Why I long to visit Iceland

Before Joe was born, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time traveling, and loved the excitement of discovering new places. I visited lots of different and diverse places, from the Art Capitals of Europe, to the ultra modern skyscrapers of Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, to the blissful idyllic beaches of Thailand, the land of smiles. But I felt less inclined to travel so far afield with a young baby in tow, and so the last few years have been restricted to package holidays in Menorca and time spent enjoying our caravan in Snowdonia. In my head though, I have been compiling a wishlist of all the exciting, wonderful places I still wish to visit. With Joe now reaching seven, and exhibiting the same wonderlust that has always given me itchy feet, the time my well be right to harness that travel bug once again, and the place at the top of my list is Iceland.

Why Iceland?

It’s a bit of a silly question really – is there anywhere with a landscape more breathtaking and awe-inspiring that Iceland? It truly has it all, from volcanoes and mountains, to glaciers and geysers. With beaches covered in black sand, to hot springs and waterfalls, Iceland quite rightly earns the name ‘the land of fire and ice’. It is otherworldly and totally stunning in it’s uniqueness. Whether you are interested in finding out more about the Vikings, or want the chance to see the Northern Lights, Iceland is a place you must visit before you die. A true bucket list destination.

The Northern Lights

The wonderful Aurora Borealis is one of the wonders of the modern world, and Iceland is a good place to see them – especially between the months of November and March, so now is still a good time to travel. You can spot the lights in many different ways, from an organised trip, or just choosing an appropriate night to stare at the sky. Whichever way you choose, make sure you put on those layers – the best conditions for seeing the lights are when the temperature drops below freezing. Hopefully braving the cold will be rewarded by the spectacular light show.

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The Blue Lagoon at Grindavik

Going to Iceland on honeymoon? Then you must visit the Blue Lagoon at Grindavik. This is a naturally heated spa that has swim up bars serving everything from health drinks to Champagne. There are also lots of restaurants at the lagoon so you can round off your day of relaxation with some fine food. This is another to-do on my bucket list, imagine being surrounded by snow sitting in the heat of the lagoon – just heavenly.

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It’s all about the Whales

You can’t go all the way to Iceland and not attempt to spot the magnificent whales. You can take a whale watching trip from the harbour in Reykjavik and maybe try to spot an humpback whale. Even if you don’t get lucky, there are other wonderful forms of marine wildlife to enjoy, including porpoises and dolphins.

If you are really interested in finding out more about whales, then you could also take a trip to The Whale Museum in Husavik. Based in an old building that used to be an abandoned slaughterhouse, it is now one of the most visited places in Northern Iceland. You can check out whole whale skeletons and find out fascinating facts about these giant mammals.

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History and Culture at the National Museum of Iceland

A treasure trove of artefacts that date back more than 1000 years, the National Museum of Iceland will help you understand more about the history of this most beautiful of places. There are exhibitions on Arts and Crafts, homes and settlements and social culture.

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My final place of interest is Arnarfjorour, which is known as one of the most beautiful of all the Fjords. This is due to the mountains that surround it, and the magical Dyjandi waterfall (the name means thunderous). This is a great place to visit if you like hiking and being close to nature – it is simply breathtaking.

Iceland is literally a thousand landscapes and experiences tied into one island. A place to visit and never forget.

A trip to Cadbury World

Cadbury World is undoubtedly one of the Midlands biggest tourist attractions, and one which each year seems to go from strength to strength. Truly an attraction that has something to interest all ages, this season there has been the added interest of the Cadbury World 4d chocolate adventure which was launched in June, as well as the welcome visit of  Zippy and George from Rainbow. Last Sunday, my family went along to enjoy a chocolate filled day at Cadbury World, and, as I sit here enjoying a Dairy Milk, I thought I would share our thoughts with you.

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Entry to Cadbury world is by time slot tickets, this means that queues are kept to a minimum, which is great if, like me, you have a child with zero patience. Booking ahead is essential, Sunday was completely sold out – there were no tickets available on the day, so I would definitely book in advance to avoid disappointment. At the entrance you are given two chocolate bars for each ticket, and then the journey through Cadbury World starts, with a brief history of cocoa beans and the journey they took from the New World to Europe. This is interesting from an adults viewpoint, but Joe did race through it. For older children this can be more interactive due to the scratchcard quiz which they can complete as they move around the displays.

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Next we traveled from the London of White’s, where people once gathered to drink chocolate and discuss politics,  to Birmingham of the 19th Century, and more specifically, Bull Street, the home of the first Cadbury chocolate shop. This is a waiting area for the ‘movie section’ of the tour, and is great for a quick photo opportunity. You then move into different rooms to view the history films. The films themselves are interesting with the first containing a hologram of George Cadbury introducing his  story. This then leads to a second film, the story of how chocolate is created. Joe loved this one as it had elements of 4d in it – the chairs shake as we are shown how the beans are sorted, the room gets hot, and then cold to show the chocolate making processes.

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From this point on, the tour around the actual factory and attractions is independent. You are given the opportunity to view some of the factory machinery (no photographs in this part), to taste little pots of gorgeous liquid chocolate and to find out about moulding, decoration and packaging. The areas were rather busy, but more bars of chocolate are given out on route, and you can take photographs as Freddo Frog, which is never something to be passed up! I loved the new chocolate making zone, where I added marshmallows and jelly babies to my warm chocolate. (Absolutely yum in case you are wondering…)

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Chocolate Demonstration.

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Aren’t these fabulous!

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#FreddoFrog

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Interactive activities are all around Cadbury World.

One of the main attractions for children at Cadbury World is the Cadabra. This is a lovely, gentle ride through a chocolate village inhabited by beans. Joe loved this, there was so much to see and he was a huge fan of the bean mobile! There are queues for this, but they are fast-moving, so if you have small children, I would definitely say join the queue.

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Loved the Cadabra Attraction.

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Your ticket to Cadbury World allows you to take in one of the very special shows. This Summer, Rainbow legends Zippy and George were starring in a very special holiday show. I have to say that this was very entertaining, once I got used to a presenter that wasn’t Geoffrey. Joe adored it, he got so excited in fact, he stormed the stage, The show lasts about 25 minutes and the room was full. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed it.

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I loved these when I was young!

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Joe storms the stage…

The final activity we took part in was the newly launched 4d cinema attraction the ‘Chocolate Adventure’. The first thing I have to say is be warned – on a day when the attraction is sold out, the queues are horrendous, with a waiting time well over 40 minutes. That said, the chocolate experience is fab. Forget 3d, this is the experience that dips you into a vat of chocolate and gives you the feeling of riding on a rollercoaster, without ever leaving your seat.  There are also interactive games where you can create your very own virtual bar of 3d chocolate. It is a brilliant addition to the whole experience, but boy those queues are long.

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With that, there was just time for a play on the African Adventure play area, and a photo opportunity with the Caramel Bunny and Freddo. We had all thoroughly enjoyed our day and would definitely recommend Cadbury World as a great, all-weather attraction.

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If you would like to visit Cadbury World this Summer, online booking is the best way to ensure the best priced tickets. Click here to visit the website.

*I received a complimentary family pass in return for an honest review, all views and opinions are my own. There is no truth in the rumour I was bribed with chocolate…

Super Busy Mum