Today we slept in since we had nothing pressing on the go. We decided to walk to Kopi & Kue for breakfast. Online they had advertised that they had gluten free bread, however when we arrived they had a reduced menu due to Covid-19. Julie ended up having some oatmeal, and an iced latte. I had a toasted cheese sandwich and some coffee. The coffee, which they roast on location, is very smooth.
After breakfast we walked down the main street in Kuta, where Julie purchased some gifts for Christmas, before we walked back to the hotel. We spent the morning hanging out in the main pool doing some reading, relaxing, and playing catch with the ball. The main pool overlooks the ocean, and the views were amazing!
At lunch we went to Riva Bar & Restaurant, which is located right in the hotel. I had some delicious beef ravioli, while Julie had salad rolls and chicken wings.
I was really beginning to feel like crap, so I decided to go back to the main room for a bit, while Julie spent some time in our private plunge pool. I ended up just resting for a bit, since I couldn’t get settled enough to sleep.
In the evening we went for a walk along the beach, while watching the sunset, before walking to a restaurant called Little Italy, where we had dinner. Julie ended up having some pasta, and I ended up having a huge calzone.
We spent the remainder of the evening lounging in bed and watching Neflix.
Today we woke up fairly early (6am), since we had gone to bed so early the night before. We got ready and walked to a nearby coffee shop called Refresh. I had a breakfast wrap and a chai latte, and Julie had an oatmeal bowl and a chai latte. The coffee shop had a cute dog named Coco, who constantly wanted to be played with.
After breakfast we rented a scooter from our hotel , a Honda Scoopy for $7/day, to go exploring for the day. We made our way towards Karang Boma Cliff, but had to stop and get some gasoline before continuing on our way. Gasoline on the island isn’t typically obtained at gas stations, but rather from 750ml booze bottles from people’s houses, since they are few and far between. The gas is green / blue in colour and smells distinctly different than it does at home, since it is much less refined. At home gasoline can’t contain more than 10 ppm of sulphur, and minimal amounts of benzene, but in Indonesia it contains 500 ppm of sulphur, and very high percentages of benzene. It gives it a very sweet smell, but the exhaust fumes are pretty overwhelming when stuck in traffic.
After obtaining gas we drove to Karang Boma Cliff, which involved a few kilometres of driving on a very rocky and bumpy gravel road. When we arrived a local lady showed up about 30 seconds later on her scooter and charged us about $1 to park our scooter there. She also had a wide variety of drinks for sale, so we purchased a Coke Zero for about $0.80. Karang Boma Cliff was absolutely stunning, and I even threw up my drone for a bit, but it was fairly windy, and I was exceeding the maximum winds it could handle for the majority of the time. At the cliff we met this lovely young lady from California, and her photographer friend who lives in Malaysia. We chatted for a bit before continuing on with our adventures.
Next stop was Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu temple sitting on top of a 70 metre (230 foot) cliff overlooking the ocean. The temple was established in the 11th Century, and has been expanded a few times since. The temple is inhabited by over 500 Macaque monkeys, who are notorious for stealing visitor belongings. In fact, while we were there someone’s cellphone got stolen 30 seconds before we arrived. A fun fact is that Scientist and experts on primate behavior have conducted studies on the Macaque monkeys in the area and have concluded that these monkeys are quick to learn bartering behavior, and pass it down to their young offspring.
Upon leaving the temple I noticed that the front tire on the scooter that we rented was quite flat, so I asked some locals where the nearest spot was to get it fixed. It was about 3km away, so I drove there slowly to get it topped up with air for $0.10. Apparently this Honda Scoopy scooters use innertubes inside of the tire, and the bouncing around on the bumpy gravel road early on this morning let the majority of the air go. After topping it up, it didn’t give us any grief for the rest of the day.
After topping the tire up with air we went for lunch at Nourish Cafe & Pizzeria. I had a Truffle Cheese Pizza, and Julie had a Falafel Bowl. Following lunch we picked up our laundry that we had dropped off yesterday, and went back to the hotel to relax for a bit.
In the evening we rode to Suluban Beach to watch the sunset. There was roughly 200 steps down to the beach, which wasn’t a problem on the way down, but gosh it was brutal walking back up in the sweltering head. Afterwards we went back to Uluwatu Temple, and watched a traditional Balinese Fire Dance, which lasted about an hour.
Following the Fire Dance we stopped in at Loca Warung for dinner. I had a salad, and Julie had some crispy vegetable rolls. After dinner we went back to the hotel, dropped off the scooter, and crawled in for the night.
Today I explored the beautiful areas of Sintra and Cascais. I had a delicious breakfast at the buffet at my Myriad hotel. It was one of the best buffet breakfasts I’ve ever had. After having breakfast I checked out of the hotel, and took the metro to pickup my rental car, Citroen 308. I quite enjoyed driving it, because I love driving manual transmission, and it had a square steering wheel, which was super comfortable to drive. I wish more cars took real world ergonomics into consideration. Most people drive with a hand at the 12 o’clock position, so having a square steering wheel is nice.
I set off towards Sintra area, with a quick stop at a gas station for a coffee. The drive took about 30 minutes, and had a bit of congestion for 5 minutes or so. First stop was the Palace of Sintra. The Palace of Sintra, also known was the Town Palace is one of the best preserved medieval royal residences in Portgual. It was utilized as a royal residence from the 15th to 19th century, before becoming a museum. It is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace is a blend of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish, and Mudejar architecture styles, due to the extensive time period the building was built over. The oldest surviving part of the palace is the chapel, which was built during the reign of King Dinis I around 1281. The palace chapel has a tiled floor with tiles in the apse laid to resemble a carpel. The walls are painting in patterned square that look like tiles, and depict the Holy Ghost descending in the form of a dove. The ceiling is constructed of wood and is decorated in geometrically patterned latticework. In the late 14th century, Portugal was conquering strategic areas in North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, and established central trade routes. With this massive infusion of wealth, King John I ordered the large-scale Palace of Sintra project to be built. Most of the current day palace dates back to the era when King John I ruled. The most noticeable features are the twin chimney towers, that can be seen from miles away. The rooms surround the central courtyard are also from this period. The Arab Room is covered in elaborate motifs and blue ceramic tile work. The Swans Room’s ceiling is covered in painted swans. The Magpies room has 136 painted magpies holding a rose and scroll with the words Por Bem (For the good). 100 years passed, and King Manuel I made some additions to the palace, which included the Coat of Arms Room, a room with a hexagonal roof with paints of deer and the coats of arms of 72 noble families. This also saw the transition from Gothic to Renaissance art styles. In 1755 the palace suffered damage during the Lisbon Earthquake, however was quickly restored. The Palace of Sintra remained in use by the royal family until 1880. In 1910 the palace became a national monument. In the 1940’s the palace underwent major restoration.
After exploring the Palace of Sintra I walked about 45 minutes uphill to the Castle of the Moors. The Castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle located in Sintra, about 25 km Northwest of Lisbon. It was built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle was constructed on an exposed rocky outcrop, which provided the Moors a strategic view along the coastline and surrounding lands. In 1147 Christian Crusaders stormed the castle and became rulers. The castle was left for ruins and was eventually overtaken by dense forests. In the 1800’s King Ferdinand II was mesmerized by the natural and serene setting of the castle ruins, and ordered the site to be restored. It was partially restored.
Further along the uphill path is the Palace of Pena. After another 30 minutes of walking I arrived at the Palace. Park and National Palace of Pena. The Pena Palace is a Romanticist castle located on the top of a hill in the Sintra mountains above Sintra. It was completed in 1854, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1995. The castle’s history starts back in the middle ages when a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of Pena” was built on top of the hill above Sintra. In the 18th century the monastery was severely damage by lightning, and the following Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 essentially reduced the monastery to ruins. The chapel somehow escaped significant damage. The ruins remained untouched until King Ferdinand II decided to acquire the old monastery, and surround lings, including the Castle of the Moors. He transformed the monastery into a palace that would serve as a summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family. The current Romanesque style building was constructed between 1842 and 1854. It would have been completed sooner, however King Ferdinand and his wife Queen Mari II decided to make some extensive changes in 1847. After the death of Ferdinand the palace was passed onto his second wife Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla, who then sold the palace to King Luis. In 1889 it was purchased by the Portuguese State, and after the Republican Revolution of 1910 it was classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum.
After a 1.25 hour walk back to the car I drove towards the coast and checked out a few areas, including a few beaches, a lighthouse, and an abandoned hotel.
Last stop before returning the rental car was Cascais. This is a beautiful small city on the coast.
The Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum, originally known was Sebastian’s Tower, was built in 1900 for Jorge O’ Neil, an aristocrat who owned many businesses. It became a museum in 1931. This beautiful building has neo-gothic and Revivalist architecture styles.
Palacio Seixas is a small two-storey neoclassical palace that was built in 1900 on behalf of Carmen Graziella Castilla da Rocha. In 1907 Carlos Seixas, an industrialist, purchased the house. In 1997 Instituto Camões purchased the house.
Casa das Historias Paula Rego is a very unique museum in Cascais. The building was designed by Souto De Moura, who was chosen by Paula Rego. The building consists of two pyramid-shaped towers, and red-cloured concrete. The building consists of four wings of different heights and sizes, a large exhibition space, a 200 seat auditorium, a shop, and a café.
The Citadel of Cascais is a set of fortifications that were built between the 15th and 17th centuries to defend the Cascais coastline against attacks on Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The citadel consists of Santo António de Cascais, the Fortress of Our Lady of Light (Nossa Senhora da Luz de Cascais), and the former Royal Palace area. In 1488 a fort, known as the Torre de Santo António de Cascais, was built to provide resistance on possible military attacks on Lisbon. In 1594 the fort of Nossa Senhora da Luz de Cascais, designed by Italian Captain Fratino, was ordered to be built by Philip I. The fortress continued to undergo upgrades until 1755, when it was significantly damaged by the Lisbon Earthquake.
Casa de Santa Maria was a luxury private residence in Cascais. It was built in 1902 for Jorge O’ Neil, an aristocrat who owned many businesses. He originally built what is now the Condes de Castro Guimarães Museum, and later on commissioned this building as a wedding present for his daughter. Raul Lino designed the building, which was built by materials only found within Portugal. In 1914 the building was sold to engineer Jose Lino Junior, who was the older brother of Raul Lino. He expanded the building by adding parts at each end, with the architecture being designed by Raul Lino. In 1934 the house was acquired by the Espirito Santo family. In 2004 the building was acquired by the Cascais Municipality.
Santa Marta Beach is a beautiful small cove with a sandy beach located behind the Marina in Cascais. The views here are simply incredible!
The Santa Marta Lighthouse was built in 1868 on the site of Santa Marta to provide light for navigation of ships. It originally had a fixed red light, given by a dioptric lens. It was later replaced by a fixed-light catadioptric system in 1908. In 1936 the tower height was increased by 8 metres, due to new buildings in the area that were impeding existing light. In 1949 a foghorn was installed. In 1953 the lamp was electrified, and even included a backup system. In 1964 a generator was installed. In 1981 the lighthouse was modified. Further upgrades occurred in 2000.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, as I explore more of Lisbon.
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This post is a very special milestone for me as this is my 250th blog post since I started writing in 2016. Today started off fairly early with me waking up around 7am, as I had to get ready for my 9am soak at the Blue Lagoon. On the way to the Blue Lagoon I drove to a local bakery called Bakarameistarinn, where I ordered a coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I was a bit early arriving at the Blue Lagoon, so I sat in my car writing some of my blog, and going through my photos.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field near Grindavik, where I was yesterday. The Blue Lagoon is a series of man-made pools that are filled by water from a nearby geothermal power plant. After the water is used by the geothermal power plant to spin the turbines to generate electricity, it is then passed through a heat exchanger to provide heat for municipal hot water, and then fed into the lagoon. The water’s unique milk blue shade is due to its high silica content. The water forms soft white mud on the bottom of the lagoon, which feels nice on the feet. The water is also very high in salts and algae. The temperature of the water stays between 37-39°C.
The power plant feeding the lagoon was opened in 1976, and the runoff started to make pools. In 1981 a psoriasis patient bathed in the water and noted that the water alleviated his symptoms, and over time the lagoon became a popular place for people to bathe. In 1987 a proper bathing facility was built, and in 1992 the Blue Lagoon company was established. Numerous studies have been conducted in the 1990’s confirmed that the lagoon had a beneficial effect on psoriasis, and a clinic was opened in 1994.
After bathing in the lagoon for a few hours it was time for me continue on with my day. Next stop was two waterfalls next to each other; Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrafoss. Seljalandsfoss drops from over 60 metres above and is part of the Seljalands River, whos origin is from the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. If you feel like getting really wet you can walk behind the falls into a small cave. Gljúfrafoss is a smaller waterfall north of Seljalandsfoss. You can walk right up to the base of the waterfall by following a short trail down a narrow canyon. Make sure to take a picture looking up for a neat perspective.
After visiting the waterfalls I started driving towards the town of Vik, however was distracted by a glacier that I could see off to my left hand side. I decided to stop at Solheimajokull Glacier, and I’m extremely glad that I did. Solheimajokull Glacier is a 11km long outlet glacier that originates from the southwestern part of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The glacier has undergone tremendous changes over the last century with measurements of its glacier snout having retreated 977 metres between 1930 and 1969, advancing by 495 metres between 1969 and 1955, and receding by 1312 metres by 2019. In 2011 a lagoon started to form in front of the glacier and has been growing steadily as the glacier continues to melt and retreat. The current depth of the lagoon is about 60 metres.
After visiting the glacier I drove another hour or so to Vik, where I stopped at The Soup Company for lunch. I had the Red Hot Lava bowl, which was a black bread bowl filled with a spicy prime rib soup. After lunch I drove to Vik Church to snap a photo of the beautiful oceanside and the church. This is one of my favourite views that I recall from my 2014 trip to Iceland with my father.
Close by is Reynisfjara Beach, a black sand beach with basalt rock formations. Last time I was here in 2014 with my father it was pouring rain so I didn’t have a chance to take great quality photos. This time it was windy as anything, but at least the sun was shining.
Next up was the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. You used to be able to drive right up to the crash site, however the road was closed many after numerous people got stuck in the soft black sand. The hike there is about 7.4km return, and took me only about 1.25 hours. In November 1973, a Douglas Dakota C-117 airplane was making a return trip to Keflavik airport after delivering cargo to a radar station near Hornafjörður in East Iceland. While flying back, the plane gradually started to lose power and altitude, and were forced to crash land on Solheimasandur. Some speculate that the plane ran out of fuel when the pilot accidentally switched to the wrong fuel tank, while others speculate that the plane crashed because of ice buildup on the wings during a storm. Keeping with the stormy conditions these pilots had to endure I nearly crashed my drone when the windy conditions worsened and started to sweep my drone away from me. I had to run after it a few hundred metres before it pseudo crash landed in the black sand.
It was getting fairly late so it was time for me to start the 2 hour long drive back to Reykjavik. I stopped at Tommi’s Burger Joint for dinner, which was recommended to me by someone the previous day, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
After dinner I went back to the hotel and was ready for bed, as it was nearly 10pm at this point in time. Be sure to check back shortly for the next installment in my Iceland series where I visit Glymur Falls, and soak in Reykjadalur Hot Springs Thermal River.
If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.