PERSONAL

When We Were Living There: Streets of Yeldeğirmeni.

I was born and raised in İstanbul. The biggest city of Turkey where ten-something million people live. The streets are always busy, the traffic is almost always terrible and the political tension on the streets is always seems to be high. Chaotic, vibrant, fascinating, unique and sometimes smothering.

When we first moved in together with my now-husband, then-boyfriend; he was already living in Yeldeğirmeni, Kadıköy in an expat building so we’ve decided to stay and rent our own flat in the same place. With parties almost every weekend on our communal terrace and meeting so many different people coming from all around the world, it was hard to find something to complain about. Living in that couple of centuries old building surrounded by like-minded genuine friends whom we still keep in touch, we’ve fallen in love with this little neighbourhood.

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Streets of Yeldeğirmeni

Exploring the small cafes and treating ourselves for a breakfast outside became our weekly ritual and small walks taken between the streets were our treat. Mural art on almost every corner, international students trying to escape the high prices of Moda area were now turning this Kadıköy corner into a small town bursting with culture, art, peacefulness and calmness… Something hard to come-by in İstanbul.

The day we moved to our second flat only two minutes away from our previous one, between one of my many popping in-and-outs; a woman stopped me to ask if I could take a picture of her and her friends. After posing in front of our not so special building, she has explained that in the 70’s when they were all students at different universities, this was the building that they lived for four years and four more after that. And this was the first time any of them visited it again since going their separate ways. ”Yeldeğirmeni has changed a lot with all these art cafes and the coffee spots now, but the spirit is still the same.” one of them said. It turns out she was there to look for a spot to open her own art gallery just a street away from the very same building where she studied art and dreamed about owning a gallery one day. As fascinating as it is, I suspected this was only one of the many hidden stories surrounding these old walls.

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The unchanging residents, cats.

 

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Living in İstanbul and especially in any part of Kadıköy comes with its unique demands. In this case, it is the animals that made these streets their home. Street cats and dogs are part of everyone’s life and if you are one of those who LOVES animals (more than people some people claim), simply going out for a 5 minute walk to the supermarket means stopping at least five times to pet some of them. Preggo Calico, Kuyruksuz, Scratchy cat, Friendly Black, Çamlıbel, Eyeless, Stamppot, Boomer, Perry, Sümük of here, the Bundle family, Kitty cow, Purrito, Miracle Mimi and Huggy cat were our friends whom we would meet and greet everyday. I only hope that they would forgive me for all the weird names that I have given to them. Regardless of their clumsy names, they are and will be the biggest reason for Yeldeğirmeni to be the most special place within all the other neighbourhoods I’ve lived in.

Taking all these into consideration, it was easy to assume that four months after we’ve moved to Doha, when I had couple of days to spend in İstanbul, I was nothing short of happy.

Walking the same streets, going to the same cafes like we used to and more importantly seeing old friends reminds me that 28 is not a young age to feel nostalgia. Guli, whom we met in that first building is married and getting ready to move to Malaysia, just like we’ve moved to Qatar. Duygu, busy as ever with her work but our talks on WhatsApp everyday makes it easier to live apart. Jeff is already back to the United States and still on his search for his true meaning. Sean, living in South Korea with the girlfriend he met in that building. Gizem, moved in with her boyfriend Nik and enjoying the beautiful İstanbul sunset everyday. Kate, Niko, Chrysta, Jack and many others that we’ve shared a drink -or 10- at some point during our time in Yeldeğirmeni may not be there anymore but our memories and some embarrassing Facebook pictures are still there. And my four legged street friends? Some where still there, laying lazily next to a sidewalk or under a car and some were new, replacing the ones that we have lost along the way.

-Ceren

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If you would like to see more photos of İstanbul, come and find me on Instagram  @crn.spymn !

 

 

 

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Doors of San Francisco, Part Three.

One of the Many Pretty Houses in San Francisco

We were out and about once again on a crisp, clear, bright San Francisco morning. At this point of our time in this city, we were fully aware of where to get a good cup of coffee and the best bagels as soon as we leave our hotel, also known as the only two things to give me the will to get up and get going. So far, the biggest challenge of our road trip was to find a decent breakfast because one can only drink certain amount of bad coffee without questioning if this is the time to cut the trip short and fly back to Europe for a good ol’ cup of Joe.

That morning, our bellies full, all was well and it was only about to get better from there.

Recently, I have decided to pen a series of articles dedicated to -in my humble opinion- the most fascinating details of San Francisco: the doorways. All of them unique and witnessed different parts of our short stay. So, don’t forget to get something tasty do drink, sit back, relax and enjoy the third part of our adventure.

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Door Number 641

Today’s quest was a big one. The plan was to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then walk some more to see the end of the marathon around Golden Gate Park. This was mostly because we are one of those people who performs better on the sidelines than the actual marathon. Plus, the rumour has it that the after-run parties are a big thing here and why miss a good party just because we don’t actually run, right?

So we were enjoying our long walk with the wind behind us and excited to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Which brings us to Door Number 641. Right along the coast on a busy street, this door equals to that little coffee truck we saw shortly after I took this photo, parked on the coast. Don’t be fooled by the size or the mobility, this place had everything from matcha latte to Turkish coffee and a high possibility to make me its steady customer for the rest of my life. If only I could live here. Who knows, maybe dreams do come true.

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Door Number 1315

The walk to the Golden Gate bridge is a pleasant one if you choose the coastal road. It’s often busy with people either taking a walk, out for a run or preparing for a day of picnic with friends and family.

As we continued our pleasant morning walk, the clouds were gathering slowly and what started as a bright and sunny day was now misty and somehow littered with thick clouds. We, being responsible travelers, were prepared for any surprise changes in the weather and quickly whipped out our thin cardigans. Problem solved, or so we thought. The closer we were getting, the more sure we were of the fact that there was no sign of a bridge where it should be. We were experiencing the famous San Francisco fog, on the one day that we chose to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh, so swell!

After waiting some for what would be a miracle, we have decided to give up on our hopes and make it to the end of the marathon and that’s when I came across the Door Number 1315. Couldn’t get to see the Golden Gate Bridge but at least I got to see this lovely doorway with a beautiful teal tiles. Trying very hard to see the positive side of things, I take a photo.

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Nameless Door of the Conservatory of Flowers

I have never been to a marathon before. Never even seen one up close let alone running in it. So as we were getting closer to the Golden Gate Park, I’ve had no idea about what to expect. That’s why I was fascinated to see a huge crowd of people, all in costumes, participating and, wait, having fun?

In my mind marathons are more associated with heavy sessions of trainings, grueling physical challenges and a high level of accomplishment mixed with severe exhaustion afterwards (I mean, bleeding nipples anyone?). Unlike my expectations; this particular group was either walking, maybe jogging, some were drinking, many were talking, laughing, snacking, smoking, basically just enjoying themselves and having fun while wearing costumes. Maybe wearing a costume is not your thing? No problem, you can come naked too! San Francisco being San Francisco, you won’t be judged or booed, just like everyone else, you are welcome! What a place to be!

We managed to keep our clothes on, but certainly had fun watching a sea of people and their unique looks.

Walking aimlessly and admiring the beauty of the park when we were not busy with the marathon fun, we came up to the Conservatory of Flowers. Beautiful place with a beautiful exterior. I’ve snapped a photo to mark our day of ups and downs.

After spending all day in the city, we’ve decided to keep the evening fairly simple. Some drinks and a nice dinner somewhere closeby. If only we didn’t fall asleep roughly around 7 p.m and woke up the next morning; to a new day full of new plans.

-Ceren

Out trip didn’t end there and neither did the artistic doorways of San Francisco. If you liked what you’ve read so far, why not tune in for Doors of San Francisco, Part Four?

Missed the beginning? then don’t forget to read Part One and two!

You can find more photos of San Francisco on my Instagram account! Find me @crn.spymn

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PERSONAL

Delft: Home is Where the Best Stamppot is.

Centrum van Delft

The word ‘home’ has always been an interesting concept for me. As someone who has lived in two homes with my parents and three homes on my own and three -soon to be four- homes with my now-husband, then-boyfriend; the whole meaning of ‘home’ gets rather complicated. As I’m getting ready to move and try the whole ‘living in two different houses in two different countries’ plan (hello commuting), I can’t help but wonder: What makes a house, a home?

Ever changing; sometimes it is your possessions. To give an example, like that vase you put fresh flowers every week, the photo frames you hand picked one by one or -if you enjoy your hot drinks as much as me regardless of what day, time or season it is-, your beloved mugs. Wherever you go as long as you have your possessions, it suddenly becomes home.

Sometimes, it is who you are with. Either it is your family, your significant other or even your pet; wherever they are, everywhere feels like home. It can be your two cats -like my Misa and Taco, your dog by your side or even your fish tank, it doesn’t matter.

And sometimes it is the city itself. It’s very much like that familiar, warm feeling slowly oozing in your chest whenever you wander the streets. It is saying ‘Hi!’ to the café owner every time you pass by, or stopping at the same flower shop every week for some fresh tulips. You know the whole city is your home.

When I think of all the different cities I’ve been and all the houses that I’ve lived in, I realize they have all had a different way of becoming my home. Some are definitely more missed than the others.

All these thoughts bring me to my next destination: Delft. A relatively small city right between Rotterdam and Den Haag, is where I’ll be for the next upcoming years. As I think more about it, it becomes more and more clear that this city already feels unique.

I have certainly traveled to the Netherlands before but it wasn’t until I met my husband that I had the chance to visit Delft. As soon as you step outside of the train station and walk into the old town, this city somehow captures you. Historical, cozy, small and vibrant. Just visiting De Markt is enough to make me feel content. Even doing nothing much but visiting the little cafés scattered in this town is very well enough to fill up my whole day.

That’s why when we’ve decided to get married, it wasn’t so hard to pick the perfect location. We wanted to get married in Delft. Preferably, in the Stadhuis, right at the glorious Markt. And 6 months after that day, we were already making plans for me to start my new study at a new university, in a new house that we have just bought, only minutes away from the cityhall that we’ve gotten married at. Now, I have to admit that was truly something that we would have never thought of only a year before.

Me, joining my husband in a new country this year in March, I am already about the pack my bags once more for a new chapter that awaits us in the horizon. To make things more interesting -or challenging, if you will- instead of one, I will very soon have two houses to call home.

Would I like to have more time to adjust or o simply do everything without have to hurry? Of course! Picking furniture online and trying to squeeze everything to the limited time we had whenever we visit is no easy task, but with the streets of Delft that I so adore in my heart and our new beginning ahead of us, somehow I am not so worried. After all, home is where the best stamppot is.

A little note to all non-Dutchies out there like myself; stamppot is a traditional Dutch dish made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several vegetables. These veggie pairings are usually include sauerkraut, endive, kale, carrots and onions. It is best enjoyed during the cold, grey winter months. Certainly more often while feeling homesick.

-Ceren

If you would like to see more photos of Delft, come and find me on Instagram  @crn.spymn !

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Doors of San Francisco, Part Two.

The Painted Ladies

Architecture photography has a very special place in my heart. The streets, the buildings, trees, facades, windows… they are all little puzzle pieces that give the city its ‘vibe’. I like historical cities where the buildings go as early as couple of hundred years back and you can still read ‘Tailor’ or ‘Butcher’ shop signs made by marbles on a little café. That’s why I will never get bored of traveling through Europe. So much historical beauty in such a small space.

Spending three weeks in the United States, has changed my view on this topic and I’ve added some new cities to my long list of ‘Places I Would Go Over And Over Again’. San Francisco on that list, without a doubt, takes the first place.

Recently, I have decided to write a small piece in order to honour the most beautiful details of this city: the doorways. So just sit back and take a sip of your coffee while you enjoy reading our days in the city of San Francisco with the little help from the colourful doors.

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Door Number 775

It was roughly 8 a.m but we were already showered, dressed up, gotten our caffeine fix and ready right outside of our hotel. A busy day walking to the Fisherman’s Wharf, a strolling through the Pier 39 and visiting the iconic Painted Ladies. Busy day indeed but nothing short of entertaining.

Whenever we are exploring a new city, we always end up walking for the majority of the day. Not that we have anything against public transportation -they do suck sometimes- but walking makes us feel more included in the daily life and we always end up catching the little details this city has to offer.

That’s when we came across Warrington 775, a gorgeous doorway right at the hearth of the city, surrounded by big towering hotels. To describe the contrast, despite the clean esthetics of this photo; we were tired -again, walking for hours everyday is never easy-, defeated by the sun, hungry and my pretty shoes were betraying my feet by causing blistering. On top of that, we were wondering if the tram we are about to take is the correct one or not. Not the condition I would wish anyone to see us in but all those can’t stop me from snapping a pretty doorway when I see one.

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Door Numbers 534, 532, 530

San Francisco can impress you at every corner. Looking away or checking your map for a moment and you might overlook some of the finest details that make this city so unique.

The coffee is tasty, people are relaxed, streets are busy and the hills are steep.

On our way to the Painted Ladies we’ve stopped for a moment to check where we were and apparently we took a wrong turn somewhere. Which brings us to door numbers 534, 532 and 530. Small details we wouldn’t be able to come across if we didn’t get lost first.

These doors belonged to a building that looks like a worn out version of all the other gorgeous buildings surrounding it. Looking very calm, almost unoccupied. What made them special was the sign right next to door 534; saying ‘We don’t care about who you are or which country you come from, if you are in need of a shelter, ring the bell. We don’t believe in walls.’

Small sign with a big meaning. These doors may not be the prettiest of all, but they are the most important. Without even thinking about it, I took this photo.

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Door Number 210

Door number 210 was not the easiest one to spot. This little house we’ve spotted on our way to Pier 39 was nicely tucked away on a crowded street, hiding in a coat of greenery.

It was surrounded by a small garden which looked like it belongs to another place rather than San Francisco. The trees grew taller and the calming sound of the small fountain was there only if you stopped and listened to it.

If you are one of those who enjoys spending time at home more than being outside, this house would be your oasis. Just grab your book, your warm cup of coffee and hang out in that garden until someone has to come and check if you were alright. That’s my kind of a weekend, indeed!

Leaving my dreams behind, I chose to listen to my rumbling stomach. After I’ve snapped a quick photo, we’ve continued our way to grab a bite. What matters more at that point was whether I felt more like tacos or a burrito.

-Ceren

Our trip didn’t end there and neither did the artistic doorways of San Francisco. If you liked what you’ve read so far, why not tune in for Doors of San Francisco, Part Three?

Missed the beginning? then don’t forget to read Part One!

You can find more photos of San Francisco on my Instagram account! Find me @crn.spymn

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Doors of San Francisco, Part One.

San Francisco Skyline from Alcatraz

When we have decided to do our road trip through California, I had only one city in my mind: San Francisco. Was it because of the fact that I grew up watching Full House and had a crush on Uncle Jesse all those years? That might very well be the case, but let’s not get into that right now. Unlike me, regardless of your reasons; it is very easy to agree on the beauty of this city’s architecture, misty weather, music and history. It is, indeed, fascinating but after spending a few days, there was one little detail in this city that became my sudden favourite: the doorways.
Every one of them has a different story to tell me about what we were talking about as we were passing by, what we did right before they caught my eye and what we were up to right after we parted ways.

So, in order to honour the most beautiful details of San Francisco, I’ll write a little bit about the doors of this city. Just sit back, get your cup of tea and follow our footprints.

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Door Number 2363

On our first morning we woke up quite early thanks to our lingering jetlag; but when you only have a couple of days to explore this city, waking up early was all we needed.

After a stale bagel and a particularly bad coffee at our hotel, we threw ourselves out to the streets. Sunshine, calm breeze, caffeine buzz, -a bad taste of coffee in my mouth- everything you need to start your day right. This lasted only until the streets slapped us with the harsh reality of San Francisco: climbing, climbing and more climbing. Our calves will thank us tomorrow by refusing to move I guess. Plus, the astonishing architecture of San Francisco is a real treat if your passion in photography mainly consists of buildings, small cafés and facades like me.

So that brings us to door number 2363, on a busy street, right next to a mini market where we bought chips and salsa. A gorgeous doorway often occupied with people walking their dogs or rushing to work at this busy morning hour. I stop and snap a quick photo.

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Door Number 2434

After some walking through the city, we made our way to the infamous Lombard Street. A narrow street which curls up like a spaghetti all the way and covered with flowers and bright greenery. Very scenic indeed. The view from the top also includes a fine line of the San Francisco skyline and when you go down, you can see all the way up the Lombard Street, the passing colourful trams and some more.

Although my high hopes, we were not the only ones who thought early morning hours would be better when it comes to sightseeing. We were trying to squeeze ourselves between two busses full of tourists like ourselves. The result? No decent photos taken, but I’ll survive!

As hours were approaching to the end of our morning, we have decided to grab a decent bite somewhere downtown so it was time for another round of exploring. Holidays are for walking at least 5 hours a day, am I right?

This brings us to the doorway number 2434, right by the Lombard Street, always be remembered as the prettiest doorway in San Francisco, spotted on our way to the most delicious bite at a café called 8 a.m. That chia pudding and the avocado toast still whispers my name when I crave something tasty!

Our little stroll through the town and the downtown breakfast turned into one of the nicest mornings we have had in this city. We continued our wandering, went to drink the first Irish Coffee in America and had ended the day with one too many shrimp cocktails downed with one too many Tom Collins cocktails. La Bella Vita!

-Ceren

Our trip didn’t end there and neither did the artistic doorways of San Francisco. If you liked what you’ve read so far, why not tune in for Doors of San Francisco, Part Two?

You can find more photos of San Francisco on my Instagram account! Find me @crn.spymn 

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Iceland, Part Two: Hopping from Hot Springs to Glaciers.

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Reykjavik

There we were, two honeymooners, in the rural of Iceland wrapped up carefully with so many layers of clothing that our bodies resembled more of a star shape; arrived at our first destination that will require a hike and followed by a quick dip in the natural hot springs. Sounds dreamy, almost too good to be true. Except, it was…

Despite being all keen and eager, as soon as the Icelandic wind started to hit our car pretty rough, I knew this was not going to be all fun and giggles. Then followed the snow storm which caused the roads to cover up in the pretty whiteness in about 5 minutes or so, but we were determined to not to let this get in the way of our desire to get this adventure going. So we hopped off the car and headed straight up the hill. Wait, then why were we not moving forward? Unfortunately the snow was now a proper hail storm and the wind was sweeping me backwards rather carrying me. On top of that the hail hitting my face was already giving me red marks. Basically, we were being slapped around by the weather. How marvellous.

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Þingvellir National Park

After accepting the defeat, we continued to our next destination. The days went by pretty quickly admiring the astonishingly big waterfall Gulfoss, seeing the first geyser known to modern Europeans, climbing the 600 steps to get a better look at the magnificent Skogafoss -while risking being thrown off by the wind, of course- and getting our taste of the Game of Thrones worthy scenery at Þingvellir National Park (some of the aerial shootings of Game of Thrones were indeed there).

Maybe you are one of those who would prefer a relaxing day at the Blue Lagoon sipping a cocktail at their wellness restaurant (pretty much like me), but there is something about Iceland’s natural beauty that could turn anyone into a ‘nature person’ who would always be willing to go back to explore some more.

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The Jökulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

While planning this trip we thought we would start with the exploring and the activities and then after a relaxing day at the Blue Lagoon’s hot waters, finish our trip with a city break in Reykjavik. Therefore, before we finish our time in the wilderness, we saved some of the best bits to the last: The Jökulsarlon glacial lagoon and the dog sledding. Because everyone knows by now that I take every chance to pet dogs and watch their little butts wiggle whilst we enjoy a ride pretty seriously.

The glacial lagoon was everything we hoped for and then some more. It was one of those moments where you feel like the moment just stands still in front of you and you are truly speechless from the greatness of what laid before your eyes. The sky was littered with clouds and the weather was crisp yet calm and we were standing right in front of what I can only describe as the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Visiting Jökulsarlon is one of the reasons why I want to visit Iceland again (and maybe again after that).

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Geysir Hot Springs

After admiring the beauty of this cold, dark, amazingly foreign land. It was time for us to reach our final stop, the capital city Reykjavik. This city definitely has something for everyone. Especially if you have slightly different tastes when it comes to evening going-out’s like my husband and me. The bars are cosy, the food is hearty and always delicious and to top things off, the nightlife is quite buzzing. You can always find a cute corner restaurant to sip a Kir Royale while listening to live accordion or get your kicks with a big bowl of lamb soup with the side of a Brennivin.

It was hard to have enough of Iceland in two weeks and if you are planning to pay it a visit, just make sure to bring an umbrella, a thick coat, gloves and a good hat!

-Ceren

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Feels like something is missing? Don’t forget to read the Iceland: Part one!

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Iceland, Part One: Our Honeymoon in the Land of the Vikings.

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I have always been one of those who would take a city trip over a nature getaway. Especially when it comes to Europe. Maybe it’s because I come from Turkey; the architecture, the history, the streets, little shops and people -even the countless bikes taking over the streets- just calls me for a city venture.

That’s why when my husband -then fiancé- suggested Iceland for our honeymoon, I was skeptical. First of all; I didn’t know that much about Iceland, secondly do I really want to go to a place that starts with ‘ice’ for our honeymoon in November? Umm I think I’ll pass… Oh on a side note, did I mention the fact that my clumsiness simply prevents me from doing anything remotely adventurous because deep down I know it’s only a matter of time for me to break a leg or an arm?

Anyway, after some serious research and consideration I agreed mainly for the day that we will do dog sledding which also involves us spending time with the dogs and petting them (I mean, who can blame me?).

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Þingvellir National Park

The day after the wedding, we hopped onto our flight to Reykjavik from Amsterdam and then it was time for our grand road trip. After arriving to our hotel, the first night was quite uneventful if you can look over the fact that the Northern Lights were on full swing and we slept through the whole thing. Thinking that we still have thirteen more days ahead of us, we didn’t mind this little incident (turns out that was our only chance).

Next morning, as soon as we hit the road, that was it. I was hooked. Iceland surely does not look like anywhere I have ever been before. The vast emptiness before us filled with nature, mountains, dark clouds, and glaciers in the horizon were mesmerising. The rawness of our surroundings made things even better. Because we picked the beginning of the low season, every spot we visited was calm. How can I ask for more?

The Golden Circle with its geysers, volcanic craters and waterfalls was a unique experience that even me, a city girl who would take pavements over dirt roads any day, was sure that I would have to come back to this country in the future.

Our days mostly consisted on hikes, drives, early nights in and early mornings out. Most of the hotels have either saunas or hot spring pools so who can complain about spending the night in when you have that right outside your door!

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Skogafoss Waterfall

While planning; mainly because we had only two weeks and with the Icelandic winter on the way, Northern parts of the country was not the place for the nordic newbies like ourselves, so we have decided to keep our trip mostly on the South. As much as South never ceased to amaze us; from what we heard and read, the beauty of Highlands is a whole another level. Bigger waterfalls, more epic untouched scenery, even more moonlike lava fields and whales strutting all along the bay? How could that be? For now, South would had to do and was absolutely doing fine!

-Ceren

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Somewhere after the Skogafoss Waterfall

Liked our little nordic adventure so far? Then, don’t forget to get some more at Iceland, Part Two!

 

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