Sunday, May 28, 2017

Off to Iceland....Two Days in a Row

Yes, we make it to Stockholm, Sweden, enroute to Iceland.  It is a short night, once we arrive.  Upon landing, Icelandair  directs us to a very nice hotel, connected to the airport.  The nice man at the desk hands us a toothbrush and the tiniest little tube of toothpaste you have ever, ever seen.  Ahhh, with the blackout curtians drawn at 12:30 a.m., we have the luxury of a bed...for four and a half hours of sleep.  Then it's up and at 'em as it's a new day, quick breakfast at 5:00 a.m. And off to, yes, Stockholm Airport security lines.  At least we are already at the airport!

This is my only photo from our "Surprise, you are going to Sweden" visit.  It seems reindeer hides are for sale in the airport.  Everyone needs one?  We have no idea how much 1549 is in Swedish currency, or is it Euros?  Again, no idea.  Except, we don't need one!

We arrive in Iceland at 9:30 a.m., right on time, for the revised schedule.  Although I have notified the car rental people, and the hotel people of our detour and new plan, we are two of many and there is yet another line awaiting us.  By 11:00 we are finally on our way to the Fisherman's Cottages to drop off our bags and figure out today's exploration.  

Today is grey, cloudy and cool.  Maybe it's almost spitting rain.  We decide on....

Good thing we have packed down vests and rain jackets and hats.  We are off to the island where Atlantic puffins hang out.  We hear there are 30,000 nesting pair that show up for the breeding season.  As it turns out, it's not exactly in full swing yet.  We see one puffin flying at a distance (I believe the guide) and one puffin on a hillside, which makes....two.  

Always on the job of researching tours, guides, boats and cruises, I will say the guide was good and her prop was great.  

This, dead, Atlantic puffin makes our total: three.  (I'm not counting the blow up bird outside the ticket office.)

The seas on this fairly short trip were flat calm and being early in the season, only 26 passengers on a boat that usually carries 140.  Smartly, we carry our own binoculars when we travel.  The boat had 5 pair to "share around."  And they were terrible.  

Always interesting to see what's for sale on tour boats.  The guide says lemon lime are the best.

Due to our itinerary revision, we have only more day for exploring.  

We head first to Gullfloss, the largest waterfall on the island, as we never made it that far on our last visit in September of 2015.  The weather plays games with us: the Raining Hard Game, the Sun is Breaking Out Game, the Windy and Raining Again Game, and renditions of the same until dark. (Which is between 2:00 a.m. And 3:00 a.m.)

To the top of the falls we go and back up the trail again.

Then it's time for some "meat stew" in the visitor's center restaurant.  $12.00 please.  Definitely worth it in the moment.  

After much discussion about The Blue Lagoon ($75.00 soaking fee, includes a beauty cream mask?) and the alternative hot pool, we are off for The Secret Lagoon. ($17.00 with senior discount and no beauty mask). Why the discussion, I'm not sure! 

He can't help himself!  Our Baja beach buddies will see this as an extension of his winter activities.

The road home is almost two hours of fascinating Iceland landscape, steam vents, sky colors and of course, an Iceland horse roundup!

Surprise from the rear....look who is passing us!

Steam for the fabulous free energy program.  Lots of heat available for everyone!

The Presidential Home south of Reykjavik is striking.

If walls could talk, I'd be listening to this story.

We are heading home, but not without a great breakfast.  Sourdough toast with tomato and avacado, a drizzle of olive oil and garlic, and there's that shot of ginger juice again with a lime to squeeze.  Don't forget the Icelandic yogurt and granola.  The coffee was great too.  The price, not so great.  $25.00....each!  Did I mention that Iceland is expensive?

Our Icelandair flight from Reykjavik to Seattle is a fairly swift seven hours.  Everything  works, well, perfectly.
Flying in the morning we have a good view of Greenland and lots of ice below as we head to the warm southern climes of the Pacific Northwest.

A little window view....

Sitting out in front of our house the next evening, doing lots of make up ball games with our two biggest fans, Skipper and Sparky, our 70/30 Celebration Adventure Seems almost like a dream.  It is sort of near, just hours old, and oddly, far away in time and space.  

Begs the question: What's Next??

(Who cares say Skipper and Sparky!  We live in the NOW and's time for you to throw the ball, we chase the ball, you give us treats for giving you the ball, so you can throw the ball....over, and over..."To Infinity and Beyond!"  Ain't life great??  Definitely "Two Woofs Up!"  We all agree on that!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Iceland Again....Almost!

Today we walk to the Central Station to catch the train to the airport and our flight to Reykjavik.  Let's get an early start, says Nan.  Let's have plenty of time to get that train ticket, inserting the correct coins into the automatic ticket machine, find our way to the correct train platform, ride the correct train in the correct car (for bicycles and things with wheels) and get off at the correct station.  Let's make sure we have plenty of time to turn in our tax receipt, find the correct terminal, check our bags and yes, find the gate.  O.k. Says Steve.

We walk, but most everyone else rides here.

Don't you just love Danish coins?

Clearly, this is the correct car.

And it all works perfectly!  So perfectly, that we have four extra hours to while away.  Better than being two minutes too late, she says.

We board on time!

Ahh, such a nice little pillow for only a three and a half hour flight.  IF it had been so.  As it is, we sit, all organized and ready to go, for 30 minutes.  There are some announcements about "One little problem to check out."  And then there is something about "Patience."  And then, before you know it...we are filing off the airplane and back to our seats at the gate.  Hum.

As this story goes, there are more announcements.  Then there are vouchers for a little something to eat and a promise for another update in one hour.  

We opt for wine and a ceasar salad.
Then, back to the gate.

Then the part about:"Report to the transfer center right away and get your ticket to go to Oslofor the night.  The plane is broken.  There are no rooms in Copenhagen.  You are going to Norway.  TOMORROW you are going to Iceland."  That part.

I see young travelers heading off at a frantic pace.  They must know what to do, where the transfer center is, how this works.  I look at Steve, we grab our bags and we're off!  Right behind the 20 something's.  Ok, maybe they were 30.

 The transfer station is where you wait for an hour and a half to get up to one of the three agents.  They tell you how glad you are to go to, no, glad you are because now you are actually going to Stockholm!  You have just missed the Oslo flight.  (Remember the hour and 1/2 wait in line?).  Ok.  Stockholm it is.  Not so bad.  Except, that plane does not leave for another three hours.  But you are still happy they say, because you are just now being handed another voucher....more food!

Asking our waiter about these shots we see diners downing before a meal, we first order two of those cute little things.  AND the wine.  And to die for herring and onion open faced sandwiches.  

We watch our broken plane from the bar.  
It finally takes off....but not with us.  Remember, we are going to Stockholm.

Maybe just two more!

It was a long long day.  Let's be extra early she said.  Let's see that everything goes just perfectly.  Ok says Steve.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Boats and Mermaids by Day, Fairy Lights for Night

After another fabulous breakfast at our small hotel...just one more piece of artisan bakery bread, butter and chocolate sprinkles......eggs, fruit, ham and cheese...did I mention CHOCOLATE sprinkles???.....

.....we meet our Baja beach friend, Stine, who lives in Copenhagen.  Two years ago Stine and her travel buddy, Sophia, camp near us at el Coyote.  We share our paddle boards, they offer to show us some of Copenhagen if we ever visit.  Thanks to Facebook, we reconnect and guess what?  She has today off...a Danish national holiday.  (There are a lot of those!). 

I have basically two things on my agenda: revisit the Little Mermaid (remembered from my visit here 50, gasp, years ago) and spend time in Nyhaven Harbor where classic (old) wooden boats are moored.  Make that three things, as we want to take her for tea as well!

The Little Mermaid is still there.  Today there are three tour buses there as well.  We don't stay long.

On our way to Nyhaven we drive through a royal courtyard and stop for a look at the guards.

Finally finding a parking place, we walk to Nyhaven.  Today is a special day as there is a very important soccer match about to take place and the team with a reputation for being rowdy to the point of, well, vandalism, appears to be gathering right where we are going.  To be fair, it is the fans who are the rowdy ones.  The team is preparing to play, a few miles away.  See all those yellow jerseys?

There is a lot of cheering, jeering, hollering, drinking, more cheering and chanting.  Stine tells us every time this group comes to town, it's time to stay inside and park your car elsewhere.  

Our attention goes to the boats.  Yes, wooden.  Yes, old.  Yes, big.  Yes, lots of work to keep afloat.

We have a chance to walk the harbor and then stop for tea and coffee at a sidewalk cafe.  It's so interesting to see what this young woman has been up to and hear about Sophia as well.  

She leaves us here to go on a canal boat ride and wander our way back to the hotel.  Making sure we have survival supplies, she stuffs licorice and chocolate candies in our packs.  Sweet!  In more ways than one!

Here's our ride, reminds me of a stretch limo, but on the water.

How about this for a clever use of shipping containers....student housing downtown!

Ahh, an opportunity to paddle up for a beer.

On the walk back home, I find my energy, we look no further than the small restaurant and bar at the hotel for dinner.

Time to relax on the balcony....


.....before heading out to Tivioli Gardens to watch as this famous park lights up the summer evening with fairy lights!

Experiencing this place as a 20 year old is very different from the eyes and ears of one who is, suddenly, 70.  Maybe there have been a lot of changes?  Truthfully, I mostly remember the beer garden...and that I think is still the same. And the lights, many, many lights.

Time to head back to the hotel.  Tomorrow we fly to Iceland!