PHOTOPHILES: ICELAND EDITION

Big and Small Travel have arrived in Iceland. We have picked the best pictures for our Iceland PhotoPhiles edition. An Iceland favorites post of specific attractions is forthcoming as well.

Enjoy the pics of this volcanic wonder known as Iceland. Also, check out the new  Big and Small Travel YouTube, say hello and leave your comments/feedback. Takk!

One of the 25 wonders of the world is the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
One of the “25 Wonders of the World” is the geothermal hot springs of the Blue Lagoon.
Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon
Skijor Falls, Iceland
Skógafoss is a waterfall situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline.
Jökulsárlón - Glacial Lagoon
Jökulsárlón: The glacier lagoon is close to highway number one, 230 miles east from Reykjavík. This lagoon is a fairly recent one, about 80 years old, the result of a warming climate. The surface is at sea level and sea water flows into the lagoon at high tide.
 Jokulsarlon, Iceland.
Jokulsarlon, Iceland.
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Handstand Steph on the Ring Road in South Iceland.
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Black Sand Beach in Vik, Iceland.
Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is, for one, a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world, and the joining of European/Asian and North American tectonic plate.
Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. Wow! A key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world, and the joining of European/Asian and North American tectonic plates. Double wow!
South Iceland near Vik.
Cool fog off the Ring Road in South Iceland between Vik and Jökulsárlón.
Gulfoss Waterfall, Iceland
Gulfoss Waterfall, a key attraction in the Golden Circle route of Iceland.

Classic Road Trip: Los Angeles to San Francisco

California is such a romanticized destination, from its dramatic coastline to its quirky characters — and it’s all best experienced on the road. Subscribe to our Big and Small Travel Youtube  and watch our travels in California. 

Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Santa Monica. The beginning of our journey.

One of the best and most popular road trips in the Golden State involves driving along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway between sunny Los Angeles and foggy San Francisco. Here’s our photo guide to must-see sites and stops along the way, starting in L.A. and going north.

Continue reading “Classic Road Trip: Los Angeles to San Francisco”

PhotoPhiles Volume IV: The Crete Edition

Words by: Stephanie Benson  |  Photos by: JCrew and HandstandSteph

PhotoPhiles is a recurring feature spotlighting some of our favorite photos taken on and off the road. In this fourth edition, we welcome you to the mystical Greek island of Crete, home to Zeus, the Minoans, and yes, even Zach Galifianakis. Greece’s biggest island encapsulates a dichotomy of unspoiled beauty and rugged living. This is the island for beach-bumming (and bum-sunning—lots of nudist beaches for those so inclined). Our favorite beach areas were in and near the small Southern town of Matala, where the secluded Red Beach requires a good 30-minute rocky hike, and where Kommos Beach offers a long stretch of sand and some incredible views for watching the sun melt into the Libyan Sea. For a real adventure, take the long, narrow, switchback-filled road from Kissamos or Chania to the spectacular Elafonisi Beach, where you’ll be transported to French Polynesia with its crystal-clear aquamarine waters lapping serenely against soft, white (sometimes even pinkish) sand. Note: This is a hot tourist spot, so the swarms of people can take away from the postcard-worthy splendor. Continue reading “PhotoPhiles Volume IV: The Crete Edition”

PhotoPhiles Volume III: The Santorini Edition

The beauty of Santorini!
Pristine whites against breathtaking blues on the majestic island of Santorini.

PhotoPhiles is a recurring feature spotlighting some of our favorite photos taken on and off the road. In this third edition, we welcome you to the fantastical Greek island of Santorini, well-known to many as one of the most stunning and romantic places on Earth. Only with divine destruction could such surreal beauty emerge. The small island’s literal earth-shattering origins are a constant reminder as one walks, scoots, or ATVs along the jagged edges of the caldera. No, pictures don’t even come close to doing this land justice, but we’re willing to at least give it a try…

Handstand Steph ventures to the edge of paradise along the Fira-Oia path. We hiked through Firà, Firostefáni and Imerovígli, tracing the caldera and taking in incredible views every step of the way.
Cafe view in Oia had JCrew in disbelief and bliss.
JCrew enjoys a mighty cup of brew, a perfect complement to Oia’s ridiculous views.
This is where the 9km walk really turns into a hike, with near desert-like conditions. Bring water!
A thin slice of land topped with cream and sandwiched between endless serenity.
Red Beach, Santorini Salute!
JCrew shows his respect for the blazing beauty of Santorini’s Red Beach.
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No, this isn’t a funky cottage with amazing style — it’s part of a church near Red Beach in Akrotiri.
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Handstand Steph salutes the windmill and shows off her skills on the steps leading to Amoudi Bay
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Classic Santorini, sunhat and all.
Sanotrini as it is today comes from a volcanic eruption.
A constant reminder of Santorini’s volcanic roots is forever burned into the ground.
The style of Santorini
Little white boxes stacked atop the vibrant town of Fira.
Sanotini Garbage collection!
Garbage collection, Oia-style. The donkey was not as amused as we were…
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Bruiser, aka our ATV rental, posing in front of Aghios Artemios Traditional Houses, a cave hotel showcasing Cycladic architecture. The church, the only on the island with a light blue dome, dates back to the 15th century.

 

Rethinking Ukraine

On the heels of change and rapid-fire revolution in Crimea, I’ve recently been thinking about a trip I took to Ukraine back in 2011. I was mostly in Odessa, located on the Black Sea near Crimea, the spot currently causing frustration among the U.S. government, which is bringing back a sense of “Cold War” tension. The situation there has me looking back at my experience in the country in a different light.

Staring down Lenin at a beautifully adorned park in Arcadia near the Black Sea.
Staring down Lenin at a beautifully adorned park in Arcadia near the Black Sea.
Ukraine — from its architecture to its food to its dialects — was how I imagined Russia to be. Traveling with a friend, who was able to speak conversational Russian to most of the locals probably made this seem even more plausible. Together, we saw Lenin memorials and Soviet-era symbols and met amicable Russians; but even the locals we met spoke Russian, claiming that the Ukrainian and Russian languages were similar enough. With the current political controversy, I wanted to research more about the Ukrainian/Russian connection. The media’s portrayal of Russia’s recent reclamation of Crimea makes the move seem somewhat out of the blue, aggressive, and imperialistic. But looking at this situation objectively, you have to go quite a ways back: Kiev, the modern capital of Ukraine, is often referred to as a mother of Russian Cities, in other words, the founding place of Russian civilization. And while the land has seen many conflicts over the centuries, the country of Ukraine as we know it today has only been independent since 1991. That’s only a little over two decades, and during my visit there, I could definitely see and feel how inextricably linked it still was to Russia.
Odessa Waterfront
Strength in powerful babies at the Odessa seafront.
But as I write this, it’s the Ukrainian people who are stuck in the middle of this crisis, who are being used by each influencing side. There are even rumors that both sides may be funding militias and promoting instability. The Ukrainians I got to know were generally stoic and reserved — well, aside from the night I made the mistake of asking for additional cheese on a pasta dish at Odessa’s Club and got charged almost $25 for it and was escorted to the nearest ATM! Still, overall, I felt safe there, which makes it even harder for me to believe this is the same region where a violent revolution has recently taken place.

My time in Ukraine was filled with fun memories, so I wanted to show a more peaceful side to this wonderful country. Here are a few pictures from the trip:

Pink
More stunning architectural beauty!

The Lada
Posing with the Russian Lada, the mythical and infamous symbol of past Soviet-era cars.
Stern
Stern and stark memorials to yesteryear.
Gothic
Exquisite Gothic architecture decked out with gargoyles.
CCCP
A colorful shirt, glamorizing the Soviet days, boldly on display in another main street store. (Pre-2014)
Fancy cars on a tree lined street in Odessa.
Fancy cars on a tree lined street in Odessa.
Badges galore!
Soviet-era pins and badges near one of the main tourist streets in Odessa.

PhotoPhiles Vol. II, Baja California Sur, Mexico

PhotoPhiles will be a recurring feature spotlighting some of our favorite photos taken on and off the road. The second edition includes shots taken from Baja California, Mexico.

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The original Catholic church of Todos Santos, Mexico built in 1733 located 30 miles from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Todos Santos means Our Lady of Pilar Church. Desert charm and history mix naturally here.
Handstandy
Do a handstand for Mexico! Handstand Steph represents the “i” in Mexico while JCrew holds down the fort and samples the local flavors. Taken near Playa Balconcito on the Cabo San Lucas Marina.
Palm trees represent freedom and relaxation. Spanish Jesuit missionaries brought the feather-leaf date palm to Baja, and it continues to thrive around Baja California.
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Whether you think of the cheesy Eagles song or a stylish and minimalist hotel in the Baja desert this hotel is fantastico. Distinct food is plentiful around the hotel in the creative and friendly town of Todos Santos.
Desert
Natural terrain in San Jose Del Cabo near the tip of Baja California, it is a place where the desert meets the ocean. This is the only place I’ve seen cacti all the way up to the edges of cliffs overlooking the ocean.

PhotoPhiles, Vol. I

PhotoPhiles will be a recurring feature spotlighting some of our favorite photos taken on and off the road. The first edition includes shots taken in Idaho, San Francisco, Panama, and Joshua Tree.

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Perrine Bridge in Idaho – You can base jump off this bridge but you can’t
bungee jump?! Does this make sense? No!!

Continue reading “PhotoPhiles, Vol. I”