The Best Trips are the Spontaneous Ones

Cheers to taking chances. Cheers that it actually worked out well! The quickest way to get to know someone better is to take a trip with them. In my case, I went to Iceland.

WOW Air had a really good flight deal going on and despite the fact that it sounded like the sketchiest airline on earth, Tony and I decided to go for it. We had a lot of suggestions on where to go, so this took some detailed planning on our part to fit everything in four days. Tony was excited for the Golden Circle Tour of the National Park. For me, there was a 50/50 chance of actually seeing it, but I was hoping to catch the Northern Lights!

Day 1: Exploring Reykjavik

We landed at 5:00 am. It was rainy, cold and depressing. I hate the cold. I was tired. We were off to a great start. Our airport shuttle driver dropped us off on the side of a random street and pointed us to the general direction of where our hotel should be. No sign of a welcoming hotel anywhere. We wandered into a restaurant asking where we were. We were greeted by a tall, skinny man who told us we were in the right place and insisted on carrying our suitcases up and down four flights of stairs. We asked him why he was doing this. He told us that he needed exercise. He then proceeded to check us in. Tony decided to make jokes because he thinks he is funny. Skinny tall man points out where all of the amenities were located in the hotel, including the gym. Tony asks how he would know since he never goes. Skinny man was not amused. Tony then asks where we would be able to find some mimosas to get the day started. He looks at us like we are crazed alcoholics. 

We had a bit of breakfast and took a power nap. It was already time for lunch. We stopped by a small restaurant called Saegreifinn and decided to try their lobster soup, a scallop kebab and...whale. One does not sound as normal as the others. Surprisingly, the whale wasn't bad at all! It tasted like a very tender steak. 

We decided to have a few gin and tonics and then it was time for dinner. We decided to try another restaurant called Tapas Barinn, which had a few courses to sample Icelandic foods: lamb, lobster, salmon, tuna…and PUFFIN. You would think since it is a bird, it would taste more like chicken. Wrong. It tasted like blubber. I liked it. Tony made a strange face. We finished the night with a nice bottle of wine and ice cream.

The Cute Little City of Reykjavik

The Cute Little City of Reykjavik

Smoked Puffin

Smoked Puffin

Scallop Kebab and Whale

Scallop Kebab and Whale

Day 2: National Park

Adventure day. We snuck a a few bottles of gin and and few cans of tonic water on the bus even though we weren't supposed to. Our tour group guide had the voice that could put anyone to sleep, so we had to make the most of it. Our itinerary consisted of geysers, glaciers and waterfalls. We made a few random stops off the bus. I pet a horse. I kept calling the geysers, geezers. Tony was looking for moose. We giggled the whole tour and annoyed everyone sitting around us. 

That night was a very special night for me. I finally got to see what I wanted to see: The Northern Lights. We took a bottle of wine up to the rooftop of our hotel and watched the green light flickering in the sky.  My DSLR camera somehow decided that it didn't want to work on me, so all I have from that night is a blurry iPhone photo (see below). Pictures did not do any justice from witnessing this phenomenon.

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park

Gullfoss waterfall

Gullfoss waterfall

The Northern Lights from our Hotel

The Northern Lights from our Hotel

Day 3: Blue Lagoon

I was very excited for this day. We took a bus to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. The light blue water consisted of silica and sulfur minerals and was between 99-102 degrees in temperature. The spa had fancy tracking devices for our wrists to track how many drinks were allowed per person. We found out very quickly it was a three drink limit. The spa guides also advised us to saturate our hair with conditioner to keep our hair from turning into rock. Mine did anyway. 

That night, we went to a really nice dinner at the Lobster House (also called Torfan). Tony was craving lobster and steak and I was craving duck. We went back to the hotel to get drunk have a dance party that night. Then we decided we should be social and head to the bars. We also decided to sneak in our own Red Bulls to the bar and pretend we were bartenders. 

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

Tony and I in the Blue Lagoon

Tony and I in the Blue Lagoon

Tony and I at  Torfan Humarhúsið  (Lobster House)

Tony and I at Torfan Humarhúsið (Lobster House)

Day 4: Flight Home

We only had a limited time in the morning before we had to head to the airport, so we did some last minute gift shopping before making our way back home. After trying all the outrageous foods from that trip, all we wanted was a good old cheeseburger.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend going to Iceland. It was an amazing experience. You truly feel like you are on a different planet. That, and having a travel partner to explore things with. 


Europe Accelerated my Wanderlust

This past summer I went out of the country to cruise the Mediterranean with two friends, Kristen and Katie. It was one of the best trips to this day. Here's a bit of insight on our crazy adventures:

NOTE: Lots of drinking and awkward situations involved. Pics were all taken from an iPhone camera.

Day 1: Venice

We arrive. The cab drops us off about a mile from the hotel we booked. We get completely lost trying to navigate through the bridges and back alleyways. We glance at the map we were given. We need to get to Per Rialto. Every street was named Per Rialto. We wander in circles dragging our heavy luggage around. We finally find the hotel. It is a lovely one star resort. We lift our heavy luggage four flights of stairs to a room with no air conditioning. 

That evening we decide to explore the city. We walk the Grand Canal, eat authentic Italian food and watch the sunset. On our walk back, a monsoon hits the city. We shelter ourselves at a restaurant and order a few glasses of wine until the rain subsides. We get back to the hotel. I sleep soundly in my cot while Katie kills a bug next to Kristen's head.

Day 2: Venice and Arriving on the Cruise Ship

We decide to get gelato and hit the museums in the AM. We check out of the hotel and drag our luggage to the cruise ship terminal. An italian man stops us. Italian man offers to help us with our luggage if we pay him a small fee. Italian hulk man takes all three of our suitcases and brings them up and down two small bridges. Italian man expects payment even though we are nowhere near the cruise ship terminal. I give him 20 euros. Italian man says it is not enough and tries to rip us off by saying it costs 20 euros per suitcase. We have no money. We grab our luggage and run for our lives to the terminal. Italian man runs after us but finally gives up halfway through the chase. We make it safely onto the boat. 

We board the boat and consume multiple glasses of complimentary champagne upon welcome. It was only supposed to be one per person. We go to dinner and no one wants to sit with us. We consume more glasses of wine. We hit the club and make friends. 

Day 3: Montenegro

We go for a hike 1,200 meters all the way to the top of Saint John's fortress. I almost die of heat exhaustion. We finally make it to the top and take photos. Once we make it back down, we reward ourselves with a glass of wine and go souvenir shopping. Kristen and Katie buy magnets. I buy an fancy egg. We make it back on to the boat. We hit the club again and make more friends.

Day 4: Day at Sea

We sleep till 1:00pm. We go to the pool and lay around some more. I start a dance party with the whole ship.

Day 5: Santorini

We wake up as early as we can (6:00am) to go explore. Santorini lies on top of a cliff and there were two ways up: the sky train and donkeys. We thought that being on a donkey was a better idea. The salesman rips us off by placing Katie and I on the same donkey. He thinks I am Katie's adopted child. He also thinks Kristen needs exercise so he walks her halfway up the cliff before giving her the dumbest donkey he could find. I hold on for dear life while Katie takes donkey selfies. Kristen straggles behind trying not to get thrown off the cliff by her donkey. Katie and I make friends with two gay guys on the way up. 

We walk around the city and go souvenir shopping. We buy rubber duckies. We think this is the perfect representation of Santorini. I buy a white Grecian dress. I think I am Aphrodite. We look at the time and panic because the cruise ship is about to leave without us. We run for our lives to the sky train. The line is five miles long. The only other way is back to the donkey cliffs. We make our way down. The stairs are covered in donkey poop. I hate my life. 


Day 6: Athens

We hop on a tour bus to take us around the city. We stop at the Temple of Zeus and take pictures. We stop at the Parthenon because we figured that was where the main attraction was. We sandwich ourselves between crowds of sweaty tourists. There are signs everywhere that tell us not to touch anything. We touch the Parthenon anyway because we think we're rebels. 

Day 7: Katakalon

We take an hour long train ride to the Olympic ruins. We walk around aimlessly in the blazing sun and snap photos. We go back near the ship to go have lunch and search for wifi but we didn't want to pay for any food or drink which made finding wifi really difficult. 

Day 8: Day at Sea

We sign up for an exercise class. We never make it to exercise class. We go to the buffet instead and lay out. We spend the last night at the club with our new friends. We are sad to leave them. We dance till the club closes that night.

Day 9: Venice to Milan

Kristen wakes up drunk the next day and we find our way to the train station to get to Milan. We can't figure out how to get out of the train station. We finally make it out and look for our Airbnb with our host named Alex. Alex did not look like his picture. It's like when you meet someone on Tinder with pictures from ten years ago. Alex has a friend over and they both sleep on the couch in his living room while we sleep in his bedroom. It is a full house.

We decide to go explore Milan that evening. We visit Duomo but we get turned away from the church because we don't know how to dress appropriately. We eat pasta and decide to walk around the canal. We try to find somewhere to drink and stop at a chess themed bar. We get approached by creepy guys that keep speaking Italian to us. We go back to our Airbnb on the fourth floor where the elevator takes ten years to go up and down and only safely fits one person.

Day 9: Back to Venice

We get back on the train to Venice and are stuck next to a family that doesn't stop eating. I'm sleeping like a mummy and Katie and Kristen have to take on all the crumbs coming from their child's mouth. We make it back to find the water taxi and stand for a really long time. We try to find our last Airbnb with the host named Bin. We note that Bin looks like an asian man in his photo. We come to an alley and find the street number and its perpendicular to the street it should be on. We see six names on the door and none of them say Bin. We take a chance and choose the most asian sounding name. We hit the buzzer and the door opens by itself to a dark hallway. Katie and I look at each other with a "hell no" and push Kristen inside. We're really great friends. Asian woman walks down the stairs. Asian woman certainly does not look like Bin but says she is Bin. She takes us up four flights of stairs. She shows us not to slam the door by demonstrating what slamming the door looks like. Then she tells us to not get water on the floor and to be quiet.

We decide to explore Venice again on our last night. We end up getting pretty deep into the alleys. We stop to get food and get directed to the whitest bar in Venice. We spend our last night hanging out at a pub with a deer head on the wall. We leave and manage to find our way back to Bin's place through the dark alleys. The next day we wake up cranky and hungover, take the water taxi to the airport and make our way back home.

The end.