We didn't spend a lot of time in Paris. Truth be told, we don't love ridiculously large cities (Our favorite city thus far in Europe has been Ghent), but it didn't seem right to be traveling through Europe without seeing The Most Romantic City In The World. While we had a great time, and there will be more to come on Paris (Wait until you read about our Secret Food Tour we went on - SPOILER ALERT we ate almost a pound of cheese and lived to tell about it), we hit most of the tourist-y spots in the span of a morning and spent the rest of the time drinking wine and eating cheese. I also spent a VERY frustrating two hours trying to get a cell phone SIM card set up, but let's not dwell on that. We walked from Notre Dame, past the Louvre, through the Jardin Des Tulienes, past the Paris Eye and Concorde Square, down the Champs Elysses (whistling this song the whole time) to the Arc Du Triompf, followed the River Seine to The Eiffel Tower and as they say in France VOILA. Tourist tour finished, pictures taken, let's get some prix fixe lunch with wine.Read More
We're alive! Yes! Now that we've survived #snowmageddon2016 AKA "A Small Sprinkling Of Snow If You're An Icelander" we are ready to get across the north half of the country in order to see them Aurora Borealises! There's going to be another big hunk of driving today, so crank that 1989 and let's roll to our first stop, The Lake Myvatn Nature Baths.
A lot of people will tell you about The Blue Lagoon as the stop to make in Iceland, and The Blue Lagoon is great if you are only in Iceland for a few days, and anytime you can spend time in a pool heated by natural gas which comes from the liquid hot magma at the center of the Earth (all facts approximate) that is the vivid color of laundry detergent, you absolutely should. BUT. If you are doing the Ring Road, save yourself a little bit of cash (Hey, you're sleeping in your car for goodness sakes, obviously you care about fiduciary concerns) and hit the Lake Myvatn Nature Baths instead. The baths are about an hour east of Akureyri, the second largest city on the island, and they are just as spectacular, just as refreshing, and just as much of a treat to your senses and your aching bones as The Blue Lagoon.Read More
Did you wake up a little hung over after drinking Gull and Brennevin all night? I know we did, but there is good news because the next AWESOME stop is literally directly across the street. You can find black sand beaches (FUN FACT: The beaches are black because most of the sand comes from volcanic ash) in other places throughout Iceland, but Vik is by far the largest and the most beautiful. You can backtrack around the mountain from the campground for views like this, including the spectacular basalt columns:Read More
When we last left off, you (our heroes) had been awake for approximately 35 straight hours and were sleeping at the Bus Hostel in Reykjavik. I'm assuming you did exactly the same thing we did the first day you were in Iceland, and have gotten your fill (mostly) of The Golden Circle. If you're truly following in our footsteps, one of you will need to grow a terrible beard. Go ahead. I'll wait. Doesn't connect between your neck beard and your mustache, but yet also has a few super long white and red hairs growing in it? AWESOME, you're ready.
We rented a Ford hatchback, which was the most expensive of the two wheel drives, and the biggest. We needed the room, because (Oh did I forget to mention?) we slept in our car for five nights of the trip. In order to make our budget for a year long trip, we needed to cut costs wherever possible, so that meant only staying one night in the hostel in Reykjavik (and even that was only $21 a bed) and going grocery shopping to eat most of our meals. Because, as I mentioned before, the food in Iceland is crazy expensive. Oh, and the gas is crazy expensive. Oh, and the lodging is crazy expensive. Oh, and the rental cars are crazy expensive. If you haven't caught the storyline, Iceland is crazy expensive. So we had to save money however we could. The car rental cost us $62 per day, and this was without the extra insurance. We have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card (LAH DEE DAH) which covered our insurance, but everything that I read involves a horror story of a $900 scratch on the bumper that the driver couldn't even see. Even our friends from Belgium (What? What friends? We'll get there, you guys, this is going to make so much sense when you read it the second time.) told us that when they returned their car, the clerk inspecting the car found a small scratch just above the wheel well and told them it may cost up to $600. So you may want to get that extra insurance just for a piece of mind.Read More
My dad has a saying: "I plan my vacations one meal at a time." Or maybe he didn't actually say that; I can't tell whether that is a quote he actually said, or something that I've just attributed to him, that he said something similar but not quite as catchy, or maybe is just something Guy Fieri said and I assigned it to my dad because they have similar haircuts. So I take this to heart, and whenever we are heading to a new city, much to Renee's chagrin, I will always google the phrase "______ famous foods" because I don't want to be talking to someone about what a great time we had in Iceland, and have them say "Did you have hot dogs there? THEY WERE UNBELIEVABLE!" and not have an opinion ready to blast out. Yes, we had hot dogs in Iceland. And lobster rolls in Boston. Don't forget pizza in New York. So we were not going to spend our time in Berlin without having currywurst.
Currywurst is a German delicacy that is most popular in it's capital city, having been born in 1949 when Herta Heuwer was cooking her fam some dinner and threw whatever she had in the pantry on the plate. It turned out to be a sauce combining ketchup and curry powder over a pork sausage, and what do you know A STAR IS BORN. Now there are currywurst stalls everywhere from Brandenburg Gate to Checkpoint Charlie (Real missed opportunity: Call your stall Checkpoint Curry, then wait for the money to roll in. Come on Berlin do I have to do all this for you?) and every one has their own secret ingredient or special cooking technique. Everything from brown sugar to chamomile can make up the ketchupy (I tried for literally fifteen minutes to come up with a better word than ketchupy, but ultimately, no word described the sauce better. It's ketchupy. Get off my back Roget) sauce, and every Berliner has their favorite. So how to choose? Easy. Let a professional make the choice for you.Read More
Let's get a couple of introductions out of the way before we get going, if you've read another Iceland Post, these are all the same,so feel free to skip down to the next picture:
- This is going to be a Multi-Post EPIC JOURNEY THROUGH ICELAND, so you can read them in order, or skip around, or don't read any of them, I'm not your mother, I'm just glad you clicked.
- If you like the pictures, there are A LOT more on our Facebook page, go like us and look at them! Again, or don't. I'm not your mother.
- There's going to be a lot of Iceland Inside Jokes throughout this, so you can go back and read them again later and you'll enjoy them on another level. This will be the Memento of blog posts.
- It's my hope that people planning a trip to Iceland can use these posts as a loose guide to getting around the Ring Road, or just cherry pick some ideas from it. At the very least, you can click from here to this Expert Vagabond post, which was extremely helpful for our first couple of days.
- We traveled to Iceland during the shoulder season (late April/Early May), which was fantastic, as the weather cooperated for most of our stay there, and it wasn't too crowded at any tourist attraction. There were many times when we didn't see another person/car for almost an hour.
Before we get to Boston, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I will not be writing about our time in Chicago or Denver. Before you put me on blast in the comments screaming I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU ARE NOT WRITING ABOUT DENVER ON FOUR TWENTY I NEED A FULL REPORT ON THE BEST FIVE DISPENSARIES IN THE MILE HIGH CITY. ALSO YOU SHOULD PUT THE HIGH IN MILE HIGH IN GREEN BECAUSE WEED. I’m not dropping you a full synopsis because more than anything, the first two stops on the tour were a time for both Renee and I to say goodbye to friends and family; I don’t think that the average reader is interested in how cute Geoff and Tom’s kids are (Spoiler alert: Super cute), or the professional backpacker’s review of Joey’s couch (Pro Tip: Bring an eye mask, he has no curtains in the living room), or how hurt I was when my five year old niece didn’t like the Dave Matthews CD I bought for her (Me: What didn’t you like about it? Her: The songs. OUCH ALICE WORDS HURT). So we’re skipping over Chicago and Denver, let’s just say they were both super fun, and you can always check the facebook page for some pictures of Chicago. I’ll only say this about Denver:
Purchasing marijuana legally is extremely fun. I’m not someone who smokes anymore, but just the ability to walk into a well-lit store named something like “High Medicine” or “Green Thumbs”, be greeted by an exteremely-excited-to-be-there hostess, given an extremely in-depth tour of their available “flowers”, and ultimately choose to buy 3 professionally rolled joints for $20 all in the span of the time it took for an Uber to arrive means we are living in an extremely exciting time to be alive. I didn’t even smoke them, just gave them as parting gifts to a couple of my friends before we left, but having the choice to purchase something that is illegal in most of the country is a surreal experience. Here’s a picture to make eighteen year old Josh reading this jealous. IF YOU’RE READING THIS JOSH DO NOT MAKE OUT WITH THAT GIRL THE FIRST THURSDAY OF COLLEGE FAT DAVE WILL NEVER LET YOU LIVE IT DOWN.Read More
OK, so this post is going to get a little Pinterest-y, as if you couldn't tell by the picture already. Plus, it's going to rely on my absolute favorite style of writing: Bulleted lists where I write small blurbs! No need to write complete sentences, let alone even full paragraphs! Except of course, for the next two paragraph, which will be full of complete sentences. Hope you enjoy both subjects and predicates, because you're gonna get both of them. In spades!
This is by no means a list which will be set in stone. More than likely, we will be subbing out clothing/items as we move through the trip, moving in and out of climates. Most of the items will make it the whole year (I'm looking at you, both Cam Newton T-Shirts), but a couple of things were intended to not make it. I am sure that we will find in three months that we've packed too much and we didn't end up using the headphone splitter at all. But that'll be something we find out together, so let's go.
First things first, before we get to the list (UGH, I am so sick of all this punctuation), we're utilizing the Tortuga Backpacks, it's perfect for us, as it's designed for traveling; most backpacking packs are designed to hike for months in the wilderness, but we need a bag with lots of pockets for bluetooth speakers to jam the Humpty Dance through. Also, apologies in advance, my list will be a little bit more thorough than Renee's, as I just finished packing, and I'm the one writing this. Enough with the sentences and paragraphs, let's get to the list!Read More
Tomorrow I will quit my job. It will be terrifying, to say the least, and as someone who has been gainfully employed for almost the entirety of the last fifteen years, with the only gaps coming due to youthful indiscretions (Yes, I'm thinking of the time I got fired from On The Border for blowing off a Monday night shift in order to watch a Panthers game they would eventually go on to lose) of my past. I will be alerting my boss lady of my intentions exactly four days before my ten year anniversary at this very large hotel chain, and I am more than certain she will be unhappy. I am good at my job, and I am sure that I will be missed. But the show will go on, the hotel will not close, invoices will be paid and guests will be happy or sad depending on their mood and experience. I very well could have stayed, and most likely would be up for a promotion in the next few months, which I would gladly take and slowly work my way up the corporate ladder. My wife of a year would eventually get pregnant, and we would move from a studio to a one bedroom to a small ranch outside of Charlottesville or Denver or Asheville or wherever we would choose to go. All of that would have been great, and I was excited about the windy and long road that my life was going to speed down, although at times it seemed as if I was creeping down it barely reaching the speed limit. Time flies when you're having fun, but I more think time flies when you're looking back. Time moves slow in the future, and runs roughshod in the past. I was excited about the future. And then I saw this book in the gift shop of The Met while waiting for my Mom to pick out a supremely overpriced canvas bag with the Mona Lisa on it (Why was she buying this in the first place? The Mona Lisa isn't even at the Met. Come on Mom.)
Seems like a pretty innocuous cover, and a pretty innocent book. But it sparked questions in me. Why can't I visit those islands? How many islands are there I will never see? How many places I will never get to see, touch, hear, smell? All of them? That doesn't seem fair.
Do not be confused, I've traveled before. I've seen London. I've seen France. I've seen your mother's underpants (Sorry, the jokes won't get any better, I promise). I've spent two weeks in El Salvador and three months in Israel. I've been in awe of Pompeii in Italy and taken aback by the beauty of The Columbia River Gorge in Washington State. But it wasn't enough. I'm greedy, and I'm lucky enough to have married an absolutely beautiful woman who shares both my spirit for wanderlust and my greed for life experiences. I returned home from The Met and promptly asked her if she would be interested in taking a year off from working and traveling the world.
She said yes.
So we started planning. How did we plan, you ask? It was easy. We bantered back and forth about the things in the world we wanted to see. Nothing was off limits. The Pyramids. Taj Mahal. Easter Island. Macchu Pichu. Madagascar. The Amalfi Coast. Stonehenge. No destination was too outlandish, and no idea was turned down. Eventually we started formulating a plan. South America, then Southeast Asia with a stop in Easter Island to break up the trip, then India and Africa before finishing with a few months in Europe. That was the original plan that we came up with over brunch at La Pulperia on the Upper East Side of New York City. We would leave after her brother's wedding in September, and be gone about a year, maybe more, maybe less if we ran out of money. That was the original plan.
Obviously, things have changed since that original plan. We are now leaving New York City March 1st instead of September 1st. We are going to Europe first and India last, with our brother Caleb's wedding wedged solidly in the middle of the journey. We keep adding destinations and altering itineraries, which I will assume we will continue to do until we are done. Yesterday, we added Morocco and booted Spain (Seemed more off the beaten path). Tonight, we may add Sri Lanka and remove Mumbai. There are literally endless paths we can take and many islands we can see. But all paths will start tomorrow. Once I ask Brian from Human Resources to close his office door, we are officially going. You can follow us.
And yes, the title of the blog is a Friends reference. Won't be the last, I promise.