On Why I Can’t Be a Travel Blogger | Featuring Reykjavik

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-10-49-01-amLet’s be honest, I could never be a travel blogger because I suck at timing.  In almost everything, timing is not my thing.   My jokes are typically ill-timed in a moment where people in the conversation have stepped back through the window of their own thoughts and are looking around.  I respond to emails with the same attitude they’re written to me and as soon as I see them (and I get them to my phone so that can create huge lessons in autocorrect and bluntness).  This can be particularly nasty when you spend most of your day with fifteen year olds.  But in blogging and most other small persuasion business endevors it’s all about timing and thus, my foray into travel blogging is short-lived.  Actually it’s exactly like four more posts.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-10-48-34-amI also always open these blogs with nothing about the actual blog and I think travel bloggers just get right to it.  In order to prove this point, here are some bloggers that have gone to Iceland that I really used while I was there.

  1. The Young Adventuress
  2. The Wanderlust Blog
  3. Travelettes
  4. The Blonde Abroad
  5. Nomadic Matt
  6. Life with a View
  7. Roadtrip Through Iceland
  8. Fathom Away
The Gray Cat

The Gray Cat

The second day we went to a blogger recommended spot for breakfast.  We discovered that the Icelandic on the door meant The Gray Cat which is perfect for two full-blown cat ladies.  The breakfast was one of only two very American things that I ate in Iceland.  The plate was FULL of eggs and salsa covered potatoes and The Gray Cat was stocked with books; Icelandic and English.

The Gray Cat (it's right across from The Culture House)

The Gray Cat (it’s right across from The Culture House)

I had a Swiss Mocha which is when I discovered that Icelanders serve hot cocoa in a glass with a straw.  There were TWO people working, literally.  What I imagine is a very quaint kitchen in the back with the sounds of spoon against skillet and a little blonde woman in an apron is the definition of this cafe.  At this spot is when I really put the pieces together that Icelanders are a blunt, straightforward bunch.  What I would normally recognize as a general coldness is really just a people that probably don’t have time for frills.

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Reykjavik Harbor

Christine and I thought that maybe because we’re American and we believe that we can conquer anything, move mountains, move West, strike gold, we don’t understand our own smallness in the world. Our own unique thumbprint on the shape of it is more important than the vastness of nature and the things that are truly so much bigger than us and have lasted longer, out-stood our careless misadventures and innovations and just stood. The way that I don’t believe I’m capable of, just yet.

Glo, where I attempted to read the paper

Glo, where I attempted to read the paper

(This is obviously my take and no Icelanders were harmed in the making of this blog because they were truly lovely to us all the time.  In fact, in my next blog, you’ll learn about the box truck man that we want to find to thank again who moved our car out of a dire parallel parking situation and then just waved goodbye).

img_1426I was going to write about our exact misadventures on day two, but I feel like this post is leading me more towards talking about the city of Reykjavik (which I can now actually spell without looking, but still probably don’t say properly).  I loved and hated parts of this city.  It’s a hodgepodge of homes, colors, graffiti, and true backyard fairy gardens.  We barely tapped the tourist section of the city because we knew it would be far too expensive, but we did walk around the backstreets.  We even saw an Obama head in a basement apartment window.  The murals on the sides of buildings were dreamy and thoughtful.  It was never just an image, but something greater, some tall story that said something across languages. Several times, I turned to Christine and said, “I want to show my students this one.”

Cafe Babalou - THE BEST Vegan Carrot Cake

Cafe Babalou – THE BEST Vegan Carrot Cake

We had a wifi hotspot from Route 1 car rental, so we could easily navigate with maps, but by the fourth day we kind of had it figured out.  We knew which fence patterns to turn at, how many streets up from Snorrabraut was the cafe that we loved.  Everything in it would be completely tacky alone, but when it was all together, it was an assortment of the coolest hipster and your grandmother, Cafe Babalou.

We also could navigate straight from any parking spot to Joylato, a gluten free everything, ice cream place that made the ice cream in Kitchen Aid mixers right in front of you.  (I recommend the salted caramel with peanut butter crumbles).

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See what I mean about hipsters and grandma’s house ; Cafe Babalou

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My travel partner and CAKE on Thanksgiving evening.

I have no pictures of Joylato because I suck, but it's delicious and turquoise on the outside!

I have no pictures of Joylato because I suck, but it’s delicious and turquoise on the outside!

Joylato was also one of the first places that I really witnessed the gender neutrality of Iceland.  When you imagine going to a country of Vikings, you think that there will be a clear divide between the feminine and masculine. In Joylato, two men always served us and the shop is inspired by a spiritualist.  So much so, that there were about seven pictures of him hanging in a row with one picture of Jesus.  I googled him to figure out who he was, but still am a little unsure so I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to accidentally shame someone’s values.   I’m not sure why I didn’t think two men could own an ice cream shop, because obviously they can, but I just don’t think that would be as widely seen in America.  We put men on television when they make cakes, (Hey, Cake Boss), so it was interesting for me to see that Iceland welcomed any gender, anything.

We did Happy Hour at the Dillon twice to write down a timeline of our trip. 700 krona wine.

We did Happy Hour at the Dillon twice to write down a timeline of our trip. 700 krona wine.

There were so many reasons to love Reykjavik.  It has a woodsy charm as if the city hadn’t actually taken over the environment, but they were living dual harmony.  It was expensive though.  EX-PEN-SIVE.  We couldn’t really ever eat for less than $25 at every meal.  Our breakfast at The Gray Cat was upwards of $30-$35.  At one point, the last day, on a road trip, we stopped at a convenient store and got a bag of fries, a BAG OF FRIES , for $7 though.  I thought I asked for a medium, but I got a bag and attempted to fill the bag with ketchup. It ended up ripping and spilling fries all over me at a toll with a nice gentlemen who gave us a toilet paper bag. There were so many things to love in Reykjavik that weren’t monetary though.  The line of mountains in the distance, the quotes and city lights, the fact that you always felt safe because Iceland has very little crime, but also there was a clear lack of tension in Reykjavik.  In America, you can almost feel the heat off of people.  We are anxious (particularly with the election) and worried and we have just so much to do, that didn’t exist in Iceland.

Cutest spot in Reykjavik Roasters

Cutest spot in Reykjavik Roasters

Here’s a list of places we ate at, not mentioned in this article, but photographed above:

  1. Glo (vegan and gluten free options)
  2. Reykjavik Roasters (THE coffees spot in Reykjavik).
  3. Pilsa Pulsa (where we ate Thanksgiving Dinner)
  4. The Dillon (you HAVE to hit up their Happy Hour every afternoon).
  5. The Gray Cat (Cute, expensive)
  6. Cafe Babalou (FAVORITE)
  7. Fridheimar Tomato Farm (not in Reykjavik, but the most delicious meal we ate, easily. I will write about this one in a later blog).
  8. The Big Lebowski (American cheeseburger when you need one).

I guess it’s true what they say, “You’re a dipstick if you don’t visit Reykjavik.”

*No one says that.

Next up, Pingvellir pronounced Thing-val-eer

Winter is Coming | Iceland Part 1

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Currently, Christine and I are blogging from the car (we got 4g wifi like ballers and didn’t realize until day 2 that we could actually remove the device from the car and get a hotspot).  We’re trying to decipher the difference between hairy rocks, horses, and sheep out here in the darkness, but mostly it’s just snow, black lava rock and geyser fog. When we googled what word to use after geyser there (smoke, steam, fog, the works) we found out you could order Geyser fog machines for parties and relive the Iceland experience.

image2-1-2Any who, I thought this was the perfect time to capsule our first two days in Iceland.  We’ve hit up all the tourist attractions pretty much these last two days.  The Blue Lagoon turned our hair to straw, and there ain’t no magic conditioner that’s going to turn it back to gold.  Not that this is the only thing we remember from the Blue Lagoon.

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The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal heated hot spring that appears suddenly on the horizon about twenty minutes from the airport.  A few roundabouts later (literally) and you can be out of those cabin air clothes and into a giant salty hot tub.  The silica is a bit overpowering, but they serve drinks at a swim up bar which makes it “hella” worth it.  Plus, drinks everywhere else in Iceland will break the bank, so you might as well choose at least the “comfort” level at The Blue Lagoon because with that level you get a free drink, algae mask, and a towel.  Probably the towel is the most important part of that combination because in winter, Iceland is like a frozen tundra.

image10Plus, trust me, you need the algae mask after a girl in a 1950s flowered bathing cap offers you a silica mud mask and your face dries up like a porous rock. Not saying it wasn’t worth it because it felt great, but I’ve been a piece of sawdust for the last two days.  The cold doesn’t help.  We floated like ghosts through the steam for about three hours, or until pruned, and headed out to forcibly not nap.

The force was with us though because we found our way to the city and had a nice lunch at Glo with liquid nitrogen salted caramel ice cream afterwards at Joyland.

image4What I love about Iceland so far is that there’s so much rich history.  Almost everything is sustainable or made from Green Energy.  It looks like the moon (or what I would imagine that the moon looks like).  You never know when a mountain will just pop up on the side of your car.  We’ve been driving this little roadster called the Suzuki Jimmy and Christine WHIPS it around roundabouts like a bumper car.  And this country is just MAJESTIC.

Tomorrow I’ll write about our hike through the National Park (in which I thought I was cast into Game of Thrones), our first (and probably last) taste of tectonic plate glacial water, the TOMATO FARM, the lies behind Instagram’s Iceland bloggers aka the Northern Lights, and our Suzuki Jimmy. Plus, the discovery made that sunsets and sunrises probably take the same particle amount of beautiful to make you miss home anywhere in the world.

Refurb |

As most of you know, I haven’t blogged in almost two months.  I’ve been overwhelmed with work, moving, feeding the animals that we hoard in our home (3), and keeping up with day-to-day life.  So, I’ve given myself a challenge.  To blog at least every three days for the month of June.  Even when I’m too tired, even when I’ve worked a full day and there are no words in my brain to communicate anything to the world.  Even when all I can do is review the four reality television shows I just watched on Bravo because I couldn’t do anything that contained more thought.  Teaching will be over by the tenth and I will be dedicating myself to my small nook of internet.  Looking forward to reintroducing myself to you, guys.  I hope you like the new look.

-POP

Weekending

My (new) biggest advice for girls who are starting to date is to date someone who likes to weekend the same way you do.  When you get a big girl job, or you’re life-expected to work a full week and come home to lethargy and reality television, it’s best to date someone who wants to weekend.  This can mean a lot of things.  This means, for me, someone who will go to the museum with me and then be patient when I want to read, throughly, every single sign posted near an exhibition until the second floor where I will inevitably get tired and miss whole parts of the upper floor exhibitions. My boyfriend knows so well this habit that he takes me to the best parts first.  Someone who will drive an hour away, and two hours early (whoops) for a drive-in movie.  Someone who finds undiscovered gems on Google and then off-rhythm car dances with me to find said gem in the middle of a wooded state park.

And thus, the quarry.

Date someone who stops for a twenty inch float and the pharmacy that’s covered in hippie flowers, travels to the quarry, sunscreens up, then dives into said float which will later be used as a sombrero for the walk back.  Date someone who panic flails when he jumps off the 25 ft cliff at the long edge of the [rec]circle of the quarry.  Date someone who knows you’re scared of putting your feet low, but doesn’t pick on you for floating.  There’s something about the silence when your ears are underwater, but you know the birds wings are rippling above you and they’re calling to one another about the prospects of a nest.  Something deep below, in the place just out of where you can see the end of your toes, there might be a stitch of sound.  Nothing that coats the silence though. I love this feeling.  The sun is hard and true, but my eyes are closed and the clear green of the lake makes everything still, my ears muffed by fresh water.

And this is why you date a guy who weekends (like you do).

Because you could just as well date a guy who wants to cook seven full course meals on the weekends with you because you have a sweet tooth (that needs a salty addition). Or you could date  a guy who wants to watch endless hours of NCIS with a small break for Bad Boys II when it’s on USA.  (I have one of those, but that’s his weeknight digest attitude).  Maybe someone who will peruse the bookstore shelves, take #bookface photos in the perfect position, pocket the book you squealed about and secretly check out while you get coffee.  Even the guy who will eat Mexican food for four weekend meals, including breakfast (the Taco Bell breakfast burrito ain’t all bad).

Whatever it is you like to do on the weekend. Which is your free time. Your down time. Your time for yourself when you get to make choices that aren’t dependent on other people and other people’s schedules. Choose a boy that wants to weekend the same way. Make it a verb. Add the -ing.

 

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Chaco tree shadows // The walk in had good light.

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Forest Lines

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Eno Quarry View

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The water was SO clear.

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Ready to jump

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The boyfriend.

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Fresh water face (hey, eyeliner).

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This green is only nature made

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View of the pack-up

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Got some good luck

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Fresh water laughter

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Close up of my good luck

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The end of a good day

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Watermelon cuddles

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The first thing that happened on this day was coffee. Must have for any adventure.

 

 

Technicolor Wonder

Reading Between the World and Me aloud with Fro-Cat and Beej.

Reading Between the World and Me aloud with Fro-Cat and Beej.

I recently just moved back to my hometown, which to be honest has been a bit of a culture shock.  The traffic, the racial breakdown, and the amount of just pure food has been pretty overwhelming after living three years in a small town where I regularly drove for miles through corn fields in the summer and cotton fields in the Fall.  Last week, I literally did my writing hour in a coffee shop where there was not one black person.  I realize a person in the “majority” race probably wouldn’t normally find this alarming, but it was bothersome for me.  I’m used to a town that was full of cultural diversity with a high population of Native Americans, African Americans, and Anglo-Saxon Americans.  Truly, I  was really uncomfortable, enough to note it to my best friend. This is especially taxing because I’m currently reading Ta-Nehesi Coates new book Between the World and Me which makes me even more aware of racial boundaries and my need to start more discussions.

That being said, I’m definitely a small-town girl at heart, so I’m just going to have to make this new city, a bit more local.

To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of my #adventure partner, my boyfriend, BJ. We like to explore anywhere we go and now I’m going to newly explore my home(city)town.  Sunday night we went to a local drive-in theater.  We had been looking for drive-ins since January.  This was an experience.  First, we were three hours early because I thought the ticket booth opening time was the time of the first movie.  Even better, we got to explore the tiny town of Kittrell, NC, very close to Henderson, NC.

We found a hidden Confederate Soldier Cemetery.  During the Civil War, a hospital was placed there due to the city’s closeness to the railroad.  With all the recent news about the confederate flag and the moving and honest speech by Representative Jenny Horne, this little cemetery was a sort of quiet oasis on the side of a dirt road.  It was hidden behind broken-homes and nudged next to a railroad.  Some of the grave stumps were just beaten rocks, or stone slabs without any data.  Then, there were three marble stones for unknown soldiers, and a few family plots like the Blackwells.  Near the cemetery is the Saint James Episcopal Church (c. 1860), which helped with wounded soldiers and gave Christian burials to those that died in the Kittrell (hospital) Hotel.

We, of course, took too many photos on the railroad tracks. (And no disembodied spirits there).

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Then, we were right on time to see Minions and Jurassic Park on the big screen.  Two features for only seven dollars and a radio station that shares the sound with your car.  Next time, we’ll probably pack pillows and comforters for the truck bed, but we were rookies this time.  Also, I’m pretty embarrassing. You can see it all over BJ’s face.

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And obviously, because if you go to an old school drive-in, you need old school (as in childhood) eats and drinks, so we stopped at a gas station for a glass jar YooHoo. 230 calories a glass, I didn’t get a box of candy. I wasn’t trying to take the drive-in tummy ache too far. (I did eat Mozzerella Sticks from the concession stand though because, hello, you have to).

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Not only did we get TWO features, but before the first movie, they played a Mickey Mouse technicolor.  It was a perfect night with a stale breeze and windows down.  I laughed at minions in thongs and tipped the truck seat back.  Only 45 minutes from Raleigh, this is a true find.  I highly recommend finding a drive-in near you even if your car is far too lived-in (Sorry, Mom).