Josh and Jess had been living in London for just over 12 months and were heading home (the long way) via Iceland and Austria, so I decided harvest and Colin could do without me for three weeks and met up with Josh in London.
Ten days later we were on our 3 hour flight to Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. Iceland is not somewhere I had on my bucket list to go, but because Josh was heading there it was too good an opportunity to miss and is such an easy flight from the UK.
We landed in Reykjavik and picked up our hire car and headed to our air B n B, an hour and half's drive away, en route we called into an Icelandic supermarket to pick up food. That was a pretty interesting experience, relying on the pictures on labels to tell us what was what. We got most things right, but passed on the horse chorizo.
At that time of year there is four hours daylight in Iceland -the sun rises at 11.30am and sets at 3.30pm, so you have to make the most of the daylight. Getting up and still having quite a few hours darkness was weird. Our air B n B was amazing - totally designed to be "green", with heated floors and incredible views. We were also surrounded by greenhouses, which are lit up 24 hours a day to grow veggies in (there's not enough natural light that time of year). They glow brightly and you can see them from miles away.
Iceland is very volcanic, so there are lots of hot springs, which are visible from the main roads. You can smell the sulphur too. Even though there was plenty of snow and ice (as you would expect) there was also lots of greenery and waterfalls everywhere.
The highlights of our four days were driving along the south coast to the glacier beach, covered in great chunks of ice, the magnificent waterfalls and having a dip in the Blue Lagoon -this is hot springs turned into a huge swimming pool. You pay 90 Euro to have a dip -we went at night time and it was hailing. So the icy hail was hitting my skin as I swam in the hot water. You also get a face mask from the volcanic mud and a glass of champagne. It was a surreal experience.
Iceland is becoming a popular tourist destination, especially for people from the UK and Europe because of the short flight. Reykjavik is a pretty city, on the coast. It was there I tried the local delicacy -fish gills, which were absolutely delish! Served pan fried. Even though we didn't see the Northern Lights as we had hoped, we still had an incredible time.
Oh and the Christmas lights on the houses were something else -everyone gets into the spirit. Well I guess you have to when it's dark by 3.30pm.
After Iceland we flew to Vienna and then travelled to Kitzbuhel, in the Austrian Alps, where magically, the night before we arrived there, it had snowed heavily, leaving everything looking like a Christmas card. Josh had previously worked here at the ski resort and it is a beautiful old medieval town, surrounded by jagged alps. Great German food, Christmas markets and mulled wine were some of the fantastic experiences there.
Thank you Jacki Ball for contributing to the Travelling Duck this issue. If you have/know someone who has been on a great road trip or holiday please let us know! We’d love to hear from you and hopefully inspire someone on their next holiday! It could be as short as the top five places, your favourite beach holiday spot or cultural etiquette in a foreign country.
Below left: Jacki with son Josh Ball in front of one of the many waterfalls in Southern Iceland
Below right: Josh and Jacki with beautiful Kitzbuhel, in the Austrian Alps, behind like something out of a picture book.