TWO Shepparton friends have just returned from six weeks discovering Italy, Iceland and New York. It was a holiday where you had to pack light and heavy clothing as the weather is so different in each country.
First stop for Helen Hinks and Sally Nayler was Italy and the fabulous coast of Cinque Terre. They loved the walks along the track that joined the villages. Helen says you are right on the edge of the cliff as you walk along and there are no barriers with just the sparkling sea below, so you watch your step and enjoy the experience.
After a few days of enjoying the panoramic views of the area they moved on to Lake Como. For this part of the holiday they arranged their own accommodation and so it was an Airbnb they used.
At Como they stayed with a man who worked on the local ferry service and so it was trips around the lake to see all the highlights.
Over there was George Clooney’s house. It’s so popular with tourists that there is a 500m exclusion zone strictly enforced by the law, but it was fun to sail past. Rumour is it may soon be on the market.
Restaurants abound and the food is incredible. It’s a place you could stay for a long time, but further travel called and so Sally and Helen were off by train to Venice.
Now, the trains are busy and you don’t always get the seat allocated to you and such was the case for Helen and Sally, so a word with the conductor and they were upgraded to first class.
Venice was crowded. It was the height of the tourist season so they took to the back streets. There was a lot to discover; the houses and canals, but they also took the opportunity to go further afield and took a trip to the mountain village of Asolo, which is said to have been the playground of the rich and famous. The restaurants were great and the views from up on high were spectacular; a very picturesque place to be.
And now for a change of temperature as they flew to Iceland. Sally and Helen had picked up an economical round world airfare with Finnair and it was great.
Landing in the capital, Reykjavik it was like a different world after the weather in Italy. There was rain and lots of it was travelling sideways as the icy winds blew.
So it was on with more layers of clothes as they made their way to their hotel where it was warm and cosy.
The next day it was up early to travel to the Blue Lagoon. Even though it was cold there were lots of people in swimming and they even had lifeguards posted. Sally and Helen joined in and enjoyed the warm waters that are part of Iceland’s Geothermal System, which also heats most of the homes.
But when you stood up the wind was icy cold, but not to be beaten the locals had set up steam rooms to keep you warm so you could sauna before getting dressed.
During their visit, Helen and Sally stayed at 10 hotels as they did the circuit of the island on the main highway stopping off at attractions along the way.
They saw magnificent waterfalls and high reaching geysers, and travelled past many farms with sheep, cows and wild horses.
The horses are from the Viking breeds and if a horse is taken out of the county it cannot return. This helps to keep the breed pure.
They stopped at a black pebble beach facing wild seas. It’s said that if you put one of the black pebbles in your pocket it will bring you good luck, and of course they did.
Both Helen and Sally were amazed to see a local thermal heated swimming pool at each of the towns they visited. It appears too many lives had been lost in the sea and the pools were aimed at teaching children to swim.
From lunar landscapes to magnificent golf courses and wild seas that offered excellent whale watching, there is much to do in Iceland.
Helen also loves the many old original homes now preserved. Set into a hillside they use the earth against their walls and over the roof to keep them insulated from the weather.
Now for another change of pace it was off with the coats and on to New York. They stayed at an Airbnb in Brooklyn and it was excellent. It was close to the subway so it was easy to get around. They soon met some fellow travellers and locals that wanted to hear about travel experiences and so a party was born.
They did all the usual touristy things from Central Park to Times Square and in their nine days there, they managed to see nine Broadway shows from Bette Midler with Hello Dolly to Ground Hog Day, by Tim Minchin. At the time they were there a drunken driver was arrested after his car crashed into barriers in Times Square; a frightening experience.
But all good things come to an end and so it was as Helen and Sally made their way home. They would like to thank Lauren at Lyn McNaught Travel in Mooroopna for arranging things and particularly their visit to Iceland.
Until next time,