Sunday, 27 August 2017

New Hair, Don't Care

[Aug 15th]
Ebi-kuns first trip to an English barbershop.

He usually goes to the ¥1000 barbers, it's quick and easy. Obviously, I have never been to have my hair done at a barber so I had no idea what to ask for, so he took a picture of Ronaldo and asked to have it done like that.

There were 3 guys working, the first was super quick and did 4 people whilst we were waiting but all the blokes left with the same cut. The second bloke was slower but obviously went to the same school of hairdressing!

The third bloke was taking his time and looked like he was actually styling the hair properly so we crossed our fingers that we would get him! The Big U answered and Ebi-kun was happy with the final result...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Family Fun With The Cockfields

Our trip back from Iceland was uneventful but long! We had to be up at 3.30am to catch a bus to get us to the airport on time. We basically slept in what we were travelling so we could just get up and leave. We flew back to Gatwick and then took a train into London, where we met a lovely mom and a boy who was happy to play Top Trumps with Ebi-kun!
Then we had to hang around for a couple of hours to get the train home. We got back about 6.30pm and collapsed!

The next day we had a meeting of the Cockfield clan, these are my cousins that I grew up with, they lived not far from us so there was a lot of family time together. Jude and Mattie now have their own kids, we have given up trying to figure out what the relationship is to Ebi-kun so they are all collectively known as "The Cousins"

We were blessed with beautifully weather and my uncle put on a great spread so we picked our food inside then picnicked on the lawn.

This is the youngest member of the clan but the Boss, he had me in stitches, it seemed that I was always in "Bad Books" (said in a strong potters accent). His dad had bought a water gun to play with, it all started quite innocently, F squirting everyone and running away laughing.

And no one got particularly wet, he isn't a very good shot! But then the rest of the guns came out and all the kids - and some of the adults, ended up soaked! Of course we had no idea this was going to happen so no one had a spare set of clothes!

The kids had a blast, lots of running, squealing and playing football. All was going well until I tried to get a shot of all of them on the swing... F wasn't having any of it!

He did agree to smile if we used the goal instead! As always, we came home with a great pile of food, Uncle Gra knows how to put on a great spread but he's not good at knowing how much he needs, everyone always goes home with a huge doggy bag!

Another great day, lots of fun and laughter, catching up and great food. It's a shame we have to wait another 12 months to do it again.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Videy Island, The Cathedral and Shopping

Our last full day, the time seemed to fly by in some respects but we seemed to get a lot done in such a short time! 

Now I know I swore that I was never getting on a boat again but... I bought the wrong bus ticket and it turned out that the ferry to Videy Island was included in the ticket price. I think the Hop On, Hop Off would have better value for money, never mind!

Our first challenge was finding a bus that was going to the ferry stop, we had no bus map and no idea of the number, luckily almost everyone speaks English so we found the right one.

The ferry takes about 10 minutes and even though the sea was a bit choppy, the ride was OK.

videy island iceland jojoebi

The ferry stop had free maps for the island, and when you land you can wander wherever the mood takes you.

We followed the path around and checked out some of the points of interest.

videy island iceland jojoebi

Ebi-kun guessing which was home is!

videy island iceland jojoebi

In the 30's and 40's there was a small village on the island and the foundations of many of the homes are still there, in front of each one is the information about the home and who lived there. I have to say, it looked like a hard life for all of them!

The old school house has been restored and is open for you to go in and look around, it also has a toilet - good to know! It looks like they also hold classes or training in there sometimes.

videy island iceland jojoebi

We did one end of the Island then decided to get some lunch, there is only one place to eat, it's lovely but, like all the meals out, expensive! It is the oldest existing stone built building in Iceland and you can have a poke around the place, I think they also have functions there these days.

videy island iceland jojoebi

Ebi-kun really wanted to try some fresh Icelandic fish, so he had the catch of the day, it looked lovely and that is coming from me, who doesn't eat fish! I stuck with the veggie soup and we both had rhubarb lemonade, which was lovely.

videy island iceland jojoebi

We decided we didn't want to spend all day on the island and the ferry only runs once an hour, so we had a quick look at Yoko Ono's Peace Tower then went to catch the boat and bus back to town. 

videy island iceland jojoebi

We decided to walk up to the Cathedral which is on the top of the hill overlooking Reykjavik. It's quite an imposing building, very modern looking inside but still very fitting for the place I thought.

Reykjavik iceland jojoebi

After a poke around the Cathedral, we decided we couldn't be bothered to go up the tower! We headed into town to do some shopping. My aunt had given Ebi-kun ISK4000 to spend and there was no point in bringing it home with us, so he was on a mission to spend it all.

Fortunately, he decided Troll Snot wasn't worth the money...

Reykjavik iceland jojoebi

We did eventually manage to empty his wallet! After going into almost every shop in the city! The city centre is pretty much all tourist shops, I'm not sure where the locals go shopping! It is a very pretty town centre!

Reykjavik iceland jojoebi

We finished off with an Icelandic Hot Dog, we heard that they were the best in the world, we were thinking of doing an Ebi-kun Eats but to be honest we were both shattered and we just wanted to eat. The hot dogs were OK, nothing special and would have made for a pretty dull episode!

Just as we were heading home, we spotted the Icelandic Punk Museum, I would have loved to have gone in but it was getting later and we needed to be up at 3.45am the next day.

punk museum Reykjavik iceland jojoebi

I didn't actually get much sleep because I was worried I would sleep through the alarm - I don't know why I have NEVER slept through an alarm! We had everything packed so it was just a matter of getting up and leaving, it was already pretty light which helped wake us up.

The journey back was long because we flew into Gatwick and then had to cath a train to London and then onto Congleton via Stoke, a very long day! But it was totally worth it, Iceland was amazing and if you get the chance to go, do it!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon

I'm pretty sure that every country has its own tourist "trap" and the Golden Circle is Iceland's. It covers three spots that are in a big loop when I was looking at all the different tours, the secret lagoon caught my eye. I would have loved to do one of the more adventurous ones but I wasn't sure how things would be with my vertigo. 

I decided a nice soak in the lagoon would be a good way to end the day. I booked the tour through Arctic Adventures and we had a great driver/guide called Jorge who was actually from Greece.

First stop was Thingvellir National Park, which is famous as it is the first democratic parliament in the world, sat on the edge of a beautiful lake and between two tectonic plates, the North American and Euro-Asia Plates.

Game Of Throne fans, this is for you, apparently, some of GOT was filmed here, I can't tell you any more because I don't watch it and have absolutely no idea!

The guide dropped us off at one car park and we walked through the national park, down to the church and then up to the second carpark. The whole place is so beautiful, clean, clean water and gorgeous fresh air! On our way, we accidentally took the wrong route! We saw a black fox which was hunting, that was pretty exciting too!

Once we were done there we headed to the Geysir, the big one goes off every 7 minutes or so... going...



Next up was the Gullfoss waterfall, voted as one of the top 10 beautiful waterfalls in the world! It's pretty impressive. We also stopped here for lunch, we had an hour to eat and take a look around.

The scenery is stunning and the photos don't do it justice at all! It reminded me very much of Lord Of The Rings and I can see why it was first choice for filming here.

After lunch our tour split in two, one group went off to do rafting and our group went to the secret lagoon, so-called because until 2 years ago, only the locals in the town knew about this place.

It is a natural hot spa but unlike the Blue Lagoon which was a pleasant hot in the hottest places, this one had some hot spots that were waaaaaay too hot to stand by! The system was much simpler too although you still have to wash before putting on your bathers, it was much smaller and laid back.

I did get out rather red in the face due to a combo of the water and the sun! Luckily I didn't burn!

You can walk around the outside of the pool but you need to be very careful and kids should be held onto because there are holes of boiling water dotted around and the dangerous sections have just a rope to keep you off them, so easy for a little one to duck under!

The locals also take advantage of the hot water and use it to power and heat greenhouses to grow veg in, which is quite ingenious!

Our guide said that this pool is amazing in the winter, in the snow with the Northern Lights, he told me that this is his favourite tour. I can see why since he gets a couple of hours of soaking in the lagoon on work hours!

We finished at the secret lagoon by about 4pm then we were taken to another waterfall and dropped of whilst the guide went back to pick up the rafting group. It was a really pretty spot, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

It was getting late by the time we got back so we just had a quick bite to eat and collapsed into bed!

If you happen to go, I can recommend Arctic Adventures, it was easy to book, they have loads of different options and the prices were reasonable. Our guide, although not Icelandic was very knowledgeable about the places we visited and funny too.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Whale Watching, Vomit & The Saga Museum

Our second day in Iceland, we hadn't got anything booked, my idea was that if the weather was good we would go whale watching but if not we would check out the museums. It wasn't raining but it was a bit cold so we decided to walk down to the old harbour and decide from there.

That in itself was a bit of an adventure, we walked along the sea front, stopped at the Sun Voyager Monument along the way. As you can se the clouds looked heavy so I was a bit worried about the sea conditions.

sun monument - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

sun monument - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

We got close to the old harbour but couldn't get through because of all the construction work going on so we went on a slight detour and had to ask a dad pushing a pram for directions (Ebi-kun noted that it was strange seeing a viking pushing a pram!) He was very helpful and pointed us in the right direction. We ended up going through the town to get there.

We finally found the whale tour offices, there are plenty of companies that run the trips. I had googled beforehand and decided to go with Eldling Whale Company, they are eco friendly and are leading the way in green tourism, they are also the oldest whale watching company that operates out of Reykjavik. 

Now, they did tell us that the sea was going to be rough and the do give you free sea sickness tablets. The guy at the ticket office said that the weather was supposed to get better by the end of the week but it's very changeable so it's anyones guess really.

One other thing this company does is that if you are unfortunately to have no animal sightings, you get a free ticket to use on another day. This is what swung our decision, if we went out and saw nothing, we could try again on the Friday. 

Truth of the matter is, you would have had to drag me on the ship a second time! So it's a good job we did see some!

whale watching - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

By law, all kids under 13 must wear a life jacket or one of these warm flotation suits, they are also available to all other passengers. It was cold out there so we put ours on straight away. From the picture above the sea didn't look too bad but don't be fooled, I was already feeling queasy before leaving the bay!

We did see a couple of minke whales and a couple of pods of dolphins, cuteness alert! This was in between me sharing my breakfast with everyone, pretty sure that they didn't sign up for that! Needless to say, I was having enough trouble keeping my stomach in place so photos were an after thought. You can just about see the fin of a white nosed dolphin, if you look hard...

whale watching - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

After the longest 3 hours of my life we got back on dry land, I am certainly not cut out for a sailors life! Give me a horse any day. 

We wandered around the town a bit, Ebi-kun didn't throw up on the boat but he was feeling queasy too, so we let our stomachs settle before having a late lunch.

Eating out is expensive, this meal, Ebi-kun had a burger and I had a lamb sandwich, the food was good but there was too much for us to finish, maybe we should have shared. We didn't buy drinks but the meal still cost around ¥5000.

whale watching - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi
Add caption

I'm not a big fan of lamb but this was delicious, so tender and melted in the mouth, veggies were a bit scarce, I had some pickled cabbage and a piece of lettuce!

lamb sandwich - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

After lunch we decided to have a look around the town and head to The Saga Museum, the city centre isn't very big and is basically full of tourist and coffee shops!

reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

The Saga Museum was good, it wasn't as big as I expected, when you pay you can choose to leave your stuff in one of the free lockers and/or hang up your coat. I recommend doing that. Then you get given a headset and you get listen to the commentary as you walk around.

saga museum - reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

The wax work figures are very lifelike and it smells like the olden days too! There are 17 stations, each one explaining about the stories and histories of the sagas. It was interesting and not too long for the kids.

saga museum - reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi
Add caption

When you have finished there is a room where you can try of traditional clothes. They had real chainmail, which was really heavy, I have no idea how they could have an epic battle wearing that! All in all it was a good couple of hours. They also have a cafe and shop.

saga museum - reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

We then wandered back home via the supermarket. One thing we noticed about the town were all these amazing murals on the side of buildings, Ebi-kun took to photographing them

reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

But there was also a LOT of bad graffiti which is a shame because it's such a cute little city. If you are fit and healthy you can pretty much walk around the whole place.

reykjavik - Iceland - jo ebisujima - jojoebi

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Icelandic Horse Trekking and The Blue Lagoon

For our first full day in Iceland I had booked a morning of horse trekking - I would have liked to do more but Ebi-kun hasn't ridden before so I thought it might be a bit much. We booked with Laxnes farm, which is a local family run farm about 20 minutes out of the capital.

They pick you up at the hotel in a mini bus and take you to the farm. The guy who picked us up was, as Ebi-kun said "a right jolly viking" he really did fit the stereotype to look at but was also a really happy chap!

Once you get there, they kit you out in helmet and jacket. The rules are very strict about brining your own equipment in, you need to have it disinfected and certified that it has been done and I think leather goods like saddles and bridles can't be bought into the country at all.

Then they ask about your riding experience and find a horse that is suited to your ability. Ebi-kun is a newbie so he got a lovely little plodder called "Bad Boy", he was far from it! And she gave me a mare with a bit more "umph" called Queen.

There were 4 guides all on horseback and the horses are obviously used to doing the route and just follow each other, the guide know which are the newbies and keep an eye on them and we started with just walking.

The scenery is stunning but the pictures doesn't really do it justice, we crossed a few small rivers, Bad Boy kept stopping to drink which was funny. Once everyone was comfortable with their horse, we did some trotting, the unusual thing about Icelandic horses is that they have a really smooth gait, unlike trotting on a pony normally which has you bouncing around all over the place. 

At the half way point we had a rest and then they split the group into beginners and more advance, the beginners left first and then those of us who could ride (well some of them I'm not too sure about) went back at a fast pace, of course the horses knew that they were heading home so picked up the pack naturally. 

It was great fun, am made me realise how much I miss riding and horses!

After the ride we were taken to the bus station where we got the bus to the Blue Lagoon. If you are planning to go you need to book a ticket for the lagoon beforehand.

I have to say I was super impressed with the Blue Lagoon, I'll do a post on it from a business point of view, as a customer, they were top notch.

When we arrived we asked for robes and because Ebi-kun is 12 he has to use the mens changing room. I was a bit worried about this but the staff were amazing and two members of staff took him through, showed him what to do and how to use the locker and then waiting with him on the other side until I got there to meet him.

You have t use swimming suits and you have to shower BEFORE you put your swim suit on. The locker key is an electronic wristband and you can also use it to buy drinks etc. You have to be careful, I nearly lost mine twice because it came loose.

Even though this was supposed to be the peak season, it wasn't crowded at all, we needed to wait about 10 minutes to get in but that was in. With the basic admission you get the free silica face masks, Ebi-kun LOVED them and we end up going back 4 times!

You go over to the bar and gat a handful of the silica, slap it on your face for 10 minutes then wash it off in the water. We both had beautifully clear skin afterwards! There are other face packs, in pool massages and treatments available. Plus steam rooms and saunas.

And the pool complex is massive, they do recommend putting conditioner in your hair before you get in because the water dries out your hair, mine felt pretty awful afterwards, despite the conditioner!

There is also a pool side bar, we got drinks even though they were expensive because... you have to really hahaha. Ebi-kun had a blue slushie aptly named "Krap" and I had a glass of white wine, my only alcoholic drink of the trip!

We spent 5 hours there, most of it in the water, the weather was cold and drizzly but it down't matter once you are in the pool. There are spots to get out and rest and there is a cafe and very expensive restaurant too.

When I eventually managed to drag the boy out we got changed and had some dinner. This was the only disappointing part really, they choice in the cafe was very limited to a few sandwiches, salad or sushi. Ebi-kun had sushi (he didn't think it was up to much!) I had a ham and cheese baguette and we both had a bottle of smoothie type drink. It came to $45 / GBP 35 / ¥5000 - ouch!

We then got the bus back to town and got dropped off at the hotel. The buses run every hour and will drop you either at the main bus station of at one of the designated hotels, luckily our apartment was right next to a hotel pick up point!

It was a fabulous day and we loved every minute of it, when we got in we basically just hit the sack! We both wanted to do it all again!

Pin It button on image hover