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Grey Skye's Ahead

Isle of Skye - Highlands

rain 16 °C
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After a brief stop of the Eilean Donan Castle, we made our way further west, crossing the bridge over to the Isle of Skye where we were instantly struck by beautiful mountain views.

This afternoon was the only time it was going to be dry during our stay on the island, and so with plenty of time, we made our way up to The Storr. This is the iconic view of Skye and one of the best of Scotland, but it was not without a struggle. Barely leaving the house these days, the strenuous 45 minute climb was hard going. It was very steep and only I made it to the top.

The Storr

The Storr

However it was definitely worth it. The views were incredible and lived up to their hype, despite the biting wind at the top.

After strolling back down the hillside it was now almost time to check into our hotel. Having driven across much of Skye to get to the Storr, it was only a short drive south back to Portree where we would stay for the next two nights.

Like Ullapool, this was the most important town for miles, and still had a population below 2,500. Therefore there were limited options for accommodation and food. We stayed in a hotel on the central square and parked around the corner, whilst after gong for a little wander over towards the port we grabbed dinner at an Indian restaurant. It seems every British town - even in the middle of nowhere - will have a Chippie and an Indian.

Portree Port

Portree Port

The following morning, as expected, it was wet and miserable. We drove north, past The Storr and on to Kilt Rock. Here, Loch Mealt drains into the sea over beautiful cliffs. However despite the rain, the dry weather until now meant ironically, that there wasn't a huge amount of water actually falling.

Kilt Rock

Kilt Rock

Getting soaked, we didn't hang about long, and continued our way north to the Quiraing, a landslip in the middle of the Trotternish peninsula. To get here was a steep windy drive. After driving through what felt like an amphitheatre, before a steep hairpin bend, we made it to the top.

From here there are supposed to be amazing views of spectacular scenery and on to the sea. But as we were in the clouds, sadly we'd have to imagine it.

Quiraing

Quiraing

We continued crossing the peninsula, and arrived on the other side above the town of Uig, which even in miserable weather looked beautiful.

Uig Bay

Uig Bay

Just around the corner from here is The Fairy Glen, an unusual landscape created by a landslip, that could easily have been home to the Teletubbies. Home to ponds and small mounds it was a very strange place, but due to the weather we didn't fancy walking around it and so after driving through it we turned around and returned back towards Uig.

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen

We had originally also included visits to Neist Point and the Fairy Pools on the west and south sides of the island. However with terrible weather and both being over an hour away on low quality roads in opposite directions, we decided to give them both a miss and instead enjoy a relaxed afternoon.

After arriving back to the hotel, we chilled for a few hours before having dinner in the restaurant downstairs after a quick stroll to the watchtower that overlooks Loch Portree.

Watchtower

Watchtower

After two nights on Skye, the next morning we checked out of the hotel and headed back towards the mainland. The weather was abysmal - it was hammering down and the wind had really picked up. Then, as a lorry drove past - Smash! - a stone had smashed into the windscreen and caused a massive dent in the windscreen.

How annoying. In all the driving I'd done over the years this had never happened until now when I was in a hire car. But worse things were to come. As we crossed back across the Skye Bridge, and for no apparent reason, a massive crack started to form across the windscreen right in front of my face....

Posted by kmmk17 13:34 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged scenery bridge hill waterfall highlands&islands Comments (0)

Coastal Comfort

Turkey - Antalya

semi-overcast 34 °C
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For the last few years we have had a relaxing holiday during September. However with the ongoing Brexit mess at home putting me off an EU bound trip at risk of cancelled connections, and having been invited to the wedding in Istanbul during this time anyway, we decided to have a big all encompassing holiday, visiting various different parts of Turkey, which would include a stop on the coast. So after doing a bit of research for the route we booked ourselves a nice hotel for a few days of relaxation in Antalya.

Having boarded a bus from Denizli, after four hours we arrived in Antalya which was noticeably more humid than anywhere else we'd been on this trip so far. After making our way from the bus station to the city centre, we walked past the Old City which we would explore again soon, before shortly arriving at our hotel for the next few days, which was shaped like a big pyramid.

The Hotel

The Hotel

Inside the lobby was also impressive, as the building narrowed as it got higher creating a pyramid effect.

Inside the lobby

Inside the lobby

We got the keys to our room and found we'd be upgrading to a suite with a sea view and huge balcony overlooking the Taurus Mountains on the other side of the bay. We had a sofa, a bath and shower, and even a walk in wardrobe.

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

After settling in, we took a quick look around the hotel complex, before heading down the restaurant for our first dinner, choosing from the big variety of food on offer.

After a long day we settled in for the night and the following morning, awaking for the second day in a row with no stomach ache (the longest period in months), we headed down for breakfast before our first day getting to chill by the sea - finding it already a pleasant temperature even at first thing in the morning.

We started by getting a sun lounger by the outside pool, and were surprised to find that the pool itself was quite warm, even this early. After a few hours of dipping in and out of the pool, we headed down to the sea. The hotel itself was built on a cliff, and so didn't have a beach of it's own, but still had access to the sea via several staircases that wrapped around the hill.

Platform

Platform

Just above the access point to the sea was a platform full of sunbeds. After finding some to settle on, we headed down to the sea. It was slightly colder than the outside pool, and the sea was a little bit rough, with waves crashing against the rocks, so it wasn't the most enjoyable experience. I headed out for a swim and made my way to the floating platform the hotel had just off the shore.

After a while at the sea, we decided to head to the indoor pool, but when we arrived, found it was actually the coldest! Not enjoying the experience very much, after a quick go in the sauna, we headed back to the outdoor pool.

By now having spent all day in and out of the pool we decided to head back to the room for a shower and rest before dinner. However I made the mistake of holding my hunger for dinner, which caused me to feel shattered and too exhausted to really eat very much by the time dinner arrived. Heading back to the room afterwards I took an early night to try and get my energy back, and the next morning I felt more refreshed.

For our second full day we decided to explore some of the city, and took a short walk from the hotel to the Old City. We started off by walking through the park adjacent to the hotel towards the Hıdırlık Tower, one of the towers on the edge of the former city walls that is sometimes used as a lighthouse for the port.

Hıdırlık Tower

Hıdırlık Tower

We then continued our journey walking through the well kept streets of the Old City, past restaurants, bars and a few mosques.

The Yivliminare Mosque

The Yivliminare Mosque

We then arrived at the port, with many fancy boats offering tours of the area, before heading back up walking past shops and arriving the city centre.

Antalya Port

Antalya Port

We took a look around the Old Bazaar, before walking back towards the hotel, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing around the pool.

Our the following day (our last full day in Antalya) felt much different. Although technically warmer, it was much less humid, and slightly cloudy - from the balcony we could see the Taurus Mountains in their full glory, rather than being covered in humid haze.

Fancying seeing something new, we headed out of the city centre to see the Düden Falls - a waterfall that ends at the cliffs on the coast and tumbles straight into the sea.

Düden Falls

Düden Falls

After catching a bus back, we spent the afternoon around the hotel once again, before our last dinner. After this we took an evening walk into the old city to see Hadrian's Gate by night, the only remaining gate along the city walls.

Hadrian's Gate

Hadrian's Gate

The weather had been pretty good for us up until now, but it was suddenly about to change. As we were nodding off to sleep, we suddenly started to hear thunder. Taking a look a look outside our worst fears were confirmed - fork lightning in the bay that was headed our way, whilst we were in the tallest building around. Luckily we weren't hit, and it passed after around half an hour.

The following morning after breakfast we repacked our suitcases and left them at reception to spend a bit of time relaxing one last time. After a last few hours in the hotel we then made our way to the airport for our onward flight to our last destination in Turkey - Capadoccia.

Posted by kmmk17 06:15 Archived in Turkey Tagged waterfalls sea sun waterfall swim swimming relax turkey2019 Comments (1)

Day Trip to Niagara

Canada - Niagara Falls

sunny 22 °C
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My first visit to Niagara Falls was back in the cold of November 2013, being stuck on the American side. Whilst you can walk between the falls and get right up close next to them, the way the falls are laid out means you don't really get to see them very well. I had at that point planned to quickly cross the border, but being short on time I decided this would have to be for some point in the future.

After then thinking more about visiting Canada itself, I decided it would be nice to see more of the country anyway, and with the opportunity at hand, booked the trip, and made an excursion to the better side of Niagara Falls part of it.

After a day of exploring Toronto with Halina, today Fara and I headed by ourselves to the waterfalls, and after a 2 hour coach trip arrived at the northern end of the border town. Being unsuccessful in navigating the buses, we walked along the Niagara gorge with views of the USA, before finally approaching the waterfall itself. And it soon became clear just how much more impressive it is to see it from this side.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

From the Canadian side, the whole falls structure becomes like an auditorium, and with it being a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed the light spray emerging from the crashing water, as we walked down towards the edge of the waterfalls themselves.

Overlooking the border bridge and the American Falls

Overlooking the border bridge and the American Falls

Other than the falls themselves, there wasn't an awful lot to see and do in the town - we had decided against crossing to the American side anyway, and didn't see a massive benefit of going on the boats, and so instead headed to grab some food, avoiding the much ruder Americans that had crossed the border, as opposed to the Canadians who were incredibly friendly.

And that's pretty much where today's story ends. We headed back to Toronto before our onward travel to Ottawa the following day.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:32 Archived in Canada Tagged waterfall border wet niagara Comments (0)

The Geothermal Interior

Iceland - Geysir

overcast 12 °C
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The final day in Iceland was to cover the most interior we would go. Passing back through Þingvellir we made our way to Geysir, the town that gave it's name to the geyser, where geothermality is in action.

Upon arrival the smell of sulphur was evident, with several hot pools and geysers simmering away. Although Geysir is named after the Geysir geyser, it is actually the Strokkur geyser that is featured on all the pictures. Whilst Geysir is the largest, it erupts just a few times per day, meanwhile the smaller Strokkur, still over 20m tall, erupts every few minutes.

Strokkur at Geysir

Strokkur at Geysir

Waiting around we quickly saw the full strength of the geyser before making our way back the gift shop and onwards to our next stop, the final iconic Icelandic destination - Gullfoss.

Gullfoss

Gullfoss

Gullfoss is a humongous three stage waterfall which dwarfs the hundreds of tourists that come to visit. As with most things in Iceland, it is easy to get up close and so the rocky headland around which the waterfall circles is a perfect place to witness the power of the falls.

Inside the Kerið volcanic crater

Inside the Kerið volcanic crater

Enjoying the beautiful view we then made our way south towards Kerið, a large former volcano with its crater now filled by a lake, with both a path around the top as well as around the lake.

Hellisheiðarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant

Hellisheiðarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant

After seeing everything we had planned, we then stopped en route back to the apartment at Hveragerði, a geothermal town, as well as the Hellisheiðarvirkjun geothermal power plant before heading back to the apartment for the final evening of the holiday. Having been told all week the smelly sulphuric water was clean enough to drink I was beginning to wonder if maybe it wasn't as bad as I had feared. Whilst taking a shower, I forgot to take off my silver ring, however after less than ten minutes it had turned to gold! Maybe I was right after all...

Bit of light driving

Bit of light driving

The following morning we got up nice and early to finally drop of the car after almost 800 miles in the last four days, and after no problems made our way to the airport for the flight home after four amazing days in the stunning country. Despite the high costs of the place - hotels, drinks, food (breakfast and lunch for two for three days = £40) etc, it was definitely worth it.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Iceland Tagged waterfall geothermal geysir Comments (0)

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