Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Iceland day 2

I managed to sleep until 5:30am which I think was good.  Now I did have a few wake ups but manged to fall back asleep which is good.  I went downstairs for breakfast and also packed my lunch from the breakfast buffet too.  My tour pick up is right outside the hotel at 8am.  I am on a super long 15 hour bus tour to the south coast.  This is the one tour that I am most excited!  It will be a super long day but am so excited!  Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss . . .

The down the road to Skogafoss . . .
The sheep were just graving on the hillside . . .
. . . and the cows too!
These animals have the most awesome views!  It was time for a lunch stop in Vik Village.  Since I packed my lunch, I headed to the beach to enjoy the views on the black sand beach . . .
The one thing about this super long day tour is that the guide makes a lot of stops to see things along the way.  It really does help break up the long bus ride.  Our tour group is only 18 people so that has been nice too.  Some of the stops are just a couple of minutes which is really all you need to look at two glaciers in the distance . . .
And then finally we reach the farthest point for our tour and the part that I was most excited about and the reason I took this tour . . . Diamond Beach!
. . . and across the road to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon . . . where we would take a boat tour around the lagoon area and get up close with the ice.  It was really cool!
And just like that we turned around to make the super long drive back to Reykjavik but with stops at a lava field that was covered with moss . . . the moss was super soft and bouncy . . .
. . . to see Icelandic Horses up close . . . these horses are a lot smaller than most and have an interesting history.  They are shipped all over the world but once they leave Iceland they are not allowed to return due to fear of them bringing back a disease.  They do not vaccinate the horses in Iceland.  They were small and super friendly!
Reynisfjara Basalt Sea Stacks . . .
Reynistjara Black Sand Beach . . .
No more stops and it was back on the road to Reykjavik . . . hard to believe we have been on this tour for 15 hours!  What is best after a super long day?
The shower was amazing and slipped into bed super tired!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Iceland day 1

I have arrived!  The sun was shining as we landed and can already tell it will be an amazing week!
The flight was bumpy, miserable, hardly slept, and was unable to get out of my seat the entire 7 hour 15 minute flight . . . to make matters even worse my neck pillow had a hole and would not stay inflated.  It felt so good to stand up and walk around.  We arrived early so I had a couple of hours before my transportation to my first stop so it was nice to walk around and people watch.  The airport is very small but a lot of hustle and bustle of excited tourist poking around.  I soon found the bus that would take me to my first stop, Blue Lagoon.  The sun quickly disappeared and it was very windy with a drizzling rain.  The drive from Keflavik International Airport to the Blue Lagoon was just amazing.  It is always fun to see a new place for the first time.  By the time we arrived it was raining and just yucky weather outside.  I stowed my carry on bag and headed for some relaxation.  The line to enter was long but since I booked a premium ticket I went right to the front and was in the changing room in no time at all.  I followed the rules of showering before putting on my swimsuit and headed outdoors.  The lagoon is large.  There were a lot of people but they limit the number that can enter each hour.  It never felt crowded as there is plenty of room to spread out.  I walked around the entire lagoon area . . . I totally forgot to take a picture of the entire lagoon area . . . photo from the internet . . .
. . . and then headed to get my free mud mask . . .
. . . my face felt so good even if I did look a little ridiculous.  I tell you this was a perfect plan to go here after arriving from the long flight.  Not only was it relaxing but it would hopefully help me fight jet lag too.  After about 2 hours, I decided I had had enough soaking and relaxing so went back indoors to change for my late lunch reservation at Lava Restaurant.  As part of the premium ticket, you received a free lunch reservation and glass of champagne . . . still had to pay for the food so not sure how the free reservation is a selling point.  I decided to go with the seafood menu.  Before my food arrived they brought a plate of bread with a huge scoop of butter . . .
. . . I ate the two slices of bread and then wondered if that black round thing under the butter was bread too so I asked.  Good thing I did not try to eat it as it was a piece of lava.  I laughed at myself!  My meal was langoustine soup for starter and for the main course, cod.
Let me just say they were both very good!  That cod and barley and whatever else was under the fish was just melt in your mouth amazing.  There were so many pops of flavors in my mouth!  So can you guess what this two course meal might cost?  60.000 ISK (Icelandic Krona) which is about $56 USD.  I know right . . . good thing the food was excellent and had that free glass of champagne too.  By our standards this is a very expensive meal but for Iceland this is about what it cost to eat a meal out in a restaurant.  After a lot of research, I knew to be prepared for high cost and enjoy my meal; which I did.  I had a few minutes before the bus arrived to take me to Reykjavik city center so I wandered around the area of the lagoon where you were not allowed to swim.
The bus ride was about 45 minutes and it hit me . . . I fell asleep for about half of the drive.  My head was bobbing and I could not help myself.   I tried so hard to stay awake but the relaxing water and no sleep got to me.  The bus dropped me at the nearest tourist bus stop 7, and I quickly walked to the hotel.  It was nearing 5pm when I got to my room.  I am staying at the Canopy Reyklajvik City Centre and it is a delightful hotel!
The room was very trendy and roomy by European standards . . .
Since I will be here for the next five nights, I unpacked and organized all my stuff.  Hardly ever do I stay at the same hotel for this long . . .
I am starting to feel the jet lag but really do not want to go out of the room so I watch the television, unpack some more, read my book, go over my plans for the week, and finally around 8pm I hit my limit so I took a shower and crawled into bed.  It doesn't get dark so pulled the curtains and hope for a good night of sleep . . .

Sunday, July 8, 2018

to Iceland

I am off for my solo trip of the summer.  Of course I was super early to the airport but you just never know how security is going to be especially the weekend near a major summer holiday.  I was stuck in a window seat so continued to check the app for an aisle seat with no luck!  So I sat and waited . . .
. . . as I waited I realized I forgot to throw in the adapter for my phone to use my ear buds.  So I quickly set out to see if I could find one in the airport terminal that was reasonable.  I was surprised that there was a store that only had them marked up a few dollars.  I needed them because I knew the plane did not have those in seat entertainment screens but was suppose to be able to use my phone to stream movies for free so the adapter was a must if I wanted to hear the movie.  My plan is to sleep but just in case I need a back up plan.

I am so excited to finally be visiting Iceland!  I have had this trip on my radar for a long time but it just has never worked out.  The main reason is that there were no direct flights from where I live so knew it would be a long flight with a connection along the way.  Now there are three airlines that fly direct from DFW to Reykjavik!  Iceland is expensive . . . like I keep reading it is super expensive so was going to try to do the trip as cheap as possible.  I stalked online fares for weeks and one day on American Airlines it popped up for $515 . . . I put it on hold for 24 hours and got busy looking for a hotel.  Since I am a loyal Hilton Honors person, I knew I wanted to stay at a Hilton property which there are three in Reykjavik.  So here is my problem . . .
If I want to pay for the room it will cost me around $550 for each night which adds up to over $2700.  This cost is totally not in my budget BUT if I book the room on points it cost me $0!  If you book with points the 5th night is free so for 280,000 points (70,000 points per night for first four nights) I booked five nights at the Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre for absolutely $0!  It almost seems to good to be true doesn't it?  So two of the biggest expenses for travel, flight and hotel, are only costing me a little over $500 which I think is a total deal!

Oh and the weather forecast isn't looking that great either . . .
. . . well the temperatures look awesome and are about half of what we are having in Texas so that is a welcome change!  I am prepared and have packed two pair of waterproof shoes/boots, waterproof jacket and pants and well it doesn't matter though because I'm going to ICELAND!!!   

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Staycation Day 3

My staycation was short lived as I got the text last night Colin was ready to be picked up from his visit with his grandparents and cousins.  So I did some chores around the house and set out to check  another restaurant and bakery across town.  Have you noticed all these new places are across town?  It was lunch at Milos All Day.  I ordered a War Pig with braised pork, fried egg, pickled red onions, green chile hollandasie on a buttermilk biscuit.
The s'mores cupcake, peach scone, and pink lemonade cupcake were all yummy.  Let me just say these cupcakes were amazing and so much better than the two I ordered earlier in the week!  It just goes to show that hype isn't always the best place to get the best cupcake in town.  Look at the inside of the s'mores cupcake . . .
I did not have time to visit a new place as I needed to get on the road but got to the priority of eating!