The Acropolis (the hill)/Parthenon (the main structure) is an obvious must-see on most folks’ trips to Athens, but what’s not immediately obvious is how to experience it. Sure, you could hop off your city tour bus, give it a walk-through, and move on to the next site on your list. If that brings you travel joy, go for it! We loved getting a sense of Athens and the Parthenon from a few different vantage points, so I present to you: Athens’ Acropolis, 4-ways! Zany, up-close, romantic, and historical!Continue reading “Athens: 4 Unique Ways to Experience the Acropolis”
On our journey from Edinburgh to Athens, we found ourselves with the relatively cheaper option of flying through Kos, a Greek Island in the Dodecanese group. Skyscanner was giving us flights arriving into Kos late at night and leaving for Athens early in the morning, but after finding multiple flights per day from Kos to Athens, we decided to buy two separate flights and spend our first day in Greece on an island!
Since we were arriving late, we opted to stay at an Airbnb by the airport in Antimachia, a literal 4 minute drive away (our host picked us up). If you’re staying in Kos town, buses travel from the airport during the day, but after 7 or 8:30 pm you’ll have to take a taxi.
We were staying at a home in the countryside, so our evening plans consisted of watching episodes of UNHhhh and trying to get some sleep (hard because we were now melting after a chilly week in Edinburgh)! Kos Town might be a better choice for you if you’re looking for some nightlife.
We had a 5:30 pm flight the next day so we had almost an entire day to spend at the beach! You have your choice of sandy beaches on Kos, but it was an easy decision for us: lovely and popular Kardemena beach was very close to where we were staying. Our host very nicely dropped us off at the KTEL bus stop at the airport, and €2 and 10 minutes later, we were at beautiful Kardemena!Continue reading “Stopover on Kos: One Day on the Island”
It rained almost the entire week I was in Edinburgh in July. Most days, it poured! A little rain didn’t put a damper on things though. Would it have been better in the sun? I drought it! (Ok… it obviously would have been a little better not having to peel off sopping wet pants every time I got back to the AirBnb, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the city!)
Heads up: this isn’t a list of indoor activities. I’m assuming that if you’ve found your way to Edinburgh, you want to see more than the inside of buildings. These are ideas for places to duck into when it’s really pouring, and things to enjoy no matter the weather, so dress appropriately!
Here we go! 13 ways to enjoy Edinburgh in the rain:
- Haggis Box Food Truck
- Walk the Royal Mile
- Pop into a close
- Free Harry Potter tour
- Leith Walk
- Visit a Gay Bar
- Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyroodhouse
- Climb Arthur’s Seat
- Visit Victoria Street/Diagon Alley
- Stop for a wee dram
- Calton Hill
- Glasgow Day trip
- See Highland Cows
- In case of sun…
Kyla and I love each other, but we also love our freedom when we travel! We were both pretty independent travellers when we met, and we try to work in solo travel time, even when we travel together. Depending on where we are, that might mean a few hours to a couple of days.
In Scotland, it worked nicely into our plans for her to rent a car and take a dream road trip up to Skye, while I got a much-needed dose of city exploration time in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I only had a few hours in Glasgow, but I was so impressed with the city! Some quick Googling showed me that there was an epic mural trail there, so that’s how I spent my afternoon. It was a great way to see different parts of the city, and I stumbled on TWO festivals along the way (involving drinking and live music, carnival rides, and a family ceilidh)!
The only issue I had was accessing the map without data on my phone. I couldn’t find a good app to download when I had access to wi-fi, so I just decided ahead of time on a general idea of what I wanted to see most, since I didn’t have time to do the whole thing while still giving myself the flexibility to wander down random streets and into markets and cafes and ceilidhs! I mapped it out on Google Maps beforehand, so that I could cross-reference it with the mural map (#nerdy), but I still had to find wi-fi a couple times. Usually, this was my own fault for reading the map wrong or just not looking UP at the right wall! But if you’re flexible and happy to get a little lost, you’ll have no problem! If you’d prefer to know exactly where you are to make sure you don’t miss any murals, I’d recommend downloading an offline map app, like Maps.me.
Self-guided tours not your thing? Glasgow offers guided street art tours for 10 pounds! https://www.walkingtoursin.com/street-art-tour
Here are the pieces I saw:
Staying in Edinburgh? No doubt Glasgow deserves more time, but if you have limited days, it’s an easy day or half day trip. It’s an hourish-long train ride from Edinburgh, or about an hour and a half by bus, with multiple trips on each per hour.
Happy (mural) trails! Have you been? Let me know your favourite piece of art!
One of the main things we wanted to do in Iceland was see puffins, and we managed to find them two nights in a row! They are the cutest bird I’ve ever seen! I freaked out when I spotted them flying around awkwardly, but the look on Kyla’s face when she first saw them made my trip: PURE JOY!
Here are some tips for seeing puffins in South Iceland, so that you can feel pure joy too! The two locations I talk about are near the small town of Vik (about 2.5 hours from Reykjavik).
When? In general, May to late August is when puffins arrive back on land from their ocean adventures. Dyrhólaey is CLOSED during nesting season, which includes parts of May and June (I imagine that this sensitive time isn’t the best to seek them out elsewhere, either, but you can probably still see them on cliffs near Reynisfjara). July or early August would be the best time to spot them, and they can most reliably be seen between 7-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m. If it’s rainy, you’re in luck: there’s a possibility of seeing them during the day! We saw lots on rainy evenings! If it’s sunny, they may not be back until after 9 p.m. Here’s some info from a Vík tourist map:
Where? Reynisfjara: You should visit this beach whether or not you’re looking for puffins! It has black sand, lava stack formations, and mystical basalt columns. Right as you pass the first set of basalt columns (from the parking lot), face the cliffs, and you should see puffins! From a distance, my first clue was a flying football-shaped thing!
Where? Dyrholaey: This promontory offers great views of Reynisfjara and Vík to the east, and black sand beach for days to the west. We drove all the way up to the top. It says 4 wheel drive only; it was fine for our little rental, but it’s quite a steep gravel road. You can also park below and walk up. Up top, there’s a lighthouse, and the cliffs nearby were where we spotted the puffins! If you look down (again, look for the awkward flying footballs and head towards them), you should see some, not too far from the path!
How? Don’t forget your binoculars and camera with zoom! Be respectful of the birds’ habitats and be safe: don’t go beyond any ropes or signage. Happy birdwatching!
Looking for LGBTQ+ travel tips? Check out my post about queer travel in Iceland.
Is there a perfect amount of time to spend in Iceland? I doubt it! If you’re taking a trip just to Iceland, you’ll probably want to spend over a week driving around the whole Ring Road, or plan for a few days of hiking in Landmannalaugar. If you just want a tiny taste of the country on your way to or from Europe, a couple of days should suffice. In the winter, the limited hours of daylight may dictate how much time you need.
Five days in Iceland was perfect for us – it was a stop on the way to some other destinations, but also a dream trip on it’s own. It’s just enough time to leave you wanting more! I’ve made up a 5 day itinerary, including information about popular sites, getting around, food, and – most importantly – how and where to spot PUFFINS!*
Keep an eye out for a separate post with a packing list and detailed cost breakdown. Check out our 5 day itinerary below:
- Day 1: Arrive and get oriented in Reykjavik (transit, groceries, SIM card)
- Day 2: Explore Reyjavik (walking tour, geothermal beach, queer night out)
- Day 3: Golden Circle (Thingvellir/Þingvellir , Geysir, Gulfoss, horses, Fludir/Flúðir Secret Lagoon, Minilik Ethiopian restaurant)
- Day 4: Vik and the South Coast (Vík Camping, Jokulsarlon/Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, puffin watching – Reynisfjara and Dyrhólaey)
- Day 5: Waterfalls and the Blue Lagoon (Skogafoss, Seljalandfoss, Blue Lagoon)
Looking for more info about Iceland? Check out my 5 day Iceland itinerary for detailed information about Reykjavik and the South Coast.
This past summer, my girlfriend and I spent 5 days in the magical land of fire and ice! As far as we could tell, Iceland is a great place to be gay. We felt totally comfortable being couple-y there. That said, it’s always good to know what to expect as a queer traveller before arriving in a new country. Savvy lesbian travellers Lez See The World wrote a comprehensive post which details local laws and the social climate for lesbian travellers to Iceland; it’s definitely worth a read before you go!
Whether or not you visit a bar or attend an event aimed specifically at LGBTQ+ folks, you should generally have a safe and comfortable experience as a queer traveller in Iceland. This of course is from my perspective as a cis-gender woman and, as Kyla describes us, we could pass as “frumpy straight girls or femmey lesbians”.
Here are some businesses and events to keep on your gaydar for Reykjavik/Iceland:
- Pink Iceland: Ok so I’m kind of obsessed with Pink Iceland! I’ve followed them for years now on Instagram; they plan the most beautiful (straight and not-straight) weddings, host some amazing tours, and are very involved in the Reykjavik queer community. It didn’t work into our schedule for us to do a tour with them, but we still stopped by their office, checked out their little store, met their cute doggo member, and chatted with the very friendly employees who told us about some events and invited us to join them for drinks later (sadly, too jetlagged)! It felt so welcoming; they are clearly an amazing company, and I encourage you to do a tour with them if you can! They also have some tips for LGBT travellers on their website.
- Pride: You know you’re in a fabulous place when they have TWO Pride festivals! Pink Iceland hosts Winter Pride – Rainbow Reykjavik – in February. Last year they hosted Detox of Drag Race fame, and you can even find a mural in her honour in town! Reykjavik Pride is in August, and this year’s events included a community event painting a rainbow on the street, a queer literature walk and Stonewall museum exhibit, a drag competition, parties, of course a parade, and much more!
- Kiki Queer Bar: the only gay bar/club in Reykjavik, free entry, Happy Hour till late, chill areas with tables and booths, semi-regular events, the outside is PAINTED RAINBOW, what more can you ask for?! Bravo bar, next door to Kiki, seems to be an unofficial queer hangout spot – it has a cozy and inviting atmosphere and an uber long happy hour (11 a.m. – 10 p.m.), which includes flights of craft beer!
- Sometimes you can catch drag and burlesque shows in town; Gaukurinn bar seems to be the main event host, and Drag-Sugur would be a good page to watch for events.
- Iceland has recently passed a progressive new law regarding the rights of trans, non-binary, and intersex folks. There’s a Facebook group called Trans Island; although the associated website and events are mostly in Icelandic, they might be worth connecting with if you’re looking for resources specifically relevant to trans folks. Andrymi appears to host an English-speaking support group “for trans and questioning people” on the 3rd Thursday of every month. A lot of their events sound very queer or queer-friendly!
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list! Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments. Lez hope you have a gay old time in Iceland!