Europe

From Iceland to Spain Take a Virtual Trip With Dame Traveler Elle Kirsten

November 5, 2015

Hello! my fellow dame travelers! My name is Elle and I run a travel blog over at This Is Yugen where I seek to show you all the colors of the world. Today I will be  taking you on a virtual trip to some of my favorite places in the world. First stop, Iceland!’

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland
I refuse to believe that the staff of Icelandic air are not actually aliens in disguise, and their supposed airplanes not UFOs transporting us to another world as Iceland is the capital of all things otherworldly. In the warmer seasons, you can enjoy bathing in the midnight sun at one of the many geothermal lagoons spread across the continent or climbing down into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano. Conversely in the cooler seasons, you can watch the solar particles dance with the Earth’s electromagnetic field to create the Northern Lights over a lagoon of icebergs or wander through temporary ice caves formed inside one of Iceland’s many glaciers. See what I mean by otherworldly? My favourite Icelandic experience is however possible all year round – a visit to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in south-east Iceland. Here you can live out the pre-sinking ship moments of Titantic by taking a (much, much smaller) boat out amongst a sea of icebergs.

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
A visit to the Blue Mosque (or officially the Sultan Ahmed Mosque) will cost you no money and little time, but will leave you with a great insight into and appreciation for the muslim culture and a desire to mosaic all the ceilings and walls of your home. Arguably the most photogenic building in Istanbul, this site should be considered a pilgrimage site for it offers visitors not only lessons in morality but also in beauty.

Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

Only pictures can come close to describing the immense beauty of the Plaza de Espana. I originally headed to the site as a place to sit and enjoy some breakfast due to its close proximity to the Alcazar. However, when I entered I had to pinch myself to make sure I hadn’t fallen into my all-too-frequent naps and was actually still on the train dreaming of a Spanish wonderland. From the mosaic tiled bridges reflecting off of the stream that passed through the plaza to the fountain so misty that it yields a rainbow on a sunny day – it’s safe to say that the Plaza de Espana is made up of the same stuff as dreams are.

Silfra Fissure, Iceland
It was a warm 10 degree Celcius afternoon in western Iceland and where was I? Standing in amidst the Pingvellir National Park playing tips with the all-too-friendly arctic breeze in nothing but my thermal underwear. Luckily, things didn’t stay this way for long, as over the course of the next hour I was fitted into not only a dry suit but also what they call a teddybear suit (i.e. the warmest piece of clothing you could ever put on; it basically makes you a sumo wrestler using thermal layers). All wrapped up I was ready to brave the 2 degree Celsius glacial waters that awaited my body. Within the first 10 minutes of the 30 minute snorkel, I didn’t even notice how numb my lips had become as the wave of disbelief that I was actually seeing with my own eyes the ecosystem of the Silfra fissure washed over me as I washed over the Big Crack – Silfra’s narrowest section and the point at which the Eurasian and North American continental plates are so close together that you can practically them both at the same time.

Old Town, Dubrovnik, Croatia
I can be a bit full on when traveling, trying to fit as much as I can into a day; wanting to appreciate every square centimetre of a new destination. Although I am highly partial to this pace – preferring to rest in between destinations on trains, planes or automobiles (which I’ve become disturbing good at doing) – it’s often nice to be brought down to a slower pace whether by a companion or the destination. The company of my brother who was feeling a little under the weather coupled with the seaside atmosphere of the Old Town of Dubrovnik did just this, leaving me feeling like I was floating without outlines. The best way to fully appreciate this quaint corner of the world is by strolling atop the walls that fortify the Old Town. Either by means of the endless stairs making you walk up only to walk back down or the picturesque views of the Old Town and Adriatic Sea offered from above, this walk is sure to take your breath away.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
Words cannot express how excited I was to visit Barcelona and experience the architecture of Señor Antoni Gaudi first hand, and in particular his love letter to the city, La Sagrada Familia. So often such high expectations can lead to disappointment, but not this time. La Sagrada Familia was everything that I dreamt it would be and more – it was grandiose; it was complex; it was a masterpiece. However, my joy was being softened by the immense quantity of other tourists, the heat of the Spanish summer (I hope you never have to experience 47 degrees Celcius humidity) and the inability to appreciate the façade in its totality due to its size and close proximity to larger buildings. Then, as if a sign from the heavens, my eyes caught a glimpse of cups of freshly sliced strawberries and mangoes at a park across the street. Fruit in hand I sat down at the nearest shaded bench, oblivious to how the stars had aligned for me. And then I looked up. There perfectly framed by the nearby trees stood La Sagrada Familia in all its neo-gothic glory. Still to this day, when the temperature soars high, I close my eyes and transport myself back to that day; back to that moment; back to my own special corner of Barcelona.

The Izmailovo Kremlin, Moscow, Russia
I discovered Moscow’s lesser known Kremlin (the Kremlin of Izmailovo) on a whim when browsing google images for the beautiful and world famous Moscow Kremlin. I fell instantly in love with the Disneyland yet traditional Russian appeal of the little fortification, and highlighted it as a must see for my trip to Moscow that I can now only look upon in hindsight. As soon as I arrived, I was made to quickly realize that I was not alone in appreciating the beauty of this seemingly unappreciated site, as we were forced to play the role of wedding crashers to not one; not two; but three separate weddings during our 30 minute visit. It’s times like these that it pays to lose the map and appreciate the unappreciated.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Bailey November 12, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    This whole post is speaking my language! I loved reading this and reminiscing about my own adventures SCUBA diving in Silfra, touring Jokulsarlon, and walking the streets of Barcelona. Now I want to go back!

    • Reply Elle Kirsten January 4, 2016 at 4:42 am

      Thanks so much for your comment Bailey. I am so jealous that you SCUBA dived Silfra – that would have been truly out of this world!

      Keep on traveling and smiling,
      xx Elle

  • Reply Bailey of Weekends and Wanders January 4, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    It was COLD, as I’m sure you experienced, but well worth it. The visibility is so great there you almost don’t miss anything from the surface that the divers experience down below!

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