In my post about Delphi I mentioned that I had made a return to Greece last February to tick a couple spots off the list that I’d missed, while inter-railing across Europe, due to an extended stay in Thessaloniki. The other place that I’ve been wanting to get back to is Meteora, where monasteries perch atop rock pinnacles. They used to be cut off from civilization with no roads leading to them. The method used for entry by most was formerly a rope net basket that the monks would climb into, to be hoisted up by the monks above turning a wooden winch. Standing on the edge of these and looking down was pretty terrifying.
It was a treacherous walk on a rainy afternoon to Nuoc Moc’s swimming hole, but our stomachs were full. We’d arrived at the nature walk of Nuoc Moc, between the Dark Cave and Paradise Cave, in the stunning Karst mountains of Phong Nha Ke Bang, to discover a typically gracious Vietnamese woman who offered us lunch. We agreed and were treated to a plate of steamed broken rice topped with fried chicken, tofu, delicious string beans, and a fried egg. It’s a simple meal, but after liberal application of soy sauce and chili, it was delicious.
With full stomach’s, we accepted that the light drizzle was not going to let up. We donned our rain gear, waterproofed our bags and set off to visit the Nuoc Moc swimming hole. To get there, you have to cross a number of fast flowing rivers via rickety bamboo bridges like the one you can see below. The rain made them slippery, but they seemed sturdy enough that if you wound up in the water it would be entirely due to operator error.
On the way back I asked my travel buddy to take a picture as I carried my gear across. She walked up to where I stood on the bridge to take my Iphone, photo mode ready. However, you’ll notice there’s no picture of me tentatively carrying my gear across a slippery, bamboo bridge. That’s because, when she reached me, the bridge decided to drop what felt like meters, but was probably more like inches. This warning was well heeded and, after freezing in shock briefly, we removed ourselves from the structure at great haste.
Arriving in Iceland at midnight, in the middle of June, immediately makes you realise you’re entering a surreal land. As the flight begins it’s descent you can see the vibrant colors of sunset around you. The colors continue long after you’ve left the airport. Long enough that you can travel 20 minutes to your accommodation, drop off your bags and wake up your sleeping travel mate, that got there a day earlier, and still be able to take photos of the unending light!
This beach was walking distance from our guesthouse in Gardur so we made our way straight there. I spent at least two hours taking photos that night, despite my total lack of sleep, and didn’t even begin to feel tired. The air was crisp with a slight scent of sulphur from nearby springs. We even managed to climb up the lighthouse pictured in the distance here. It afforded a great view back across the landscape, including the newer, still-functioning lighthouse nearby.
I posted an image of the coastline of False Bay last week. This shot is taken just a few steps further down. Walking along the coast was interesting. We’d hopped off the train with an hour to kill before the next one arrived and our group split. Cameron and I took off up the coast towards a vantage point I’d spotted from the tracks. The others went down to the beach. One of the most striking things about walking along here was the huge numbers of mussels hugging the rocks, as well as the piles of shells of the unlucky ones.
The train journey to Simon’s Town has to be one of the most memorable in the world. We heard it was a picturesque trip. But for the first half we were doubtful as the train trundled through interesting but far from beautiful suburbs of Cape Town. This portion was kept interesting by the various vendors jumping on and off the train.
Then, all of a sudden we were next to the ocean, the tracks running meters from the breaking waves. The view was incredible. We passed small towns as we weaved around beaches that were dotted with colorful huts and surfers making their way to the water’s edge. Birds of all sorts flew over or rested on the rocks and occasionally a seal or two came into sight.
I decided to hop off on our return journey as the sun was setting. We got off the second last train of the day without a lot of time before the final one was scheduled. I walked up the coast a little ways and shot this picture looking back across the bay at Simon’s Town in the distance.