I had wanted to travel to the Isles of Scilly since 2004, when I studied abroad at Cambridge University and I heard tales in local magazines about how wonderful the islands were and started to dream of going. Well-traveled colleagues also spoke of a group of islands off the Cornish coast with beaches like those of the Caribbean and life with a laidback, almost Mediterranean island vibe. Yet, I pondered whether the tales were accurate and was unfortunately not able to travel to the Isles of Scilly then.
I needed to see it for myself finally and made that dream come true, traveling through 3 of the 5 inhabited islands in 48 hours. I have now verified the tales. The Isles of Scilly are truly special.
For people like me, caught up in a frenetic pace filled with technology and a busy lifestyle, going to the Isles of Scilly was the perfect escape. It is welcoming, safe, and easy-going. You can unplug and unwind. When you go to the Isles of Scilly, you make your own experiences, and I want to share some of mine, and some of my thoughts, with you.
The Isles of Scilly offers freedom. Swap your daily commute for a boat trip. Step off the treadmill and step onto a rugged coast path. Ditch schedules and get lost in hedge-lined lanes that are not even on your map. Go sea swimming, trail running, kayaking, gig racing, cycling or horse riding.
First Impressions of the Isles of Scilly:
You simply have to smile when you arrive at a place where your every step is through picture-postcard villages bounded by sweeping green hills and along unspoiled coastline is filled with birdsong, surrounded by wildflowers erupting into a kaleidoscope of color and butterflies, and under big, blue skies. It is no wonder that every inch of the Isles of Scilly was declared an Area of Outstanding Beauty in 1975.
It is also an ancient land rich in mystery, heritage, and legend that stays with you long after you leave for home.
In terms of legend, the Isles of Scilly are the remains of the Lost Land of Lyonesse, to which King Arthurâs men retreated after their leaderâs last fatal battle. Archaeological remains found in burial mounds found all over the island show that the islands have been inhabited for at least 4,000 years. In fact, the islands have the greatest densities of archeological sites anywhere in Britain. The Phoenicians and Romans traveled to the islands, and later a famous abbey was centered on the island of Tresco.
The islands were the frontline of Englandâs defenses and were fortified during the late Elizabethan age, became a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, and were closely guarded during both World Wars. Later, UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson often elected to vacation on the islands and is buried beachside on St. Maryâs, perhaps because the Isles feature such a rich heritage, and deliver so many soul-lifting rewards.
Where else in the world- in a single day- can you sight a Bronze Age burial ground 3,000 years old, explore a ruined castle, run and swim across an entire island, sunset sail to another isle passing rare birdlife on the way, grab freshly caught lobster, and then stroll across a beach all to ourselves to enjoy the feast?
Sunshine and Island Life:
Despite the fact that tourism has become a big part of the islandsâ economy, this has not destroyed the importance of farming and fishing. This is because the islands are located at the end of the North Atlantic Drift and are gifted with a unique climate. Frosts and snows are rare, and the gloriously long summer features exceptional hours of sunlight, sometimes from around 6am until almost 10pm. We went in mid-June, which saw warm weather, and long light evenings as we explored secret coves, shimmering bays, and plummeting cliffs.
Outtakes of the food and adventures:
I want to warn you though, the islands have a few wineries, a brewery, a distillery, and a few pubs. These are not the sort of islands that feature theme parks or raucous nightclubs. Island activities focus on seeking peace and inspiration from clear blue water, golden sands, rugged heathland, wild flowers and dramatic rock formations. You would be hard pressed to breathe cleaner air, and at night you look up to unpolluted darkness and observe the magical Milky Way, planets, and stars in all their splendor.
Each island has its own unique personality, features and natural beauty, and each can be walked- top to toe- in just a few hours. Because the isles offer so much diverse and unique experiences, this may sound a touch daunting but have no fear- we have some special tips for you in terms of getting there and getting around!
It's time for Iceland part deux! Our first trip to Iceland was two years ago during the depths of winter. We've learned a lot from our first visit and decided to return in summer for a completely different perspective on the country. The entire country morphed from a winter wonderland of frozen glaciers and snowcapped volcanoes to a much more accessible land of running streams, wildflowers, and midnight sun.
On this trip, we experienced a new region of the country - Northern Iceland. It's a place that gives you a sense of wonder, mystery, and fear all at once. We embarked on a full day-trip adventure with Air Iceland Connect to see the volcanic landscapes and powerful waterfalls in Iceland's northern region.
We fly from Reykjavik to Akureyri, a 45-minute flight. Aboard the short flight, we were treated to the aerial views of Iceland, which give you a sense of the magnitude and vastness of the landscape. We also wrote in the onboard journals #mynorthadventure, which felt like signing an adventure guestbook. The domestic flight is via propeller plane and we took the morning flight at 7am with a return at 6pm.
We take a full day 10 hour guided tour that includes transportation.
Our first stop is the stunning waterfall of GoÃ°afoss a semi-circle waterfall with electric blue water from the glacier.
We travel to Lake MyvatnÂ´s unique nature and pseudo-craters, followed by the Dimmuborgir lava labyrinth which was created over 2,300 years ago.
Dimmuborgir is filled with archways, peaks, and caves all carved by mother nature. The dramatic structures are some of the most unique in the world.
Next, we reach a desolate landscape that looks like mars. Red sand covers the ground with not a spec of vegetation in sight. The air smells of sulfur gas (rotten eggs). As we walk across the landscape we notice bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles hissing and brewing from below the earth's surface. This bubbling area is known as Hverarond (aka Hverir), a geothermal area that is a sight to be seen and explored.
Now it's time for one of the main highlights, which we hear before we can see. The sound of plummeting water fills the atmosphere as we trek across a rugged wet terrain of boulders and basalt columns.
âFinally, we look below and realize we are on a cliff. Below us is Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You might recognize it from the science fiction movie Prometheus.
Every 1 second, 500 cubic meters (of over 130K gallons) of water plummets to the edge. The river that flows to the waterfall's edge rushes and swirls forward. We were left breathless.
Next, we visit the volcanic wonderlands of Vatnajokull National Park, Jokulsargljufur canyon, Hljodaklettar (Echo cliffs), Asbyrgi a horse-shoe-shaped cliff formation.
âWe finish our tour in the quaint Husavik fishing town. Lastly, we head to Akureyri to fly back to Reykjavik! ââ
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most exciting cities to visit in Europe. The city was spared much of the destruction of 20th Century Europe, leaving the major historic Gothic and Baroque buildings intact. Many of Europe's finest cities such as Dresden were rebuilt, but here in Prague, you can see magnificent churches and impressive monuments in their original state.
We arrived via train from Berlin, a 3 hour ride (that turned out to be much longer). Luckily the Prague train station is centrally located in the historic town center, so we were able to walk to our hotel and all the destinations listed below. We spent a weekend in the city and discovered the top 5 beautiful sights to visit.
1. Old Town Square:
The square is the center of the historic Praque and features many notable architectural sights, including the Tyn church (below) dating back to the 14th Century. Additionally, you will find the world-famous Astronomical Clock, one of the world's oldest clocks. It is currently under construction to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia (set to reopen at the end of October 2018).
2. Prague Castle - The largest castle complex in the world (at 70,000 square meters) is perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of the city. Be sure to take the "Free Walking Tour" to learn the history of this magnificent complex. If you arrive at noon, you will also be able the see the ceremonial changing of the guards.
Free Walking Tour:
One of the highlights of the Prague Castle is the St. Vitus Cathedral, a stunning Gothic Cathedral with a gold mosaic facade.
3. Charles Bridge - One of the oldest bridges in Europe built in 1357, this historic bridge is excellent for people watching and views of the city.
4. Lesser Tower - The tower is adjacent to the Charles Bridge and offers a bird's eye view of the city and the Prague Castle.
5. Prague Beer Tour -
Last, but certainly not least is the Prague Beer Tour. Prague prides itself on being one of the top beer destinations in the world. In fact, the world's first golden beer "Pilsener" was invented in a town called Pilsen in Czech Republic. There are many other varieties of beers found here in Prague and the best way to learn about the culture and tradition of this drink, as well as meet other locals and tourists is through the pub crawl.
"Nazdravi" - or Cheers!
We barely scratched the surface of things to do in Prague, but if you are here for a short time - be sure to check out these sights.
What are your favorite things to see in Prague?
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.