Thursday, June 27, 2013

Iceland: Driving the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is the most touristed route in Iceland.
The drive starts in Reykjavik, and from there leads you to Thingvellir,
a National Park, and the site of Iceland's first parliament
(which includes a "law rock" from which the laws were proclaimed),
then up to Geysir, where, you got it, there are lots of geysers,
and on to Gulfoss, a massive, stunning waterfall.

Instead of taking a tour, we decided to drive ourselves,
mostly so I could make Brian pull over every time I wanted to take a photo of ponies.
Also so that we could stop at Fjorubordid in the coastal town of Stokkseyri
for what I had heard, and can now confirm,
is THE BEST lobster soup in the world.

Here's what the drive looked like from our view.

There was so much to take in; my eyes weren't big enough to see it all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Icelandic Ponies

I was going to do another 24-Hour post for Iceland today (like I did for Copenhagen and Stockholm), but then I got distracted by Icelandic ponies!  (Ok horses, whatever.)  All along our drive down the southern Icelandic coast, there were herds of beautiful Icelandic horses grazing and galloping.   It was breath-taking.

I managed to snap a million some photos where we could pull over, and they turned out to be my favorite images of the trip.  Here are the highlights (so many photos!) in digital first, then in film.

Film <3:

Gotta love those hairdos :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

24 Hours in Stockholm

Stockholm is a big city -- edgier and more urban than Copenhagen -- but it's still got plenty of old-world charm.  It's made up of 14 islands, with all the primary ones connected by walkable bridges.  There's a museum island, an "old town" island, and a nature-y island with trails along the water.  It's simple to navigate, people are friendly (Scandinavians are seriously the nicest people ever), and the city feels full of life and energy.

Breakfast:  Start your day off right with a giant cup of coffee and a pastry at Albert& Jack's in Old Town.  This place is so darn cute.

Sightseeing in Old Town:  Take a walk from Albert & Jack's up into the windy cobblestone streets of Old Town.  Stroll all the way up to the Royal Palace, where you can take tours of the royal chapel, the royal apartments (if they're not being used, like they were when we were there), and see the change of the guards at noon.

Photography Museum:  Stockholm's photography museum is perhaps the best-curated museum I have ever visited.  It's not overwhelmingly large, and they show only 4 exhibits per year (check out their past shows here).  It's a gem in the modern art world, and I could not recommend this place any more highly.  Don't forget to stop at the cafe on the top floor for a drink and a fabulous view.

A Stroll & Lunch:  Walk over the bridge to Ostermalm (the "chic" area of town), stopping to check out the Parliament building and Berzelii Park along the way.

{such a tourist}

Head a couple blocks from the water to the enclosed market, Ostermalms Saluhall.  (Like I said, I always seek out a good market!)  Check out all the amazing shops, and then plop down at the bar at Lisa Elmqvist for lunch.  We had the most delicious salmon of the whole trip here!

Vasa Museet:  Put your sight-seeing pants back on and head over to the Vasa Museum.  The Vasa is an shipwreck from the 1600s that was pulled out of the Stockholm harbor in the 1950s.  The ship was preserved in insane detail due to the cold Swedish waters, and it's really an amazing sight!

Djurgarden:  Djurgarden is the nature-y island with trails along the water.  Take a walk, enjoy the view, and stop for some ice cream at one of the adorable cafes.

Happy Hour (on a dock):  What could be better than happy hour outside on a dock, with a bay view?!  Nothing!  It is the best thing ever!  I don't need to explain Strandbryggan Sea Club any further.

Pre-Dinner (yeah, that's a thing):  There are too many delicious restaurants in Stockholm to only go to one for dinner.  So make your first stop at B.A.R. in Ostermalm, and sit at the bar for some pre-dinner seafood apps (think oysters and crab legs), and a cocktail to go with.

Dinner:  You can't leave without tasting the best Swedish meatballs in Stockholm, which happen to be served daily at the Opera Bar!  Operaskalleren is the main restaurant at the Opera house, and it's fancy and beautiful, but the bar next door is much more casual and fun.  So peek in Operaskallen, but eat at the bar next door :)  The meatballs are served with lingonberry preserve, gravy, and sweet pickles!  Sweet and savory and divine.

(I have no photos for you because I ate my meatballs too fast haha.)

Drinks:  Go for drinks at the nearby Berns hotel.  This is where we stayed, actually, and we loved it!  The lobby bar is gorgeoussssss and there's a happening scene at their rooftop bar and club Thurs-Sat.  Don't order wine unless you want to pay $20 for a glass of Barefoot Chardonnay.  I'm not joking.  Stick to cocktails in Stockholm!

{lobby bar at breakfast}

Up next:  Iceland!