Category Archives: Travel

Hong Kong

Five weeks in Asia. Five different countries. Five weeks shooting. Result: I have thousands of images to sort through. While away I was mainly shooting with the iPhone, but I also had the Fuji X100T and Nikon D7000 with me. So, my way of dealing with the images this time is a little different than before. My plan is to go back and organise the images from each location and put together blog posts on each place. This should allow me to work my way through the process of selecting (and more difficultly – deselecting) my favourite images. So, here goes.

Where better to start than Hong Kong. Oh to be a street photographer living in Hong Kong. What an exhilarating place it is. I really would love to live there and get the chance to work more of the series of images I have shot on iPhone there.

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I had two short stays there in the summer. The second was extended when a typhoon hit and resulted in a long day spent in the airport. I was never so happy to leave when I did, but now I am longing to get back and hit the streets of Hong Kong again.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I love the vibrancy of street life in Hong Kong. It is a noisy, colourful and fragrant place. What I like most about it is that you can find a location and work it, or if the mood takes you and you do not mind dealing with the heat and humidity you can keep on the move. Both work just as effectively. Also, in Central, the architecture is just amazing. I came across this wonderful yellow facade in Central and spent some time trying to get a shot which might match what I envisaged once I saw this yellow.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I spent about 20 minutes or more trying to get the shot below. You can’t have it both ways. I love that Hong Kong is so crowded and there is a constant flow of people, but when I was trying to get this shot I was driven mad by the people walking into my frame. For me, when I am shooting I create an image of the shot I want to get in my head before I shoot. This one I had envisaged to have more of a division between the yellow wall and the passing red taxi and yellow of the bus.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

This one, which lacks the red of the taxi, worked a little better. Still, it is not perfect. Is any shot ever?

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Moving up the road from here I found a wonderful entrance to McDonalds – another yellow wall. Another chance to create some fun images. This time I pushed the iPhone up against the wall and hit burst mode to get these split screen reflection shots. Again, in getting this shot I was hindered by the fact that the white van opposite was parked and for the duration I was there shooting did not budge. I had hoped to add more colour to the shot but alas no. Photography is 99% frustration. 99% of the time, or even more, I do not get the shot I imagine in my head.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

That’s me in the corner standing in front of a bus stopped in traffic trying to get these layered reflection shots you get when you shoot into glass. I like the result here with the guy’s eyes framed in the way they are here.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I just love the colours you find in Hong Kong. This intersection in Central is one of my favourite locations. The bright yellow painted markings of the crossing are so vibrant and when you throw in the colours of the traffic and the pedestrians it all adds up to great photo opportunities.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And more yellow.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And who can resist the cliche shots when you come to Hong Kong? You can’t pass them up really.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

But you can blur it up a little.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I have been saying how shooting with the portrait mode on the iPhone has changed how I shoot on the street. In Hong Kong, I met some characters, none quite as animated or as colourful as this guy.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Or these friendly guys.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

If you see it, it’s too late. How true this so often is on the streets. The image below appeared to me as I was walking along checking the shots I had just made. Someone using a paper clip as a cigarette holder. How cool. I had to quickly get things lined up to get the shot. Again, it could have been better – crisper, more in focus. But still I like it.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Look up, look up. Hong Kong has great architecture.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

One of the fun things I did this summer with the iPhone was to shoot with the Provoke App. I just love the black and white images it produces. Here are number of those shot in and around Central.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

See you next year, Hong Kong!

Next up Seoul!

 

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Make or take a photo

Can I take your photo? Can I make your photo?

 

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

There is that debate in photography about whether you take or make a photo. I think far too much is made of it to be honest.

Basically the idea is that if you make a photograph you are inclusive of those being photographed in the process, and with them, you as the photographer adds something to the scene.

The idea of taking a photo is that you are extracting something; perhaps not inclusive of those being shot. I understand the ideas and agree with them.

But coming from a language-teaching background, I feel much is overlooked in this dynamic.

The first thing is collocation. What it that? That is commonly-occurring word partners. Example: take and photo most frequently go together. This means that the vast majority of people use this phrase when talking about photography. And from that the expression make a photo can be a little jarring for them when they hear it. It just does not sound natural. 

The second thing is requests like Can I take your photo? are so much more well received if accompanied by a smile and if you can display honesty when you make eye contact. Who cares if your phrasing is make or take a photo if you look like a prick who just wants to exploit someone.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

This brings back to my winning photo in the recent iPhone Photography Awards and its subsequent media appearances all over the world as the press features the winning photographs of the competition. I was fortunate to have an interpreter with me that morning when I wanted to photograph the man’s hands and feet, but still I believe that despite the language barrier I could have connected and communicated with my subject through body language, smiles, a tilt and a nod of the head and eye contact.

But the curious thing is that with this win and the subsequent media attention I cannot help thinking about the guy whose hands I photographed.

Those hands tell a story; one of hard labour. The photograph also tells another story; one of privilege and good fortune. Of someone who has time and the means to travel and to get excited about the dirt encrusted on a labourer’s hands in a, to-him, exotic part of the world.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

So did I make or take this portrait? If I made it, what did I add?

I recall when I showed him the photographs I had shot, he nodded, raised an eyebrow to me and nodded acknowledgement again. I thanked him and his co-workers with my limited Indonesian. My friend Elife gave the workers some cigarettes and we left.

I would love to be able to give something back to this man. I cannot imagine him being interested in a print of his hands. Vanity is not something I would associate with him. But what to do? The time has passed and I doubt I could ever locate him.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

Kiss the future…

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Tokyo at night

A little series of images shot on my last trip to Tokyo, in and around Shibuya. All photographs made with Nikon D7000 and edited in Lightroom.

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

Tokyo: April, 2017 (Nikon D7000)

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Bangkok – 8 x 8 – Street Photography Conference

Curiosity, adventure, the unknown, the unexpected. All of these things, and more, got me excited about MonogramAsia’s (MGA) inaugural street photography conference in Bangkok – 8×8. And what will I take away from it all? Wonderful conversations with sensational people; conversations punctuated with beautiful visual distractions. 

Olly, Ben, Shel, Rammy, Chatchai, Paul, Ghatoe, Brendan, Take, Eric, Xyza

Olly, Ben, Shel, Rammy, Chatchai, Paul, Ghatoe, Brendan, Take, Eric, Xyza

Who were these people?

There were big names from the world of street photography presenting and leading photo walks at the event – people like Eric Kim, Take Kayo- a.k.a Big Head Taco, Xyza Cruz Bacani, Olly Lang, Bellamy Hunt, Sheldon Serkin, Ghatot Subroto, Paul Yan, and Rammy Narula.

Everyone knows ERIC KIM. Google knows him so well that when you put in Street Photography into its search engine, Eric pops up in number one position. Some people have a problem with this. They resent his presence. Feel it is unmerited.

Eric Kim and Shel Serkin

But here’s the thing about Eric.

He. Is. Doing. It.

He’s not sitting back and thinking: “Man, I would love to do that!” No! He is on it. He got into street photography, saw the information he wanted, the things he wanted to learn were not easily available online so he set about creating an online resource for people who shared his passion for street photography. And he worked it, creating one of the most influential platforms on the net; all the while sharing his passion for photography and if you read carefully enough – he is actually telling people over and over: this is how I have done it, YOU can do it too!

Meeting Eric is full on. The first thing he said (I mean asked – Eric loves questions) was: Tell me your life story? This was followed by: What’s your philosophy? Then: Why do you make photos? As I struggled to answer these I noticed he was already formulating the next questions from the answer I was structuring. And it is not inane. No, he truly wants to learn – and as he claims, he does truly want to empower people. 

For me, when I look at a photo, I want to see where the photographer is. Because the photographer is in every photo. It can be that you can imagine their physical position in relation to the subject, or more importantly, you can feel their emotion, sense their character, or connect with their curiosity in getting the shot. The photographer is always there. After our photo walk, we all met up for dinner. Eric sat next to me. Without asking he picked up my camera and began to swipe through my shots from the day. Ooh! Eric Kim reviewing my shots. I was nervous I can tell you. But he was inquisitive, sharp, and kind about my images. I asked then could I see his. Sure! We all know Eric is capable of creating arresting street images, but as I clicked through his shots from the day I saw visual images of abstract constructions. Beautiful ones. Photos I was not expecting to see.

Photo by Eric Kim

Another guy who you cannot help coming across online is Japan Camera Hunter, a.k.a Bellamy Hunt (or should that be the other way around?). I had the pleasure of sharing a taxi from the airport to the hotel with Bellamy and it was great to get to know him. Bellamy is interesting and engaging. His story of how he went from working in an office in Tokyo – being a salaryman – to being one of the world’s most renowned camera finders is fascinating. Over the few days with him I enjoyed his dry wit, his very British character, and his kindness too. He gave us a roll of his film and I am excited to try it out. I look forward to looking him up when I am next in Tokyo and shooting some street with him, or just having a nice cup of tea!

Bellamy Hunt

When Ben (MGA founder)and I were first discussing the possibility of an event like this and including mobile photographers in it, Olly Lang was one of the first names I thought of. I have followed Olly for a number of years. I like his photography, but what I got most from Olly was his thinking on where photography was and where it was heading. I had listened to him on the fabulous photography podcast – The Photography Show (go check it out – in fact you will find interviews with Bellamy, Eric on here too). Olly is a deep thinker and what he has to say always gets you thinking. He is also a funny guy. Very often, as you get to know people, you need to tune into to get their humour. Olly cracked me up at times with his dry delivery and ability to snap a comic twist on things.

Olly

They say you should not meet your heroes, and for the main part that is true. Sheldon Serkin is a hero of mine. He shoots on the streets of New York with an iPhone and produces these beautiful, revealing tender (and often humourous) candid moments. Sheldon’s work slows me down, draws me in and allows me to dream. Of all the people at the conference Sheldon was the one I was most excited to meet. And I was not disappointed. Over the five days we talked and talked and laughed and laughed so much. It was super cool to learn how much we have in common: Both English language teachers and both big Dead Kennedys fans. Oh, yeah!!!!

Shel Serkin

Photo by Sheldon Serkin

Gathot Subroto (Gathoe)- from Indonesia. I first met Gathoe when I was in Jakarta last year for a talk with MGA. I felt bad that day because once my talk was over I had to get in a taxi and get to the airport to fly home and I missed out on his talk. Gathoe is a photographer whose work I love. His colourful street work is constructed with care and precision (not an easy thing to achieve on the streets), and it has a beauty and at times a humour to it which is striking. One of the things I love about Ghatoe is his smile. What a beautiful smile! 

Gathoe

Photo by Gathoe

Take Kayo – Big Head Taco. Now, here is a gentleman. Here is a force of nature. When Take starts to talk clocks stop ticking. Take can talk, and talk, and talk. But he engages, and he wants to listen, and he wants to learn. I listened to a podcast with Take on my way to Bangkok (for me the best photography podcast out there is Ibarionex Perello‘s , and this was a great lead-in to getting to know the man behind the persona of Big Head Taco). I connected with Take. I liked his honesty. I liked his style and I liked the way he worked.

Take Kayo – a.k.a Big Head Taco

I am fortunate to get to shoot in amazing cities around the world. Tokyo will always be my favourite, but there is something special about Bangkok. To appreciate this you only have to look at the amazing street photography coming out of Thailand. Chatchai Boonyaprapatsara is the co-founder of Street Photo Thailand (stop reading and click now!). He presented his own work, which I love. and that of the other group members. People will know the work of Tavepong Pratoomwong, but others in the group are producing stellar photographs too. Have you clicked yet? No! Do it now!

Pho

Photo by Chatchai

Rammy Narula! Ben sent me a link to his work before coming to Bangkok and I remember sitting back in my chair and loudly exclaiming “Fuck!” as I clicked through his images. His stuff is good! Rammy is a cool guy. He has a cool beard and he wears cool caps.

He gave a great talk. Shared his process in getting his shots. The dedication to and the vision of what he wanted to create was impressive. He went to the main train station in Bangkok over six months to shoot in a window of light that lasted for 20 minutes on a platform. Six months work boiled down to 29 images. Photography is not about single images. It is about deselection. Killing your babies, as they say, to create something coherent, something cohesive, something with impact that the hits viewer and allows them to dream.

Rammy and Brendan

Photo by Rammy Narula

Paul Yan  what a man! A rock star! A bass player – a record producer from Taiwan living in Beijing. Paul is fucking cool! He has style. His clothes, his jewellery all have personality. Paul puts his heart and soul into his work. I was going mad that I could not see his talk as it clashed with the review session from our photo walk. I had known Paul for sometime online, been a fan of his work, and now can appreciate it more that I know the man. Meeting him makes he want to get to Beijing to shoot street with him and listen to Tuesday Afternoon – the latest band Paul is producing.

Paul Yan – a.k.a Cresting Wave

Xyza Cruz Bacani . Of all the presentations at the conference, Xyza’s was the one that hit me most strongly. On the panel discussion the previous day she had talked of privilege of being able to shoot on the street and it was something I had not considered before. It got me thinking of responsibility; it got me thinking of how fortunate I am. Xyza’s work is on another level in terms of its quality, and in terms of its impact and message. She showed three videos of her work and in each I was quietened. As I said, I look for the photographer in their photographs and In the first video, photographs of couples in Hong Kong, I saw her. I saw her curiosity, maybe her longing, maybe envy, but her talent to observe and construct beauty and tenderness shines. In the others, I saw her ability to tell stories, to connect, to cross boundaries that only photographs have the power to do, and I felt challenged to think about what photography is and can be.

What I will remember about Xyza is her sense of fun too. Together with Sheldon, Renzo, Olly and Yoko we hit the bars together and had the craic, as we say here in Ireland.

Selfie with Xyza

THE PHOTO WALK

One of the questions that arose on the final day for the panel was: Who do you think got more from the conference – the speakers or the participants? One of the easier questions to give a definitive answer to. For me, I got so much from the event. It pushed and pulled at how I think about photography, think about how I see, how I construct/deconstruct visually, how I present and share my work.

Hitting the streets with the participants

When we hit the streets with the participants on the photo walk it was so cool to see how my excitement to be shooting on the streets of their city transferred to them. Before the event I was thinking what I wanted to give the shooters on the photo walk, and I guess I was hoping I could give them inspiration to see things with fresh eyes. Over the course of three to four hours we got to know each other a little. A common question for people who are getting into street photography is how to get over their fears. One little piece of advice I give is to get the first shot in as soon as you can. It is like going to a party. If you sit in the corner waiting for people to come to chat with you, it gets harder and harder. But if you strike up a conversation with the first person you see, then it is so much easier to talk to the next person. It was like that on the walk. Seeing people getting braver and bolder in trying to get that shot was great. Hearing that they felt more confident, and got shots they would never have tried was really rewarding for me.

One of the funniest experiences was getting this shot. What could possibly happen when you get in close and shoot a sleeping, tattooed man who has a Stanley blade in his hand?

What could possibly happen?

The following day we had the review and critique of images shot. Epson, one of the main sponsors, printed the participants’ photos. What I loved about the photo walk is that we may all have walked along the same route but what we saw and how we saw was so different. I was really impressed by the photos they had made, and their ability to self-critique. I shared three of my own photos – none perfect – and it was refreshing to hear their feedback on my shots.

@kawinnie’s photo from the photo walk

I cannot end this without giving huge thanks to my friends in MGA whose hard work behind the scenes meant we could just get on with our roles as speakers/photographers. Everything was in place for us. There were no hiccups. It all ran so smoothly. Why? Because a team was put together that all pulled in the same direction. People who were prepared to do the hard work to get the job done. And it was done superbly.

Big thanks to Elfie – next time on the streets together shooting, my friend.

With my good friend Elfie

 To Victor – he must have a clone of himself sharing his workload.

Victor

To Billy – thanks for being so patient with me and having everything perfectly in line for my talk.

Billy

To Mo at the wonderful boutique hotel – Nandha – and his excellent staff.

Add in to this mix the opportunity to meet Renzo Grande – co-founder of the 24-hour project – who came along to the event, and Yoko – a really special person – who is so kind and fun to be with. On the final day, Sheldon, Renzo, Yoko and I had a fun time out exploring the streets of Bangkok. It was hot, it was humid, but it was memorable.

Renzo, Shel and myself

And Ben – Mr. MonogramAsia – my good friend! My fellow dreamer. Bangkok – 8×8 was a huge success. It’s done now. On to the next one.

Bigger, bolder, better!!!!

Mr. MonogramAsia – Ben

 

 

Also posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Inspiration, iPhone, iPhone photography, Photo Talks, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

8 x 8 – Street Photography Event – Bangkok

Shooting street doesn’t get much better than on the streets of Bangkok. See it and you’ve missed it, is one of the old sayings about how quickly things happen on the street, and how easy it is to miss that moment. The great thing about Bangkok is that there are just so many moments.

That is what makes this event – 8 x 8 – in Bangkok, organised by Monogram Asia, so exciting. Combine the dynamic, cinematic streets of Bangkok with some of the best street photographers currently shooting and you have a killer combination. I must say I am honoured to be on the line up with photographers whose work I admire so much. It will be a thrill to get to know people like Eric Kim, Gathot S, Xyza Bacani, Chatchai B, Sheldon Serkin, Olly Lang, Rammy Narula.

Bangkok. March, 2016

Here’s how it works. First, there is a three-hour photo walk around the highly-photogenic streets of Bangkok. Each of us will take a group of 8 people on the walk, along the way sharing tips, guiding the participants, and heightening that sense of photographic awareness –  to get that shot

With me, we will be shooting on mobile. That could be an iPhone like me, or a Samsung, a Sony or any one of the great cameras that are on smart phones these days. And you know what? We will be the lucky ones. Why? Who wants to lug around a heavy DSLR? Who wants the world to know you are taking a photograph when you raise that big camera up to your eye? I know I don’t. Sure, I like to shoot with a Nikon DSLR and I also use a Fuji X100T, but the best shots I get, the most fun I have in photography is with the iPhone. It is the perfect street camera. It is fast – one swipe and you are ready to shoot. It focuses correctly and quickly on auto. It’s discreet and allows you to get in close to your subject without startling them to get great candid shots. I could go on and on, but let’s keep the tricks for when we meet in Bangkok.

Bangkok. March, 2016

One of the things I am really excited about is all the conversations about photography and street shooting we are going to have. Lots of this will be informal, but there are two days of formal talks and lectures planned. Big names like Take Hayo (Big Head Taco) Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) and Paul Yan are pencilled in to speak. Then there’s the photo exhibition of the guest artists which is open to the public, as are the stands for all things photographic that will be on display on the same day.

So there you have it. 8 x 8 Street Photography Bangkok. This will be the street photography event of the year. Want to be a part of it? Click here for all details. 

See you in Bangkok.

 

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Also posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Iceland

Where to begin with Iceland? Well, I guess a good place to start is the place you start from: the airport.

A good friend of mine told me have my camera (in this case my iPhone) ready as I travelled on the bus from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. He was right. The landscape on this slowly-darkening Iceland winter evening was unlike anything I had seen before. The colours, faint in the low and diminishing light were oranges and browns, whites, yellows and greys; ones I had not seen before. Their texture dimpled and bumpy as little mounds of volcanic earth and rock stretched out along the road. In the distance were snow-capped mountains.

The view from the bus from airport to downtown Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

The onboard announcement switched from Icelandic to English. The voice was calm and pleasant and stated it hoped I would enjoy my time in Iceland, and to return. Most certainly, I thought. It took about 50 minutes from the airport to arrive in the centre of Reykjavik on the Flybus. As you edge further into the city a skyline of mountains appears in the distance and as you approach the sea appears at their foot.

When I got off at my stop, retrieved my suitcase, zipped up and turned east (as I had been directed by my AirBnb host who for some reason preferred cardinal directions more than my requested, and more easily understood, left or right turn ones), the sharp wind shot at me causing me to speed up and find my apartment. Once installed, I ventured out to see that seafront and those mountains.

View of Mount Esja (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Reykjavik is small. Iceland is small. As capital cities go, it is probably the smallest I have been to. It is quaint and yet modern. It has grim, grey streets of uniform council-type housing and other streets of striking modern designs. The main street, Laugavegur, has no big-brand shops. The first time I walked along it I did not realise it was the main street. From there I strolled up to iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, and from there a walk back down to the parliament area and then across to the stunning new opera house: Harpa. Walking back along the seafront as the sun began to set on my second day in Reykjavik, I felt I had seen the town. It is that small. As the week would go on I would return two more times to Harpa. I am a big fan of modern architecture and this building is just simply delicious when the light streams in and throws shapes and shadows which strut and cut the sharp angles and fluid curves of the vast interior. I loved this place.

Harpa Opera House (iPhone 7 plus)

Harpa Opera House (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Hallgrímskirkja Church (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

The week would go on and I would be busy with teaching at the University of Iceland. In time off before or after classes, I tried to walk as much as I could and Reykjavik is a city which is perfect for that. The weather was not too bad when I was there. Below zero temperatures, cloudy skies, a biting wind, but no snow. The cloudy skies meant that I did not get to see the Northern Lights. This, I must say, was a real disappointment, but as I told my hosts, it means I have a good reason to return to Iceland.

When Friday came I had the afternoon  free and one of my hosts, Toka, kindly offered to bring me on a little tour of the Reykjanes penisula which is a short trip from Reykjavik. We headed west with the low-lying Icelandic sun breaking through the clouds. Sitting in the passenger seat seeing the road opening out in front of us, the sky seemed vast. Snowy mountains flanking us on all sides, I braved the icy wind and holding my iPhone with great care I shot little video clips as we made our way around this beautiful peninsula.

The highlight of this short tour was the stop we made at the Blue Lagoon. Earlier in the week I had tried to arrange a visit to this iconic location, but was disappointed to learn it was fully booked out. Toka delighted me when she told me, that while it was not possible to bathe in the lagoon, you could still wander around. Perfect! The stark contrasting colours of the greyish black volcanic rock and the neon blue of the thermal water is stunning. As the steam rises from the heat of the water it gives it an ethereal feel and adds to the experience. One thing that shocked me was to see people sipping on beer and cocktails while bathing. While disappointed I had not the opportunity to fully experience the Blue Lagoon, there was some compensation in being able to use thermal pools in the Laugardalslaug public baths, which within walking distance of my apartment. They may not have the magical feel to the Blue Lagoon, but it was something else to shiver in the freezing cold as I tipee-toed from the changing room to the outdoor swimming area. It’s bliss once submerged in the hot water.

Bathers enjoying a drink in the Blue Lagoon (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Renting a car in Iceland is best done online and make sure to shop around as prices do vary a lot. I got a Citroen C3 from rentalcars.com and paid an extra €20 to get a GPS and a WiFi router.  It was money well spent and made my tour of the Golden Circle so much easier to navigate. The Golden Circle takes in some spectacular Icelandic sights: Þingvellir National ParkStrokkur Geyser (yes, that is where the word geyser comes from, and the jaw-dropping Gullfoss Waterfall. I left Reyjkavik at about 8 in the morning and got back to the car rental depot a little later than 6 in the evening. Taking in the three stops, stopping for the many photo opportunities, and spending about 45 minutes for lunch, the day flew past, but still I felt I had seen a lot of the spectacular landscape and some of its famous inhabitants – the beautiful and gentle Icelandic horses.

Icelandic Horses (iPhone 7 Plus)

Icelandic Horses (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Pingvellir National Park (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Geyser Erupting (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Gullfoss Waterfall (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland is not cheap. I can safely say it is easily the most expensive place I have visited. It really cannot be done cheaply. Eating out is expensive and even supermarket food in the budget supermarket Bonus is costly. I paid about €15 for a cup of coffee and a sandwich in a little cafe in Reyjkavik city centre.  A beer is about €10, and an average main meal in an average restaurant is north of €20. However, the food is great and must be sampled. Check out Cafe Loki for some fine Icelandic food. It is easy to find; just look for the big church and it is directly opposite you.

From May, Wow Air will offer direct flights from Cork to Reykjavik to go along with the existing direct flights it offers from Dublin. Tourism is booming in the country and the infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of visitors is being stretched. New hotels are being built, but more and more locals are offering their apartments on AirBnB, and I reckon this is the best option at the moment.

All in all, Iceland is not to be missed.

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

 

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