Icelandic Adventures – Day 1

Welcome to the Icelandic Adventures series.

Welcome to the Icelandic Adventures series. When I travel I try my best to keep a book where I take notes of the trip. In most cases this fails and it turns into bullet points here and there but other times I write down where I’ve visited or what someone has said. This is so I can jog memories or to connect the numerous amount of photographs I’ve taken and remind me what they actually are.

With that said excuse me if I miss anything – not that you will know – but I will try my best to cover the highlights of each day in this SIX part series.

My Travel Companion

Before I start I feel like you need to get to know my travel companion a little bit as she was on this trip with me and I practically tagged along to her trip! So without further ado here is my mini interview to Ell! Say hello.

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TMJ – Question One: What made you decide to travel Iceland?

Ell: Mainly because my friend had been staying up North for a few months on a horse ranch and posting pictures of snow and the Northern lights every night and it made me jealous. She invited me to stay but I couldn’t rangle the money together in time before she left to go back to Malta. Then it was going to be a Christmas present for me and my other half but he couldn’t afford it either. So i thought hell no… I’ll go on my own then… And so the flight was booked hehe.

TMJ – Question Two: Where have you travelled to before?

Ell: Mainly Europe. 26 of 50 countries to be specific. Outside of Europe includes Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and New York. And so many more to see…..

TMJ – Question Three: Would you go back to Iceland?

Ell: Defiantly plan to return to Iceland. Only just scratched the surface of what I wanted to see! I will return when I can drive or with someone who can drive me haha.

TMJ – Question Four: What was your highlight of the trip?

Ell: Northern lights! Honestly the most spectacularly beautiful sights my eyes has set its sights on. I will always be wanting to see them again and I plan to!

TMJ – Question Five: On a scale of 1-10 how was travelling with me? 😉

Ell: 10 great travel buddy… Didn’t wake me up on coach journeys which is a plus, upbeat and up for anything.

That last one… well what can I say its a bit of a leading question but Ill take the 10!

Day One – 13th April 2016

The day begins the night before. Tuesday 12th April 2016. In order to get the airport I needed to head to Ells house and then get a train from there to Luton Airport. Pesky travel times meant for a night of travel via trains and coaches. Alas we made it to the airport and then onto the plane itself.
We arrived in Keflavík International Airport at around 10am local time and needed to book our transport to the city. However we had one stop before anything else and that was The Blue Lagoon which was really nice after a long morning of travel. With super friendly staff and a bar it was safe to say a bit of relaxation was just what the doctor ordered. Ell described it as “Super blue, super warm, super chilled.” and she wasn’t wrong it was exactly that.


This whole day was a rather short day for myself as once we left the Blue Lagoon and ran for the coach to get into the city centre we got dropped off relatively close to the hostel – Hlemmur Square – and checked in. Quickly deciding that we needed dinner we popped put for a little explore and found the shops. It was about 7:30pm that I must have crashed out so not long after dinner. From no sleep the night before to ALL of the sleep that evening.

 

 

 

 

Elephants, Diving and Adventure

One more trip to add to the list…

If you kept up with my recent posts then you’ll know that I flew out to Iceland for a week. But that is not all if you did read that post, Next stop: Reykjavik, Iceland., you will also know I have big news coming up. Well this is the big news.

I am going to THAILAND. 

Thailand! 3 weeks. Christmas & New Years. Lets just take a step back a second. If you haven’t already then please go read “THIS GUY IS GOING EVERYWHERE” and just catch up with the travel plans of this year. You will notice its already pretty full on but I think I can squeeze one more trip. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I will be travelling with a someone I have mentioned before, Jess, who I went to Berlin with! Long time friend and future companion for all things travel. Jess is embarking on a huge 5 month trip around Asia and I will be visiting in the middle of that trip to spend a month in Thailand with her. Lets be honest couldn’t ask for a better companion really and the timing away for both of us will be perfect. I love Christmas abroad – I’ve written about that so go check it out – and as this is the middle of her trip this will be an amazing time for a little piece of home to come out and visit.

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL.

It sounds so perfect doesn’t it. As the title suggests we have ideas on what to do such as an Elephant conservation in Chiang Mai and then I aim to do my diving course whilst in Koh Tao along with more exciting things all over Thailand. Bangkok. Chiang Mai. Phuket. Oh the excitement. Want some more great news? Another friend and his girlfriend are planning on joining us for part of the trip as well! Fingers crossed that they get it sorted and be able to come out!

Now need to start the fund for that trip. ANY DONATIONS WELCOME 😉

Thailand 2016. Its happening.

TMJ out.

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6 Facts You Didn’t Know About Iceland

I have returned from Iceland, see my planned itinerary here: Next stop: Reykjavik, Iceland., which means POST TRIP BLOGS.

Welcome to the 6 Facts You  Didn’t Know About Iceland. Here you may learn some facts that I picked up on my travel. These are only a few that stood out to me whilst out in Iceland that I had picked up from a couple locals.


FACT NUMBER 1.

Icelandic “ponies” are actually not ponies at all and as the locals like to remind the guests (an alternative to tourists that the Icelandic people also use) that they are in fact horses. The horses in Iceland are a unique breed who are hardened by the climate and have been has evolved/developed through selective breeding and natural selection over the centuries.

Little bonus fact. These horses have a similar resemblance to the Mongolian horses due to them foraging all year round.

FACT NUMBER 2.

There are two airports that can get you access to Iceland both close to the city. One of them is Keflavik International Airport which most people fly into then also there is the domestic airport inside the city called Reykjavík Airport which was built by the British during the World War 2.

FACT NUMBER 3.

Beer was legalised on the 1st March 1989. This effectively put a ban on ALL beers over 2.25% and even now there are specific stores that sell alcohol over 2.25% and then every day shops/super markets etc only sell weak (less than 2.24%) beer.

Also…. its mega expensive for pints in Iceland. Roughly around 1100 Icelandic Króna which equals to £6.10 ish. (€8 EUR. $9 USD).

FACT NUMBER 4.

There are 83,000  Icelandic Horses in Iceland. 1 horse for every 3 Icelanders.

FACT NUMBER 5.


This fact was by a local and may be wrong but I found it interesting none the less. Our friendly local Ian – who’s son lives in the next village over – told us that there are 136 people in jail. 10% of these inmates are in fact Icelandic then the remaining 90% are foreigners.

FACT NUMBER 6.

Iceland is mega friendly. After being told by many people whilst out in Iceland if you were to find yourself in the need of a ride or had trouble you will likely have a friendly local stop and offer help.
Everyone I met were amazing individuals with some from Scotland, Iceland, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, America, Australia, Hungry and more. Each with their own tale of why they are there and why they love it.

That’s a wrap.

So the more you know. Thanks for reading this post I hope you found out some interesting facts about Iceland! Expect more posts about Iceland soon.

 

 

A Weekend in Berlin

Welcome back, thanks to those who have been reading the other posts on my blog! Its nice to see a steady stream of readers. Here I have a very simple post about my weekend in Berlin.
For those who didn’t know I took a weekend earlier this month, 12th Feb-15th Feb, to spend some time with some friends – Miriam, Grace and Jess. Somewhat becoming a tradition amongst our group of friends but Valentines Weekend has proven to be the perfect time to get away for a break of every day life.

So without further ado here is some of the places that we visited and things we done in A Weekend in Berlin.

WALKING TOUR – SANDEMANS NEW BERLIN TOUR

Grace, the wonderful human being she is, had took the initiative and booked us all onto a walking tour of Berlin. This happened to be a personal highlight of the weekend with the tour starting early in the day and last around 2-3 hours long. A little fact for you on this day I walked 14.79 kilometres. The tour itself covered a range of places – listed below –  the tour was led by Rochale who did a fantastic job at explaining the places and its history. Not only that, she gave a presentation of 8 minutes on the past 800 years of Berlin history. (ended up being 9 minutes but still extremely impressive). We were also lucky enough to visit the Gendarmenmarkt during the installation of renowned artist Ai WeiWei’s latest exhibition of 14,000 life jackets to represent the refugees trying to flee war and hardship.

Hitler´s Bunker
Holocaust Memorial
The Berlin Wall
Checkpoint Charlie
Brandenburg Gate
SS Headquarters
Pariser Platz
Luftwaffe HQ
Gendarmenmarkt

DDR MUSEUM – Interactive Museum

Visiting the DDR Museum was also another nice activity that I did with Jess, whilst Miriam and Grace disappeared into the depths of Berlin’s Techno-vibe. This museum has to be one of the most interactive museums I’ve visited. Each part has little cabinets you can open showing what life was like in East Germany (1949 – 1990). A few show rooms, an old Trabant car also known as a Trabi, a prison cell and more.

I took the opportunity to play a little bit of a Facebook prank on friends back home when taking a quick photograph. I had only updated one post on Facebook saying I was leaving on the Friday morning then hadn’t posted until Sunday. Leaving it the perfect opportunity to have a laugh.
Posting, the photograph below, I led people to believe a horrible mistake had been made with my accommodation booking and just left it at that. Then the replies came in with a couple knowing exactly what it was and others being shocked and confused.

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A GDR (German Democratic Republic)  Prison Cell used by the Stasi.

Burgermeister – “Rest”-aurant-“room”.

We ate at a couple of places whilst away but as soon as we arrived we were told that we would love this place. So what’s special about Burgermeister? Well I think the fact that this is a burger joint that is made from an old public toilet block. Only a short distance away from the East Side Gallery it was a perfect place to get a bite to eat.
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East Side Gallery – Art on the Wall.

So like I said just around the corner or over Oberbaum Bridge which in itself is quite scenic. Probably something everyone has heard about before and without a doubt a nice thing to do. There are some bloody brilliant artists out there in this world of hours and some great pieces of history along this wall. We did this walk up and down the wall on the last day of the trip in the morning and felt like a good way to end the trip.

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These are just some of things that we got up to this time around in Berlin and I know there will be a reason to return to Berlin! Thanks to Jess for being a bit of a model in some of these photographs and thanks to the crew for a good time in Berlin. Until the next Valentine Trip 2017? 😉

My American Road Trip 2016 – TrekAmerica

I’m doing a road trip across America! Have a read of where and what I will be doing!

Yes. America 2016! It’s happening and the weeks are flying by already. Back in December of last year I “revealed” that I am going on a road trip to America. Read more here: Road Trip 2016: Where Am I Going?.

Well I’m now going to announce where exactly this road trip will take me! Of course I have several other trips this year but this is the one that requires the most saving and time. The biggest trip I’ve done since 2010 so my excitement for this American adventure is next level.

The Tour
america road trip map

As you can see by the map above this is a coast to coast trip! Known as the “Southern Sun” tour it will cover many cities all across America! Each state offering something different to experience!
The tour itself is 21 days but I will have a couple days in New York before the tour starts then a couple days in Los Angeles after the tour.

3 Days Pre Tour: New York City
Day 1-2: New York Area, Philadelphia & Washington DC
Day 3: Appalachian Mountains
Day 4: Ocoee, Tennessee
Day 5: Nashville
Day 6: Memphis
Day 7-8: New Orleans
Day 9: Louisiana, Texas
Day 10-11: Austin, Texas
Day 12: North Texas
Day 13: Santa Fe
Day 14: Monument Valley
Day 15-16: Grand Canyon National Park
Day 17-18: Lake Powell & Zion National Park
Day 19-20: Las Vegas
Day 21: Las Vegas & Los Angeles
2 Days Post Tour: Los Angeles

As you can see I’ve got a packed trip and will spend a lot of time on the road travelling a vast distance!
Totally random but did you know that Texas covers 696,241 km² of America! To put this is to perspective the United Kingdom covers 243,610 km². How insane is that.

Transportation
You may be wondering how exactly I will be travelling across America. Well to put it simply a mini van. I have attached a TrekAmerica mini van of a UK Trip I did with them back in 2014 but I’m fairly certain the actual van will be bigger and be newer with Wifi on board. I know fancy stuff right? (although I believe the Wifi not to last so long but I don’t mind as I quite enjoy a internet detox on road trips) Don’t worry, you can see out the windows of the van.

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The Trek America Tour Van for the mini uk adventure.

Accommodation
A big portion of accommodation is camping along the way. Yes, camping. I decided I wanted to see the night sky and scenery as much as possible. As well as spending time around a fire pit in America to get to know the people I will be travelling with quicker making the trip far better, in my opinion, than if we were restricted to hotel/motel rooms every night.

Activities
I have booked some extra special bits for the trip whilst Im in New York City but there’s so much that I can do on this trip that I don’t even know where to start! So to give you a brief glimpse of what I will potentially be up to:

Jazz Clubs in New Orleans, Gun ranges in Las Vegas, GAMBLING in Las Vegas, Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, Tour of Graceland, White water rafting, trekking in the Zion National Park and so much more!

trek-america

So that’s an outline of what I’ll be up to on my travels this summer. Less than 200 days to go! If you’ve been before on a trekamerica trip or are going on one/ or a road trip of your own then let me know and mention your blog so I can give it a read!

Thanks for reading,
TheMichaelJoseph.

 

My Christmas Abroad – Christmas Day

Part 2 to “My Christmas Abroad”. You’ve read part one, Christmas Eve, so now dive right into an insight to my Christmas Day.

Welcome back! So you find yourselves back, again, reading my wonderful tales and I thank you for that but if you have found your way here for the first time then this is the 2nd part to my 2 part series of “My Christmas Abroad”. If you go here and read part one then return to this part you will get the full details into the time I spent Christmas abroad: My Christmas Abroad – Christmas Eve (Part 1 of 2).

All caught up? Good, lets dive right in.

Christmas Day

Where the excitement had happened Christmas Eve this day didn’t have as much excitement as I’d like to write about. One thing  that happened this day  was where I got hurt, not physically but still hurt. This situation really disrupted the whole trip and changed how I looked on people and changed my outlook on life. I came back from the trip still learning and making mistakes but its a trip that I’d never change. Learn from your experiences.

So disruption aside there is something quite nice about waking up stepping outside and going for a swim. Having a drink by the pool and meat on the braai (barbecue). Just take a moment to imagine huge piece of boerewors sausage with a range of other meats on the braai with the sun beating down playing a bit of water sports in the pool… IN DECEMBER. Pure bliss.

We had no presents that day but we were on a Road Trip around South Africa! You could say that we missed Christmas that year but the road trip was awesome enough.

The evening came to an end with a game of poker with the hostel owners and friends. I’d love to say I won lots of money but in all honesty I can’t remember. I probably did though ;).

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The end.

You’ve heard about my Christmas abroad so I’d to hear from you, the readers. Have you experienced Christmas in another country?  Or away from family? Have you ever “missed” a christmas? Let me know in the comments.

TheMichaelJoseph

 

My Christmas Abroad – Christmas Eve

The start of my TWO part series of “My Christmas Abroad” in South Africa. This is the Christmas Eve edition.

This will be a TWO part series.
Many of you, my few readers dotted around the world – HELLO, FROM THE OTHERSIDE, – will have spent Christmas at home with your family every year since you were born. Some may have had circumstances that disrupted your traditional Christmas celebrations but even fewer would have been in another country over the festive period. Did I mention that I have?

A brief back story: In 2010 myself and a girlfriend of the time embarked on a 3 week Road Trip around South Africa. Starting in Johannesburg and driving to Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, up to Kimberley and returning back to Johannesburg. As you may have guessed this was over the Christmas period.

Sitting and writing this brings some memories back both good and bad and I can tell you this time was one of the hardest times I’ve ever had to experience BUT an experience I would never change.

So Christmas 2010 was in Durban, South Africa. To be quite honest I had no idea we would be in Durban over Christmas so there was no real run up to Christmas feeling.

Christmas Eve 2010

So if any of you know me will have likely heard one of my favourite stories of the whole trip. Something that could have quite easily been an absolute disaster.
Durban has a beautiful beach and this was our 2nd day here so as you would expect a beach visit was over due. We parked the car, walked along the beach front and chose a spot to sit. It was swimming time but the issue was there was only two of us which had to mean our stuff would be left alone. I was sceptical of leaving the bag and towels which had almost all of our important belongings in it: the car keys, phone, her passport, money and so on. As my ex walked down to the water and I hesitatingly followed a short time after only a mere minute or two after I had walked away a small child had run along and grab the bag…

It was all a blur really I saw a child running and towels in the air. Shouting down to the beach front “He’s grabbed our bag!” (or something along those lines) and just losing sight of him in the crowds.
As you could imagine a rush of shock, anger and emotions raged through the pair of us a hunt pursued. She, my ex, walked one way and I stood there helplessly lost in a country where I knew 1 person properly. So I passed looking around to see if I could see the child. 

No LUCK… for about 30 minutes (give or take).

But this is a somewhat happy ending. As I walked off up to the main road in a state of confusion with “WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NOW?” running through my mind over and over. Whilst my ex still no where to be seen in the other direction. A large burly man police man native to South Africa shouted at me. *Its important to stress that up until this point that I have only heard of corruption in South Africa*

I have to say at this point you miss out on my beautiful version of his accent.
He goes:

Police officer: “HEY YOU, IS THIS YOUR BAG”
Me: *absolutely stunned and sheepishly responded* “yes! yes it is!”

However it is to say I was confused as he did not only have the bag but he had someone in hand cuffed next to him but it was NOT the child I saw. The exchange continues:

Police officer: “What is in your bag?”
Me: *Lists off all the items I can think of…*
Police officer: “Is this the man who stole it?”
Me: “No, it was a boy”

THE BAG HAD ALL OUR BELONGING’S

To cut this short as I’m sure you have read enough by this point. I found my ex and the exchange continues.  The police officer was insisting that we pressed charges against the man as he was connected to a gang that use children to steal and then hand off items to them. This was not an option as it could have taken TWO weeks to sort out and we had places to be.

To round out this long winded post. This is a story that I can only say was a crazy highlight of mine as you could not have made it up. Had I not walked up to the road then that police officer may never have found me and this could have quite easily ruined the trip. ALAS it did not.
I do hope you enjoyed this part 1 to “My Christmas Abroad – Christmas Eve” Edition and hope you return for the actual Christmas Day events in part 2.

Thanks for reading,
TheMichaelJoseph.