Some thoughts on traveling to Iceland.

First of all, if you’re thinking about going, just book a ticket and go.  Iceland is unlike any other place I’ve ever visited.  It’s an incredible experience.  A few tips…

1.  Go horseback riding.  Did you know Iceland is VERY well known for their horses?  They are small hardy animals that are 5 gaited (this is unlike most horses).  Even better, there is a fantastic company to go with.  I highly recommend Islenski Hesturinn, who will take care of you and make sure your ride is a great one.

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Meet Somi, my awesome horse.

2.  Meet Chef Tyffi.  If you only do two things while in Iceland, go horseback riding and plan a dinner with Chef Tyffi.  Tyffi (aka ‘Tiffany’ while we visited) is a guide/cook who shows you a completely different side of Reykjavik (including dining in the Chef’s home!).  Do not hesitate – make this booking.  Helpful hint – drink plenty of water and bring a healthy appetite!

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Do we look drunk? Because we are definitely intoxicated.

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Appropriately named Black Death.

3.  See the Golden Circle.  If you can, try for a perfect summer day.

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Gullfloss waterfall.

4.  Bring warm clothes.  If you are used to living in a desert environment, this is especially important.  I ended up buying wool socks, but should have brought some all weather pants, which would’ve seen a lot of use.  Given the constant changes in temperature and precipitation, plan for every outcome.

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The dream jacket I almost bought by Cintamani (Icelandic outdoors company).

5.  Bring an eyemask (if traveling during summer).  The sun didn’t set for three days.  Literally.

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This is midnight.

6.  Treat yourself to one really nice meal.  My recommendations include Dill or Grillmarket.  Opt for the paired menu – you won’t be disappointed.

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Yum, rock!

7.  If you are stopping over in Reykjavik, stay close to the action.  Specifically, stay on Laugavegur Street.  There’s great shopping and restaurants along the length of this main street.

8.  Skip the Blue Lagoon!  Seriously.  While the pictures are pretty incredible, it feels grossly overpriced.  And if you do go, be sure to bring something to protect your smartphone.  Instead, try the Secret Lagoon (while it lacks the color of the Blue Lagoon, it is cheaper and easier visit).

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Is this picture worth upwards of EUR60 per person?

9. Be patient.  Mainly, this is for me, because every pick up I arranged was late – causing me to freak out and wonder if they were going to show up at all.  Yes, they did.  Icelanders are super nice and friendly, maybe just not the most punctual of people.

10.  Bring plenty of money!  Iceland is not a cheap country to visit.  I’m not mentioning this to put you off, I’m just listing the reality of the situation.

 

As you might be able to tell, our itinerary was centered around Reykjavik.  We didn’t rent a car (and didn’t need to by staying in the city).  With all of our excursions, we saw most of what was within a 1-3 hour radius (which I felt was a good fit).  Looking back, I think this was the right decision for our trip.  I’m glad we didn’t drive around and need to repack every night.  If we were to visit again, I would most likely want to visit during months where the Northern Lights would be visible and I would avoid getting on a glacial river rafting trip with a bunch of crazy Cezch nationals.

Have you been to Iceland?  Do you have anything to add?

 

THE drink in Amsterdam this summer.

By no means am I a trendy person, but I couldn’t help but notice that Gin & Tonic’s were literally EVERYWHERE.  Artisnal G&T’s.  Bespoke G&T’s.  G&T’s with fancy tonic water.  G&T’s with fancy gin.  It was crazy!  I don’t mind a G&T now and then, but to see it on every cocktail menu was a bit overwhelming.

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How do you like yours?

Travel Suggestions from a Fairly Well Traveled Traveler

I already wrote this once.  Let’s see if WordPress eats it again.  Just finishing a fantastic holiday, I’m realizing Hubs and I have finally managed to get a few things right when it comes to traveling. I’ve not thought of work and I’ve experienced a lot on this trip I previously hadn’t.  I thought I would share a few of our tips!

  1. Google Maps is your friend

This one requires a bit of homework up front, but the payoff is worth it. Download a map offline and start pinning various places you want to visit. Doing this will help you get a feel for the city you’re visiting before you ever arrive and ensure you don’t miss out on any of the places you want to see. It will also help you plan out routes that make the best use of your time and energy and prevent any last minute stress upon arrival.

  1. Do something for yourself.

Hubs likes getting tattoos and we always make time in our schedule to make this happen. We also like to eat well and usually arrange reservations for at least one nice place. I think it’s important to remember that vacation is a celebration of not working – so it’s good to do something that is special and a reminder that you’re on holiday.

  1. Plan for down time.

Further to above, it’s important to use a vacation to refresh and re-energize – it can be as simple as leaving time for a nap, loading up on a show you’ve been meaning to catch up on, or reading a book you’ve been meaning to. Yes, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible wherever you’re visiting, but give yourself time to simply relax. Also, in the case of bad weather, don’t feel too bad – with down time, there won’t be any disappointment of missing out on things.

  1. Make technology work for you.

I love traveling with our Apple TV! Slingbox is amazing!  Free wifi is everywhere.  There were numerous occasions where we were able to look something up or reference our next stop – resulting in a new bag for Hubs and a bunch of great stops for food and drinks.

  1. Do something cultural.

There are obvious museums and galleries for most cities you will visit, but with a little research you can find something cool like the Collective Six (free!), the Icelandic Phallological Museum or the Katten Museum.  Broaden your google search terms and be prepared for some of the most interesting places a city can offer.  Even if it’s your home town or a location you’ve visited numerous times – there is always something new!

6. Always have cash.

We always make sure to have somewhere between 20-50 USD/EUR/GBP (or whatever the local currency is) of where we’re going.  Sure, we live in a mostly cashless society, but there are always going to be time when it’s easier to have cash.

7. Go easy on social media.

Yeah, I could do better at this one.  I genuinely look at it as being so excited that I want to share my experiences with everyone, but I also have a tendency to overdo it.

8. Bring a water bottle.

Hubs and I prefer the Brita Sport Filter Water Bottle.  Actually, if you’re me (and have issues with low blood sugar) bring along a Coke and something to eat.

9. Always send postcards.

Who doesn’t love to get mail?  I inherited a love of post from my grandmother and always pre-address postcards for friends and family.  Also, trying to track down stamps can sometimes add an extra

10. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist.

You’re in a city, town or country for a reason – lean in!  Go for it!!

11. Learn the local way to say “thank you” – this will go much further than you think.  Just a few ways we’ve learned:

Thank you

Gracias

Merci

Shukran

Danke

Baiee Danke

Spaceba

Takk

Kom som needa

Salamat

I’m sure I’m missing something here – what do you recommend?

Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

First of all, download this book.  Immediately.  Okay?  Cool.  Now, THIS is original fiction.  This is a unique story, the characters have incredible depth, the writing is written in a lovely nuanced style and I’m already salivating for the next book.  I absolutely inhaled it while on vacation.  That is how you write things.  This is the direction YA should take.  Well done, Ms. Ahdieh, very well done.  I don’t want to give away much more except that you need to read this book.

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Read. Now.

 

When a book has the same title as yours…

Room 702, I discovered a few months ago, will soon have some competition.  Although written in another language (now translated), I’m curious how or if (new) Room 702’s release will have any impact on my book.  Will others looking for Ms. Ainsa’s book find my book instead?  I was at first frustrated when this book popped up on the horizon – mostly because I wondered of all the numbers in the world, why someone would choose to put together the exact same series as I did – but as time has gone on, I’ve come to be excited.  I’d still love to ask the author if she looked to determine the title of her book (when another was clearly already in existence), but will most likely be purchasing a copy when it release in August.

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Love the font!

What about you, dear reader?  How did you pick the title of your book?  How did you research for similar titles?

To be fair and avoid being a hypocrite, there is a male/male romance which also carries the name of Life After Joe.  However, given the subject matter, I’m not too worried about our audiences mistaking one for the other.