Sunday, 31 May 2015

Travel at 21: Iceland

Iceland has been on top of my travel list for years, and a recent viewing of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty sealed the deal. Our three night trip covered Reykjavik, Akureyri, and hundreds of kilometres in between.


'Aparthotels' or just short term apartment rentals are appearing more and more on hotel sites, and they were a much cheaper option for last minute bookings than hotels. Our city centre one in Reykjavik cost about £49 for a night. 

Reykjavik as a city is certainly different. It's small and somewhat old-fashioned, yet lacking in the period architecture most of our recent European adventures have been noteworthy for. 

But when you look up at the mountains that surround the city, you kind of wonder why anyone built anything in Iceland. Why they disrupted the dominating nature of the place. The capital city was always going to be overshadowed by the breathtaking panorama. 

And so we set off! We hired a left hand drive car (gasp gasp horror) and headed North, driving through weather that varied from snow storms to a sweaty summer's day. At this time of year, Iceland experiences about 20 hours of daylight. And even when the sun goes down, it's never pitch black outside. This makes sleeping difficult, but driving late at night very pleasant indeed. 

We went whale watching in Eyjafjörður fjord and didn't see a single whale, which was rather disappointing. Our other tourist activities included visiting the geysers in the Golden Circle (I recommend doing this at night where there are only patient, passionate photographers and no tourists in sight) and the Blue Lagoon. Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa, and although expensive, it was SO lovely. You can stay for as many hours as you want, but we were melting and shrivelled up after an hour, but feeling refreshed. They have a really accessible website and it was well sign posted (located about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik). 

As someone who grew up in some of the most picturesque places my little island has to offer, scenery really has to go the extra mile to wow me. Iceland reminded me of a snow-covered Donegal, and if we had stopped to take a photo every time the sky looked incredible, we would never have made any progress with driving. 

I definitely recommend a summer visit, though it means you definitely won't see any of the Northern Lights, it's blissful to have so many hours of light, and driving feels a lot safer with little snow on the ground.

Facts and Figures

Iceland's time zone is GMT -1 hour and the currency is Icelandic Krona. £1 = 205 ISK.
We flew into Keflavik International Airport, which is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik city centre. 
Iceland's water smells really sulphuric. This may not be a useful fact, but it's a fact nonetheless.


Travel at 21 is a series on my blog where I talk about the places I visit in the hope it'll help and inspire people of my age/income. If you want to talk travel, drop me an email at

Monday, 25 May 2015

Watching The Entirety of 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' in a Day

My main incentive for finishing my university assignments was being able to watch TV shows and movies without any guilt again. I've turned down so many box sets and movie recommendations from friends over the past month because as someone who only has TV for watching Netflix on, it's rare that I'll just watch one episode per week like the olden days.

kimmy schmidt

The main show I'd been holding out for is Netflix series 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', produced and written by Tina Fey (and Robert Carlock) and starring Ellie Kemper. First of all, Tina Fey's writing credits include Mean Girls, and secondly, Ellie Kemper adorabled up the fifth season of The Office, and I really wanted to see her in a starring role.

The premise of the show is that Kimmy and three other women have been kept in an underground bunker as part of a doomsday cult for 15 years, and upon rescue, Kimmy decides to go and live in the Big Apple of New York City. Doesn't that sound incredibly dark and serious? I promise it's not. The bunker is dealt with in a very lighthearted way, and the psychological repercussions are mild.

I sometimes collide with American TV shows and I just.don't.get.them. Shining examples include How I Met Your Mother and even New Girl. For its first episode, UKS didn't have me. It felt Nickelodeon, a blur of garish colours and caricatures over characters.

But then that awful feature on Netflix that makes the next episode start in 10 seconds if you don't click away happened. And I watched the entire season in (almost) a single sitting. I became really charmed by Titus (Tituss Burgess) and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski). When it was good, it felt like Ugly Betty with witty, pop-culture snappiness. And at its worst, it never felt less than Nickelodeon shows for 12 year olds, which I enjoyed for many years well beyond the age of 12.

I got to know this show through Tumblr gifs which portrayed it as satirical on race and sexuality issues, and I felt that, but it was pretty restrained. Nothing problematic, but nothing ground-breaking. My favourite moments were the 'language barriers' between Kimmy, who didn't finish middle school, and 2015 New York. Despite being a victim of unspoken violence, her biggest hurdle seems to be figuring out which idioms to use.

To paint you a really good picture of my day consuming this show, I also had my first experience of Ben & Jerry's Dough-ble Impact. I'm a mess.

Let me know what series you've been watching lately so I can jump on the bandwagon! :)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

This Is Where I'm At | May

"Will you love me in December as you do in May?"

I quote Jack Kerouac. You'd be surprised at how often I have done that over the past six months. By the end of this month, my dissertation will be finished and maybe I won't ever have to quote him again. People ask about my dissertation frequently, and I will definitely make a video about it when it's done and graded, but you should know the Beat writers are my favourite problematic faves.

April! Tour! I recently reviewed a book of Chris Guillbeau's on my channel, in which he talks about trying to put into words a life-changing experience once it's over, for the curiosity of people who weren't there. Though our UK and Ireland tour wasn't life-changing, it was a very unique experience and so far I don't know how to document/reflect on such events in ways that don't involve emojis and the Twitter app.

I have just over two weeks of university left. Possibly forever. Probably not. When I was 18, I was so bursting with love for the secondary school I'd stumbled and glided through for almost 7 years, yet also COMPLETELY ready to leave it behind. I remember my history teacher once saying, 'you're ready for something new now, right?' She was right, and she would be right if she said it today. It's not that I've outgrown my university, God, to be intelligent enough for that to be a possibility, but I think some things in life are designed to shape you for the next step and then you have to let go.

Except letting go feels like the second you take your foot off the step and you think there's another step but there's NOT and the split-second of ARRGGHWHAT?! is where my head is at right now. But I will be okay. I am writing and writing, and when I pause from writing essays, I write articles, I apply for writing jobs, I write outlines for future writing projects. I write this. Where there is write there is... rightness? YEAH.

Today, I saw my parents and ate Crunchie cheesecake and drove in the rain. And if nothing else is a constant in life, dessert with my family and Northern Irish weather always will be.

Last night we watched Orphan (2009) and it was absolutely bloody terrifying and I hated myself for enjoying it. I've been listening to whatever playlist comes my way on, which is a lovely music-based website for those of you studying and not Spotify savvy.

It is time to be Rory Gilmore.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.