Santorini & Iceland
And here you have them, the result of eight days, around five thousand kilometres through Iceland. Some days with very difficult weather conditions, as you can easily see on the pictures I present you in this gallery. Even so, and just like I wrote while I was there, it’s a special country. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or raining, it’s always an unforgettable experience. When it comes to photography, good weather always helps, of course…but I still managed to capture some photos I really like. Now I just have to wait for the next adventure :).
After spending some time choosing my favorite pictures of thr trip, it’s time to post them. I’ll start with the ones of Santorini because it was the first destination and also because while I was there, I got some free time to select some shots and also to do some editing work. I’m working on the ones from Iceland right now so I’ll post them some time in the next few days. I hope you like them because it was a pleasure to take them. There are a lot of them that look alike, I know…but that’s what Santorini is all about. Enjoy.
And that’s it. Game over. Another visit to this amazing country is over. I’m sure it won’t be the last one. My last day was spent around Keflavik, since I didn’t have time to go too far, having my flight in the middle of the afternoon.
Despite the problems with the weather, I think the trip has been a success. I managed to visit and shoot all the places I wanted, the country still is and will always be unbelievably beautiful and it’s a true pleasure to drive on these roads. It’s impossible to leave Iceland and not thinking about coming back…and not thinking that it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The speeding fine was the bad moment though. Not terrible…but an expensive mistake.
I’m sure I will come back. I would love to visit in the winter, when the landscape is completely different. It’s like a different country. But there are some difficulties, so I don’t know if it will be possible.
Too many tourists? Not yet. There are a lot more than it used to, that’s a fact. But leaving the most obvious places, you can still find yourself almost alone. I’m sure the local people like to see tourism growing though. The country is still crazy expensive and i’m sure that alone will help to control the amount of people visiting. Not everyone can do it. As simples as that.
Now it’s time to go back to the portuguese hot summer. There’s no weather like portuguese weather :).
My day ended earlier than usual today. Waking up before 6 AM every day, driving for hours and hours, and not sleeping enough, is having an effect after a few days. I’m really tired.
I saw some other portuguese people today. I’m not the only one in Iceland :). It’s incredible how I end up meeting some on every trip, no matter where I go. The weather was crazy. It was sunny and beautiful and suddenly it was raining. And then it was sunny again. And it was just like that most of the time. I decided to drive and walk around the capital. In 2007 I didn’t even come to Reykjavik and it would look bad coming here a second time and still not visiting the city.
I spent some time at Þingvellir National Park as well. I was expecting something better, to be honest. It’s a UNESCO heritage sight, afterall. I’m sure it has its value but it’s not as impressive as many other places in Iceland.
And the picture shows you the well known icelandic horses. They can be seen everywhere but I wanted a picture with them with a nice background. I think I got it.
And tomorrow, the last day. I will visit some places around Keflavik, where the airport is located. One of those places is the world famous Blue Lagoon, where people can bath on its warm waters even when it’s freezing outside and everything is covered in snow.
All said for today. I got a speeding fine but that doesn’t matter hehehe.
The picture you see today was a real test to the camera’s resistance. Both the camera and myself took a nice shower to be able to shoot the waterfall from that perspective. I now know that my camera can take a lot of water and that it will resist to pretty much everything other than underwater photography :).
Just like on the previous days, a lot of hours driving. A lot of km. I returned to a couple of places I went to yesterday, hoping for better weather conditions and better light. Got lucky on one of them, not so much on the other. That’s life in Iceland in September. Whoever wants blue skies for sure, Iceland is not the place.
The end of my journey is getting closer and I can say that I was able to visit all the places I really wanted to shoot. Some of them without the better weather conditions but that’s not something I can control. Even in the summer, the weather in Iceland is tricky. In September, it’s normal to get at least some crappy days.
Do you know how you realise the fact that almost all people in Iceland live in 2 or 3 cities? Because in 80% of the country you see more rental cars than local ones. Really.
So this was really a miserable day. Despite some hours without rain, the damn fog was always present, killing any chances of photography. Impossible. Of course I still drove around and appreciated everything that the fog let me see…but almost zero pictures.
In the afternoon I found myself crossing a 6 km tunnel that is built under the ocean. I didn’t even know that it existed and I had no idea I would cross it…but my GPS said so. The bad thing was that those were the most expensive 6 km of my life. It was a toll road.
Today’s picture was taken a few days ago. It’s a photo of Dettifoss, the waterfall I mentioned before. The volume of water is just impressive. The noise and the spray of water it’s something that it has to be seen. And like I said before, it’s very very difficult to shoot because the lens gets drops of water in a couple of seconds at most! I have been there before, but on the other side. It can be accessed on both sides from different roads…but once there, you can’t cross to the other side.
And that’s it. Not much to talk about today. I spent the day running away from the rain and I couldn’t do it successfully. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Cheers.
And on day 4, the Icelandic weather arrived. It was actually just after 2 PM but it got really bad. Not so much for the rain because it didn’t rain a lot…but there were some very low clouds and some fog, which was even worse than rain. I just couldn’t see anything around me. I hope it’s not going to stay like that. It would suck big time. And this just justifies my willingness to drive hundreds of km each day to get everything while the weather lets me. I have just a couple of places I want to go to, from my list of the most important ones. I think I’ll make it :).
In part of day 4 I was driving through the heart of the country. As you can see on the picture above, not everything in Iceland is green. This region is almost desert, almost like a lunar landscape. This gravel road crosses the country from north to side and the gravel part is around 150 km. Not a lot of people decide to drive it, since it takes quite some time and some parts of the road is in really bad shape…and it’s true that there isn’t too much to see really. But it’s a different side of the island and I love to drive on those dirt roads :).
Plan for tomorrow? It depends on the weather.
The rant of the day is about the prices here. Everything is so freaking expensive that the people from Iceland must be really happy when they travel abroad. With these prices, they need to make a fortune…when when they travel to countries like Portugal, everything will be almost free for them. Anyway, any hotel, even the most simple ones, cost 3 times what they would cost in Portugal. The same with the rental car. The same with pretty much everything. It’s crazy :).
Alright. See you tomorrow.
Update for September 6th, on the 7th. I arrived really late to my hotel. More than 1000 km today. I’m driving a lot every day because I want to take advantage of the nice weather in case it gets worse. I’m trying to get to the most important places and then, even if it starts raining, I will have my bases covered. For now, the weather is still nice. It rained a bit at the end of the afternoon but by that time, I was done for the day. That has been the trend. It rains early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Let’s keep it that way please :). The bad thing about that is no decent sunrises or sunsets. Oh well, I can’t have it all.
Today I drove to another region I didn’t visit in 2007. I must mention that 8 years ago I just came for 4 days, so I really didn’t have the time to visit the whole country. And the region I visited today is probably the most beautiful of them all. It’s a fjord region, a bit like the famous region in Norway. Sea arms, with high mountains on the sides, very green, with dozens of waterfalls. It looks like a movie set and no picture can do it justice.
Today I spoke to another tourist for a few minutes who also have been to the country in the past, and she agreed with me on the fact that there are a lot more people visiting Iceland. Not that many where I was today though…it’s a bit off the beaten track so most people just leave it behind, like I did the other time. Big mistake!
The waterfall pictured is Hafragilsfoss. It’s very close to the more famous Dettifoss, the biggest waterfall in Europe when it comes to volume of water and it’s incredibly difficult to shoot because it creates a spray of water that it’s just like if it was raining. But more about this one later.
Yep, it’s the most beautiful country in the world for square inch. I say it all the time and I don’t think anyone can find arguments to say the opposite. Again, I mean natural beauty. It gets to the point when we see a beautiful place to shoot and say “nahh, I already have 20 which are better. Let’s move on”. Today I got an overdose of waterfalls. I have then in all sizes, from S to XXL. But again, I will publish those later, since I have plenty of similar shots and need to choose.
The weather keeps surprising me. I was scared this morning since it was raining quite heavily when I woke up but by 9 AM it stopped and didn’t rain a single drop the rest of the day. Great. It was the day to visit the extreme east of the country, where I didn’t go the other time I was here. That’s where I took the picture I’m posting today, on my way to one of the most beautiful places I have been yet. It’s also a tribute I usually do to “my” car from the trip. Poor VW Tiguan, it’s just day 2 and it already suffered quite a lot :).
And that’s it for today. I’ll try to write something better tomorrow. I’m really tired because this kind of trip is tough to do…too many miles and not enough sleep.
See you tomorrow.
Iceland must be the only country that even if I went back home without a single picture, it would still be a pleasure to be here…well, maybe together with New Zealand. It’s without a doubt, at least when it comes to natural beauty, the most beautiful country in the world.
The morning was pure summer. Beautiful clear skies and temperatures that were as high as 18 degrees celsius. In Iceland, in September, that’s like 35 in Portugal. The afternoon was not so nice but it didn’t rain. I really can’t ask for more considering that the forecast for today was horrible. It’s really a waste of time to check for weather forecasts in this country. It was a day to revisit some places where I had been in 2007. I started in Reykjavik and drove towards the east of the country.
As I was expecting, there are a lot more tourists today than 8 years ago. And when I say a lot more, I mean something like 10 times more. More flights, including some low cost ones, have that negative effect. The bright side is that more people have the chance to visit this amazing country.
The picture I’m posting today is of the small city of Vik. I chose this one because it’s a simples image and I need some time to make a selection of the other ones.
And that’s it. Day one is gone. Waiting for the second…and without rain if possible.
As bad as a situation may be, it can always get worse, right? Of course it’s not terrible, nobody has died, it’s not the end of the world…but what a trip! Anyway…for the second time in less than one year, my beloved TAP Portugal, the portuguese national carrier, once one of the best airlines in the world, screws me. My flight to London arrived a bit late but the real problem was the luggage delivery. It took ONE HOUR to unload our plane. Unbelievable. And thanks to this mess, I missed my second flight, after 11 years. I know I should have had a bigger gap between both flights but damn…one and a half hours should be enough. I have done shorter connections before. So yeah…I missed my WOW Air flight to Reykjavik and my only solution was to buy a EasyJet ticket, the only flight available today. The flight was with EasyJet but the price was anything but low cost! Ohh…and since I was going to arrive much later, I still had to call Avis in Reykjavik, so they would hold my reservation.
Anyway. Here I am, in my hotel room, with my car.
TAP never again.
The arrival to Iceland was excellent, when the sun was setting and with those beautiful colors that only Iceland seems to have. It is quite cloudy but that orange light could be seen between the clouds. It has been 8 years since I have been here and I still could remember the road that connects the airport to the capital.
If the weather helps, the adventure starts tomorrow. If it doesn’t help, it starts anyway ;).
As much as you prepare for a trip, and as much experience you may have, a lot of unexpected stuff still can happen, either by your own fault or other people’s fault. When both things come together, we get the perfect storm. What should be a short stay in Porto of just a few hours, became the craziest afternoon all of my trips until this day. I was so stupid that I even considered not to share this story…but hell, someone might have a laugh or even learn something out of it.
My trip started this morning in Santorini, Greece. I didn’t have an option to fly straight from Greece to Iceland and since I would have to stay for the night somewhere in Europe, I decided to come to Portugal. So my flight sequence was Santorini – Athens – Frankfurt – Porto. When I left Portugal to go to Greece, I was worried about my bags, since there was a strike on portuguese airports…but everything ended up working just fine. For the last couple of years I have been using a device on my bags that can track them and tell me in which airport they are. So everytime I land and turn on my cell phone, an SMS will popup and tell me when my bags are. So…when I left Santorini, it told me my bag was in Santorini, when I arrived to Athens, it told me it was in Athens, when I arrived to Frankfurt, it told me it was in Frankfurt and when I arrived to Porto, it told me it was in Frankfurt!!! OH OH!!! Of course that’s the moment you pray that something is wrong with the device. Nope. The device was fine. My bag didn’t arrive.
That’s alright, I thought. Considering that Santorini and Iceland have completely different weathers, I had 2 different bags and all I need to do was to go to my car that was parked at the airport, leave one bag and pick up the other one. So the bag from Greece wouldn’t really be needed. Right. Until the moment I realised that I made the most stupid mistake a traveller can make. I left my car key on that bag, the one in Frankfurt! Yeah, I know. Rookie mistake. And I really needed to get into the car. My bag to Iceland was there! So my only solution was to rent a car, go back to Viseu, get another set of keys and come back to Porto. A very expensive mistake.
When I went to the lost luggage desk, I was informed that it could arrive still tonight…but I couldn’t risk it. And as I’m writing this text, I just got a notification by that tracking device that my bag did arrive to Porto airport. It’s here!
Anyway…a beautiful story to write on a day I wouldn’t have anything to talk about :).
Well, first of all let me tell you that 3 days is the perfect time to visit Santorini. Of course, I mean to go to the most important places, not to lay down on the beach or near a swimming pool. The island is small, there’s not that many places to visit and the most important ones are close to each other.
It was my last full day here. The weather was perfect but that was expected. And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of bad weather in the next few days, once I arrive to Iceland. I ended up enjoying the place and it’s truly a unique landscape…I’m just not sure that it deserves all the hype. I guess it depends on one’s taste.
The photo I’m posting today was taken yesterday evening in Oia. Still didn’t have time to check the stuff I got today. I hope to post a gallery of images tomorrow.
Tomorrow is like a transition day between Greece and Iceland. And since I would have to spend a night somewhere (not possible to fly from Santorini to Iceland on the same day), I decided to go back to Portugal for a few hours :).
Day Two, completely dedicated to Oia, where I went twice, the first time early in the morning and the second time early in the evening, just like I had planned yesterday. The way the village is positioned on a line from east to west, it is recommended to shoot to one side in the morning and to the other side in the afternoon. Good thing that I decided to go there those 2 times. Just like in Fira, the morning was super quiet, with the streets all to myself…and the afternoon was a zoo, with so many people that it was difficult just to walk. At sunset, it was crazy the amount of people watching it on a single spot, the most famous one. Thank god I planned for it in the morning and found a quieter place. It’s not only the people staying in hotels on the island, is also the people arriving on cruise ships who take buses to visit.
It’s a place with people from all over the world. I think I heard all the languages that exist. A lot of Italians, which is quite normal, since Italy is very close. Lots of Brazilians as well. That was a surprise to me. It’s true that they are 200 million but I didn’t expect to see so many on this small island. I also saw some Portuguese, so I was not the only one!
Tomorrow I will visit the rest of the island. A couple of other villages and also some beaches. It’s not really a beach island. It has some but they are not white sand beaches…they are not even black sand beaches. No sand at all, just small rocks. One of them is the place where I’m staying, Kamari. On the bright side, the sea is very very calm, almost no waves at all.
There’s a warning light on in my car. Hopefully, it won’t stop in the middle of nowhere. It’s good that all trips here are 8, 10 miles and not more than that :).
Alright, everything said for today.
Alright…my first day in Santorini is done. This was really the first day, since I arrived very late in the day yesterday.
A few weeks ago I read on the internet an article saying that these days, and with all the images we see daily, many of them with lots of Photoshop on them, we’re getting false expectations that are affecting negatively the way we enjoy the places we visit. Sometimes the things we see are not exactly like we thought. I agree with that opinion and it can be applied to Santorini. There are millions of images of this island, many of them really stunning…but all look the same or are very similar. And to be honest, that’s what Santorini has to offer. Those villages made of white little houses on the top of the cliffs.
My first day was dedicated to Fira (or Thira) and Firostefani, which are two different villages but they are connected, so you don’t know when you leave one and enter the other one. The narrow streets are cute and it’s nice to walk around but they are difficult to enjoy with so many people on them. The best way is to do it very early in thr morning. Things get worse by sunset when it can get a bit chaotic. I can’t imagine how things must be in July and the first half of August. Temperatures are really high. 34, 35, 36 degrees Celsius. Good thing that there’s some wind blowing.
The picture above was taken this morning. I really wanted to show you more but the internet here is really terrible. I just can’t upload more files. I keep getting error after error so I just gave up. Anyway, it’s a typical view of Santorini.
Tomorrow will be Oia’s day. It’s the most beautiful and photogenic place on the island. I can imagine the amount of people there. I’ll visit early in the morning like I did today and then I’ll go back later, hoping for the best but expecting the worse :).
See you tomorrow.
It’s not often that I arrive to a destination on the same day I left home. Definitely one of the benefits of travelling in Europe. 4 flights later, I’m in the beautiful island of Santorini. Beautiful because we all know how it looks like. I arrived by night time and therefore I didn’t see anything yet. Tomorrow will be the first day. I was really afraid that my bag wouldn’t leave Portugal because it was striking day for the guys who work in the handling company there at the airport but I was lucky this time.
Now I need to sleep so I will wake up fresh tomorrow for my first day of exploration. Cheers :)
I know it’s weird to visit these two destinations in one single trip but believe me, it makes sense to me for a number of reasons. Anyway…the only thing in common is the fact that both Santorini and Iceland are islands. I have been waiting for the chance to go back to Iceland for a long time. It’s still to this day my favourite country of them all and I just hope to get lucky with the weather. Going so late in the summer (not really summer anymore over there) it’s a big risk but it’s also true that weather there can be just as bad in the middle of July. Santorini is a first for me. It’s one of those places I want to visit and photograph. It will be a quick stay over there, just enough to do the job.
See you tomorrow then…hopefully.