Half Term Getaway to Spain: Part 2

Beautiful view of Valencia from the top of Torres de Serranos

Valencia really was a beautiful city with a very interesting mix of cultures, history as well as modernness to it – evident from the buildings across the city.

Plaza de Toros de Valencia (bullring)
Valencia Nord Train Station
Valencia Central Market

Being a my usual foodie self, my first stop on my last day in Valencia was the impressive centre market. It features a wide range of food ranging from the famous Spanish Jamón, fresh meats, fruits and sweets as well as different kinds of preserves. It certainly took a long time to go around the entire place! 😉

Of course it won’t be Spain without Jamón! 🐷
Love all these exotic fruits! Shame I can’t buy them all home!
“Snacking” in the food market (from top left going along the row): spinach empanada, pepito carne (fried stuffed sandwich), mandarin juice, Jamón and an apple semifreddo dessert 🤤 (thought it was a cake but it turned out to be ice cream!)
And a surprise buy! 😂

I then headed the city centre of Valencia, visiting the grande and historical town hall as well as the central post office.

Correos (Central Post office)
Grande ceiling in the post office
Valencia Town Hall
Beautiful chandeliers!
The Laws of Valencia standing at the centre of the room!
Exquisite ceiling
The Valencian Flag
The old parliament

After a long walk in the heart of Valencia, I then headed back to the direction of Plaza de la Virgen where I was last night to visit the Valencia Cathedral. But before that, I stopped for a little tea break sampling a local drink called Horchata, which is a milk made from tiger nuts, typically accompanied with a sweet pastry called Farton. 👌

Horchata with Farton
Valencia Cathedral (entry for 8 Euros – though I got away with a student discount again! 😂👌)
Main altar of the cathedral
Beautiful chapel 🥰🥰
Love stained glass whenever I visit a cathedral!
Amazing!
Underground of the cathedral
Eek 😬😬💀🦴🦴

After wondering through the town some more, I then rode the bus to the more desolated Pinedo beach which sat on the outskirts of Valencia, enjoying the breezes from the sea before riding back to the city again. 🌊 🌊

Pinedo beach

And after a few drinks at some bars and places across town (getting a little light headed lol), I settled for a final light dinner at a couscous bar near to my hotel in the Russafa area. The waitress was so lovely and welcoming, and we had such a nice chat about the city and travelling (turned out she is from Miami, so we got chatting about America which I longed to visit!) 🥰🥰

Couscous buffet bar for a light and healthy dinner! 😋

And don’t forget it’s Halloween this Sunday! 🎃👻 Stay safe and enjoy the festival! 😉

Half Term Getaway to Spain: Part 1

After a very busy month of work, it was time for another one of my getaway trips! 😁 Taking full advantage of my week-long break, I jetted of to a popular neighbour of ours – the exotic county of Spain! 🇪🇸

Hola, Spain! 🇪🇸
Early flight today! 🥱

This time, I decided on a cheap early flight that set off from Stansted airport to Valencia at 7am in the morning (which meant I had to leave home at about 4am in the morning haha 😆🥱 barely even slept lol!) The airport is known for cheap commercial flights, but just annoying it’s a bit far away from the city centre (about one hour of train journey from Liverpool Street Station.)

Sunrise!🌅
The view of Valencia as we descended 🛩
Beautiful view outside the balcony from my hotel room
Spanish tostada with ham

Upon descended in Valencia, I visited a local cafe for the Spanish tostada and then the famous beach of Malvarrosa. The weather was sunny but with just enough of breezes in October, so it was a nice day to be out chilling in the sands for some time! 😎

Playa de la Malvarrosa

After a brief break in the hotel, I then walked to a futuristic part of the city where the Hemisfèric and the science museum are located. The area is such an iconic wow factor of the city! 🤩 Felt like I took a time machine straight to the Year 3000 haha!

Hemisfèric
Valencia Science Museum
The sky garden of Umbracle

My initial plan was to visit the science museum on the first day, but once again (I know it’s a running theme lol) I didn’t pay attention to the fact that opening hours change between seasons (closing time at 9pm in summer but 6pm in winter) 😅, so I decided to then head to dinner early. Though, it turned out restaurants in Spain open really late (most dinner services here start about 8/9pm and finished at about 11pm), so I ended up trying my luck to a few closed doors 😕 before finally stumbling upon an open tapas place called El Temple. (Was wanting to find a paella place but had completely no luck… 😞 ) Though it was still a very nice dinner and I absolutely loved their Patatas bravas! 👍

Quartet of tapas (from top left clockwise): Patatas bravas, squid ink croquettes, grilled prawns with guacamole and grilled pork tenderloin with Camembert cheese and caramelised onions

The first day ended with a rather early night (mainly down to the exhaustion of waking up early in the morning for the flight lol! 😴) In the next morning, I headed to a popular cafe called Dulce De Leche nearby (recommended by the receptionist in my hotel) and decided to do a takeout breakfast on my way back to the museum area.

What a selection! 😋
Bocadillo and carrot/orange/apple juice 🥤 (One of the best sandwiches I ever had seriously!)

After about a 40-minute walk, I arrived back at the science museum and bought the all-around ticket which covered the science museum, Hemisfèric and Oceanogràfic (costing about 38 euros – though I did mange to get a student discount thanks to me now doing my Masters course part-time lol. 👌) The three places are all very big, especially the Oceanogràfic aquarium (which basically it’s a “smaller” theme park on its own) so there is an option to have the ticket covered over 2-3 days in order to allow yourself enough time to see everything gradually. As I was only here for a few days, I obviously opted for the reckless one day option haha! 😂 (Yeah, was exhausted by the end of the day from all the walking I did lol!)

The entrance of Oceanogràfic
Jellyfishes are always so stunning to look at!
Beautiful Mediterranean Sea!
😂 😂
The whole park of Oceanogràfic- it’s massive!
The giant bird cage in the park
Under the dome! (Watching out for 💩💩🤣🤣🤣)
Pink flamingos 🦩🦩🦩🦩🦩
Mine! Mine! Mine!
The famous Galápagos tortoises
Never seen these before! (Apparently there are called Western crowned pigeons)
Sharks and manta rays
Never seen this kind of shark before!
Memorising!
Under the sea

My favourite attraction in Oceanogràfic is the Artic centre, which features the amazing Beluga whales. It was my first time seeing them ever in real life and I was absolutely blown away!

Beluga whale
Amazing Beluga whales!
🐧 🐧
Cute little penguin walk!
Dolphin show! 🐬🐬
Needed to cool down like them haha! 🦭 🦭

Going back to the science museum, I was intrigued by this egg incubator exhibit – everyone was surrounding it and anticipating all these chicks hatching from the eggs and it was such a cute and miraculous thing to see! 🐣 ❤️

Egg incubator in the science museum
Watched this little guy trying to come out for hours – finally it’s here! 🥳🥳
🐣 🐣 🐣
Hemisfèric in the twilight

After finishing the all-around tour with a science movie screening in the Hemisfèric planetarium (it was nice but the film was a little too educational and too work-related for my holiday mood 😝), it was finally dinner time again (and I timed it right to fit the Spanish opening hours that night haha!) and I headed to the beautiful Plaza de la Virgen.

People dancing under the bridge in the park on the way lol
💃 🕺 💃 🕺 Totally feeling the vibes haha! 🤪
Plaza de la Virgen
Beautiful lights in front of Virgen de los Desamparados Basilica
Paella! 🥘 🥘

And at last, I got to try the authentic Spanish paella (which apparently originated from Valencia) to mark the end of a busy day! 😋😋

Birthday Weekend @ Eastbourne

The past month had been absolutely hectic 💨💨, hence I have took some breaks away from my blog and baking. It did start to feel a bit depressing as I had been spending most of my evenings and weekends doing work stuff 💻😪😪, so honestly this birthday weekend did come at the right time for me to find any excuse I can to get out of London! 😂

For this getaway trip, I decided on Eastbourne (kind of come out of blue to be fair lol) as I hoped some rare sunshine 🏖☀️ will be a perfect change of scenery to the miserable weather in London in the past week or so.

Straight after work on Friday evening, I took the tube to Victoria Station to board my train to Eastbourne. Though my initial train was cancelled, there were plenty of replacement lines which meant I only arrived slightly later than expected. 🚂 However, it was pitch dark by that time, so I headed out straight to dinner after checking in the hotel.

Charlie Brown’s Diner
A Statue of Liberty as tall as me lol 😂
Charlie’s Special Burger (with egg and bacon) plus a Blue Lagoon cocktail 🍹
And Snoopy!

My mum was a big fan of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, so growing up I did read a lot of the Peanuts comics. (Immediately sent pics to her after! 😛) The diner was a quirky little place with a lot of American references and deco. The menu wasn’t exactly wow, but the portions were absolutely massive (just like America would lol- I barely finished the whole plate.) And that Blue Lagoon was certainly getting into my head afterwards haha! 🥴😵‍💫🥴😵‍💫

Tipsily walked into the supermarket to get a chocolate and mint ice cream haha…

After a rather early night (for me at least lol), I woke up to the worst weather possible on Saturday morning! 🌧🌧☔️☔️☔️ So I settled for a more indoors day (far from what I had initially planned…😓) and ended up going to a café in the shopping mall for a nice brunch and doing some work stuff on the laptop… (The wind was so strong that day, I actually felt absolutely battered by the time I got there! 😮‍💨😵)

Mushroom Brunch – and then worked some more lol 💻💻

Even by late afternoon, the rain seemingly had no plan of stopping. 😕😕 After some long pondering, I ended up buying an ice cream takeaway back to the hotel (sticking to traditions regardless of weather lol!)

Awful weather outside!! 😭😭

Whilst I took a semi nap soaking in the bath tub 🛁 , the rain somehow miraculously stopped (honestly I had totally given up hope by then lol!) So I decided to brave the winds (it was still super strong… actually used that to dry my wet clothes earlier 😂👌) and headed out to an Italian restaurant called Rostick.

The rain has finally stopped 👏👏
Eastbourne Pier at dark
Rostick
The sizzling Brodetto di Pescatrice (mussels, clams, prawns, scallops, monkfish, skate wings, razor clam, langoustine and baby octopus)

I ordered their signature Brodetto di Pescatrice which is cooked in a hot clay pot (it was still sizzling when it served.) The flavours of the broth were good, but some of the seafood was a little overcooked (octopus and monkfish was good, but the scallops were a bit rubbery…)

The next morning, the rain and wind has completely ceased, with rays of sunshine shining brightly across the beach front. Finally got to enjoy what Eastbourne was really about! 👍 (Essentially squeezed what I wanted to do yesterday into 3 hours before I hopped on my train back to London!)

The weather has finally calmed down
Eastbourne Pier
Victorian Tearoom at the centre of Eastbourne Pier
Inside the Victorian tearoom – beautiful chandeliers
The classic combo of sandwich 🥪 and soup 🥣
The sun is finally out!! ☀️☀️
Where was this weather yesterday lol??
Glorious weather
Always love to see beach huts in these coastal places
Glimpses of Beachy Head (was supposed to hike across yesterday… 😣)

Whilst the trip didn’t go fully as planned, it was still memorable in many aspects! After arriving in London, I caught up with some of my old pals from my uni judo club in Mercato Metropolitano- all in all not a bad weekend to complain! (And I had one too many mixers whilst with them lol! 🥴)

Had this delicious Korean fried chicken with my drinks! 😋😋

Last Trip of the Summer: Back to Brighton

Going back to work this week really did make me realise I will be soon facing reality again and back to routines. So I decided to make use of the bank holiday weekend to do one last trip to Brighton before the end of summer, hoping for some nice sunshine! ☀️ The last time I visited Brighton was all the way back in October last year with my mum during the half term break (come to think of it that was before the last national lockdown- time really does fly!)

Vegetarian brunch at Iydea in The Lanes

On arrival it was all bright and sunny and I headed down to the hippy area of The Lanes, stumbling this vegetarian café for food. I ordered their mushroom and courgette lasagne and it tasted really good (I do enjoy having plant-based stuff 🌿🌿 every now and then, it just feels less heavy at times lol!)

While the sun was indeed out, the beach was generally still quite windy so it felt actually colder than it looked! 🥶 However, after checking into the hotel and having rested a little, I decided to head out to the beach for a mini picnic.

Brighton Pier
A very clumsy picnic… 🧺 😂

Afterwards, I journeyed along the beach (passing the naturist’s beach at one point haha! 😆) and reached the Brighton Marina Square.

A huge wind farm on the horizon
The white cliff from afar 😍
Brighton Marina Square
Scallop and crab linguine at an Italian restaurant there – tasted alright but some of the scallops were a touch overcooked

I also got to enjoy the beautiful sunset and the vibrant night lights of the Brighton seafront 🌅🌃 (making the most of staying in a hotel by the beach this time! 😂)

Sunset
The soft shade of orange
The vibrant night view from the pier
So beautiful! ✨✨
Looks like Christmas night from afar!

The next day, I also paid a visit to the Royal Pavilion (which was doing renovations when I was here last time.) Also pleasantly surprised to find out that the normal ticket is all year around, so I can visit again and again for free! 😁

Royal Pavilion
The stunning Banqueting Room
These chandeliers are just gorgeous! 😍😍
Fantasying myself cooking in this kitchen haha! The dream!
The Saloon – reading how this room was restored was really impressive!
The Tomkison Piano
Absolutely in love with the Music Room! 🎵🎶🎵🎶 (My favourite one of them all!)
The King’s Library
A proper King’s bed!
Love the Asian touches around the entire place!
Beautiful stained glass ceiling
Queen Victoria’s bedroom
…and her toilet! 🚽🤣🤣

After the visit to the Royal Pavilion, I still had time to revisit the other side of the seafront and sit down for a seafood lunch at a restaurant by the i360 tower! 🤤🤤

Garlic butter scallops! My favourite! 😋
Skate Wing – trying it for the first time! 👍
Feel so zen staring out into the open sea…
🌊 🌊

Summer is finally over, but I know plenty of adventures are still out there! 🙂

Second Half of Aberdeen: A Life of Travelling

A lifetime of travelling.

I wonder if this really it’s possible?

I wonder when I become old and frail, would I have still have the energy and passion to see the world and cease the moments we have? 🤔

Aberdeen Beachfront

Continuing to the third day of our visit in Aberdeen, we visited the Aberdeen beachfront as well as the Codonas Amusement Park which apparently has a history of over 50 years! 😱 (First opening at 1970, which makes only it a handful of years younger than my mum lol!)

In front of Codonas Amusement Park

I certainly don’t know much about the history of the place in the past, but it was quite a bit emptier than we anticipated…😬 (a bit unusual for a seaside resort but I guess I will blame it on the cold weather haha!) Wondering into the game centre, my mum and I decided to have a game of ‘Connect four’ basketball 😂 🏀 (basically connect four but played with basketball lol…)

Look at me scoring haha! 🏀🏀 (My mum beat me though… 😅)

We earned quite a few tickets, but the machine was broken so all the tickets were stuck inside. Once we found a staff to fix it, all the tickets were unblocked and we managed to take all those left behind by previous players (sneaky I know lol! 😎) The previous family playing the game came back and was surprised to see the machine fixed. I offered them to have all the ones that weren’t ours, but the guy was so kind to give us theirs (since they were leaving) as well as a few additional tickets they have. Honestly, I felt a bit greedy…. 😬

With 400 tickets now, I thought we could exchange some nice prizes. My mum and I had tried to weigh up what to get but decided most things are pretty useless… 😂 except the mugs which were 500 tickets (I did suggest going back to play more games.) Seeing us struggling, the girl at the counter asked us what we wanted and she ended up adding up all the leftover tickets around the counter to bring it up to 500 for us!! (Including a ticket which was found in an elderly staff’s pocket!) Oh my God, I was floored by the kindness of these people! Thank you! Thank you! 🙌🙌🙌

Our prize! 🏆 (500 tickets – could not have done it without all the kindness we saw today! 🙏🙏🙏)
BBQ lunch at TGI Friday’s afterwards (one of my mum’s favourite food are pork ribs)
Of course ice cream is a must at the beach! 🌊

After taking a brief break in the hotel, we then took a bus to Duthie Park by River Dee before finishing the day (still have some of our Indian takeaways left over in our hotel room from the previous day 😂.)

River Dee
Duthie Park
Pretty flowers! 💐💐
Bridge over River Dee

The next day, we returned to the Aberdeen beachfront reaching further to Footdee where we also visited the Silver Darling to treat ourselves to a luxurious seafood lunch.

The Silver Darling
Seafood feast! 🤤🤤 (Grilled and chilled oysters, hot smoked salmon, gravadlax, Rollmop herring, crevettes, deep fried white bait, mussels Mariniere and Stonehaven langoustines)
Dessert was a strawberry tasting platter 🍓🍓 consisting of strawberry & basil sorbet, meringue nest, shortbread, strawberry jelly, strawberry & lime syrup and strawberry & gin cocktail 🍸

What a feast that was and I felt like I was eating like the king the whole time! 😝 My favourites of the seafood platter was the grilled langoustines and mussels (that cream sauce was yummy!), but I also really enjoyed the crispy white baits. (Mum also really liked the crevettes, but I think I just generally preferred the hot stuff more than the cold stuff.) We also enjoyed the dessert, especially that heavenly sorbet (plus the cocktail was getting into our heads a bit haha! 😂🥴)

After lunch, we then explored the old fishing village of Footdee before returning to the sea view once again. Loved all the artistic touches around the village! It really gave it a touch of sunshine (even without it was lacking that day 😂) and fun in the area!

Footdee
All these artistic touches…
My mum and I debated whether this is a house, shop or a storage unit…? (Still don’t know what it is. 😅)
One of my favourite houses we’ve seen!
🐳 🐳 (Reminded me of Iceland hehe!)
Back at the beach again!
A few people were swimming 🏊‍♂️ and sailing in the sea⛵️ but it looked so cold… 🥶

Finally, at the final day of our trip, we visited Thaikhun at Union Square (which was the shoppping mall attached to the bus station) before boarding our bus back to Edinburgh.

Thaikhun
Thai Street food platter of chicken satay, steamed dumplings, prawn roasts and crispy beef
Grilled pork with tamarind sauce & sticky rice and Tom Kha Gai with prawns

Really liked the street food platter (ranking wise I will say it’s chicken satay > prawn toasts > steamed dumplings > crispy beef, though my mum argued that the steamed dumplings should be before the prawn toasts haha! 😂 ) I dare say this was probably one of the best I have had in a while lol. The Tom Kha Gai was also really good with a strong taste of lemongrass and lime, and the grilled pork I will say was overall decent. (We didn’t finished the grilled pork which we ended up taking back home and I ended up mopping it up for dinner haha.) But what impressed me the most was the presentations of the food, it really made me felt like I was eating at the street of Thailand haha!

Throughout this trip, I was so pleased of the time I get to spend with my mum after some time apart due to the pandemic. The scenery, the people and the kindness we came across on this trip were unforgettable. Life is short, and sometimes wonder how much longer we get to be doing this… But I tell myself we have the memories to treasure forever and the next time could be ever so near. 🥰

First Half of Aberdeen: The Grey City

Welcome to Aberdeen – the famous ‘Granite City’ or the so-called ‘Grey City’! After some delay in our bus from Aviemore (about 15 minutes then we were further delayed by like half an hour in the second bus when it stopped in Dundee 🚌 🚌 ), we finally began our 4-night stay in the city!

Aberdeen Harbour at night from our hotel room ✨✨
Colourful ships at the Aberdeen Harbour
Steak dinner on the first night 🥩

On our first night, we settled for a rather relaxed evening with a steak dinner in The Brig O’Don. The restaurant was bit away from our hotel and we were already late for our booking due to the delayed bus (though the restaurant was very kind in keeping our seats for us.) We decided to walk over as the weather was actually quite nice at first, but it started to rain heavily as we were about 10 minutes away from it! ☔️☔️ (Classic turbulent Scottish weather urgh 😓) And just as typical as it could get, that was the only time we left our umbrellas in the hotel, so we arrived at the place all drenched and soaked! 😂 💦 💦

The prices were fairly cheap and the food were of good to decent qualities. I really liked the sweet potato fries and the breaded mushrooms, and the seasonings were on point overall – just a bit of a shame that my steak was over cooked (I asked for medium-rare but I think I got medium-well 😅) and the fried squids were a bit soft.

After a night’s rest, we started to explore the city the next day. Looking at all marvellous architecture, it is very apparent how Aberdeen got its nickname of the ‘Grey City’! 😂

Town House & County Hall
Marischal College
Mercat Cross
St Nicholas Church
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption
A burst of rainbow in the ‘Grey City’
Want to fly free in the sky like that!
His Majesty’s Theatre
Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

We then paid a visit to the Aberdeen Art Gallery. Not going to lie I was not a huge fan of a lot of the arts in the gallery. 😅 Whilst there are some good art pieces I think a lot of the stuff on display are rather too ‘out there’ for me… 😓 (There was a room showing a video showing a pool of eels which was quite gross… 🤢🤢)

Inside Aberdeen Gallery
War memorial sculpture
Starry arts ✨✨
We solved the puzzle! 😂 💪 💪
Relaxing out in the balcony
Enjoying the view at the top

After our visit to the gallery, we wandered down the busy Union Street in the Aberdeen city centre looking for a place for lunch. We stumbled upon a rather grand-looking Thai restaurant called Chaophraya, which was doing a rather sweet deal of a 3-course lunch menu costing £16 (or 2-course for £13.) And I am so glad we found this place! 😋👍

Chaophraya
Starters: Tamarind marinated pork skewers & Coconut red curry chicken tacos
Main courses: Green papaya salad & Chicken Pad Thai
Desserts: Chocolate fondant with coconut ice cream & Clementine chocolate pastry tart with vanilla ice cream ❤️❤️

Both of the desserts were absolutely amazing (especially that tangy clementine tart! 🤤🤤) I was also very impressed by the green papaya salad with the dried shrimps and the spicy sauce. (Actually tasted perfect when eaten with my mum’s Pad Thai haha! Yeah we like mixing things together… 😂) Loved the Tamarind pork skewers, but was also pleasantly surprised by the red curry chicken tacos. The taco resembled more to a very soft pancake, and worked perfectly with the toppings! ❤️

We then retreated back to the hotel after exploring the city centre a bit more and ordered an Indian takeaway to enjoy in the room to wrap up the day. 😌

As the sun rises, another day begins! 😊

Day 3 & 4 in Reykjavik: The Land of Ice ❄️ and Fire 🔥

Nature in Iceland is definitely one to behold! It’s a shame my schedule didn’t allowed me to see more of it (which is why I intended to come back again in the future! 😂) But for my final days in the country, I was blessed to witness many beauties of nature within this short amount of time! 🥰🥰

Rainbow over the terrain by Blue Lagoon 🌈
Foot soak in Hljómskálagarður Park to kick off the day! 😂

My first stop after a brief morning soak in the park was Perlan Museum on the hill just by Reykjavik Airport. It was a tightly packed day as I needed to make sure I wouldn’t be late for my bus to the iconic Blue Lagoon at half one, so everything was a bit snapdash in the morning! 😂

Perlan Museum
Inside Perlan Museum
Nature video in the exhibition – beautiful scenes! 😍😍 (Definitely saving them for my revisit!)
Bird island replica
Interactive puffin camera video – it’s really fun!
Throwback to the whale watching yesterday 😂
Finally I see whales! 🐳🐋

The best part of the museum for me was definitely the ice cave! The temperature inside stood at -10 degrees Celsius 🥶, but it was a lot fun running around and exploring as if you are in a real frozen fantasy world! ❄️❄️

Into the unknown! ❄️❄️
I find the magical stone! 😉😂
Almost bumped my head! 😂 🧊🧊
Wow! 🤩🤩
This light is stunning!
Who will be the last one sitting on the ‘Ice Throne‘? 😏🤔😂 (*Cut to Game of Thrones music 🎵🎶🎶*)
Exploring the rest of the museum
An important message to us all!
Amazing Aurora planetarium show! ✨✨ (Unfortunately I can’t share it with you guys as we are forbidden from filming! 🎥❌)
View from the top of Perlan Museum- you can see Hallgrímskirkja from the distance
The mountainous view at the background 🏔
Reykjavik Airport below

After the museum visit, I had just over an hour to use before meeting my scheduled pickup at the bus station by Hallgrímskirkja (where I was staying just on the other side of the road.) So I headed to Kol Restaurant next door to my hotel as well as conveniently dropping off some stuff in my hotel room. 😛 The restaurant appeared to be a fusion Japanese place. They were doing a brunch sample menu but I felt like eating something lighter, so I ordered just the tuna tacos as well as the duck & waffle. The tuna tacos were delicious as the tuna tartare in the centre was perfectly seasoned and sandwiched between the crispy wonton skins. 😋 (Honestly I could have eaten another two!) On the other hand, I will say the duck & waffle was more average – seasoned well but I would have personally liked my waffle to be crispier.

Tuna crispy wonton tacos (left) and duck & waffle (right)

And now, for the main event of my trip- and this is the iconic Blue Lagoon! The place is extremely popular among tourists (honestly the place was packed!) For someone who loves bath like me, this place will be number one on any visiting list! 😁

I pre-booked my visit online before travelling to Iceland, including the tour bus to and from the spa. (Met a lovely American lady on the bus and chatted for some time!) If you don’t drive, there aren’t really much other alternatives from buses besides taking very expensive taxis. (The place is located around 45 minutes drive away from Reykjavik, though a fairly short 20 minutes drive from Keflavík airport.) I went for the cheapest Comfort ticket, costing 8990 ISK (about £56). The prices depend on the day. (I came on Saturday which I think it’s more expensive than weekdays.) The Comfort ticket covered a free drink and a silicon mask, and doesn’t include any bathrobe or sandals and you only get a towel in the end (that caused a lot of confusions with some people including me because we were all like how do we dry ourselves after the initial shower then!? 😂)

Entrance to Blue Lagoon (a big hit of sulphur smell as you near the place! 🤭)
Beautiful hot spring 😍😍
The main area of Blue Lagoon 🔥🔥

The rule is that you must shower (without swimwear) and clean before entering the lagoon. Past the changing rooms, there are cafes and other services which you can paid with the band they provide on entry then finishing any payment when you exit. And to put it quite simply, this place is just heaven to visit with the comfort and the amazing views it provide! 🥰🥰 (I stayed there for a good 4 hours! 😂 Just make sure you stay hydrated/not overheated and don’t miss your return bus!)

Relaxation time 😌😌
Very busy in here though!
Hidden cave
Heaven right here!
The blue lagoon and the blue sky
Grabbing my free drink 😉🥤

Returning to Reykjavik, I finished the day with a dinner of local Icelandic delicacies in Fjallkonan. I have always been bold enough to try different things (being raised in a Chinese household, we pretty much eat everything haha! 😚) hence I went for their signature Icelandic platter. That whale meat was definitely my favourite of the three – it’s like a really soft steak topped with a delicious sauce and purée! 😂

The Icelandic platter: Minke whale with malt glaze (top left), puffin with crowberry gel (bottom left) and lamb tartar (right)
Ice cream again by Rainbow Road 😂 (Lemon 🍋 & coconut 🥥 flavour- Yum! 😋)

On the rainy morning before my return flight, I decided to head to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja tower, gazing down to the colourful city from above. (It was just before Sunday service as well, so there were a lot of people coming inside the church and the place was super busy.)

Colourful view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja! 🔴🟠🟡🟢🔵🟣
(You can see my hotel at the bottom!)
Other side of the tower
And more! Super windy up there! 🥶

And after checking out the hotel, it was my last Icelandic meal (for the time being) in Apótek restaurant. Talk about saving the best ’til last though! Both dishes were outstanding- I dare to say that beef carpaccio is a 10/10! 🤤 💯 The lamb rump steak was also super tender and perfect with the delicious sauces! 🧡🧡 (Definitely worth a revisit in the future!)

Beef carpaccio with mushroom duxelle, Parmesan chips and foie gras
Lamb rump steak with carrot purée, carrots, cauliflower, spring onion and black garlic sauce

And now it’s finally time to fly home (popping to Edinburgh to see my mum there for the summer!) ✈️ And I bid a rather tentative farewell to Iceland (for the time being!) ☺️

SIDE STORY: That journey in Keflavík Airport to the Edinburgh flight ended up as an absolute mad dash! 🏃🏻🏃🏻 After arriving a bit later than I intended in the airport (missed my first transit bus… 😓), all was good with checking in (after all the COVID-related checks and I was sure I will be on time) but the security check proved to be my undoing. It was so packed full of people, I had to ask to be moved to the priority queue when I realised there were 10 minutes left until gate closing. (Even then it was still moving way too slow… 😖) Hearing the announcement that the gate was closing after I just passed security, I sprinted and leapt through the airport and passport control (it was one of the furthest gate away too! 🙀🙀) and made it just in time! (Didn’t even have time to put my iPad and laptops back into my bag and was carrying them all in my hands! 🤣) One good thing that came out of it is maybe I have burnt a couple of calories from all the food I ate! 😝

But I also just want to say how nice and helpful all the people in Iceland were ☺️, especially the drivers who alway let me cross the road! (I never get that in London lol! 😂) Can’t wait for when I come back to visit again! 👋

Day 2 in Reykjavik: Whale Rider

The start to Day 2 in Iceland was a rainy mess! 😅🌧🌧 But nonetheless the day’s event was not to be missed – as I have booked a whale watching tour in the Icelandic sea! 🐳 🐋 (Though the awful weather had me bound to the hotel room in the entire morning after breakfast! 😂 FYI the lack of hot food in my hotel was breaking my heart! 💔)

Reykjavik Old Harbour
By the harbour
Our tour boat
I wonder which ones will we see?

Our tour boat set sail from the Reykjavik Old Harbour at 1pm and the tour lasted about three hours. Due to the nature of whales being wild animals, sightings are not guaranteed (though it is claimed that if no sightings occurred, then you are welcomed to book a free tour for another day 😂) but I have every fingers and toes crossed 🤞 that we will see something exciting! So overalls suited up and ready to go! 🛥

Harpa
Viðey in the distance
😂 🏴‍☠️
Another tour boat on the hunt

It was a bit of a long wait to get things going, but even sailing on the boat feels like such an adventure as we set off into the unknown! 🌊 🌊 Mind you, if you are somebody who is prone to seasickness, I really won’t recommend you doing this as this boat was rocking so much you get flung around even if you sitting firmly still on your seat! 😬😬 (Going for my toilet break in the lower deck at one point was quite an adventure! 😂) Though they do have sick bags ready for you as a couple of my fellow tour group people discovered… 🤢 Oh and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get soaked by the end! 😝 💦 💦

The trick of spotting those whales is apparently looking at where a swarm of seagulls gathered as it means there are many fishes nearby which will attract whales to come and eat them. After about an hour into the tour (almost felt like falling asleep lol 😴), we finally made our first discovery in a school of dolphins. I do apologise for all of the sightings being low-quality videos as it is SUPER tricky to get them in photos! They literally popped out of the water and will be gone the next second! 😠

Dolphins! 🐬🐬

We also managed to find a few killer whales and a bigger whale (I don’t know the name of it) which I missed to snap completely! 😂 The captain will shout out if they spotted anything and everyone will scramble to one side of the boat with their phones and camera! 📱 📸 It was absolute chaos! (“It’s at 9 o’clock!” “Where is 9 o’clock??” Many of us were simply running like headless chickens. 🤣🤣) Honestly, I was worried we would tip the boat over!

Killer whale
Lol literally disappeared within seconds

On the way back, we also visited the iconic puffin island.

Puffin Island
Stunning scene!

After a long three-hour journey in the sea, I was finally back on dry land and I was starving! (FYI it felt so good getting out of those disgusting wet overalls! 😂) I then visited Hi Noodle for a late lunch/snack/early dinner. 😂🍜

Hi Noodle Ramen Bar
Their menu
The signature Dan Dan Noodles 👍👍

After a quick nap in the hotel, I then went outside to pouring rain again (this time forgetting my umbrella… 🥲 ☔️) I was hoping to visit Aurora Reykjavik to see images of Northern Light, but unfortunately it was closed earlier than the time I checked, so I settled down in Lamb Street Food for another meal! 😂

Lamb kebab, meatballs and salad

After the rain has seemingly stopped (and it did), I took a long walk to the Seltjarnarnes area including paying a visit to Gróttuviti lighthouse (about an hour of walking from where I was for dinner.) Here are a few snapshots of the area.

By the time I made it back the centre of Reykjavik, it was absolutely buzzing with people with bars and clubs in full swing! And the area was even more beautiful with the Hallgrímskirkja lit up in the night.

Rainbow Road at night 🌈🌈
I thought this chocolate & orange ice lolly goes well with the background! 😂
The lit Hallgrímskirkja

What a jam-packed day it has been!

Day 1 in Reykjavik: Paint The Town 🎨🖌

‘Finally!’ I yelled out at the top of my lungs. Not only did the day marked the beginning of my long holiday, but this was also the first time I have travelled outside of the UK ✈️ since the beginning of the pandemic. After being able to enjoy sunshine and warmth in my last few staycation trips, I decided that I needed a bit of a switch to a colder climate hence I decided on Iceland 🇮🇸, a place I have longed to visit.

Unlike the pre-COVID era, this trip certainly required a lot more preparation and research beforehand, and this did add a level of stress to the entire journey but of course very exciting at the same time! 😁 I was very lucky to be doubly vaccinated, hence making the transition to Iceland relatively straightforward (also one of the reasons I chose to come here.) Currently Iceland is allowing entry for fully vaccinated British travellers without the need of quarantine and a negative PCR test (which is ridiculously costly in the UK in my opinion.) Once I received my NHS letter to show my vaccination status (I know they are also accepting electronic copies via the NHS app but I was being extra careful 😂), the only other thing I was required to do was pre-registered for entry. (It’s almost a bit bizarre that the process for my return trip back to the UK is longer – requiring two separate PCR tests before and after arrival as well as pre-registration. 😐)

✈️

My flight was at 7:45 am in the morning (and that was probably crazy considering I was up at my end of work party 🎉 until late last night. 🤣) The 2 and a half hour ride was very comfortable (also get to enjoy WiFi on board for the first time ever in the first hour until connection was cut off! 😐) But by the time I landed I was oddly hungry, though still quite a bit before I reached Reykjavik. Passport and COVID checks went surprisingly quick and people were very warmed and welcoming. ❤️ After a further 45 minutes bus ride from Keflavík airport and a somewhat 20 minutes walk, I was at last at the centre of Reykjavik starving for food! 😂

Rainbow Road in Reykjavik
Overlooking Hallgrímskirkja from the distance

The Rainbow Road, which was done in celebration of Pride, was absolutely beautiful (literally walking upon the rainbow. 🌈🌈) The first food stop was 101 Reykjavik Street Food by the iconic road- my first taste of simple, delicious Icelandic food. I ordered the lobster soup and Icelandic fish stew with rye bread (and honestly I didn’t think I will like rye bread but I was absolutely loving it! 😋) Staff were very friendly and funny on top of that!

Lobster soup and Icelandic fish stew with rye bread- simple but done well 👌👌
And a free chocolate bar after! 🍫

I then explored the city a bit, marvelling at all the colourful, artistic touches everywhere. 🎨🎨

The longest hopscotch I have ever seen…
…up to 106 squares! 😂😂
Who wants a race? 🏃‍♂️🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏃🏻
Lime and passion fruit ice creams after the ‘race’ 😂😂
Love the mural 🖤🧡
🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️
Look at the colours! 🔴🟠🟡🟢🔵🟣
So whimsical!
🌈 🌈
Literally everywhere I go there is a mural!

And I also visited Hallgrímskirkja which is right opposite where I am staying. The church tower is certainly marvelling to look at!

Hallgrímskirkja with the Leifur Eiríksson’s Statue in front
Love this! 🕯🕯
Inside the church

After a brief stop at my hotel, I then went to meet my appointment for the PCR test needed for my return trip to the UK. (I am staying here until Sunday and the test can be done three days prior to departure.) The testing centre was a bit far out (about a 40 minutes walk away) and I was shocked by the length of the queue (which spun the whole park and round!!) – however the queue did move fairly quickly (only waited for around 20 minutes for what looked like an hour long queue) and the testing was done so efficiently that it felt like a non-issue (literally less than a minute- staff was friendly and very professional- all dressed in lab coats ready to go.) I actually felt a bit embarrassed for all the testing chaos we had in the UK… 😓

After a nap following my back and forth trip from the test centre, I made use of the long daylight here to head out for some supper.

The legendary hot dog in Iceland
Tasting the Icelandic Skyr yogurt
The amazing daylight
Is it really that late? 😂

More on the next few days! 😉

Isle of Wight: Beyond the Sea

This weekend I really needed a recharge! 😩 Whilst it is not far away until my long summer break, things have been a bit intense lately so I really felt the need to detach myself from my work life in order to be able to refocus myself again later.

For this weekend getaway, I decided to do something I have never done by myself before- taking a ferry ⛴ and sailing across the sea to the Isle of Wight. 🌊 🌊 To get to the island, it is a rather straightforward one hour trip across the water from Southampton via the Red Funnel Ferries. So I opted for an overnight stay in Southampton on Friday and going on the ferry the next day. 😊

Ocean Village Marina in Southampton
Giant cruise shop by the harbour (not my ferry tomorrow 😂 but certainly made me a bit envied!)
Westquay shopping centre 🛍
Enjoying a Chatime bubble tea🥤 (haven’t done that in a while 😆👍)

After a cosy night in the hotel, I woke up early in the morning at just before 6 (saving enough time for a long bath 🛀 of course! 😂) and made sure I am on time for the Red Funnel ferry at 9. (I booked in advance but I believe it is just as easy to buy ticket there at the time.)

Breakfast before departing ⛴
Red Funnel Ferries
Very busy inside the ferry today 😖
Eating my second breakfast. So busy I had to sit by the window (also raining ☔️ outside…)
On the deck after the rain has stopped (couldn’t sit on the chairs though as they were all soaking wet 😂💦💦)
Sailing time 🌊
Arriving at East Cowes in the Isle of Wight

To get around the Isle of Wight, I opted for a 24-hour bus ticket for £12. Even though it is a small island, locations of interests are quite spread out and not really walkable, so I decided that was the best option (as I neither drive nor cycle… 😛) As I was only there until Sunday morning, I focused exploring on the east side of the island (unfortunately missing out on famous landmarks like the Needles.)

Heading south,my first stop was the beautiful beaches on Shanklin- only though it was raining (again) when I arrived. I managed to shelter at a nearby café (that was part of a hotel lodge) and enjoyed a nice bowl of chips. 🍟 The staff there was so friendly and let me charge my almost dead phone, and I ended up spending the idle time doing some work (so much for the detachment I know lol! 😂💻 They thought I was so in the zone that they didn’t want to bother me! 🤣) By the time I was ready, the sun was out again! ☀️ What perfect timing!

Shanklin Beach
A seaview is only as good as the ice cream you have! 🍦 (I went for the “funky banana” and jelly & ice cream 😋)
Coastal walk to Sandown
Cute little beach huts! 💙💛🤍
By Sandown Pier
Sandown Beach ☀️☀️
The vast blue sea and sky
Maybe one day I will hire a beach hut! 😂

Being a dinosaur fan, I then also dropped by Dinosaur Isle. 🦕🦖 Some nice exhibits – but the museum is just a bit small for me (good for kids but I think it’s a little too less for an adult like me who likes dinosaur 😂)

Inside Dinosaur Isle
🦖🦕🦖🦕

I then also visited Wildheart Animal Sanctury (which was just right next door) 🐒🐯🦁🐷🐰 and I made it in time just 10 minutes before last entry! So glad I did – this definitely reminded me of visiting many zoos during my childhood. (And also how difficult it is to snap pictures on moving animals! 😝📸)

Wowza! Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a tiger this up close! 🐯
Little kangaroo 🦘
Cute ring-tailed lemurs! 🥰🥰
Felt like this meerkat is giving me a look! 😂
The lioness
😴 💤💤
Oink oink oink! 🐷🐷 There were also a lot of farm animals in the sanctuary
Cute bunnies 🐰🐰

Following this, I took the bus 🚌 heading back north to Ryde where my hotel is. (Almost fell asleep on the bus! 😴😴)

Ryde

After checking in the hotel and enjoyed some chill time in the bath 🛁, I then headed out for dinner followed by an evening walk along Ryde Pier.

Dinner time at Ryde – look at the giant cauliflower wings! 😆
Ryde Pier
What a fun day! 🌙✨✨