After a high intensity audio visual experience of the night before, we decided to take Saturday at a slower pace. After breakfast we took a leisurely stroll up towards the Eye of Sauron, sorry, I mean Hallgrimskirkja or ‘Hallgrims Church. But it really does look like something out of Lord of the Rings, and with all these Elf Rocks and blizzards it does get a little confusing.
Waking up amongst plush pillows in a log cabin to bird song and the gentle rush and sigh of the sea outside was the perfect welcome to New Zealand. Stepping outside to breathe in the fresh sea air, I knew that despite the long drive ahead of us and the jet-lag beggining to creep into the corners of my brain, today was going to be a good day. The first stop today, after stopping for poached eggs and a flat white to get us going, was Mount Maunganui. Formed from the extinct volcano Mauao that rises above the town, a climb to the summit offers breathtaking views of the town below and the bay stretching out into the ocean. The name of the extinct volcano – “Manau” means ‘caught by the dawn’ in Maori and is based on Maori legend.
Touching down in Mordor (sorry, I mean Auckland, New Zealand) I really do feel, strangely, like I’ve come home. Even though I’ve never been here in my life there is a strange similarity to the place. Our first stop, having picked up the car, was to head out to The Coromandel. A beautiful peninsula east of Auckland, encompassing Coromandel Forest Park, Hot Water Beach (yes, really, due to volcanic activity in the area, the water on a stretch of this beach is hot, very hot, and if you dig a hole and sit in it it’s like having a bath – only a very salty, sandy one).
Sunday morning arrived like a freight train full of angry cats. Finding a half eaten kebab on my night stand as I woke up fully clothed made me realise I was about to be struck by one almighty hangover, the promise of healing spa pools was to be the only thing to get me through today. My partner on the other hand, the picture of health and non-hangover wellness, excitedly tells me it’s time to check out and secure our luggage so we can get exploring. Given that our first stop today was 40 minutes outside of Budapest, not part of our Hop on Hop off Bus tour, and I was struggling to string a sensible sentence, we booked a taxi that our hotel were only too happy to help us with.
(Note to self, and anyone reading this: UNICUM is never a good idea, regardless of what the chatty Hungarian bar man will tell you the night before!) Continue reading “Soothing Sunday Scavenger Hunt”
If, like me, you are one for a bit of spontaneity and a lover of winter sun, but heavily restricted on time AND money, then late October and November are the perfect time to get away to a tiny island in the Med!
Behind the sleepy, idyllic mountain village scene of Chefchauen, there lies a secret……the Hammam. There are two different types of Hammam, one for women…a wonderfully pleasant, relaxing experience, and one for men…an experience which my dad later relayed to me upon his return to the hotel room.