Iceland Weekend Trip

Iceland Weekend Trip

Last weekend I went to Iceland with my little brother James for four days. This will be our last trip together for a while as he’s moving to Sydney, Australia on Friday (sad face).

iceland

Iceland is so unique and beautiful, definitely worth a visit however it’s not cheap, be prepared to spend much more than on your standard holiday. The landscape is so breath-taking and diverse, one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. It feels like you’re on another planet, from open fields of lava rock, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls to the vibrant capital city of Reykjavík. The weather is quite varied, always changing and unpredictable. During our visit we experienced, snow, rain, strong winds and cold temperatures, my warm coat and long underwear were essential!

iceland snow

Iceland

We only came for a short visit and stayed in Reykjavík city centre. We focused most of our stay in the south of the island. To keep costs down we stayed in an apartment using Airbnb, just a fifteen minute walk from the city centre. We stayed with the host in our own private room; our host was great at giving advice and recommendations during our stay.

Iceland

I arrived on Thursday evening, got the bus to Reykjavik from the airport. Getting the bus is much cheaper at ten pounds compared to getting a taxi costing £60-70. Keflavik airport is about 50kms from Reykjavik, usually buses are waiting after flights for transfers.

Iceland

Thursday evening we went out for dinner at Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish market). All the reviews we read in advance sang their praises. Our Taxi driver also informed us that the owner was Iceland’s version of Nigella Lawson, Hrefna Rosa Soetran, so we had high expectations. We weren’t disappointed! The décor of the restaurant was beautiful, the staff were very friendly and spoke English extremely well.  We had the tasting menu, eight courses of mainly seafood and lamb with a selection of desserts. They also have a great cocktail menu and good choice of craft beers and wines. This has to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had, every single course was delicious. It’s quite pricey but has good value for money because of the quality of the food and drink. I would recommend anyone visiting Iceland to go here, please view (drool) over my photos below.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland 020        Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

On Friday we went snorkelling and on the golden circle tour. We were picked up in the morning and taken to Thingvellir, Silfra a freshwater fissure.  This lake is so special because it’s the only place you can swim between two continents; North American and Europe. We bravely donned wet suits rather than dry suits and submerged ourselves in the gap where the two tectonic plates meet. The water is crystal clear and as pure as water gets you could even take a sip! Although it was incredible, I have never been so cold, the water temperature is 2C and the temperature outside was freezing. We got ready outside in the snow and before I took the plunge I couldn’t feel my hands and feet. I was quite surprised when I got in the water it wasn’t that cold but that’s probably because I was already so cold. The advantage of snorkelling with a wet suit is that you can dive underneath the surface and explore more. Dry suits you float along the top of the water but stay dry and keep you much warmer.

iceland

iceland snok

After warming up with a couple of cups of hot chocolate and dry clothes, we continued on the golden circle tour. Our route commenced at the national park Thingvellir where Althing the Icelandic parliament was established. It is also where the continental drift between North American and Europe plates can be seen in cracks and rifts.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                 Iceland

We moved onto a geothermally active valley, Haukadalur. This is where the famous Geysers, Strokkur and Geysir itself which gave others their name. Strokkur erupts regularly, which we saw a few times, quite spectacular to see in person! Geysir erupts rarely our guide informed us it erupted two weeks earlier, but usually goes off about once a year.

Iceland              Iceland

Iceland              Iceland

The last stop on our tour was Gullfoss waterfall, translated ‘Golden falls’. I don’t think you can really appreciate its magnitude and beauty until you see it in person. My photos don’t do it justice!

iceland   Iceland

Iceland   Iceland

Saturday we explored Reykjavík, it’s such a colourful and vibrant city. The houses are wooden framed and clad in wooden planks or corrugated metals painted in bright colours. The centre itself is quite compact and easy to walk around. We started the day walking down to the harbour and continued onto dramatic concrete Hallgrimskirkja church. We went up the tower and took in the wonderful views of Reykjavik. In the evening we went down to the Harpa concert centre and saw a comedy show ‘How to be Icelandic’. Later on in the evening we went to a few bars, most bars don’t have entry fees and all very close to one another. Craft beer and cocktails are popular and lots of specialised bars such as Mikkeller and Friends with twenty beers on tap. Just to mention the drinking age in Iceland is twenty (not that’s a problem for me).

Iceland 117

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                       Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Sunday we walked up to the Perlan (Pearl), which has a panoramic views over the city and a rotating restaurant. In the afternoon we caught a bus to one of the 25 wonders of the world, the blue lagoon. We took a dip in the geothermal water, it was so nice to go into warm water after our freezing dip on Friday. The water is cloudy and steam billows off the pool to make it feel mysterious. Again it’s quite pricey to go and a little busy, but it has good facilities and a nice relaxing way to end our trip. Afterwards we took a taxi to the airport for our late night flight back home.

Iceland

Iceland

iceland

iceland

iceland      iceland

iceland       iceland

During our stay we were lucky to experience the food and fun festival. Local restaurants created gourmet menus at affordable prices, using Icelandic ingredients. We tried menus at Sushi and Samba restaurant and Kopar restaurant. Both restaurants served amazing food. All the food we had on our trip was excellent, local cuisine is fish and lamb. I would also recommend Bernhorfbakari for a pastries and K Bar, a beer bar with Korean inspired food.

iceland

7th march 042

Iceland

Iceland

iceland           7th march 057

Sadly the three nights we stayed in Iceland it was cloudy and we were unable to see the Northern lights. Our flight back home was late and we were fortunate to see them from the plane.

The only ‘negative’ I would say is the recurrent smell of sulphur, smelled of rotten eggs. By the end of the trip I think got used to it. The trip was amazing and there is nowhere quite like it. I recommend anyone to visit this mysterious island. I would love to visit again and explore the rest of the island.

iceland

Jenwaar

Training week five

Training week five

Week five was not my finest….two runs and one gym session.  So here comes the excuses, I went away on holiday for a long weekend away (holidays shouldn’t really be an excuse). I went to Iceland and it snowed most days and I did not want to risk an injury rather than complete a slow run. During the holiday, I was busy site-seeing and doing tours so I really don’t think I could have done anything more than one run. On a positive note I did not a lot of walking, averaging six to ten kilometres a day.

snow

run

I would also like to point out that I’m no elite athlete. I exercise for fun and to challenge myself, sadly I have to work to pay the bills and exercising isn’t my full time job. Having a rest is healthy and can help you focus more. I have 13 weeks left before my race and having four days off shouldn’t put me back and should hopefully give me more energy for todays run!

iceland snow

Next week I will be getting back to regular exercise and I’ve planned a long cycle ride on Sunday.

iceland snow

Blog post about visiting Iceland with come later this week.

Jenwaar

Training week four

Training week four

This week has been good…. Three runs, three swim sessions, two gym sessions and only once on the turbo trainer (oops). My long run this week was twelve miles! I’m pretty pleased with the distance, but the time wasn’t that quick. The last three miles were a killer, cardiovascular wise I felt fine but both my legs felt like ten tonnes each and sore for a couple days later. I’m hoping this will improve as I’m now running regularly.

run

gym

I’m now starting to feel more at ease with training, previously I was doing six gym weight based session per week with the occasional run. I thought it would quite struggle to get back into running, swimming and cycling however after four weeks I feel like this was always my normal exercise routine. The five AM alarm is no longer a fight but maybe that’s because I’m going to bed earlier as I’m tired from all the training. I enjoy getting up early and getting the workout completed so the rest of the day is mine. I find if I have to wait all day the thought of training lingers and I find excuses so I’m less likely to train.

feb 29th 030

training

I’ve found blogging about each weeks training quite useful as I record what I do each week, so I keep a close eye on training and making plans. It also helps keep me accountable and motivated as I know I’ll be writing about it. I don’t think reading about how lazy I’ve been each week would be as exciting a read and I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

run

swim

Next week my goals are to continue with the regular sessions and use the bloody turbo trainer more!! As you can tell cycling is my least favourite sport in the triathlon, I cycle to and from work every work shift so I feel it’s more a mode of transport (which it is) rather than sporting fun. If I want to improve I must train! I hope next week I won’t be writing this again.

training

Jenwaar

Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies

Last weekend my parents came to visit for my mum’s birthday. On Friday for her birthday we had breakfast at Montpelier’s restaurant in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. Highly recommended for breakfast! I had Mexican beans with poached eggs and extra smoked salmon with apple juice and green tea. My Dad had the ‘The Full Monty’, a full Scottish breakfast including steak and my mum had a morning roll.

breakfast

breakfast

breakfast

After we filled our bellies we went to the Falkirk wheel and then to see the Kelpies. The Falkirk wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde canal with the Union canal. We went on a canal boat trip using the wheel which raises the boat by 24 metres. I found watching the wheel in action more interesting and impressive rather than the actual boat trip but the guides were very good and informative.

falkirk wheel

falkirk wheel

falkirk wheel

falkirk wheel

The Kelpies are thirty meter horse head sculptures made of steel with stainless steel cladding and are the world’s largest equine sculptures. The name Kelpies comes from the mythological transformation of beasts possessing the strength of hundred horses. They represent the working horse’s heritage for Scotland. The structures are pretty impressive and stunning in both the day and night, definitely worth a visit.

kelpies

kelpies kelpies

Jenwaar

This blog post isn’t sponsored

Training Week Three

This week I managed two swims, two runs, two gym sessions and two rest days (all the two’s). Ideally I should have done a little more but that’s life. My parents came to visit at the weekend and I worked five shifts last week. On a positive note, one of my runs this week I ran eight miles; the furthest distance I’ve done in a while.

running

Sometimes I find it hard to train when working a few shifts together so I need to plan my sessions ahead. I work twelve and a half hour shifts both day and night which change each week. Some weeks I have a few shifts back to back so I have a few more 5am sessions and may train less. You just have to be realistic and flexible as we are only human and sadly I have to work to pay the bills. I plan each week ahead so I know what I’m doing each day and generally if I have a plan I do (most of the time) stick to it.

running

Another way I try to stick to my fitness plan each week is to go to at least one trained session per week. I am member of the Edinburgh Triathletes club and they run weekly sessions each week for running, swimming and cycling. This keeps me motivated by mixing up my exercise sessions. Group sessions help me to work harder as you have someone pushing you. I am quite good at plodding along at the same pace during training and I find club session push me much harder. Other members at training also help as I am quite determined to finish training just like everyone else.

running

Next week I’m continuing regular running and swim sessions. I am planning longer runs, maximum two gym sessions and to use my turbo trainer more this week.

Training Week Two

Training was much better this week… I managed 4 runs, two swim sessions and two gym sessions. I did a mixture of triathlon club running and swim sessions, runs by myself, a, gym session with my friend Kim and a personal training session. I’m slowly starting to feel like my lungs aren’t going to explode after each session and on Saturday I found my five mile run a pleasure. I’m feeling much more positive about being able to actually complete the Ironman.

training

Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake day! I made Chocolate avocado protein pancakes with blueberries, peanut butter and Nutella, they were amazing. I am not religious however I do like to give up something each year. I usually give up alcohol and this year is the same, apart from I am adding fizzy drinks as well.

16 feb 008

On Thursday evening I went to a talk by Freya Ross about her cook book called Food on the run. Freya is an Olympic marathon runner and will hopefully qualify for Rio soon. She talked about her training regime and typical foods she eats every day. It was really reassuring to hear she doesn’t follow a strict diet, calorie count and weigh everything she eats. She advocates having a varied diet with a few treats. She spoke about when she eats before and after running and what she does during race days including what drinks and gels she typically uses during a marathon. I left feeling inspired and positive about my own training and dietary habits. The cook book is filled with easy to follow and simple recipes. I shall be trying out some of these recipes very soon!

freya ross

This week my CycleOps turbo trainer arrived. A turbo trainer is a device that enables you to ride your bike whilst stationary, and indoors. They clamp around the quick release skewer of a bike’s rear wheel suspending it in an A-frame. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who build the trainer for me and attached it to my bike.  Sunday evening I managed an hour of hill climbs whilst watching call the midwife. I hope being able to cycle at home will help me train when the weather is bad outside.

turbo trainer

turbo trainer

Next week I’m continuing regular running and swim sessions including one long run. I am planning to slowly increase my mileage and in a few weeks eventually to start increasing my speed.

Training week one

Training last week wasn’t that great…. I managed three gym weight sessions, one swim and two runs. I did also go for long walks on holiday however I know this is not enough. I am finding it hard not to hit the gym so regularly and up the cardio.

John o groats

 

Highlight of this week was running on holiday from John O’Groats to Duncansby lighthouse, I had clear views out to the Isle of Stoma and not a soul in site, just beautiful. The time wasn’t great as it was very hilly but was lovely to be out by the coast.

John o groats

john o groats

 

Yesterday I bought a turbo trainer. I’m quite excited about having equipment at home for training. I am a very timid cyclist, hate going out for a long ride by myself, and if the weather isn’t great I generally don’t ride. Being able to cycle at home will hopefully improve my cycling, but the main reason is to get me to cycle regularly. I also admit I cannot repair a puncture so I have booked myself onto a bike maintenance course in March.

Next week I have planned my week out, so my mileage will be much higher, and I only plan to be at the gym twice.

John O’Groats Trip

This week I was lucky enough to go away with my husband to John O’Groats. Yes that’s correct John O’Groats in February!  We arrived in the wind and rain on Monday to stay at the Jan De Groot Penthouse within the Inn at Natural retreats. The apartment had views over the Pentland Firth and a free standing brass bath in the bedroom (I’m a sucker for a big bath). We stayed for four nights in self-catered accommodation. John O’Groats, like any coastal town, is seasonal and was very quiet at this time of year. Our aim of this trip was to relax and chill, which we did.

John o groats

John o groats

Tuesday we managed a coastal walk from John O’Groats to Duncansby Head lighthouse and back, our walk was cut short due to the unpredictable Scottish weather (gale-force winds and sleeting rain). Once we got our soggy cold bottoms home, I took full advantage of the bath, a long soak with a glass of Processo.

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

Wednesday we visited Dunnet Head, the most Northerly point of mainland Britain, and Thurso.  I made our favourite dinner of fillet Steak, sweet potato chips and salad when back at the apartment.

dunnet head

dunnet head

dunnet head

dunnet head

John o groats

Thursday was Sam’s birthday and luckily we had good weather so we could walk out to the Duncansby Stacks, such beautiful views and no wind! In the afternoon we drove to Wick and took the birthday boy out for a meal.

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

John o groats

Friday we went home. It was the most relaxing week consisting of eating and drinking, reading and going for long walks. As it was out of season it felt like we had the place to ourselves (which I loved) however most attractions and places were closed. For a quiet break I would recommend coming over winter, just prepare for the weather!

Jenwaar x

Hello!!

Hello,

Thanks for having a look at my blog. I thought my first blog should explain why I want to write. Firstly it’s a new year and in my drunken state at the bells I wanted to start documenting my life and interests. I aim to write a lifestyle blog about my love for food, fitness, traveling, my mishaps and general ramblings.

Secondly I want to make 2016 count, 2015 was an amazing year filled with traveling, fitness, good food and marrying my best friend.

So 2016; my main goal this year is the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 in June. I’ve been a runner all my life and I started participating in triathlons in 2014. Last year I lost my love for cardio and found a new interest in lifting weights (at the gym not competing). Although I still enjoy weight training I have missed racing so I have decided to challenge myself to an Ironman 70.3 triathlon. The longest triathlon I’ve ever done is Olympic distance and my lack of real regular cardiovascular training over the last 6 months means this will be challenging for me.

I am a massive food lover… I love to cook, I love to dine out, I love to eat and I LOVE FOOD! I try and keep a well-balanced, healthy, varied, flexible ‘diet’ with a few treats. I hope to discuss my favourite foods, recipes and dining out experiences (especially the treats!!).

I will be blogging as regularly as possible and hopefully I will bring you some interesting stories.

jenwaar

Jenwaar