City on a Cliff

Just under two hours north of the populous tourist city of Fuengirola lies a city on the edge of a cliff.

Twisty roads that sit below mountaintop mansions bring you on a breathtaking journey to the summit of the region of Andalusia.

The town’s suburbs and industrial area would make you think that you’re in a typical uninteresting city, until you venture towards the far side of Ronda.

At it’s centrepiece stands one of the most impressive bridge structures that I have ever seen. Puente Neuvo took 35 years to build and was completed in 1793.

Standing at the edge of the cliff and looking down, I felt like I was on the set of Lord of the Rings. The sheer depth of the drop is hard to capture on camera.

Amazingly, there are old derelict houses built into the cliff face and dotted along the gorge’s deep basin.

The homes and apartments that line the cliff’s edge have balconies that are suspended out over the edge. If you drop something, it’s gone. I wouldn’t recommend these residences to somebody with a tendency to sleep walk.

The westerly facing cliff edge enjoys spectacular views of the valley below and the mountains in the distance.

On our drive back towards the coast, we were treated by a spectacular sunset that met us like a raging fire in the sky.

If you also suffer from cabin fever while staying at a holiday resort, rent a car and venture north. Andalusia’s rich history means that there is a mix of Celtic, Roman and Moorish influence to be found in the architecture of many of the region’s cities.


Vancouver, British Columbia

Some cities are far more than a collection of buildings. I know this seems like a strange comment to make, but very few cities truly have a spirit that’s immediately evident.

I can only list a handful of cities that exude an energy that you can only miss if you happen to enter the city limits in a box.

For a city of it’s size, Vancouver has a pace of life that feels almost village like. People just don’t seem to be in a rush. Perhaps it’s a combination of the famous Canadian friendliness and the Pacific Coast that dictates a pace that you would sooner expect on a sleepy Island.

The Vancouver Skyline as seen from Stanley Park

My first experience of this was on the Skytrain as we travelled from the Airport into the city. There was something very civilised about the experience, despite the busy time of the day.

When we took a bus later that day, I noticed that everybody thanked the bus driver, even if they exited from the back of the bus well out of earshot of the driver.

Seaplanes near Canada Place, Vancouver

The local geography with its network of islands and inlets has resulted in many seaplane companies operating out of the area. We didn’t avail of one of these trips, but it certainly seems like an interesting way to see South Western BC.

The Steam Clock at Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown is the original downtown core of what would later become known as Vancouver. Today the Steam Clock is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

Perhaps the most striking and appealing thing about Vancouver is that even though you’re in a large city, you’re always surrounded by easy access to nature. From downtown you can see the snow capped mountains from virtually anywhere.

Stanley Park is by far one of the most impressive urban parks that I have ever encountered. As you venture down the harbour by the marina and into Stanley Park, it feels like you have left the city completely.

Stanley Park
Siwash Rock, Stanley Park
Squirrel in Stanley Park

A trip to Vancouver would be incomplete without making your way to the peak of Grouse Mountain. For the exercise addict, you can go on foot, or take the somewhat pricey cable car to the top.

Once at the top there’s a chance that you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views. I say chance, because Vancouver is known for clouds and rain. Unfortunately I didn’t get to take photos of the breathtaking view that you would experience on a clear day.

Grouse Mountain is home to two Grizzly Bears that were rescued after becoming orphaned. This gives an opportunity to capture photographs of an animal that you don’t want to encounter at this distance in the wild.

As Vancouver is often the start and endpoint of a visit to BC, it’s well worth taking a few days to really appreciate the city.

Diamonds on the Beach

As we approached in our rented Renault Kangoo, which was our home for two weeks, a sea of floating icebergs came into view like a mirage.

Some sights are so awe inspiring that it just takes a little time to process what you’re actually looking at, much like when a child sees something for the first time and stares.

Jökulsárlón is located along Iceland’s Golden Circle, on the South East Coast of the island.

As chunks of ice make their way down the unpronounceable Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, they end up floating in a lagoon.

We arrived late in the afternoon and decided to camp beside the lagoon for the night. Due to the fact that it was June, we benefited from Midnight Sun which made us want to go for walks in the middle of the night.

It’s a strange sensation when 1am looks much like 1pm. At first this can be very disorienting for your sleep patterns, but it gives you much more time in your day to explore.

Late in the evening swarms of Arctic Terns, a bird native to the Arctic Circle, would gather overhead in search of fish, diving opportunistically between the icebergs.

At about 2am there was a slight change in lighting, but it looked more like 3pm on a winter’s evening rather than anything that resembled a sunset. Still, the change in light made for very dramatic effects as the sun hit the ice from a different angle.

There is a bridge located just down stream from the lagoon, making for perfect shelter from the cold arctic wind, while still providing an amazing vantage point for photography from underneath it.

Despite the fact that it was June when we visited, night time temperatures would hit 2 or 3 degrees Celsius.

Close to the bridge, the icebergs hit a dam of melting ice, breaking into even smaller pieces which eventually make their way down onto the beach.

Popularly known as ‘Diamond Beach’, it’s black sand is littered with chunks of ice that survive for surprisingly long periods of time thanks to low summer temperatures and the cold North Atlantic.

As I write these words, I realise that this article doesn’t even come close to doing the experience of actually being there justice. It’s hard to describe the feeling of standing somewhere that your wildest dreams would have great difficulty to conjure.

Down by the shoreline, the waves crash into the ice, making for spectacular photo opportunities.

A six hour drive from Reykjavik, this wonder of the world is easily accessible and well worth the drive. In fact, visiting Iceland and not visiting Jökulsárlón should almost qualify as a criminal offence.