Sunday, July 9, 2017

This isn't really blog post worthy, but it was so strange that I wanted to write it down so I don't forget it down the road.

This past weekend two of my best friends got married (which actually is blog post worthy)!  Before the ceremony the bridal party and the groom's mother were all in the bride's house getting ready.

There were six or so of us sitting around the kitchen table.  The groom's mother was talking to a couple of people and I was having a separate conversation with someone else.  As my conversation ended I turned to the other group and just heard someone say "high school".

I quickly jumped in saying how I had the weirdest dream the night before that I was back at Dracut High and I was trying over and over again to get into my locker but I kept forgetting the combination.
Everyone at the table just looked at me, confused.

"Wait, did you not just hear what she was saying?" the bride said.

"No, what?" I replied.

"She was just describing the dream she had last night where she was back at Dracut High trying to get into her locker but couldn't remember her combination."

I'm sure there is a very logical reason why that would happen (we were both probably trying to not forgot anything we needed for the wedding the next day), but I still can't help but feel that the human mind is the most amazing thing.

MiM Reunion in London

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Better late than never right Inna?

In January our little group of Smurfit MiM girls had a reunion in London.  I believe it was the first time we were all together since our graduation in 2012.

Everyone arrived at different times on Thursday so instead of trying to plan a dinner we just ordered Thai to be delivered.  And, in this magical day and age, we could also get wine delivered.  I haven't lived in a city since I was in Dublin in 2012 so things like wine delivery were almost mind blowing. What was even better was that both deliveries arrived at the same time despite coming from different places.

In continuing with our take-out theme, the next morning we decided to order donuts and coffees to be delivered. We literally spent the entire day lounging on the couches just catching up on life.  Luckily I've been to London a few times before so I didn't feel the need to go out and be a tourist because simply hanging out was exactly what we all wanted to do.

We did manage to drag ourselves off the couches for a boozy lunch but then it was right back in for naps to prepare for dinner.

Dinner was at Tapas Brindisa (in Shoreditch, not the one in Southwark that we sent Desiree to first... whoops).  I think we ordered one (or two) of everything on the menu along with several pitchers of sangria. We initially had plans to go out after dinner, but I think we all heard the couches call us from our Airbnb.

The next day we decided that we HAD to actually do something in London (other than sit and eat) so we headed to the Tower of London.  We didn't spend a ton of time there before we decided to head down to the river for a little boat cruise (I think it was really just a water taxi, but they sold alcohol so 'cruise' sounds more appropriate).

We went back for more lounging (notice a theme to this weekend?) and rest up for our big fancy dinner at City Social.  This was our "treat yo self" night of the trip (though really I think ordering donuts and wine to be delivered to your apartment probably falls under that same category...).  I could probably go into a lot of detail about what City Social was like, but I feel like sharing a picture of the view from a toilet stall can sum it up much better than words can.
I managed to stay on US time the entire time I was in London so while I'm normally the type who is ready for bed after going out for a dinner,  I was actually up for doing a little more.
We ended up at the Cocktail Trading Co. where we got to try all sorts of weird concoctions... one of my drinks came in a can of Spam and had ice cream.  It was strange but a lot of fun.

I feel like this whole summary of the trip is talking a lot about what we did, but it is definitely not capturing the amount of fun that we all had over this weekend.  Some how a group of people who haven't been all together in almost five years can spend an entire weekend together and reconnect like nothing had changed.  We pretty much only left our apartment to eat and yet it was still an amazing trip.  Actually, now that I'm  writing all of this down I'm desperate to do it again... I'm texting everyone right now.

Iceland: Day 5 & Reflections

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our flight back to Boston wasn't until 3:30pm, but our cottage at Hestheimar was still over an hour and a half away from the airport.  There were a few places I was hoping to stop and see, but it was raining pretty hard.  Most of our time there was drizzly, but this was the only day that the weather was bad enough for us to not want to be out in it.  Luckily we didn't have to check out until 11am so we were able to just have a relaxing morning and watch the rain from inside.

Our trip to the airport and our flight home were all uneventful so I figured I could use this post to share some reflections on the trip and Iceland in general.
1. I know I said this in an earlier post but if you are traveling anywhere with out cell data download the Maps.me app and download the maps for where you'll be traveling.  We had bought a sim card at the duty free shop when we arrived, but never needed to use it.

2. Renting a car is almost a necessity.  Unless you plan to stay in the city (which you shouldn't) you will need a car to get around.  I believe there are buses you could find, but I think you'll miss out on so many impromptu roadside stops that make up a bulk of traveling in Iceland.  I would recommend Sixt after using them for the week but I know there are several other options there as well.

3. If you are renting a car find out if your credit card gives you insurance coverage.  We were able to save a good chunk of money because my American Express card has a international car insurance program so I could decline Sixt's.

4. Iceland is very credit card friendly.  I never even took money out of the ATM and never needed cash.  Every place we stopped took credit cards.  Even more shocking, all but one location we went to took American Express.  I have a harder time using my AmEx card in the US than I did in Iceland.

5. That being said, almost everything we did in Iceland was free.  I think the only attraction I paid for was the elevator ride up the tower of Hallgrimskirkja.

6. THAT being said, everything else was very expensive.  Restaurants were outrageous but we could find relatively affordable meals at gas stations.  It sounds weird but it was pretty common in Iceland. We ate at an A1 Gas Station probably once a day while we were there.  Our hostels were also all more expensive than any others I have stayed at and at least one charged extra for bedding.

7.  We also found that most of our hostels were fully booked each night. We were there in mid September which is already considered the off season so I would recommend booking well in advance, especially if you are there in the summer.

8. Wow is a budget airline so they give you nothing for free, but I found that the plane was just as comfortable as any regular flight I've been on so if you pack well and bring snacks I would highly recommend them.

9. Everyone there speaks English so don't worry about a language barrier.

10.  Seeing the Northern Lights is not a guarantee.  That was something I really wanted to experience while there and I just barely got to see them.  It seems like the weather is overcast regularly enough that you could be there for a while without seeing them. Luckily Iceland is amazing in so many other ways that I wasn't too upset about not getting a perfect view of the lights.

Iceland: Day 4

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Since the first three days of our trip consisted of driving west and north, we had to at some point make our way back towards Reykjavik and the airport.  Most of our fourth day was dedicated to doing that, though we made a dozen pit stops along the way.

Our first stop was back at Jökulsárlón.  As we were leaving the day before we saw that you could actually park on the other side of the road that faced the ocean instead of the lagoon.  It seems like a lot of the ice that makes it out of the lagoon ends up washing back up on the shore so it was cool to be able to walk between the massive ice chunks.

After that we stopped at Núpsstaður.  Our plan was to stop there the day before however there was a "Private Property" sign at the front gate so we decided to skip it.  While we were driving past it on the way back however we saw half a dozen cars there and people walking around the area.  I'm sure we should have just listened to the sign, but we decided to go anyway.  Núpsstaður is a collection of old turf houses and a turf church.  They were all so tiny that I don't think I could even fit in one for long.   We didn't stick around there for long but again I felt like we were exploring hobbit houses.  Pretty much the whole trip felt like we were bouncing back and forth between Middle Earth and the moon.

Further along the road back to the city we stopped in an area we had found the day before.  I'm sure this area had a name, but we were just calling it The Cove.  From the road we could see two waterfalls off in the distance and it looked like there was a hidden cove at the base of them.  I had left most of this day open for driving with time to get a hike in, so we decided this would be the area we would explore.  We parked our car in an area off the road and started following a path.  The path led to a few levees that we couldn't even see from the road.  From there we continued on by following sheep paths.  We began climbing up until we were looking down over the small river created by the waterfalls.  We had been walking for a long time and because we were now between massive moss covered rocks we could see no signs of civilization.  It was just us, the river, and the sheep.  I don't think I've ever felt so truly isolated as I did there.  Turns out there wasn't really a cove and we probably would have had to hike for a few more hours to actually reach the waterfalls so we eventually started making our way back.  On the way back we did, of course, cross paths with two men who probably owned the land.  I felt bad if we were trespassing but they didn't seem to mind. We also found the bones of a long gone sheep which was kind of terrifying (especially when Josh threw one of the bones at me when I wasn't looking) but it definitely added to the isolated feeling we experienced.
The hike I had actually planned was at Skaftafell National Park, but by the time we reached the area we were both exhausted.  We did start the hike but within 15 minutes we both decided that continuing on would probably just leave us cranky and unable to enjoy the hike.  Plus we still had a decent amount of driving to do that day.

Our "splurge" for that trip was staying at Hestheimar Cottages.  These were a handful of cottages overlooking a horse farm.  After staying in hostels for three nights anything would seem luxurious, but this place really felt it.  There was a big hot shower (though it did almost flood the bathroom after running for just a few minutes) and bathrobes provided.  There were candles in all of the windows and a nice little kitchen for us to cook our dinner in.  We probably could have gone out and explored some more, but this cottage was kind of like ending our trip with a spa night and we were both more than happy with just relaxing and enjoying it.