Sailing out of Southampton was a breeze, easily one of the smoothest and lightest embarkations I've experienced. We made it to the ship via a stop at Stonehenge, that was pretty cool. Now that I've seen it, I don't know that I'd go out of my way to see it again, it was very touristy, and the ques long. We didn't hit any of the delays due to the ring-road construction, so that was a bonus. Once in the terminal, we were checked in and on the boat in less than 10min.
Lerwick was enchanting. Simply a storybook kind of town. The history, the architecture, the scenery, all of it was pretty fantastic. We hired a local guy for the day and got an incredible tour of a great deal of the mainland. Castles, ruins, lighthouses, ponies, seals, tucked away beaches, high looming cliffs and wild seascapes, we got it all in. I would, without a doubt, go back to the Shetland Isles in a heartbeat.
Iceland was as amazing as I had imagined and heard, and after a long time wanting to go, it was a great taste of the country. We rented a car for both days, so first day was the golden circle, and out to Geysir and Gollfoss. The weather was wild, and I'm fine with that, it added to the Iceland experience. Wind, driving rain, sleet, hail, snow, sun, all in the course of 6 hours. Coming back on the 1 over the mountains into Reykjavik the snow plows were out. It was a very full day, but so memorable, and stunning!
The second day, we woke at 5 and got on the road out to Vik, 116 miles east of Reykjavik. We were greeted with an amazing sunrise, dramatic clouds that burned off by 7 am and once in Vik, the air was still, not a breath of wind, dry and warm. WE parked up in the Church lot that overlooks the town of Vik and just took it in for a while before heading to Reynisfjara Beach. Once at the beach, we were kind of surprised with the amount of people already there for the hour, but still had a blast and loved the otherworldly surroundings. I've lived on O'ahu, and am from Bermuda, and have seen my share of beautiful beaches, and this one was in the tops for sure. Amazingly beautiful, but in a completely different way.
We made our trip back to Reykjavik an extended 6-hour tour, hitting many places along the way, some well-known, others, well off the beaten path. Again, another full day, but with the next 2 days being sea days, there was plenty of time for r & r. We got a great taste of Iceland and have it on the list for more immediate travel. I can't wait to get back and see more of that amazing island!
We were very surprised with how much we enjoyed St.John's! Newfoundland was a real surprise overall. The people, the scenery, the vibrant city, the history, the food, all of it was just right for me and my fiancé. Again, we hired local, and Frank our guide, gave us "HIS" St.John's. Asides from Signal Hill, and Cape Spear, everywhere else we went felt like it was just there for us. No buses and very few people. We had a great lunch at Chess's, perhaps the BEST fish 'n chips of the whole trip. We walked Fort Amherst, a beautiful local park, Bowring Park, had some great little side adventures and were back into the dock are with an hour to spare. It was a great day. Again, another place I would visit in a heartbeat.
So for Halifax, again I had rented a car. After a little snafu GETTING said car, we were off and on our way. We went out to Blue Rocks 68 miles west of Halifax, to start our adventure. We made our way back via Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Peggy's Cove. All of it was fantastic, though Peggy's Cove was too crowded for our taste, but I AM glad we did stop and see it.
Blue Rocks was gorgeous. A very sleepy fishing community and artist haven. Got some great pics out there and saw no others until we were leaving.
Lunenburg, unknown to me, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I can now understand why. It's another storybook like town with awesome architecture, a bustling little downtown, colorful Victorian era houses and buildings and was simply beautiful to take in. When we get back, I would like to spend more than a couple of hours there, but for what we saw, we loved it.
Mahone Bay was again, just a beautiful little village. You can tell that the people take great pride in their community, it was simply spotless and beautiful.
Peggy's Cove, as I said earlier, was just too crowded for us, and in the interest of time, we didn't stay too long, but glad we saw it.
Next time we go back, we will spend some real time in Halifax. It had a great waterfront, was very walk-able, and there's a LOT to take in.
Portland was the sleeper for me. I mean, I knew it had a bit of a following, and a cult like love for the city and I get it now, I really do. I loved Portland. Pretty much everything about it was right up my alley. As a Chef, it's an exceptional food town, even voted the Number 1 Food Town in the whole of the U.S. by Bon Appétite, so that's gotta count for something. I loved it's lively hustle and bustle, the Old Port part of town is where we milled about mostly. The working wharf area was awesome, very active but still relaxed. Got some great clam rolls at Rosie's on Fore Street. We then decided to play tourist and got a trolley tour that went from Portland out to Portland Head Light, with numerous sights along the way. Our driver was super knowledgeable, informative, friendly, and most of all, FUN! He really made the little trip something special. We loved it
Finally onto NYC! This is where we departed the rest of the friends we made along the way, who continued to Miami. I have sailed into, and out of Manhattan numerous times, and it's a sight that I never grow tired of. It's really something special, in my opinion. We got off, blew past the 2 hour wait to get a cab, went a few blocks south and hailed a cab with no issues at all, continued on to Penn Station where we checked our bags for the day ($10 per bag for 24 hours, with proof of travel). Like we've done in the past, we just make a day out of being there, and got our train at 6:45pm that evening. We had a great day, it's New York City, if you can't have fun there, you can't have fun anywhere.
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