Copenhagen, the first 6 hours: from sleep deprived to satisfied

Our first Danish sunset - I've never been so happy to see the sun set at 10pm.

Our first Danish sunset – I’ve never been so happy to see the sun set at 10pm.

When we left Iceland I was practically in tears. Not because I was sad to go — which I really was — but because I was so tired.

I’m not sure if it was vacation jitters or the very real midnight sun (it literally never got dark the whole time we were there) but the last two nights we were in Reykjavik, I didn’t fall asleep until after 6am. While the first morning I could sleep in, the second morning we had to be ready for our shuttle to the airport at 9am.

I think I clocked in 90 minutes of actual shut-eye before it was time to leave our apartment and lug our suitcases to the van. Sleep-deprived, my mood teetered from dazed and confused to frustrated and teary. If being hangry is a thing — and I believe it is — there must be a word for being so exhausted you’re just angry at the world. And particularly angry at all the well-rested people who had probably slept for a full 8 hours the night before. I hated those people.

After groggily making my way through customs and onto the plane, I collapsed in my window seat in sheer delight. I have never been so excited to sit on a plane in my life! Not even the exuberant Danish kids behind us could keep me from falling asleep before we even left the ground. It was magnificent.

And thankfully, upon waking up as we descended into Copenhagen, my feelings of anger had dissipated, leaving only excitement for the week to come, and especially for the evening ahead of us. To celebrate our first night in Denmark, my husband had made dinner reservations at Amass, number 66 on the list of the world’s best restaurants. A good reason for an attitude adjustment if there ever was one!

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Eclectic Reykjavik: Odd bits from Iceland’s capital city

Hákarl, Icelandic infamous rotten shark. We wanted to try it but the timing was never right. Toted as one of the worst things in the world to eat, this takes more nerve than my stomach could managed on this trip.

Hákarl, Iceland’s notorious rotten shark. We wanted to try it but the timing was never right. Toted as one of the worst things in the world to eat, it took more nerve than my stomach could manage on this trip. Next time, putrified shark, I’m coming for you!

Reykjavik was a wonderland of charming oddities – from some of the cuisine to the names of bars, our four days there barely seemed like enough time to soak it all up.

Here’s some of the fun things we enjoyed:

A bike is recycled as part of a fence down one of the main pedestrian streets

A bike recycled as part of a fence on one of the main pedestrian streets

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Icelandic waterfalls, Geysir and hooray for rain jackets!

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Anyone who knows me knows I hate the cold. I hate snow and winter sports (except for sledding, that counts right?) and trust me, no amount of boozy hot cocoa will convince me to feel otherwise. But when my husband and I decided to make Iceland our next vacation spot, I resigned myself to being cold and wet. We even bought new rain jackets for the occasion, which struck us both as funny since Portland was gearing up for an insane heat wave (it’s been in the 90s since we left). And yet, I’m not sad to be out of the sun. It’s been an amazing trip so far and we fully embraced our Icelandic adventure, spending our third day exploring the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is one of the “must see” Icelandic excursions for a good reason – it includes some of the most awesome natural sights on the island, all within a few hours of each other. Our first stop was at Þingvellir National Park, which was the site of the original Icelandic parliament back in 930. It’s also home to a rift valley, where you can see the division of two tectonic plates, the North American and the Eurasian. The part we were in was so deep it actually created a canyon, which has a pathway winding down to allow for some exploring. Þingvellir National Park, Iceland Continue reading

Reykjavik, Day 2: A little culture and a lot of hot dogs

Sólfar, Reykjavik, Iceland

Sólfar, Reykjavik, Iceland

We started our second afternoon in Iceland with brunch at the KEX hostel, a popular place to stay as well as to eat and drink. It’s a quirky little spot – I can imagine young international backpackers feel right at home here. For us, the food was decent, but the service was a little lacking. We did find out that the trout on the sourdough toast is smoked locally with a combination of moss and lamb “poo.”

The smoked trout was quite tasty but being used to applewood and cherrywood, we couldn't place the flavor profile. Upon asking, we learned it was smoked over lamb dung and moss.

The smoked trout was quite tasty but being used to applewood and cherrywood, we couldn’t place the flavor profile. Upon asking, we learned it was smoked over lamb dung and moss.

KEX hostel

KEX hostel

From the hostel, it was a short walk to the Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture on the Reykjavík waterfront. While some understandably mistake this for an homage to a Viking ship it’s actually an ode to the sun. Regardless of its meaning, it’s a stunning art piece, perfectly fitting for the stark landscape.

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Reykjavik: The first 24 hours

Flying into Iceland - the steam coming up is from one of the many geothermal pools.

Flying into Iceland – the steam coming up is from one of the many geothermal pools.

My husband and I arrived in Iceland on Saturday morning at 6am. For being half asleep and totally jet lagged, we managed to make the most of our first day of vacation.

We left the Keflavik airport and headed directly to the Blue Lagoon, the most famous of Iceland’s geothermal pools. This is a popular spot with tourists since it’s a perfect place to soak out the aches of air travel.

Inside the Blue Lagoon

Inside the Blue Lagoon

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No tortilla needed: crispy carnitas find happy home in butter lettuce

    Crispy carnitas wrapped in Bibb lettuce with avocado and cherry tomatoes

Crispy carnitas wrapped in Bibb butter  lettuce, topped with avocado and cherry tomatoes — positively magical.

Sometimes I make life harder than it needs to be.

For the past few months, I’ve been stressed out about work and life and instead of opting to make things easier on myself, I decided to dedicate a few weeks to the Whole 30 — which meant eliminating sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and alcohol from my diet. It’s certainly not something I can sustain for a lifetime (nor do its creators expect people to) but it was a great way to get my eating habits back on track after too many weeks of packaged meals.

While I’ve been successful at the Whole 30 before, my downfall this time was poor calendar planning. I got side tracked by my dad visiting (cocktails), Memorial Day (beer flights and fish ‘n’ chips) and a girls night (pink wine and pasta), so while I managed the first 14 days just fine, things slipped after that. Sadly, water will never taste as good as beer and fried rice is tastier when it’s not made with cauliflower. It’s just the way things are.

I do intend to give the Whole 30 another real run again in Junly after my husband and I are back from (gorging ourselves on) vacation and summer produce is at its prime. I just need to keep repeating to myself, “Water is delicious. Water is delicious…”

Even though I didn’t last past two weeks, I did at least make some dinners that were lovely enough to revive my desire to spend some time in the kitchen doing more than heating up frozen Amy’s burritos — which is what my diet consisted of for the month of April. It was a dark time.

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