Iceland in Three Days

How to plan a trip to Iceland – Our Way:

  1. “Can you get time off work for a long weekend to Iceland?”
  2. “Well…only three days…sure, let’s go!”
  3. Book tickets
  4. GO

And that’s how we took an extended weekend to the Nordic Island where, in the summer, the sun never sets.

Four friends, one digital guidebook, a rental car, and a hunger for adventure we set out on three packed days our touring.

Our itinerary went something like this:

Day 1: Reykjavik

  • Take a 3 hour nap to off-set the zero sleep
  • Walk around Reykjavik downtown and pop into any museums we find of interest
  • Drink espresso, eat lamb hotdogs, try local beer, and hit the hay early to prepare for our driving tour

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Day 2: The Golden Circle

  • Drive the scenic route, through the “mountains” (foothills compared to the PNW)
  • Stop at Gullfoss, Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area,  Secret Lagoon
  • Stay out until 4am at the bar singing-a-long to American songs

 

 

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Day 3: South Coast

  • Wake-up at 1pm and begin our day
  •  More Waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, Skogafoss
  • An Iceberg you can walk on and around
  • Vik’s Black Sand Beach
  • Drive until we are too tired to do anymore and then head home. Arrive home at 12:30AM (and it’s still bright as day outside)

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Day 4: Blue Lagoon and Fly Home

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Highly recommend. Would travel to Iceland again. 14/10

Zagreb,Croatia and Plitvike Lakes [3]

We left off the last Croatia post as we boarded the plane from Munich to return to Croatia, this time landing in Zagreb. Zagreb is the polar opposite of Dubrovnik, it’s a fast paced metropolis that slows down in the evening only to continue business meetings over dinner and drinks. I enjoyed the hustle of the scene, but was ready to head back to the slow old city feel of Dubrovnik.

We stopped over in Zagreb for two nights and after four nights sharing a room with four strangers in a hostel we decided to splurge for a 4 star hotel. Chocolates on our pillows and beer in the fridge was the ultimate warm welcome.

We walked around and enjoyed the city views, breakfast off the square with the freshest eggs I’ve ever tasted, and many prosciutto platters.IMG_20171013_080300-PANO.jpg

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We rested up and after two days rest began our drive out to the Plitvike Lakes National Park. After taking an electric boat off the main entrance visitors choose to take one of five routes. We opted for a shorter hike, approximately 5 miles due to starting later in the day and still having a long drive to go. You can expect to see dozens of waterfalls, birds, and beautiful lakes that are essentially untouched.

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This hike was the highlight of my trip. If we’d known to plan for more time around the park we would easily have spent an entire day and gone for a longer hike. If you visit Croatia, this national park should be a must see on your list.

Basic Coding is to 2018 as Basic Typing is to 1997 [and other ‘Friday Thoughts’]

It’s another Friday and we’re two weeks into February, six weeks into the new year, only 319 days until Christmas (better start shopping now).

First, a few housekeeping items, how are your goal sheets coming along? They aren’t? Well, feel free to download your copy of “Champion Your Life” the bullet journal gone digital here. I’ve knocked one item off my list and see being able to check one more off this weekend.

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Second, have you checked out the “He Says, She Says” section?

If not, take a peek at some of our comical takes on life ranging from commuting, reading, and computer usage. This series is still up and coming, but we’d love your feedback!

Now, onto High-Five Friday Favorites/Thoughts:

    1. After numerous conversations with friends in varying career paths (psychology, marketing, teaching, and tech), we’ve decided that going forward basic coding will be an essential skill in life. Knowing any HTML, CSS, or Python, might be useful in the future. Kids are already taking programming classes in 3rd grade, many millennials may need to up their skill set to stay current in the near future.  What are your thoughts on this?
    2. Boats that are actual hot tubs AKA hot tubs boats are amazing. Everyone should give it a try, AKA something new I tried last Sunday.
    3.  Housing is so expensive to rent or buy in Seattle, I’m going to be poor the rest of my life. #shouldHaveBeenAnEngineer #iWishIwasBetteratMath #maybeI’llFranchiseHotTubBoats? 
    4. Old Friends are Gold. Even across time zones. I’m grateful for having friends near and far.
    5. We had a Girls Night Out and watched the latest 50 Shades of Grey. I’d never seen any of the others, so my expectations were LOW. This movie turned out to be a little funny and have some action. I was pleasantly surprised, I’d give it 1 out of 5 stars.

 

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What’s one highlight for you this week?

Are you teaching yourself to code?

Croatia/Munich [2]

After a quick exploration of Dubrovnik we were once again headed to the airport towards our 2nd stop, Munich. Yes, Munich is not in Croatia and yes, we did miss Oktoberfest by 4 days, but this was to our benefit. You see, by missing a major holiday by a mere 4 days we were able to take full advantage of discounted prices. Dirndl and Lederhosen for 50% of the price? Yes, please!

On our first full day we fought through our colds (that we picked up on day one in Dubrovnik) and caught an early train to see the Neuschwanstein  Castle that inspired Mr. Disney’s Cinderella Castle. What a view, eh?!

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My favorite hostel vibe of the trip was here, we stayed at the Wombat City Hostel and it was positioned perfectly by a subway, but off the main street. 12/10 we both highly recommend this as a stop during your European travels.

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A few highlights for us were:

The Standing Wave

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Dachau

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BIER at Hofbräuhaus

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Other highlights from Munich were our Michelin star lunch, a day at the zoo, stumbling into the Glockespiel at noon, a modern art gallery, the National Theater, and many other sights. After four nights in Munich we head back to Croatia for the reminder of our trip!

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A Year in Review: Travel by the Numbers

To all the MVP and those in the million miles club, congrats! It takes a lot of travel to rack-up the miles. Those of you commuting to work by plane every week, I’m mildly envious you can claim the miles and fly free for vacations!

This was a year of great travel both near and far for weddings, leisure, bachelorettes, and football. Out of curiosity and a desire to throw things on a pie chart, I dug into my Alaska member account and reviewed itineraries for an overview of my airport adventures.

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The second half of 2017 was truly a whirlwind! Looking forward to 2018 with a few plane hops already in the works!

What was your favorite getaway of 2017?

 

Ready to Ring in 2018

The new year is sneaking up on us and the holidays are slipping away. Make sure you’re drinking your fill of hot cider and eggnog, January will be here in the blink of an eye!

By December’s end I’ve hardly had my fill of twinkle lights, Christmas trees, and ugly sweater parties- if twinkle lights were hung up all year I’d be a happy camper. But, this is also a busy season and come January I feel the need for a small reset.

IMG_3243This year I’ve created a Bingo card of self-care activities in lieu of any other January reset. The card has 25 boxes to check off, you can easily earn Bingo by completing five activities per week and complete the  card by Jan 31st.

I’ve purposely left blank squares to allow you to tailor activities to your interests. What may energize me could bore you or vice versa. So, take the time to make it your own.

Check back Tuesday the 26th to download the Self-Care Bingo Card!

I’m excited to share this card with all of you!

 

The Path of Totality

It may be the start of a new weekend, but I want to do a quick scenes from the weekend before it’s obsolete!
Well, we can’t win’em all, so this is our camping/eclipse recap. Check in tomorrow for the most recent weekend recap.

Last weekend at the crack of dawn (9am) we set out on our Seattle to McMinnville expedition to view the total solar eclipse, or as marketed at the local Fred Meyer “The Great American Solar Eclipse”.

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Despite warnings from WSDOT and ODOT, the traffic to Oregon was seemingly better than an average Saturday on I5 South. Any car ride longer than 3 hours feels like eternity and in my eyes requires multiple stops to break up the drive, so once we hit Portland we grabbed lunch and rested. A few hundred dollars and bag full of new clothes later, we drove to the local river, pumped up our inflatable paddleboards and cruised along the Tualatin river.

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After a good hour of slow paddling, we rolled up the boards and finished the drive home only to eat dinner and crash from a long day.

Sunday included winetasting under sunny skies and fighting off yellow jackets with forks. The men in our lives are fearless when it comes to these pests, hand them a fork and the bees won’t stand a chance.

Going into the eclipse I was excited about the event, but felt like I would have been content seeing a 95% eclipse. After experiencing a total eclipse I’d advocate for all to take the time to see a total eclipse if they have the time/resources. The change in temperature, the chirping crickets, and the birds that went silent completed the entire experience and something only those at 100% totality will experience.

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If you missed the eclipse this time around, hopefully you can make the trek to Texas and witness the next event.

In an effort to avoid the eclipse return traffic, we planned to camp for a night in Astoria at Fort Stevens State Park.  This state park offers almost 500 varying campsites ranging from yurt, RV, and tent sites; we managed to secure the last spot at the state park, I think it’s time to buy a lottery ticket- talk about lucky!

We “baked” cinnamon the next morning in an orange rind on our camping stove. Everything tastes better when cooked outside, but these cinnamon rolls would crush the competition at your favorite breakfast spot.

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Check out this glaze!

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We barely explored the sites of the park, but managed to walk the old fort just off the water and drive to the beach to see the old shipwreck. If we ever make it back to this campground we’ll have to bring bikes or borrow a set of cruisers to bike the trails.

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It shaped up to be a full weekend and my only night in a tent this summer! The PNW realistically has 1 full month of summer left, so I’ll need to make an effort for one more weekend of camping.

 

Cheers to a new week!

 

 

 

Trip Planning

The countdown begins! In just over two months I’ll be returning from a trip to Croatia/Germany/TBD.

I found cheap tickets (we’re talking under $400) roundtrip from SFO–>DBV for either 8 days or 16 days. After some debate it was decided that 8 days is too short, so 16 days was the best option to create a full itinerary.  The website that I swear by to find cheap tickets is Secret Flying.com, this is only my first purchase, but we have friends on their 4th trip using this service.

At this moment, it looks like our flight change won’t allow us to experience Oktoberfest, but we may be able to catch the day after events. We’ll just have to return and see, drink, and eat Oktoberfest in full force at a later date. This allows us ample time to island hop around Croatia, visit a national park (like the image below), museums, and kayak around Dubrovinik.

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We’re still in the early stages of planning and sourcing tips from friends and co-workers that have recently visited the country.

Help a girl out!

  • If you’ve recently spent time in Europe, what’s a must-do?
  • Are there any Fall activities to scope out in October?

Havana, Cuba

February was a whirlwind of traveling: three cities, two different travel companions, two beaches, in only in seven days! I sipped on frothy butter beer in Diagon Alley with other aspiring wizards in Orlando, Florida. From there we rented a car and experienced my first toll plaza and turnpike as we cruised cruised down to Miami. We witnessed a beautiful wedding for our Seattle friend, worked on our vitamin D, and got up close and personal with an iguana. From South Beach, I parted ways with those friends to meet up with another buddy on foreign soil in Havana, Cuba.

Havana nights, y’all? $3 mojitos are cheaper than the water, so ensure you’re properly hydrated before you’re arrival, if you catch my drift…

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My hometown friend flew across the country on a whim to explore Havana with me for only the weekend!

In hindsight, ALWAYS book more time than you think you need, we needed many more days to do it all, but better to leave wanting more than overstay our welcome?

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This Seattle girl hadn’t seen sun in over 3 months, it’d been so long that I almost forgot items you need for sunny days, i.e. SUNGLASSES. I whipped those bad boys out for the first time in 6 months and happily glued them to my face. 

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Seeing the sunshine was like seeing the world in color for the first time or a child admiring their first crab on a beach. Feeling the sun beating down on our shoulders in the afternoon after months of stale grey weather was pure bliss.

 

MONEY
Havana is only a 50 min hop from Miami and you can buy your visa at the gate. Bring all cash, as Havana is a cash economy. 

Beware! 

Once you run out of cash you are out of luck and better start washing dishes to earn your ride home. Bring extra.

INTERNET
Wifi is essentially non-existent in Cuba. They have unmarked wi-fi plazas, you’ll know you’ve found one when dozens of tourists and locals alike are: facetiming; skyping, reading news, or talking on the phone in a middle of the street. Thomas and I both felt that the forced disconnection from the rest of the world was a highlight of the trip. How often are you REQUIRED to be present because you’re left with no other option? Never.

Our phones were only used for offline translation, photography, music, notes, and calculations. Whatever else was happening in the world did not matter because we couldn’t respond or take any action, entirely stress free, that feeling is priceless.

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LANGUAGE
My Spanish is arguable rusty. Communicating with our AirBnB host was a challenge and we learned a few phrases along the way. Although she spoke 0 English, she laughed about the language barrier,

“Ellas español egual mi ingles” 

There are places to stay that do offer English speaking hosts, but we were looking for authenticity on a budget. It was perfect, we ordered breakfast every morning and had a surprise egg variation thanks to our miscommunications. (We’d do it again)

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Most Memorable Sight
The fort (Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabana)! Once we deciphered from our host that there is not boat (we later learned, yes, there perhaps is a boat) to the other side of the water we planned our day around this attraction. We planned to watch the cannonball firing reenactment that night. 

This was worth the trip! 

We arrived just as the rain poured, but luckily, cleared out as the reenactment began, 9:00 P.M. on the dot.

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I stood on the ledge of this fort, but knowing my reaction to loud noises, one misstep i’d be off the ledge and a few hundred feet. I repositioned myself in the crowd to watch the firing.

Highly recommended! 

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We also stopped at the revolutionary museum, swung by the Rum Distillery, attempted to club at the Art Factory, and enjoyed many delicious meals.

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Book your flights! Tour Cuba before it changes (for the better) and enjoy a tech free vacation.

Time Flies

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Time flies when you don’t write anything!

I’d love to do a recap post, but how to condense an entire year into a few hundred words is beyond me. Instead, I’ll provide a couple of bulleted highlights and move forward with my year and plans to blog. Always look forward and don’t look back, right?

  • I turned 26 and went indoor sky diving.
  • Adopted a cat and I call her Poppy (Popstart, Popstar, or Pops)
  • Ran Ragnar NWP again this year
  • Vacationed in: Hawaii, NY, New Orleans, and Crater Lake

I’m sure there were other notables from the year and maybe I’ll  later rediscover pictures to share. Until then, why don’t we start with, “Hello, nice to see you again.”

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Cheers,

Michelle