Just testing my skills at WordPress for now. This is just a test post for fun. Enjoy!
Just testing my skills at WordPress for now. This is just a test post for fun. Enjoy!
Greetings from the road again (today, I’m in Singapore in transit between Sri Lanka and Sydney, Australia). If you are here looking for updates from The Spokanites, they can be found here. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here first. :) Lastly, if you want to see the latest photos, go to the photo section.
I should have new photos from the road up on the site this weekend sometime (I hope). Enjoy!
The adventure continues, and this time with my lovely fiancé in tow. We landed in Buenos Aires this morning, headed straight for the apartment we rented in the Recoleta district, and immediately took a nap. In fact, it was the first of two naps today, making it a good day indeed. This is one of the first trips I have been on where jet lag is a good thing. Everything happens late here so we need to sleep in and stay up late. The average dinner time is around 11pm!
After nap #1, we headed out for lunch (at 3pm). We stayed close in Recoleta by hitting a local craft market near the famous Recoleta cemetery. As expected, our first meal was steak at an Argentinean Parilla (steak house). This will be a common meal for us over the rest of this trip and we plan to take advantage.
After lunch with bought some groceries to stock the apartment before our friends Dominic & Gillian arrive (tomorrow morning) and then promptly commenced nap #2, which would take us all the way to dinner at 11pm at another steak house. These people know their beef and we have barely gotten started.
It’s 2:30 am now so finally off to bed for the third time today. I hope this trend continues…
First things first. If you want to read about the whole trip, start at the bottom of this page and go in reverse. If you want to see the photos, go here and see the first eight albums (starting with Hong Kong).
Given the sheer diversity and length of the trip along with the fact that we posted something to this site almost every day of the trip, I though it best to summarize a bit, talk about some highlights, and give a bit of perspective now that it is over. Before I do that, I want to say thanks to everyone who followed along. Initially, I didn’t really tell anyone we were doing this because I didn’t really know how much we would do or whether it would be any good or not. After a few days of positive comments and the fact that we actually enjoyed doing it, I started to let people know and the response was amazing (at least to me). The site got almost a thousand hits during the trip and people seem to be passing it around to others now so it hasn’t really died out. Again, thanks!
Now, before I talk about the highlights I wanted to briefly talk about the last day. Not too much to cover, frankly. We had a great breakfast at the hotel, did some last minute shopping around Reykjavik and then headed out to the airport quite early to return the rental car and make sure we had decent seats (Iceland Air leaves a bit to be desired in the “confirm your reservation in advance” and “online check in” departments – we had confirmed the seats way in advance but none of this showed up when we tried to check in). Once in and confirmed, we had lunch, made a last video interview, and waited. All of this seemed pretty boring until we got on the plane. Keep in mind that we really went really early to get decent seats. Once in these nice seats, and as the rest of the passengers boarded, we quickly realized that almost everyone had the same “we confirmed it in advance, why do we have horrible seats” issue. Specifically, a family of six (kids of about .5, 2, 4, and 6 years old) who had confirmed in advance were all sitting in random places. Their solution, try to move everyone around on the plane after the fact to see if they can get everyone together. Ty had to move 3 times before they got even close. Might want to work on that one, Iceland Air. The rest was fine and we made it back to Seattle (and Ty on to Spokane) just fine. Seeing Sonya after a month was amazing!
Ok, on to the highlights. For those that don’t feel like reading the posts (although I recommend it), here’s a quick summary:
Well, that should wrap it up for this trip. Ty and I had a great time and hope to do something similar again in the future if our situations permit it. With any luck, this won’t be a once in a lifetime adventure. I should be able to add some video in the coming weeks once I figure out how to convert it from HD to something more usable here.
Next trip is South America with Sonya and our friends Dominic and Gillian. Looking forward to it!
We left the Snaefellsnes Peninsula this morning and headed South to Reykjavik. It was a beautiful two-hour drive that included an amazing tunnel under one of the fjords. This was our last full day in Iceland.
Getting to and around the capital is simple. There are only ~200,000 people here and there is a well-defined center (which is where our hotel is). Once the car was parked, we were on foot for the rest of the day, which was excellent (if you have read any of the others posts you will know we’ve reached our car quota for the year).
Here’s a quick rundown of our self-guided walking tour of Raykjavik:
It was a great day, but it’s becoming clear that we are slowing down after a month on the road. Relaxing is winning over most sights at this point, which is good. Everyone should travel this way in my opinion. Ty is in the middle of his 6th book in four weeks, I am in the middle of my 5th.
The next post should be from Seattle if all goes well. Looking forward to being back!
We spent day two of the Iceland leg of the tour on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on the West coast of the country. This basically a ring road around the coastline of the peninsula surrounding a large glacier. The weather looked to be horrible over breakfast but 30 minutes into the drive it became nice and stayed that way for the duration except for a few short showers while we were driving. The only thing we didn’t get to see was the glacier unfortunately.
We started by driving west from Grundarfjordur, past Olafsvik to the most Western point, where we took a dirt road out to a couple of lighthouses and an old Viking’s grave. Next was a drive South down the West coast where we hiked into a small volcanic crater (very cool, but very windy). After that we actually drove into another volcanic crater. Mind you, these are small volcanoes but driving into one is still quite interesting.
The next stop was another hike, this time along a very famous stretch of black beach called Dritvik that is reportedly the roughest coastline in Iceland and the sight of many shipwrecks. In fact, one of the first things we saw was the wreckage of a fishing vessel from the 1940s that was strewn all over the beach. It looked more like a plane crash given how small the pieces were – not a good day for those folks. Also on the beach in you can find four "lifting stones." These were the actual stones used to test men who wanted to work on a fishing boat back in the day. Before the men where hired they had to prove their strength by lifting stones, each of which weighs more than the previous and is named accordingly: Amlodi – 23 kg (Useless), Halfdraettingur – 49 kg (Weakling), Halfsterkur – 140 kg (Half strong) and Fullsterker – 150 kg (Fully strong). I gave it a shot and am proud to report that I am not useless, but merely a weakling. Later we saw a larger guy trying the 3rd one and not only did he fail, but I think he will be at the chiropractor’s office tomorrow.
We hiked above the beach at Dritvik for quite some time and it was stunning. Seeing the old fishing village (at least some remains) was very cool and the black beach was especially dramatic. We tried to find an old Labyrinth that was created by these fishermen out of boredom (they had to live here for 3-4 months at a time), but eventually gave up to hunt for lunch instead, which proved equally difficult. Hard to find restaurants when there are barely any people in the country. Eventually we settled for burgers at a gas station, which only cost us our first born children. Did I mention how expensive this place is? Ty mentions in his blog that he needed to go to the bank before dinner to get a loan. Agreed. Didn’t this country go bankrupt within the last year? I guess we are paying to get it back on track, and quickly at this rate.
After lunch and buying gas (btw – you should never complain about gas prices in the US as we paid something like $6-7/gallon here) we headed straight North to Stykkisholmur which is not only the ferry terminal for passage to the North Fjords, but also the sight of a festival this weekend… Danish Days! Huh? We went to see how Icelanders have fun on the weekends and I for one was not disappointed at all. We arrive in this much larger, but still tiny town on the North coast of the peninsula to find the festival in full swing. About 400 people all gathered in a park watching a band play Guns & Roses and other covers – we could hear them from the parking lot but when we finally got a look at them we were surprised to see that they were about 13-15 years old (and we think the drummer might have been about 12). Excellent start. After walking around the town a bit we returned to find 4-5 older guys in crazy wigs holding either and auction or sale of very random items like a cheap used entertainment center and a washing machine. Very confusing, but very funny as well. Would have helped to understand Icelandic (or was it Danish?).
Following this event, we returned to our hotel in Grundarfjordur where the owner of the hotel (who had recommended this festival that morning to us) proceeded to tell us there was a roaming gang of guys who had randomly been beating people up (quite severely) for no apparent reason, including the night before where the festival was being held. Funny that she didn’t mention it before we left. Ugh. :) Oh well, back at the hotel safe and sound.
Rounding out the day, I went for a long walk toward some big waterfalls but failed to find a path to them (added photos to the albums section) and then we went to dinner at “Kaffi 59,” a small restaurant here in this tiny town (one of three if you count our hotel). Now back to get some rest – tomorrow is our last full day of the trip! We’ll be heading into Reykjavik for our last night, then it’s off to Seattle on Monday….
In what will certainly prove to be the most culturally shocking part of our trip, we left Delhi and flew through London to Iceland. Here are some basics:
Before I get fully into Iceland, I will share a quick note on getting here. We left Delhi in the afternoon for a nice 9 hour flight to London, where we immediately gorged ourselves on these new foods (fish & chips, vegetables, and even a smoothie). We then hopped a late flight to Reykjavik and arrived at around 11pm. Luckily we had chosen a small complex of cabins right next to the airport. We were “exhausted” (said with dramatic effect just as Sonya would do it).
We woke to a very windy and cold Iceland, which was great! Good to be out of the heat. After breakfast we caught the first airport shuttle, rented a car, and hit the road into the interior of the country. First order of business was to check off the Golden Circle, a series of interesting sights about 1.5 hours from the capital, Reykjavik. This included lunch in Sellfoss, then to the waterfalls at Gullfoss, followed by a series of geysers at a place aptly called Geysir. Last on the Golden Circle was the rift zone, where the N. American and European continents collide in a way that you can actually see them (not under the ocean).
All of it was beautiful and then came the hard part. We needed to get up to the Snaefells Peninsula on the very west coast in a few hours. Sounds easy, but once started we realized that about 50% of the road getting there was unpaved. Our trusty Toyota Corolla handled it in style, as it’s bigger cousin the Land Cruiser had done in Tibet. Eventually we were back on paved roads and headed to the peninsula, where it became even more beautiful around every corner. Mountainous, but very green like Ireland. We arrived at the small fishing village of Grundarfjordur and the Framnes Hotel around 5:30pm.
The evening was spent with Ty going for a run, I going for a long walk, and then a very expensive dinner at the hotel. After 24 hours here, I realize we may be spending 50% of our month’s food expense in the last four days. Before dozing off, I had a great chat with Sonya on Skype – can’t wait to get home, even though it is amazing here. Expecting rain tomorrow and we have no plan (or place to stay). Should be interesting – stay tuned…
Oh, and I posted more pics in the photos section. Enjoy!
Our last day and night in Delhi turned out to be fairly active after all. I was hoping for another day of doing nothing, but we ended up out for lunch, shopping at bit (by force), and walking the streets of Panchsheel Park this evening. At least I snuck a two hour nap in this afternoon.
Lunch was another excellent Indian place, and the reason we shopped by force is that we arrived over an hour before the restaurant even opened. We killed time mostly in a book store because most of the shops were closed as well. Does nothing open before noon around here? The streets are certainly busy enough 24 hours to signal something is happening. Maybe people just drive around and honk at each other until around 12, then go to work. After lunch we tried the Lotus Temple one more time and it was closed again (at least we took a picture this time). Three strikes for Shiv. Bad week I guess.
Speaking of busy streets, we finally decided we’d had enough of being chauffeured everywhere we went and ordering in dinner. Susan’s place is great, but we’ve been getting lazy so we ventured out into the untamed streets, much to the horror of the security guard at the house. It was fun and enlightening. It began with a nice, but hot, walk through the streets of the neighborhood which is quite a wealthy and safe place for Delhi. Eventually we reached the end, passed through the gates, and were instantly right in the middle of it all. Chaos. Tuk tuks, motorcycles, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, wild dogs, you name it.
You know you really can’t say you’ve been to a city (in my opinion) until you’ve a) walked around in it, b) smelled it, and c) been to a local grocery store. We did all of these and more. To try and capture the scene, Ty took a short video which I have posted below. Hopefully it works…
We eventually found some food (Italian again – ugh), went to the grocery store, and then walked for about 30+ minutes back. By this time it was dark and the neighbor hood was a buzz with activity (although it is 24/7, so not sure what the dark had to do with it). There were food stalls galore, auto repair shops, a mosque with several shrines along the street, wild dogs everywhere (at least 100 in our short walk), furniture stores, pot holes, kittens, beggars, welders, kids playing badminton, people bathing, people building things, people tearing things apart, people doing nothing, you name it. Oh, and did I mention wild dogs?
Anyway, it was a great last night in Delhi. Tomorrow morning we will do this walk again (Ty found a promising coffee shop for an attempt at breakfast) and then head to the airport for our flight through London to Reykjavik, Iceland, where the temperature is half of what it is here. Wish us luck!
Ah, another slow day here in Delhi. This has been a big trip and every day we get a chance to do very little is a blessing. We started the morning with a trip to the Delhi Red Fort, not to be confused with the Agra Red Fort, which is near the Taj Mahal. I have now been to both and would give the following overview:
Most importantly, the rain that had been in Delhi since we arrived finally left us and it became, well… HOT!!! I nearly melted today. It was as hot and humid as the Room to Read school visit in the hills of Nepal, except in the concrete jungle of Delhi. Frighteningly hot. Extremely hot. Anyway…
The fort was a bit boring compared to what we have seen so far. From the outside it looks huge and intimidating, but once inside it becomes a much smaller place with only a few interesting buildings. I only took about 10 photos, which says a lot given our photo progress to date.
We finished the fort a bit early so we walked down the street past a Jain temple (but not ‘the’ Jain temple, evidently) and Ty finally got a taste of real India. Beggars, hawkers, crowds and heat. Not to a level I have seen in my trips to Mumbai, but a good taste nonetheless.
The rest of our day was spent having lunch at Connaught Place and then a long drive back to the house, where we proceeded to do nothing, the holy grail of vacation activity. We even ordered delivery for dinner – more Murgh!
Tomorrow may be slow as well. One can only hope. :)