These incredible waterfalls in Iceland

A trip to Iceland cannot be relaxed. It will make you up sit up, and seriously watch out for what it has to offer. And believe me, you won’t be able to take your eyes off either! It opens a window to a nature unseen, unthought of and unimaginable. I am still fishing for superlative adjectives to describe its magnificence, because for me, ‘stunning’ and ‘spectacular’ may fall a little short in doing justice to its beyond-extraordinary, mega-impressive and super-prolific beauty. Nature, beyond doubt, has all weapons its her armoury to make one go speechless.

There is just plenty to write about Iceland. It is a country of volcanoes, craters, glaciers, waterfalls, natural hot springs, ice lagoons, lava caves, and so much more that I didn’t know where to begin. Finally I decided to dedicate this post to something that besieged our way all around at every step in Iceland – its waterfalls. We did a complete round trip along the Ring Road, and oh, boy, there were waterfalls everywhere! and how beautiful at that!

There are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland, and we visited some of the most gorgeous ones that this little island country is so deservedly famous for. They distinctly ranged from being dreamy, magical, delightful to being ferocious, gigantic, and sinister.

Waterfalls in the South

  • Gulfoss

The intriguing and iconic double-waterfall of Gulfoss, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland. It is a part of the Golden Circle Tour, in the Southwest, which covers the Þingvellir National Park, and the Geysir Geothermal Area too. These are all within easy distance from Reykjavik.

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The double-waterfall of Gulfoss

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  • Seljalandfoss

An extremely mesmerizing waterfall in the Southern region of Iceland is Seljalandfoss. It’s really one of its kinds as it has a path through the rocks which leads behind the waterfall, where you can go and take pictures. Be careful, as the path is a bit slippery, so one must have proper shoes and a waterproof jacket / raincoat to keep from getting wet.

A visit to this fall gave us some of the most lovely moments. There was a time when we found ourselves at the foot of the rainbow! Yes, it was not in the sky, it was on the ground, coming to life when the setting sun right in front offered its radiance to the waterfall. How would it feel to hold the rainbow in your arms, or walk while it colours every step of yours. Well, I know now!

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Magnificent sight of the rainbow splitting across Seljalandfoss
  • Skógafoss

Another beautiful waterfall in the Southern region of Iceland is Skógafoss, and can be easily covered along with Seljalandfoss as they are only 30 kms apart in distance. You can easily walk upto the fall, and it can be really overwhelming standing next to it considering its 60m height and the force it falls with.

Waterfalls in the North-East

  • Godafoss

One of my personal favourites on the trip was the Godafoss waterfall (or the waterfall of the Gods), which lies in the North-eastern region of Iceland. It’s picturesque and spectacular beauty is such that it has many professional photographers with their tripods hooked onto the best viewpoints for hours. A bit annoying for the rest of the visitors, but I’m happy I got a few nice images 🙂 If you can avoid the rush hours, you can dwell in its celestial beauty in peace. This fall really makes a visit up there a big worth!

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Waterfall of the Gods. When Iceland embraced Christianity, one of the religious priests threw away the idols of native gods into the waterfall, hence its name.
  • Dettifoss

The giant waterfall in the north-east Iceland has been named the most powerful one in Europe. It was the one to leave me completely overwhelmed by its magnitude and the loud roars. The sound still resonates in my ears, so sharp and clear. If you’ve watched the movie ‘Prometheus’, you’ve seen this one in the opening clip. I can personally not get over this ‘beast’ easily, as the locals call it.

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S is minion-ized against the giant Dettifoss!
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The locals rightly call it a ‘Beast’
  • Selfoss

Another of nature’s delight, or may be a scare. Well, it left me with quite a shiver. Selfoss was about a kilometer from Dettifoss, and had us walking over a blanket of rough boulders on the way, following the marked signs.

It was a long series of waterfalls, showcasing the immense power and energy within, leading to dissipation of a dense mist where the water fell with maximum force. It won’t be easy to forget the sight. Being able to get so close, for the first time, felt really insignificant witnessing the nature’s devastating power!

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A long series of waterfalls showcasing the immense power within
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Standing close to this feels like one is at the end of the world. Being able to get so close, for the first time, felt really insignificant witnessing the nature’s devastating power!

Have you been to Iceland? Which other waterfalls did you see?!

Read other travel stories:

This Old Town in Poland will sweep your ground

How about visiting Riga, in Latvia?

For once, Blues are Beautiful! In Santorini, Greece

An imaginer’s paradise. A poet’s inspiration. A world parallel to the dreams. Santorini, in Greece, boasts of a picture-perfect colour blending, of sparkling white houses with blue domed rooftops, decorated with blooming vines of pink bogainvillea, against the turquoise of the Mediterranean. Perched high on volcanic clifftops, this sight is something unimaginable to reel in. One look at these fairytale-like landscape, and you’re already under a spell.

We had planned a 5-day trip to Athens and Santorini in the month of May. From Stockholm, we flew to Athens and spent about a day and a half in the city. A ferry by ‘Bluestar Ferries‘ or ‘Hellenic Seaways‘ is a popular choice among travellers to travel from the city of Athens to the island of Santorini. But S and I usually end up choosing flights over ferries. Not to say ferries are any less fun, but we are generally quite limited on time while travelling. We just quickly want to touch down, and get the action going! A short 45-min flight by Aegean Airlines brought us from Athens to the Thira airport in Santorini, and then a 40-min car drive to this pristine white-washed paradise of Oia, sitting beautifully right at the edge of the north-western coastal cliff.

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View of windmill in Oia, Santorini

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We are dressed for the color-theme 😉

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View of Santorini Caldera, taken from Oia. Caldera is a geographical formation created after a massive volcanic eruption in Santorini over 3,500 years ago.
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White-washed houses and staircases on the clifftop. Walk around and explore!

What made it even more mesmerising was the fact that this surreal scenic place was rebuilt after a massive volcanic eruption, in the center of the island, brought down the entire civilisation 3,500 years ago. And today, it stands proud as one of the world’s most photographed destinations.

We wanted to explore all of this small splendid Greek Aegean island, so we had hired a car to drive around. Parking is not a problem in Santorini, unless at a time when the eager and enthusiast tourists only look for that perfect spot, where they can treat their eyes with the most beautiful sunset that Oia is known for. Melting soft golden sun rays falling over a stretch of white-washed houses and staircases before disappearing in the vast blue Aegean Sea! You sure want to be in that moment for as long as the magic lasts.

To make our evening more special, S had booked a Sunset Oia Cruise, organized by Sailing Santorini. What better than watching the sunset from the middle of the open sea, not having to vie for the right spot on the caldera edge?!

Tip for sunset cruise : Most cruises organized by Sunset Oia last for about 5 hours (including transfers to and from hotels), because they start from the Ammoudi Bay in the north and sail all the way to Akrotiri in the South where the other Red and Black beaches (named after the colour of the volcanic rocks) are. So you might to skip it if you only have a couple of days in Santorini. You may also want to check with the organizers if they stop over at these beaches, because some tours don’t. Since it was an open boat, it was quite cold and windy on the cruise even in the month of May. If you happen to visit during that time, you might definitely want to keep something warm. The Greek menu and barbecue offered onboard is excellent!

Tip for stay : If you stay in Oia (which is absolutely recommended!), it is really preferable to stay on the side of the Caldera, where you get a view of the dramatic cliffs, the blue and white houses, the entertaining and action-buzzing tourist alleys with shops, cafés and restaurants, and most importantly, the stunning sunset views! For obvious reasons, this side of the scenic village can be more expensive and accommodations fill up fast, therefore, booking early is really a must!

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Sunset view over the Caldera

Tip for shopping : While Oia and Fira surely have some touristic margins on their sales, I found Perissa Beach in the south-east a great alternative for shopping. There is a row of shops and boutiques all along the beach promenade, with fashionable clothes and accessories available at reasonably good prices.

Tip for great seafood : If you are hopping around in the south of Santorini close to the Black Beach, and find yourself pricked by some hunger pangs,  Akro is a great restaurant to drop into https://www.akrosantorini.com/  Gorgeous sea views, relaxing balcony chairs and tables,  great food and delicious cocktails. You can also rent chaise lounge beach chairs, under thatched reed umbrellas, and spend an afternoon relaxing by the beach.

While in Santorini, I got hooked on to a sweet crunchy snack called ‘SantoNuts’, made of peanuts and sesame. Absolutely delicious. Do try it when you’re there!

Have you been to Santorini? How was your experience? 🙂

Happy Travels! 

Read other travel stories :

You wouldn’t want to miss this Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

Six must-see waterfalls in Iceland

 

How about visiting Riga, in Latvia?

Just like you awesome travel lovers out there, I, too, am always looking for weekend getaways! I think they help rejuvenate and pace up life, and offer new opportunities to feel amused and surprised by different cultures, history, and landscape. Isn’t it? The thought of discovering unseen places and planning an itinerary is an absolutely delightful food for my tiny neurons 🙂 S prefers not to have an agenda, and loves to have the city unfold its wonderful secrets itself. That could be nice too, when the place is not heavily packed with activities to do or things to see. And we thought that Riga, the capital city of Latvia, is one such place!

Living in Stockholm, we are quite close to the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These are popularly known as the Baltic countries, due to their coastal lining along the Baltic Sea. Ferries, especially the ones run by the company TallinkSilja, are a common and comfortable way of transportation between Riga and the nearby shore cities of Tallinn and Helsinki. For us, this trip was a part of our midsummer weekend holiday to this picturesque town of Tallinn, which I happily shared in my previous post 🙂 So we just took a 50 minutes AirBaltic flight from Tallinn to arrive into Riga, to make the best of our time. You could also read about the Part 1 of our Baltic trip by following the link below 🙂

Read: You wouldn’t want to miss this Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

With just a day to spend in Riga, we kept it fairly relaxed and flexible. We just strolled around with no aim to reach a destination, and let the place magically draw us into its character and charm. And surprisingly, we met with a number of delightful views! Here are a few shots around the town :

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Railway Bridge on Daugava River, Riga. The river originates in Russia, and flows through Belarus and Latvia, before falling into the Gulf of Riga.
House of Blackheads in the Riga Town Hall Square (Rātslaukums). In medieval times, Blackheads was a Brotherhood of unmarried German merchants in Riga
Musicians performing at the Town Hall Square
Monument of Red Latvian Riflemen, who fought against Germans in the World War I
The Freedom Monument, a symbol of Latvian National Sovereignty

Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with a dome-roof architecture
At Central Market in Riga

St Peters Church in Riga is a great viewing platform to catch a birds’ eye view over the old town, the river, and the rest of the central market. It’s attractive 123 meters high rustic-green soaring spire can be spotted from most directions while browsing through other Old Town attractions. They take you up to the second gallery at a height of 72 meters through an escalator, and charge €9 for it. A little expensive in my opinion, but we were ready to do it hoping for some impressive views. When we arrived, they had unfortunately shut the ticket window for some unexplained reason resulting in long queues of people waiting to buy their ticket. We didn’t have a lot of time on hand, so we just decided to skip it. But I would imagine it is totally worth it on a clear sky day. Don’t miss it if you get a chance!

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St Peter’s Church, Riga. It’s impressively tall tower makes it one of the city’s signature structures.

If we had more time, we would have possibly found more cultural and historical gems in the city. Yet, it was extremely rewarding to explore the highlights of the place and gain knowledge on the history of Latvia.

The Riga Town Hall Square was completely destroyed during the World War II, and was rebuilt later by its citizens. I always wonder how it would have been for people who once lived there, and marvel at the efforts put into resurrecting a city and pumping back life into it. Not easy, I’m sure.

Another Old Town which went through massive destruction during the World War II, but was splendidly re-built later lies in the city of Gdańsk in Poland. You might like to read about it here.

Read: This Old Town in Poland will sweep your ground

How was your experience in Riga?

Happy travels!

You wouldn’t want to miss this Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

Sweden declares a holiday when the sun shines the longest in the sky – and calls it the midsummer holiday! Darn cool, ain’t it? Believe it or not, living in the Nordics, one gets to discover the true worth of this biggest fireball in the sky. While there are special Swedish traditions and rituals to celebrate a midsummer, it also means an extended weekend to plan a getaway 🙂 This year S & I decided to hop over from Stockholm to the other side of the Baltic Sea, and seep into the midsummer seasons and celebrations of the much talked about Baltic Land 🙂

Tallinn, a port town in the country of Estonia, borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. With the city center just 10-minute drive from the airport, it appeared to me that this Baltic capital has one of Northern Europe’s most beautiful and well- preserved Old Town.

Over a few years of travel, I have come to realize why cities with an old European charm and appeal are the most popular among the travellers. Their ancient and medieval character, coupled with the modern vibrance is absolutely unparalleled. They may bustle with tourists, but you’re never far from a cozy and relaxing corner, where you can sit for hours beholding the sights around, soaking it all in, while holding a cup of your favourite coffee and some delicious cakes.

The characteristic cobblestoned alleys, tall-spired medieval churches, and distinct orange-roofed towers made Tallinn an incredibly photogenic place to set our eyes on.

Even more exciting was to be able to get an aerial view of the town, through some easily accessible viewing platforms, which are free for public to visit. I would definitely recommend to visit the ToompeaHill in the city to get some sweeping views of the town,  because of its positioning on a hilltop.

Some of the popular viewing platforms are :

  • Kohtuotsa 
  • Patkuli 

A few glimpses of the pleasing view from the top 😉

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Kohtuotsa viewing platform

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Patkuli viewing platform

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is another of the popular attractions in the Old Town. Perched upon the Toompea Hill, where the other viewing platforms are, it showcases the Russian Orthodox architecture with its dome-shaped top. Quite a contrast to the soaring spires defining the skyline of the rest of the town.

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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea Hill

Town Hall Square (or the Raekoja Plats) is a picturesque market hub, with a blend of traditional and modern sights, buildings, merchant houses, shops and cafes. Being a midsummer weekend, it was swarmed with a lot of other enthusiastic tourists, who found themselves gazing at the exquisiteness of the place. Don’t forget to pick up a piece of beautiful amber jewellery this region is famous for!

Amber jewellery in Tallinn

Do you also enjoy the beauty and charm of an Old Town, just like I do? There is another absolutely splendid and magnificent one in Poland, which I would surely recommend.

Read: This Old Town in Poland will sweep your ground

Have you visited Tallinn, too? Would love to know your experiences!

This Old Town in Poland will sweep your ground

After touring through the more popular European cities which leave a visitor enchanted with their architecture and museums, gardens and canals, cathedrals and castles, I was quite convinced I must now begin scouting for the second layer of travel wealth that remains hidden from the touristic commercialism. Something more pristine, more satisfying to the soul of a traveler. Long before I could nurture this thought and see it take me over, I was proved wrong, yet again by one of the old historic cities of Europe and its remarkable appeal.

I happened to make a short trip to Gdańsk, which is a port city in the Baltic Coast of Poland. And a casual evening stroll into the Old Town of Gdańsk made me stop in my shoes. I was looking at the finest form of architectural beauty, less explored but not less admirable, little heard of but, by no means any less precious. It appeared to me that this surreal colorful town has probably emerged from the abyss overnight. I was enthralled.

But the truth stirred me up even more. This beautiful town was almost completely destroyed during the World War II, and it was rebuilt later by the Polish citizens years after the war. A walk through the Dlugi Targ street with several gabled roof houses, cafés and restaurants, and other historical sites immersed me in a fairy-tale like exoticism. I can’t be sure if the pictures below are able to do justice to what the architect of this Old Town would have desired to reflect. But I tried!

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Długi Targ, Gdańsk, Poland

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A prelude to its its bewildering townscape came calling even before I set foot on the ground. Even as a flight passenger, I was an amazed onlooker.

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Aerial view of Gdańsk

Gdańsk is a part of the Tri-city of Poland, together with its cousin towns of Gdynia and Sopot.  They are all within a distance of 15 kms from each other, and have a unique character of their own. Gdynia has an attractive Sea Boulevard, while Sopot is known for its longest wooden pier that is open to public. One gets to walk a kilometer into the sea, crossing the sandy beach stretch on either side, and feeling the breeze right through.

One weekend is all you need to fall in love with this Tri-city. Would you like to travel to this captivating place? 🙂

Visiting Spain? How about watching some Flamenco?!

An art form of elegant poise, sharp majestic postures, and well-orchestrated euphonious foot taps – that was my impression of the classic dance form native to Spain, known to the world as Flamenco. To complement it further, the buoyant ruffled dresses of the performers, the hand fans and and ebullient energy counted for every little visual appeal the audiences were looking for.

A spell was cast when a team of artists harmonised the rhythm of guitars, hand claps, foot taps and a castanet (a percussion instrument held in the hand and struck to generate music). Some traditional Spanish singing alongside stirred up the music loving senses of the mind, and the wholesome experience made us appreciate its class beyond doubt!

During my earlier visits to Spain, I made time to attend some live Flamenco shows in a couple of small-scale clubs in Barcelona and Valencia. You will find below some of my suggested budget-friendly, easily accessible places which give a quick 45-60 minutes peak into this enchanting tradition!  

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In Spain, it is not very difficult to find clubs with Flamenco shows, as it is also a way to promote their talented artists and showcase their tradition. A quick Google search may list a lot of options depending on the scale of the event you may be interested in.
The ones I found authentic and very easy on the pocket were:

  • Los Tarantos, La Rambla, Barcelona
  • Café del Duende, Valencia

And what better than enjoying the performances with a glass of Spanish Sangria! 😉 Most of the places offer this drink complementary with the entrance ticket. A right balance with food and drinks, and some appreciation for a different culture might just let this experience find its way in your books of memoirs. So why not go for it?!

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Probably I spent too much time watching the show. And some Flamenco bugs slipped in 😉 Trying out a dance step in the famous Valencian city of Buñol, known for hosting the popular La Tomatina festival every year! 🙂

Hope you have a fun experience watching some Flamenco moves!