Archive for 30th November 2011

Archive

La Petite France

It seems everyone is captivated by Paris, but I’d fancy a more romantic notion of Strasbourg as a miniature model of France, even though the actual Petite France occupies merely a corner of the old city. Sitting at the German border and several miles west of the Rhine, metropolitan Strasbourg hums with activity always, combining the whimsical nature of the French and the precision timing of Germany – even the trams glide smoothly on every couple of minutes! Accommodation is near impossible to get when the European Parliament is in session, but even all the more so when an influx of European tourists (many predictably hail from the right side of the border) descend...

From the Blue Lagoon to the Alsatian flats

A 12-hour journey that began at 4am in the morning in Grindavik, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon clinic ended on a whimper (literally) in Strasbourg, a city sitting at the edge of the German border, tiring enough to erase a near-perfect day yesterday spent in the Blue Lagoon and soaking up the silica mud. We joined busloads of tourists for the 45-minute shuttle from Reykjavik, driving to snow-covered lava moss with the distinct advantage of staying over at the clinic for a night – which simply meant we got free entrance into the Lagoon and more time to dally. Situated 5-10 minutes walk down a winding path from the actual building through flammable...

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle tour is Iceland’s bestselling tour, created in mind for those who want a quick summary of the country (if that is even possible) and is pretty much known as the tourist’s abbreviated version of Iceland. It’s essentially a 300km loop around the south of Iceland, a well-trodden day excursion that is the staple of many tour companies. This time, I chose to do it with Iceland Horizons and done, to my surprised delight, by David himself who happens to be the owner of the business. We found him articulate, wry, interesting and an absolute brilliant guide who answered all of our questions more thoughtfully than his own prime minister...

The Northern Lights

We’ve been dealing with sub-zero temperatures pretty much the entire time we’ve been here and it’s quite a challenge to deal with less-than-benign weather conditions in a jet-lagged,sleep-deprived state. Sunrise was after 10am (!) but the dim light bathed the city in an ethereal quietness that I’ve missed so much when we walked out for breakfast. A free day spent wandering the cute streets of Reykjavik degenerated into a wrestle with several Danish washing machines in a Laundromat cafe which seemed determined to make me burst a vessel. Reykjavik is home to the majority of the 320,000-large population, and surrounded by imposing peaks from the harbour, is at times breathtaking, and at...

Flavour of the far north

I think I fell helplessly in love with the world’s northernmost capital as the plane approached the large island from the southeast, even though it signalled the start of what is probably a gruelling journey of packed tours exacerbated by a persistent flu. Its notoriously changeable weather was in full force out of Keflavik airport, snowing small flakes as we queued like squashed illegal migrants on a tug-boat tussling for a space on the city shuttle. Coming in winter means spending one’s days in near-darkness with slivers of daylight, cloudy skies, hail and snow, but the prettily-lit streets and white surfaces makes it a classy Santa-land. Apartment K is cosy...

Main(hatten) Transfer

The country of precision engineering, verbally-direct people, curry wurst and David Hasselhoff lovin’ came into view from the small oval of a plane window after an interminably long flight that lasted a good 18+ hours. Frankfurt am Main greeted the Travel Companion (TC) and I like a terribly familiar bedfellow (read: a sprawling city) – but the sight of terra firma is always a welcome feel despite its incredible urbanity for those who have been in limbo for too long. The International Airport is a surprisingly short 15 minute ride by S8 or S9 into the main train station and from there, a mere short walk to the Star Inn Frankfurt. Off we went...