Sunday Special – Slea Head Drive, Ireland

Since it was St Patrick’s Day on Friday, today’s Sunday Special will be a beautiful spot in Ireland. As many of you know, Ireland is my favourite country. It is beyond beautiful – a place that has captivated my heart like no other. During my first visit to the ‘Emerald Isle’ I joined a tour from Killarney to Dingle along the Slea Head Drive. This was my first “day tour” (via bus) in Ireland. I have to say, it did not disappoint. The mid-March day was pleasantly sunny and made for some great views. So much so that I can not  remember the name of each location the tour stopped in. I was so overtaken with the stunning views that I tuned out what the tour guide told us!  What I do recall are lush green hills, stunning vistas, ancient ‘beehive’ huts, the Atlantic Ocean, a few stellar beaches and hearing about a local dolphin named Fungie. At one stop there was a magnificent view of the ocean where it met with the rugged shoreline of the Dingle Peninsula. The cool wind against my face was strong yet refreshing as I watched as the waves pummeled the earth. The sun was bright but not hot, it is Ireland after all. The grass beneath my feet was soft as I walked along the coast not wanting to head back to the bus. This was one of those perfect moments. Along with scenic views there was a stop to visit some of the clochans or beehive huts that are believed to be centuries old. It amazes me that they have stood for lifetimes yet do not appear to give their age. Beaches and the colourful town of Dingle added to this pleasant day. This beautiful drive certainly has chipped away at my fear of renting a car and driving on the opposite side of the road, something that I do find daunting. Oh but Ireland, you may be worth conquering that fear.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders The World

Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula

Beautiful Dingle Peninsula

Ancient Beehive buildings 

Sunday Special – Whale Watching in Maui, Hawaii 

Second largest of the eight islands that comprise the US island state of Hawaii, Maui is known for being a lush tropical paradise. Of the various activities found on the island, whale watching is near the top of the list. The ideal time to see the numerous pods of Pacific Northwest humpback whales is November through May. During this time these magnificent creatures make their annual sojourn from the northern Pacific Ocean to the warmer waters of the South Pacific.  They travel nearly two months to either give birth or to mate. January and February are the most prolific months of “mating action” with males actively vying for the attention of the females.

One of the best ways to see the whales is out on the water (though it is common to observe them from land). Maui boasts a number of tour companies offering whale watching so there are plenty of opportunities to view these stunning mammals. Additionally, humpback whales are protected internationally by various laws and acts. No country, region or person can claim to own them. They can not be corralled, poached, harassed, fished or traded between any countries. Yay!!

Should you find yourself in Maui in February take time out to visit their annual Whale Festival. Presented by the Pacific Whale Foundation, this day aims to educate people about protecting humpback whales and oceans. They even have a parade. The next one is coming up on February 18, 2017.


Humpback Whale in Maui _ Photo is Public Domain via Wikimedia Commoms

Sunday Special – Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand 

Ice. Moving ice. Big moving ice. It can be found in various places on our planet. I usually associate it with the northern part of the world, however that is not the only side that has these magnificent glaciers. The south does too and today we’ll be looking at two which are found in New Zealand. Considered among their most famous pieces of big moving ice are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.

These glaciers are located on the  western coast of the South Island of the country. Although they are not the largest of New Zealand’s glacier (that title belongs to the Tasman Glacier) they both share a trait not common to rivers of ice. These glaciers end at a rainforest. That means that they terminate rather close to sea level. This is due to their very high altitudes along the mountain. All that snow and ice stays cold and only begins to melt when it reaches the end of its trail which is close to sea level.

Of the two, Franz Josef is visited much more often and has more tourists. It has also been described as being more spectacular although it is smaller than Fox Glacier. Though the less touristy Fox Glacier may be an incentive as well. Either way, I do not doubt that they will provide amazing memories. I think I will add these to my travel list and I don’t even like snow!

Many tours and adventure companies are available to help you see and experience both of these mammoth ice marvels. Numerous activities and ways to experience them are open to you. From walking/hiking to the ice, helicopter tours, Glacier Hot Pools and skydiving with incredible views. Alternately you can make your way there by car and walk the region on your own (though be careful and do not stray from the paths or cross marked barriers for your own safety).


Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons  – Taken and owned by Dramatic


Fox Glacier, New Zealand – Photo: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday Special – Mono Lake, CA (USA)

Mono Lake, located in the Eastern Sierra region of the state of California, is a bit uncommon when it comes to lakes. First off, it is very very old – it’s been around for almost 1 million years. Secondly, it is secluded; in that there are no outlets for runoff into the ocean. Due to this, the lake has a very high saline content and is approximately 2.5 times saltier than the oceans. Finally, since there is freshwater springs that run down the mountains and mixes with the alkaline water of Mono Lake unique outcroppings have formed from calcium carbonate. These are referred to as “tufas”. The eco-system of Mono Lake allows it to be teeming with brine shrimp, algae and alkali flies. Several species of birds call this lake home for a good part of each year. The water levels also fluctuate depending on how much freshwater run off there is each year. At times the water levels are low and others quite high.

Each year many visit the  lake and the Natural State Reserve. It is very popular with photographers for its vivid mountain and  water vistas. Bird watching, hiking, boating and nature tours are widely available. The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve aims to help educate and help protect the beautiful tufas. The Mono Lake Committee has helped protect the freshwater runoffs from being diverted from the lake towards Los Angeles since 1978.


Tufas on Mono Lake, California – Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Vezoy


Mono Lake, California – Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by A. Perucchi