shenanigan involved the statue of King Henry VIII at the entrance of Trinity College. He used to have a golden sceptre in his hand…. then of course somebody free climbed the building and replaced the sceptre with a wooden chair leg. Nobody found the sceptre. The chair leg is still there. At some point somebody took the chair leg but there was such an outcry to have the chair leg put back that they replaced it a couple of days later.
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King Henry VIII holding his wooden chair leg

  • Another feat of the minds of physics was achieved when they managed to put a car on top of the Senate building in the middle of the night with pulley systems. The engine was removed first so that the load wasn’t as great, but still a pretty impressive achievement. This somewhat reminds me of some kids in my brothers year level at school mounting their MDT teacher’s car on a stump next to the school parking lot. Maybe they weren’t worked hard enough. Too much time on their hands……

Getting Exam Results and Graduating

  • It is unfortunate for the slackers, but all of the results for Cambridge University students are put on display in a whole bunch of showcases for the entire public to see. Even worse than that is in mathematics, whose faculty decided that they would publicly read out exam results in front of everybody and bestow a massive wooden spoon upon the worst grade holder for them to carry for the entirety of the year. Ouch.
  • And with all of the amazing parties that they have at the end of it all, there comes, with great engineering, the float down the river. But instead of using the punting boats, they have to make their own from cardboard boxes. I would imagine that some of them would have had quite a good shellacking.
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Normal people attempting ‘punting’ down the river. This is where the cardboard boxes go too.

Trinity College Awesomeness

  • The most incredible mind to attend at Trinity College was Sir Isaac Newton. While his gravitational ideas were actually conceived of somewhere else, it is said that the tree currently outside of the college is planted with a seed from the apple tree that led Newton to his theories.
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RAF memorabilia on the walls of the Eagle Pub

  • And of course then there is Prince Charles. Who attended Trinity College with his two bodyguards. Upon completion of his courses, his bodyguards requested to sit the exams too as they had sat through all of the lectures. Apparently they both got better grades than Charles. Rumour. But hilarious.

Well, that is all from Cambridge! Til next time I learn some more shit!

 

 

 

Shit I Learned In Madrid

I was recently fortunate enough to get some free time from yelling at kids and doing work to spend some time in the amazing country of Spain. I started my time in Madrid, the capital of the country. Madrid is an incredible city and the amount of shit that I learned while I was here was a great way to kick start the trip!

City Facts

  • Madrid was founded by the Muslims and was named “Magerit”, meaning “place of water”.
  • The citadel walls were originally made of flintstone so that when weapons hit the wall it would spark. Thus making it the city ‘build on water with walls of fire’.

Food and Drink

  • We can all thank the poor drunks of Spain for the glorious invention of Tapas. It turns out that when faced with the awkward decision of either ‘eating’ or ‘drinking’ with not enough money to do both, the people of Spain chose to drink. This of course was not great for productivity in the workforce and as such King Alphonse (the 10th I think…) passed a law stating that a small snack should be served with each beverage. This law is still in place in Granada and I spent most of my time there drunk. I was embracing the life of the poor commoner you see and when faced with the option of 3 euro bocadillo or 2.50 euro wine with free tapas, the poor person in me chose the wine!
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Mmmm…. sangria and croquettes
  • The name ‘tapas’ did not arrive on the scene until Alphonse the 13th. Apparently whilst sitting in a windy bar, with dirt blowing all over the place the server at the bar was so stressed about dirt getting in his drink he placed a piece of ham over the king’s drink. When the king asked what this was, the server in a panic responded that it was a ‘tapar’ which translates to ‘a cover’. And now we have tapas everywhere! Hooray!
  • During the Spanish Inquisition where they were killing all of the Muslims and Jews, they would carry ham around in their pockets and hang ham in their doorways to show that they were in fact “Christian”.
  • The oldest restaurant in the world is in Madrid. It is called the Botin and was actually opened by a French person. Hemmingway apparently ate here. Another restaurant in Madrid’s claim to fame is that “Hemmingway didn’t eat here”. Total get around he was!
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The oldest restaurant in the world
Royal Tidbits
  • Carlos the Second (who apparently came at the end of the “Carlos Felipe sandwich” via which there was King Carlos, then Felipe, then Felipe, then Felipe, then Carlos 2nd) anyway, he was apparently so deformed from the incestuous nature of the royal family that he had a special member of staff that was assigned to chew his food and put it in his mouth for him… just like a mama bird.
  • Speaking of Felipe’s, the Philippines was named after King Felipe the second of Spain. It was previously a Portuguese territory until Felipe the second conquered Portugal.
  • Felipe the fourth thought so highly of himself he commissioned a statue of himself on a horse. The catch is that unlike any other statue of a man on a horse at the time he wanted the horse to be only on it’s hind two legs and rearing in the front. There were of course issues with the weight distribution of the horse as it kept snapping off at the legs due to ridiculously unstable weight distribution. They managed to solve this debacle by employing the amazing Galileo… who of course suggested making the hind legs solid and the rest of the statue hollow. Genius. Anyway, after it was finished Felipe was still not happy as the statue looked nothing like him. So they cut the head off and added another one in for good measure.
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Felipe the fourth on his two legged horse despite not being killed in battle
  • The position of the legs on a horse for a statue of a person posthumously indicates how they died. All four legs on the ground means they didn’t die in battle. One leg off the ground means that they were injured in battle and died from later injuries. Two legs off the ground means that they died in battle.

Alrighty then…. a whole bunch of interesting history stuff. I promise that next week when I get to the next instalment I will hit you guys with more of the funny shit I learned in Spain! Til then, adios! 🙂

Shit I Learned In Hamburg

My time in Hamburg was fleeting. I literally arrived off the overnight bus from Copenhagen, had a nap in the hotel lobby and then went on a walking tour. That is where I learned most of my shit in Hamburg. The rest of the shit I learned on a drunken night out with my new friends from in the dorm room…..

  • The first law that was passed in the constitution for the City of Hamburg is that it is illegal to burn down the town hall. This was after the Vikings did it more times than one can count to get back at the town folk and establish their awesomeness.
  • The organ in the crypt at St Jacobi’s church was played by Bach. During the second world war, the whole entire organ was disabled and put in the church basement to try and prevent damage to it. While the rest of the building was bombed to smitherines and everything else inside destroyed, the organ surprisingly survived under the ground and was eventually reconstructed.
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The organ at the St. Jacobi’s Church that was played by Bach!
  • As we have discovered in our travels of Central America earlier, the same word for calling an inanimate object hot, ‘caliente’, when used to refer to oneself also means ‘horny’. This same issue also arises in German when a person uses the word for ‘cool’. It also means ‘horny’ in German…. I can’t remember what exactly that word is….
  • I would rather walk outside of the door of a church where they are asking for money in their donation box, tell them no, and then hand the money to a homeless guy. The church is rich enough as it is.
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A metal sculpture sitting on a pile of bricks weeping over the tragic loss of lives during the destruction of buildings in Hamburg during WW2
  • The great fire started in a cigar factory. Unfortunately, there was an alcohol store next door to this. Even more unfortunate was that the alcohol shop owner was stupid. In a panic that his shop would be destroyed, he started pouring out all of the alcohol out of his shop window into the river. The river that was barely running because there wasn’t a great deal of water in it. When the fire trucks arrived and started pumping water out of the river to wet down all of the adjacent buildings so that they wouldn’t catch fire as easy, the opposite effect was observed. The entire row of buildings went up in flames as they had just been doused in alcohol. Good times all round….
  • The Beatles have a record shaped place called the Beatles Platz with artistic statues in the Reeperbahn. I learned later in the evening that the Reeperbahn is pretty much the ‘red light district’ of Hamburg. I had a very interesting night out here where I learned that DJ’s are incapable of finishing a song past the 1st chorus, that pizza is very awesome, and that hangovers are horrible on planes.
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The Beatles jamming at the Beatles Platz in the Reeperbahn

Not a great deal learned, but I guess it is quite a bit for the 24 hours that I was there. I definitely think I will be needing to spend some more time navigating German cities 🙂