Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hot Pool Hopping Around Iceland

Steve and I went on an epic two week road trip around Iceland in July and I have so much to share I don't really know where to begin. The trip was a once in a life time sort of thing, we scaled glaciers, traversed mountain roads and battled every season in what should have been the height of summer. A big feature of the trip was checking out the naturally heated hot pools due to Iceland's rich source of geothermal energy. On my previous visit a few years ago I spent a few hours at the famous Blue Lagoon so this time I was excited to find some local hot spots and off the beaten track treasures. Equipped with my GoPro we managed to visit plenty of hot pools; some were beautiful, some were terrifying, and some were all together out of this world. The linking feature in every single place was the fact they're heated by naturally occurring hot water which is pretty bloody awesome!

The first place we visited was the local hangout in Reykjavik, Laugardalslaug. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos because there was a big sign stating 'no cameras allowed'. I didn't want the local Icelandic people giving my dirty looks so I didn't even attempt one picture but trust me when I say this is a fantastically fun place complete with water slides, hot pots and two massive swimming areas. It's certainly not a relaxing place as it's the local leisure centre but it's super cheap and a super fun activity for a free afternoon.

Once we left Reykjavik and hit Route 1 for our road trip it wasn't long before we were stopping off at our next swimming destination. Located at the bottom of the mountains on the snaefellsnes peninsula, Lýsuhóll is a small pool rich in algae that leaves your skin feeing silky smooth after only a short period of time. We arrived at 7pm as we'd had a busy day on the road stopping at different sites so it was a nice way to unwind that evening. There's one medium sized swimming pool and two hot pots which is more than fine for this quite spot. One of the best things about this pool was the location, situated in a quiet part of the peninsula the surrounds are serene and the mountainous backdrop is magnificent.

Swimsuit - George at Asda
Trunks - George at Asda

The following day consisted of a lot of driving, we tackled the west fjords which were absolutely stunning but also pretty tiresome. You can imagine driving around fjord after fjords takes its toll after a few hours. Anyway, we were staying in the far north-east of the west fjords that night and en route to our hotel we stumbled across three magnificent, road side hot pots. I say stumbled across but I knew all about these hot pots in Drangsnes and planned to visit them accordingly, so it was very convenient that they were on the road to our hotel. Completely free to use and open 24 hours are day these hots pots (varying in temperature) are situated in a beautiful fjord side location. We spent the evening chatting to locals and watching the light flicker across the water, it was really magical. Even though these pools are free to visit there is actually a shower and changing room across the road. Leave your clothes in here and run across the road without getting hit by passing cars, it's all part of the Icelandic fun.

We totally under estimated the driving conditions that evening and it ended up taking another hour or so to reach our hotel meaning we didn't arrive until midnight, oops!


 Swimsuit - George at Asda

I originally planned to visit this end of the road swimming pool, Krossneslaug after the three hot pots the previous evening but due to bumpy road and slow driving this was definitely not going to happen. Situated at the end of the road north in Norðurfjörður this was a 90 minute drive from our hotel in Djupavik, but despite this enormous diversion it was 100% worth visiting as this was probably my favourite pool of the trip. We were extremely lucky the morning we visited as we had the place to ourselves despite hearing that in the summer up to 600 people can visit a day!

Situated at the edge of the sea it feels like an infinity pool when you're inside. If you're lucky you can catch seals in the ocean and there's even a hot pot to immerse yourself in. The pool is open 24 hours and costs very little. The care takers live on site and keep an eye on the midnight parties to make sure things don't get too out of hand. Iceland is a super fresh country but the air felt really special and pure here, maybe it was the sea breeze and complete tranquillity. Even though this pool is literally in the middle of nowhere it is so wonderful and special, you must visit.

 Swimsuit - George at Asda

I forgot to charge my GoPro so I was only able to get a quick iPhone snap of Myvatn Nature Baths which was a shame because it's a lovely place (despite the sulphuric stench). Myvatn is known as the smaller, but just as special Blue Lagoon of the north and having been to both I completely understand why. The milky blue water is really magical looking and the volcanic surrounding make you feel like you're on Mars. Of course this isn't a cheap place to visit being a pretty huge tourist site but it's still significantly cheaper than its southern counterpart. We spent a quick afternoon here and whilst I did enjoy the place it felt huge and busy compared to everywhere else we had visited.

Our final swimming pool of the trip was certainly the most unique, and terrifying. Seljavallalaug is situated in the south of Iceland not too far away from Vik where we spent our final evening. It's an adventure to reach. Park the car and then hike for 15 minutes throw shallow rivers and rocky mounds. You will eventually find Iceland's oldest swimming pool, built in the 1920s and situated amongst a mountainous valley. We visited at midnight which was probably a mistake as the place was super eerie, so much in fact we only stayed for about 20 minutes.

The pool was originally built to teach the locals to swim but in 1990 a new pool was built nearby and this old one became almost deserted. It's still used but it's only cleaned out once a year so it's a bit murky. The changing rooms are crumbling shells so it's best to come prepared, don't expect a shower afterwards. Despite the dodgy vibe I'm glad we visited as it was most definitely an experience I wont forget.

There are a ton of other pools I wanted to visit but time beat us so they'll have to wait for another trip. We didn't make it to the Blue Lagoon as we left it too late to book tickets but I've been before so I honestly don't care that much. The local, more secluded pools were more special and memorable plus less busy and an awful lot cheaper. I love Iceland, it's one of my favourite countries so I'll definitely be visit again and checking out all the places I missed.
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Sunday, 9 August 2015

OUTFIT: Pineapple Dress

Pineapple dress - George at ASDA
Denim Jacket - Uniqulo
Trainers - Nike
Sunglasses - Tiger

Well hello there, it's been a long time since I've done an outfit post hasn't it? Steve and I went to Visions Festival yesterday and whilst we were in the queue to see Jens Lekman I asked him to snap a couple of photos. I had my camera with me as we'd popped into the delicious Som Saa for lunch plus I'd been meaning to show off this new dress for a while so it was a perfect opportunity.

My love of pineapples goes back a few years now and I definitely don't see the trend dying down any time soon. This summer dress was a bargain at £8 and it's so easy to wear as the shape is quite slouchy and casual. It's actaully sleeveless so I have to make sure my shoulders are covered as I burn easily, but teamed with a denim jacket it's the perfect way to stay cool in the heat without the risk of sun damage.

Visions was OK, it's a one day, multi venue music and arts festival across east London with tons of bands, craft beer and street food to keep you busy. We had to collect our wristbands at Oval Space earlier in the day (cue an hour or two chilling in London Fields and pottering around Broadway Market). Not only was the queue ridiculously long, we were told we couldn't bring our water bottles into the venue. Under normal circumstances I totally get this but considering we were JUST collecting our wristband and not actually going to see a band at Oval Space I was pretty pissed off about this lack of foresight on the organisers part. First impressions, not good!

The festival takes part in 6 different venues but we ended up staying at St John of Hackney Church all evening as there was a pretty decent line up consisting of Jens Lekman, The Antlers and Camera Obsecura. First of all, the venue doors didn't open until an hour after their scheduled time which made for huge queues around the church. Once we made it to the entrance we nearly didn't get in because my camera was too big (thanks Visions for not mentioning on your website that this would be an issue) but after begging with the doormen they let us on the condition I kept my camera away. I normally love seeing bands in churches as the acoustics are always spot on but the sound in here was really echoy and you could barely make out song lyrics. The bad sound coupled with the moronic doormen we came across that evening put a bit of a dampener on the experience and I won't be returning to the festival again.
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Friday, 17 July 2015

FIVE FRIDAY: Summer Exhibitions 2015

I love summer time in London, there are so many exciting things to do like music festivals and food markets. It's also a great time for soaking up a bit of culture as the big museums and galleries are opening exhibitions left, right and centre. Whether you're into art, history or fashion there's definitely something for everyone so why don't you do something a little different one weekend and immerse yourself in some thought provoking art.

The Summer Exhibition at the RA features highly on the lists of art aficionados each summer. It's the worlds largest open submission exhibition and this year Michael Craig-Martin RA has hand picked over 1,000 works from 12,000 submissions to create a collection bursting with colour and originality. The collection is certainly overwhelming, but in the best sense of the word. There is so much to see and with every corner you turn you are faced with dramatic sculptures, colour popping prints and nonsensical installations.

My advice is to take your time and find a couple of pieces that really stand out. The exhibition acts as insight into the world of contemporary art and what's happening right now so there's no need to critically evaluate everything. There were a few pieces that really stood out for me; the beautiful Julie and Rob tapestry by Grayson Perry, the maps of London, Jim Lambie's colourful staircase (Zobop) and the neon bubbles.

Until 16th August 2015

I haven't actually been to this exhibition yet but I know it's going to be a winner because who doesn't love looking at ridiculous shoes? The V&A really work wonders with their fashion themed exhibitions, Savage Beauty surpassed all my expectations so I'm sure this account of the pleasure and pain behind footwear will be excellent.
Until 31st January 2016

This is the first UK retrospective of Sonia Delaunay and is a collection of her paintings, clothes and textiles. I loved this exhibition, full of colour and abstract prints, it was really fun to walk around and take in the large canvas paintings. The massive propeller prints really stood out as did the colourful clothing she designed for herself and husband. The bold designs combined with sharp edges and vivid colours really captured the essence of the Paris bourgeois and the 1920's in Paris must have been a wonderful time.

What I loved the most is that this exhibition proves beyond doubt that Sonia was as influential an artist, if not more so than her husband Robert. At a time where there's been a lot of talk in the art world about woman not being well represented, the Tate Modern have been doing an excellent job at showcasing the work of female artists.

Until 9th August 2016

I cannot wait to visit this exhibition. Audrey Hepburn, as you all know, is one of the most iconic and photographed women of the 20th Century so I'm sure this is going to be filled with beautiful photographs of the star.

Until 18th October 2015

I don't know a lot about this artist but I know I want to go on these slides that appear to emerge from the roof of the Hayward Gallery like enormous snakes. I'm really intrigued by the decision making process involved in this exhibition; there are different doors to enter, pills to take and of course slides to traverse. I sounds like an awful lot of fun!

Until 6th September

There's plenty of other great exhibitions happening over the city but I think these five are definitely some of the most exciting. Let me know what else is worth checking out as I'm always keen to visit a new gallery and discover a new artist. We're very lucky that there are so many amazing institutions to visit in this city so it's definitely worthwhile making the most out of them.

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