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Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon, just outside of Keflavik Airport, in Iceland, sits in rugged Icelandic lava formations surrounded by beautiful black rocks and mountain scenery. When Alex and I went in early December, the average temperature was around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so we were a little hesitant to go to a pool in the middle of winter… But to our very happy discovery, the geothermal heated water in the lagoon is heated to around 98-102 degrees Fahrenheit all the time! We decided to go to the Blue Lagoon the last day of our stay in Iceland as it’s en route to the Keflavik Airport and makes a very nice relaxing end of the vacation experience. All the bus companies in the surrounding area of Reykjavik and the airport make logistics to the Blue Lagoon very easy and stress free. They even stored our luggage on the bus while we enjoyed the morning at the Blue Lagoon and were on the bus when we left for the airport. (They also store your luggage at the Blue Lagoon if you need to do that)   Once we walked through the enchanting walkway with rugged volcanic rocks, paid our entrance fee, and changed into our swimming attire, we were in the Blue Lagoon. And yes the water is actually blue! And we went just before the place opened so we basically had the entire place to ourselves for the first couple hours. Nothing beat the hot water in the middle of a cold winter. It was very relaxing with the minerals in the water healing our skin, soothing our muscles, and looking across the Icelandic... read more

How to Budget Your Money for Travel

At PondHopping, we mainly write about what to do once you arrive to your travel destination. But we know that sometimes it’s hard to even get to that destination, so I decided to give my thoughts here… Everyone has the desire to travel whether it’s across the world to an exotic destination, or to a local hidden gem that’s just a few hours away. Many people think that traveling is too expensive or they don’t make enough money to travel. Well, I’m about to reveal a simple super ninja money saving method to save for traveling whether you’re a millionaire or a broke college student or anything in between… Here’s the short answer in three words: Budget Your Money. Whatever your income is, it’s time to start budgeting out some money for travel. Whether you’re aware of it or not, on a monthly basis, you budget and pay for electric bills, gas bills, cable/internet bills, loan payments, groceries, car payments, pet supplies, etc. If you really want to make travel a reality for you, you have to start including a travel budget in that monthly budget of yours. Depending on what type of traveling you want to do you would want to put in more or less money into your monthly travel budget. Before you can get an accurate dollar amount for what to budget away each month you need to do a little research, nothing too heavy though, don’t worry. Let’s say you want to travel to Paris in one year from now. To see how much money this trip is going to cost, you would need to... read more

Le Arc de Triomphe, Paris

The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph) in Paris is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. As it sits at the top of the Champs Elysees and at the intersection of multiple roads, it dominates the surrounding landscape as a focal point of the area. The lank mark was built for Napoleon’s army, the Grande Armee in the early 1800s as an honorary gesture from Napoleon.  It is the world’s largest triumphal arch and is engraved with battle victories as well as past generals that served in the French Army. The design of the columns depicts sculptural reliefs from France’s history and is designed in a late 18th-century Romantic Neoclassicism style. If you can’t make it to the Eiffel tower, or don’t want to wait in the lines, this is a close second and it’s less expensive and less crowded. To get there, DON’T try and walk past the millions of lanes of traffic with cars rushing around in a circle. There is a tunnel underneath that leads you there on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the circle. You can access this tunnel from the Wagram exit of the Metro. There are great views on the top down the Champs Elysees and around the entire city of Paris. When I went, I went at night during the Christmas season which was great because the entire Champs Elysees was lit up with all of the Christmas lights and all of the Christmas vendors and such. You also have a great view of the Eiffel Tower and at night, it is lit up which makes... read more

A Paris Best, The Angelina Tea Room

[mappress mapid=”2″] Address: 226 rue de Rivoli – Paris Transport: Metro 1 Tuileries Stop Website: http://www.angelina-paris.fr/ Phone: +33 (0)1.42.60.82.00 Hours:  Monday-Friday from 7.30 am till 7pm Saturday and Sunday from 8.30 am till 7pm One of my favorite memories of Paris, especially during the winter months, was stopping by the world famous Angelina Tea House. Located on Rue de Rivoli, Angelina sits at the center of Paris’ fashion district and has a history rooted in fashion. Famous for their Mont Blanc and their decadent hot chocolate, you can enjoy yourself in a luxury setting, where Madame Chanel herself once sat working on her designs. Don’t feel intimidated, although it’s rooted in luxury, the servers are all very kind and welcoming. Be prepared to wait in line however, Angelina is world famous because it’s popular! Just get to the teahouse early, don’t wait until they are near closing because sometimes they can’t seat you. But, don’t fear. If you get to Angelina close to closing, just go to the “to go” section of the teahouse. They sell their hot chocolate by the cup to go as well as my favorite, and their world famous Mont Blanc to go! But, try your best to get a seat to look around and sit where the world famous have sat including, Madame Chanel, Proust, and many visiting fashion icons. Make sure you order one of their world famous Mont Blancs, it is a dessert with a meringue base, a chestnut cream vermicelli, and their house made whipped cream, (I heard a rumor from my Parisian friend that the Mont Blanc is so decadent because they make it with crème... read more

Why Travel?

I still tell everyone that I recently graduated college, but the truth is that I graduated nearly 9 months ago! I still feel like its just winter break  and I’m due back in school any minute. Its incredible how quickly time flies. I did apply to grad school, but very competitive grad schools where the reality of not being accepted is a high possibility, so I’ve been asking myself, what do I want to do? I know that travel is the one thing that keeps me feeling alive, makes me feel like I’m connected to the world, which is something that fuels my writing. Since the new year I’ve been writing a lot more and thinking more about what I want to begin to do with my life. I simply want to live it. I think the best way to live is through travel.    I visited Iceland in December and it was incredible. I saw the Northern Lights, hiked on a Glacier (felt like I was Jon Snow….), and wandered the streets of Reykjavik. Now during this time where I’m waiting to see where my next move may be, saving up for my next trip, I’m thinking a lot about travel and what it means to travel, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions and tonight’s has been, why travel?    Northern Lights, Iceland   I’m still thinking about my answer, but I think this is a question I will ask all of my life and will have different answers at every stage in my life.    While my life might been in a transitional phase (if not all... read more

Top 5 Things To Do in Iceland in the Winter

5 Best Things to do in Iceland in the Winter 1. Go on a glacier hike! Yes, it’s how it sounds, you can go hiking on a glacier, and it’s really awesome. When I did it, this past December, I went with the Icelandic Mountain Guides and we hiked on a blue glacier. They equip you with crampons (little spikes that attach to your boots for traction- they’re great) which make walking on ice a breeze. The views from the glaciers are incredible and if you’re familiar with the HBO series, Game of Thrones, part of it was filmed in the mountains and glaciers of Iceland. 2. Go on the Golden Circle Tour. This tour hits a lot of the famous landmarks and natural spots of Iceland. There are many options to take this tour whether you go on the large tour buses, mini buses, or private tours. I personally took the Iceland Horizon Golden Circle Tour with David, which I highly recommend as it was a smaller group and David was very friendly and knowledgeable. This tour was great, you see geysers, amazing waterfalls including Gullfoss, as well as Thingvellir National Park where the Vikings held their Parliament meetings. 3. Swim in the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon, located in a lava field, is a geothermal heated lagoon that is mineral rich with silica and sulphur and is indeed BLUE! It’s basically a giant mineral rich, blue watered, hot tub. The Blue Lagoon is located close to the airport and about 40 minutes from Reykjavik which makes it a nice location to hit right when you enter Iceland... read more

Ang’s Florence Tips!

[pinit] Florence is beautiful. We’d never been before but having been to Venice last year and Rome before that, we had an idea of what to expect. We flew into Pisa airport which is relatively small but there weren’t many crowds and clearing customs was pretty quick. Having seen how the Italians drive, we decided that taking a bus was preferable and there are frequent buses leaving from outside the airport direct to the city centre. The main company is Terravision and the journey takes around 70 minutes at a cost of €6 single or €10 return. Florence isn’t huge so walking with our cases from the bus station to our hotel near the river took about 15 minutes. We were located in the heart of the city, close to the bridges and main squares. The weather was hot – above average for the first week in September (around 92°/ 33C) which made walking around in the main part of the day a little tiring – but a good excuse to sit with a cool drink in a café on the edge of a piazza and watch the world go by. As we were only there for 5 days we decided that a trip on the sightseeing bus would be a good idea, so we could find out where the best places to visit would be and save our legs for walking around on the other days (make sure you take some flat walking shoes – the roads are cobbled or rough in most places and you’ll soon have sore feet otherwise). When you’re walking around and exploring, be... read more

Top 5 Things to Do in Amsterdam

[pinit] Amsterdam is a wonderful city with really cool canals, super tall and skinny buildings, and yes filled with many coffee shops. There’s many things to do besides go to the red light district and go to a coffee shop too. So here are the Top 5 things to do in Amsterdam. 1. Take a canal tour Amsterdam is said to be the Venice of the north and that holds true with its beautiful canals surrounding the city and there isn’t a better way to enjoy them than taking a canal tour. The canals were dedicated a UNESCO monument in 2010 and the while on a boat in the canals you can take in the beautiful architecture surrounding the canals. There’s many choices for boat tours from hop on, hop off, to dinner boats. Whatever it is you fancy, you will have a great time.   2. Go to the Ann Frank Museum World War II was a very difficult time for the Netherlands and the Anne Frank House (Prinsengracht 267 (1016 GV)  PO Box 730, 1000 AS Amsterdam, Netherlands) is a museum to showcase Anne Frank and her family’s life during the war and their struggles. You get to see her secret annex where Ann and her family hid for years where she wrote her famous diary. The line outside is worth the wait. 3. Go to a coffee shop A lot of people go to Amsterdam to smoke marijuana without getting a ticket or arrested for it. It’s one of the very few places in the world where you can do this and there are many coffee shops... read more