2018 London

The best part about our guesthouse was the delicious breakfast!  Since we had an early flight, the owner stocked our fridge with all sorts of yummy breakfast, including Skyr (Icelandic yogurt).

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We had one last stop to make before leaving Iceland.  The Bridge Between Continents!  Now I can say I have officially been on two continents at the same time.  It is a bridge out in the middle of nowhere, built over a fissure.

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It was on the plane to London that I realized I had never mailed my postcards.  I was slightly distraught but then decided to mail them from London (which meant getting a UK stamp).  I really do love sending postcards so I was extremely happy to hear that they made it to their homes after the near miss.

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Sad selfie when I realized I still had postcards

London is one of my favorite places to go!  We would only have a few hours in London and decided to chase colors.  Our first stop was Peggy Porschen – an absolutely gorgeous cake store.  Its pink!!  And is decorated in all sorts of lovely flowers.  The desserts were delicious as well.

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From there we made our way over Covent Gardens to explore more color, winding in and out of narrow streets.


And just like that it was time to head back home.

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2018 Laugarvatn to Reykjavik

And here we are on our last day in Iceland!  We were finishing up the last part of what is known as the Golden Circle before heading back to Reykjavik.  PS in case you were wondering (as I was) Vik (as in the town of or as in Reykjavik) means bay.

The first stop was Kerid, a volcanic crater.  It is approximately 3,000 years old!  Wow, that would be a lot of candles on a birthday cake!  There was a small entrance fee and they only took cash.  We walked around the top part, gazing down into the lake.  And then walked around the bottom part, still gazing into the lake.  I really liked the contrast of the red rocks/gravel with the blue of the water.

Our next stop was Thingvellir, a national park.  Here you can “see” the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates.  I like to think of it as being on two continents at the SAME TIME!  This was also the site of the Icelandic Parliament when it was formed in 930 AD.  It is the oldest running parliament in the world!

We then made our way back Reykjavik for a late lunch (one last hot dog!!).


And then it was time to head to our home for the night, a guesthouse about 15 minutes outside of Reykjavik.  We made one last trip to the local pool, including the sauna.  And had dinner at a cafe near the pool.  It was SO delicious!  I couldn’t resist the pizza!!!


Back to the guesthouse we went, and packed up for our flights the next morning.

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2018 Hella to Laugarvatn

Isn’t this how life goes?  I get back from a trip and I’m gung ho to write up my trip and then life sets in and all of a sudden a couple months go by!  If you want to catch up, check out the posts from earlier in the trip:

We woke up to sunshine!!  After the horrible weather the day before, the sunshine was a lovely sight!  We backtracked to Seljalandsfoss (we skipped it the day before due to being drowned rats).  You could walk behind the waterfall (cue the Jungle Cruise 8th wonder of the world quote – the backside of water!).  While it may not have been raining, there was a lot of mist and spray from the waterfall.

From there, we walked further down to the hidden waterfall, Gljufrabui.  Its hidden inside the canyon.  Since I didn’t want to get soaked, I peeked around the corner, keeping my feet dry.


We got back on the road and drove towards our next stop, lunch!!  Our plan was to stop at Fridheimar, a greenhouse that grows tomatoes all year round.  The café has a menu full of tomatoes, including tomato ice cream!!  Oh you know I had some!  I had the tomato soup and bread, along with a fun tomato drink and the tomato ice cream.  Guess what?  I actually am not a huge fan of tomatoes, by themselves anyway.  I think it has to do with the texture because if they are cut up, I have no problem eating tomatoes.   It was all so delicious!

After that delicious lunch, it was back in the car to our next stop.  Another waterfall!!   Gullfoss was next up and the spray from the waterfall made it seem like the rain had started again!  But it was beautiful to see.

Next stop was the Geysir Hot Spring area.  It was so hot!  And the smell!   One was active every 10 to 15 minutes or so and we were able to see it go off twice.


Our next stop was another waterfall!  The pictures I had seen of Bruarfoss were amazing with beautiful turquoise water.  We got to the turn off and guess what?  There was a sign directing us to a parking lot 2 kilometers down the road.  Our short hike to the waterfall turned into a long hike.  Fortunately it wasn’t raining!

The trail was in bad shape, I’m guessing due to all the rain.  I had a couple close calls but managed to keep my balance and not fall!

Finally we made it to the first drop!


And then the main event!

We decided that since the way there was so treacherous, we would walk back along the road.  We may have walked on a private road, but not having to battle the brush and the mud was worth it.  I think the hike would have been much better had it not been so muddy.

After this adventure, it was time for the stop I had been waiting for all day!!  ICE CREAM!!  I had read about this farm and their ice cream and wouldn’t you know, it was just a few kilometers down the road from the parking lot.


Wow, this was a long day!  Fortunately our hotel was not much further.  We finished off the day at the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa (which was across the street from our hotel).  Soaking in the thermal pools was amazing!  I also braved the sauna!

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip!

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2018 Vik to Hella

This was a Hella day!!  Weather-wise it was the worst of the trip.  Prior to today, the weather hadn’t been fantastic, but it hadn’t been downright awful.  Welcome to downright awful.  We had been warned that there was a storm coming with high-wind warnings.  Its one thing to read about high wind and another to be standing in it.

We grabbed breakfast at the bakery across the street from the hotel before heading up to the church on the hill to take a few pictures.


We drove over to Reynisfjara, a black sand (lava!) beach with more basalt columns!!  Of course with the wind, the black sand kept hitting me in the face!  It was ruggedly beautiful but OH SO WINDY!!


While we could see our next stop, Dyrholaey, in the distance, we had to drive around to get there.  Dyrolaey is a giant rock arch formation, where you could see puffins!  I’ll blame the weather for the fact we could only see puffins in the distance.   The road to the lower parking wasn’t too bad.  And there was a (pay) bathroom!  Even better, the bathroom took credit cards!  Yes!

The road up to the lighthouse (and the amazing view) was gravel with giant potholes and giant rocks.  We took it nice and slow.  Finally we made it to the parking lot and fought the wind to get out and admire the view and the lighthouse!


Our next stop was the remains of a Navy DC plane.  It ran out of gas and crash landed on the beach back in the 1970’s and has remained there ever since.  Its about a 4KM walk out to the plane, which on a nice day wouldn’t be bad, however we had winds and rains.  The walk out to the plane was brutal!!!  But we made it!


The road that never ended


The walk to the plane and back was so exhausting that we ended up cutting our day slightly short.



Still smiling (barely!)


We did the shortest stop at Skogafoss possible because we were so wet and tired and decided to do Seljalandsfoss the next day.


We stopped at Gamla fjósið, or the Old Cowhouse for lunch / dinner. It was a cute restaurant (in what used to be a barn) attached to a farm. We had the most delicious burgers! It may also be because I was starving and freezing!

After eating we were feeling much better and finally arrived in Hella at our hotel, aptly named Hotel Hella.

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2018 Hnappavellir to Vik

In case you missed the first two installments of my trip to Iceland you can get caught up here: Reykjavik and our drive out to Hnappavellir.

We literally grabbed breakfast at the little grab and go at the hotel (as there was not much around the area) before driving out to Jokulsarlon, the glacier lagoon.  We had tickets for a boat cruise around the lagoon on an amphibious vehicle.

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The tour took us through the lagoon, where we got to hear more about the glacier (and how its receding) and got to taste the “1,000 year old ice”.  We also learned that the blue icebergs are those that flipped over recently.

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After the tour, we drove across the road to the “Diamond Beach” where icebergs crash up on the beach.  You never know how many will be on the beach and while we didn’t get huge icebergs but we did get a lot of small pieces.  The sun was hiding so the diamonds (or pieces of icebergs) didn’t quite sparkle but it was fun to walk among the pieces.


Jokulsarlon was the farthest east we travelled and leaving the Diamond Beach we began our westward trek back to Reykjavik.  We weren’t finished with glaciers.  About 15 minutes down the road was Fjallsarlon, another glacier lagoon.  It was smaller than Jokulsarlon, but still magnificent!  We had lunch at the restaurant.  It also where we learned that to use the bathroom is generally 200 krona (approximately $2).  Now I really don’t have a problem with paying to use a bathroom, however in Iceland, you could only use 100 krona coins.  Not 50, not 10, not 5 but 100.  We also learned if there was a store, it was better to spend 200 krona on a snack or water and use the bathroom for “free”.

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The next stop was Skaftafell, a national park.  We began a hike to Svartifoss.  The hike was labeled as “easy”.  I would hate so see a “difficult” hike!  It was up and up and up.  And then down.  But the waterfall was beautiful!  The water cascaded over hexagonal basalt columns.  (Spoiler alert – our next few stops all featured hexagonal basalt columns).

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We were in need of a snack after the hike and stopped at food truck near the visitor’s center for lobster (aka langoustine) soup.

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Next up was Dverghamrar (“Dwarf Cliffs”), so called because dwarves apparently live in amongst the rocks.  The cliffs are made of basalt columns and were fun to climb on and around.

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Not too much further down the road was Kirkjugolf, or Church Floor, so called because they look like a tiled church floor!

It was getting late, but we had one more stop.  Sadly the walking paths within Fjaðrárgljúfur (a beautiful canyon) were closed.  Wah.  We were able to gaze upon the opening and imagine walking through the canyon.


Our last and final stop for the day was our hotel in Vik.  Stay tuned for more Iceland fun!

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2018 Reykjavik to Hnappavellir

There are so many choices of where to go and what to do in Iceland.  I think our itinerary went through about 50 iterations.  What finally emerged was a tour of the South Coast of Iceland.  What came up in researching was that the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and change often.  This played into the itinerary design in that we decided to drive the furthest on our first day and then slowly make our way back to Reykjavik.

After visiting Sandholt, we were off!

Because it was a long day of driving, we decided to break it up with a side visit to the Secret Lagoon.  The Secret Lagoon is approximately an hour away from Reykjavik (it was also something Nilufer hadn’t done).  It claims to be the oldest swimming pool in Iceland.  The pool was quite warm and very picturesque.  The changing rooms were nice and had hair dryers.  Of course it was raining while we were there, because apparently if we were in a pool, it meant it was time to rain.

Finally it was time to get back in the car and head towards our hotel.  The landscape was amazing and kept changing.  I was surprised at the lack of trees in Iceland,  But moss was more than plentiful.  We drove through a section that felt like we were on Mars!  So many moss-covered rocks!!


We arrived at the hotel, Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.  We had chosen this hotel due to its proximity to Jokulsarlon, which is a story for another day.  We had dinner at the hotel restaurant as it was in a slightly remote area.  The hotel was nice and the food was good.

Stay tuned for the rest of our journey.


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2018 Reykjavik

Hello out there!  When last we spoke, I was recovering from a car accident.  Turns out I suffered a concussion in the accident.  It was a minor concussion but it is definitely taking its time to heal.  Now everywhere I turn I feel like I hear concussion and see people dealing with the after effects.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I just got back from a week-long trip to Iceland.  Iceland seems to be the new hot (pun intended) place to go so we decided to jump on the bandwagon.  Leading up to the trip I kept a close eye on the weather as Iceland had descended back into what I saw called a second winter.  Oh joy.  Fortunately the closer it got, the temps increased, although the forecast was showing rain and a lot of it.

We arrived Friday afternoon and picked up our rental car and drove into the city.  We were staying at Fosshotel Raudara.  The location ended up being great – not too far from the “city center”.


Our room at Fosshotel Raudara

We walked up to the church and experienced our first taste of the wind.  Iceland is very windy – who knew?  The church, Hallsgrimkirkje, was magnificent, and sadly closed for a special event.  We were still able to admire the outside.


Jessica and I were pretty worn out from jetlag and so we ate at Kol, not too far from the church and tried langoustine which is technically lobster, but I think its more of a cross between lobster and shrimp.  We also got our first taste of how expensive Iceland is!

After that, it was back to the hotel where we pulled all the shades to attempt to block out the very present daylight (it didn’t really get dark until after 11 pm).

The next morning we started off the day with a visit to Sandholt Bakery for breakfast.  We got it to go as we had reservations at the Blue Lagoon, but it was still delicious.

The Blue Lagoon is a little under an hour from where we were in Reykjavik.  It was about 3 degrees Celsius, but the water was so warm, with some pockets way warmer than others.  And so blue!


Blue Lagoon

While definitely a tourist destination, the Blue Lagoon was pretty amazing.  We bought the premium entrance, which included a towel and bathrobe to use and plastic flip flops.  It also included 1 free drink along with an extra algae face mask (the silica mask is complementary for everyone).  I also had a 30 minute water massage.  There is a private, roped off area for massages.  You lay down on a yoga mat (in the water), with warm wet blankets and float around while getting a massage.  It was a fun experience.


Silica Mask at Blue Lagoon

We walked around afterwards, with the wind and rain really picking up (which you can see from the picture!).


So windy!!

Back to Reykjavik we went.  By now we were starving!  We walked back up towards the church and had lunch of plokkfiskur (basically clam chowder on a slice of rye bread) at Café Loki (which is facing the church).



After lunch we explored the church.  You can take an elevator up to the top of the church for a beautiful view of the city.


View from church

We then headed towards the flea market, wandering around and looking at all the treasures.  Right outside the flea market was a hot dog stand, so of course we had to have a hot dog!


First hot dog in Iceland

Nilufer  had been to Iceland a few years before and so it became the goal for every day to do at least one thing she hadn’t done previously.  For today, it was a walk along the harbor to see the Sun Voyager sculpture.


Sun Voyager

We spent the rest of our time in Reykjavik wandering, window shopping, and actually shopping.  As we started towards the hotel, it was actually starting to get dark and we were treated with a view of the church lit up!


Finally getting dark!

Our morning consisted of another visit to Sandholt, but we were able to sit down and enjoy our breakfast before saying goodbye to Reykjavik.  They even make their own soda!!  I had to try the apple rhubarb soda.  It was delicious!!

Stay tuned for more Iceland installments!

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2018 Beginnings

Oh 2018.  You and I are not off to the best start.  Why, you ask?  Let’s rewind, shall we?

I started going to Orange Theory – basically high intensity, interval training.  I really like it when people tell me what to do instead of me trying to figure out what I should do at a gym.  As I started going more regularly I was noticing dividends (aka getting faster in my running and feeling stronger overall).  One morning I came in to class and saw the bosu balls were out.  I had my first moment of apprehension.  With the demonstration my apprehension turned into dread.  I am not the most coordinated person in the world and am somewhat prone to tripping and falling.  We were to do jump overs on the ball (hard to describe in words but basically jumping on and off the bosu ball).  I immediately knew I should not do this part of class and tried to do the dumbed down version but still managed to tangle my feet and fall, spraining my ankle in the process.  I heard a loud pop and since this was not my first time spraining my ankle I knew what had happened and sure enough, my ankle swelled almost immediately.  I went home and began a regime of icing, elevating, and resting until I got the okay to start back running.  With some ibuprofen thrown in.

I always find it amazing how long it takes to build up a base and how fast that base erodes.  That first run back was definitely slower and more labored than it had been a few short weeks ago.

I have this love / hate relationship with running where I never really appreciate the love part until I can’t run and then I really miss it!  Over the years, it has become a staple in my life.

I had just started back running when BAM!  Literally BAM!  I was rear-ended in my brand new car.  Oh, I bought a car!  I had my car for a little over a month before one unsuspecting day I was driving to work and was hit from behind.  My car didn’t even have license plates yet.  Wah wah.

I’m trying to give my body space to heal but it can be frustrating.  And here you find me, on my next round of rest, ice and repeat.

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2017 in Races

Boy oh boy!  As we enter 2018, its time once again to look back at my racing year!  43 races in total.  43!  It didn’t feel like I was working towards anything, other than finishing 40 races.  Although I did have 1 PR!  Thank goodness for downhill races!  I am proud of my accomplishment.

What’s on tap for next year?  I’d really like to get stronger (I’ve said this before) and really stick to a training plan and see if I can break 2:45 for the half (again).  They are somewhat lofty goals, but they also fit into my overall goal for 2018 which is balance.  Being able to carve out time for me and finding what happy looks like for me.

By the numbers:

  • 8 – 5Ks
  • 15 – 10Ks
  • 1 – Quarter Marathon
  • 2 – 12Ks
  • 3 – 15Ks
  • 14 – Half Marathons

By the pictures:

2017 Run in Review

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2017 Berlin

Time for another Thanksgiving Europe trip!  It took a bit of back and forth and different options but Nilufer and I finally decided on Berlin and Prague for this trip.  We met up at the Berlin airport and made our way into town.

Our hotel (NH Freidrichstrasse) ended up being in a fantastic location – near an U-bahn, S-bahn, and tram stop.  And not too far from the Brandenburg Gate.  Our room was on the second floor and overlooked Friedrichstrasse, and while it was noisy at times, overall it was fine.  After dropping our bags we knew it was time to eat!!  We made our way over to the KaDaWe store for some schnitzel, as well as shopping.  We weren’t too far from the Victory Column and so to help keep me awake we walked over and up the 270 odd stairs to the top of the Victory Column.  It was dark by then, but still a beautiful view of the city lights.

The last time I was in Berlin (which was nearly 10 years ago!!) I visited the Reichstag, but I had no recollection of needing tickets in advance.  Fortunately the tickets were fairly easy to sign up for (although the website is not the most user-friendly).  They had day of tickets available and we requested a pair for the 5:30 time slot and made our way over in the pouring rain.  Sadly when we arrived they couldn’t find our reservations (apparently the system doesn’t always update when you reserve online for day of tickets).  The only ones available for that one were for later that night so we made a reservation for the next morning.

The Brandenburg Gate is a short walk from the Reichstag and we enjoyed the gate at night as well as the exhibit in front of the gate (three city busses standing up, signifying unity) before heading back towards our hotel.


Neither of the restaurants close to our hotel had any room (we were encouraged to leave rather than wait) and so we took the recommendation of the waiter to try a restaurant (Da Vinci) a few blocks down.  It was Italian so I was definitely okay with it.  And their pizza was absolutely delicious!!

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The other good thing about our hotel was the fact there was an ice cream shop next door!  We finished the night with ice cream.  Because what’s vacation without ice cream?  Even when its cold out!

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Finally it was time for bed!  I was proud of myself for making it until 8 PM!

The next morning we made our way over to the Reichstag, stopping for breakfast at Brotzeit.  I had avocado toast for the first time, and it was delicious!

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We finally made it into the Reichstag and up the elevator to the bottom of the glass dome.  It really is amazing to see up close.  From there we made our way back to the Brandenburg Gate to see it in the daylight and over to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.


Our last stop of the morning was Checkpoint Charlie before making our way over to Kreutzberg.  When I was last in Paris, I had taken a photo class/tour and enjoyed it so much that I decided to take another one in Berlin.  (Why Berlin vs Prague?  Because Berlin was at the beginning of the trip and hopefully I could use what I learned the rest of the trip!)


I went with the same company as the one in Paris (Aperture Tours) and Katrin was a great instructor – I really liked how she explained how to use my camera.  We explored some of the Berlin Wall remains before heading over to a market hall to continue the tour.


After the tour ended, Nilufer and I made our way back over towards our hotel and the pizza restaurant.  Because again, I really enjoy pizza on vacation (well anytime really).

Our last day in Berlin started off very similar to the previous day with breakfast at Brotzeit.  I knew it was going to be a good day because there was a design in my coffee!!  We decided to split the avocado toast (but added eggs and bacon to it) and the pancakes.  The pancakes were not American pancakes, but were still delicious.


We took the S-bahn to Oranienburg, and began the 20-ish minute walk out to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.  The museums were closed, however the grounds were still open.  It is such a sobering experience to visit and yet I continue to visit concentration camps as I feel it helps to keep the memory alive as well as honor those who died.  And even today, I feel like we need to remember the past so we are not doomed to repeat it.  The familiar Arbeit Macht Frei (work sets you free) greeted us as we walked through camp entrance.  The camp was massive and had a good number of signs to help depict life at the camp.


We made our way back to Berlin and over to the Hackescher Market area for some shopping and exploring (and where we tried currywurst!) before making our way over to Potsdam Platz where there was just the beginning of a Christmas Market.  Of course I had some gluhwein!

We were up early the next morning and took advantage of the Starbucks next to the hotel before taking a cab over to the main train station to catch our train to Prague.  Berlin to Prague via train was about 4.5 hours.  Why the train vs a plane you may ask?  Well I was having difficulty finding a direct flight from Berlin to Prague and so when you add in connection time, 4.5 on a direct train really wasn’t too bad.  Plus the tickets weren’t super expensive and I like traveling on trains!  I took advantage of my time on the train to get caught up on my Lightening Round of Races recaps.

Stay tuned for Prague!

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