Thursday, July 28, 2011

We’re back in Cambridge!

And what great weather we’ve got here!  We went to participate in the inaugural ride for the Boston bike share program, called Hubway.  It was such a fun experience – everyone was so excited, the weather was perfect, and now Boston has a bike share program!  We both signed up, and we got t-shirts, and we made friends with some other bike enthusiasts.  We’re busy now taking care of things around the apartment, so we’ll write more later.

Carolinevej – the most awesome street in Denmark


Yes, that’s right. There is a street called Carolinevej. We pretended that it would be pronounced “Caroline-veg” which is a perfect name. Actually in Danish, “vej” is a street ending that is pronounced like “vay” similar to how we would call a street Something Way.

In any case, we found it and took lots of pictures. It made one of us very happy – you can probably guess who!

The Blue Lagoon

Our flight back from Copenhagen connected through Iceland again, and this time we had only one day (well really 8 hours).  We went to the one thing we most wished we had had time for on our first stop in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon.  It’s really touristy, but it still manages to be extremely awesome.  It wasn’t a beautiful day by any stretch of the imagination – mid-50s, rainy/misty, and very cloudy.  But somehow that almost made the Blue Lagoon seem even more exotic and unusual, since we couldn’t see very far past the edges of it. 

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the Blue Lagoon is.  It’s a mostly seawater natural pool heated by geothermal activity, and the minerals and algae make it look translucently blue.  Even in the cold rainy weather, it felt great to get in.  And there was a cave, and white silica mud that you can put on your skin, and a warm waterfall that feels like an excellent massage, and lots of different areas to explore.  It was nothing like the geothermal pool we went in on the first part of the trip.  Supposedly the stuff in the water is really good for your skin, but it is pretty bad for your hair! 

We were too scared to try to bring our camera out for fear of dropping it in the water, but we talked to a Mexican family who had a waterproof camera.  After we took a picture of them, we asked them to take a picture of us and send it to us, so hopefully we can post that when we hear back from them.

After the Blue Lagoon, we showered and got back on the bus to the Keflavik airport.  Nothing like a spa break in a geothermal lagoon to make an 8-hour layover fly by!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Best day ever (except our wedding!)

After two weeks of mostly rainy weather, Denmark was nice enough to give us a beautiful warm sunny day for our last 24 hours here, and we made the most of it!

The couple that we rented our apartment from came back from their own trip to Vietnam on Monday, so it was time for us to move. We mostly cleaned up the apartment, and then ran out to take care of some last errands before they arrived. Somewhat awkwardly, we got back from our errands to find they were already back, earlier than expected! And we hadn’t finished cleaning! Fortunately, they were really friendly even after their long trip, and they were actually going right away for a birthday party so we had time to finish cleaning up. They were also very impressed that we had washed all the linens and towels that they had left for us.

OK, on to the good part.

We carried all of our luggage across town to meet our new host, Lars. He is a Danish guy that we found via, a website that lets you find people willing to host you at their place for free. He turned out to be a great guy – very nice, friendly and interested in hanging out with us. We treated him to dinner (his first time trying Indian food), and then we all went together to a bar where there was a CouchSurfing meet-up (same as last week), basically just a social event with people from all over the world. We met some more Danes, some Germans, Canadians and others.

The next morning, we started early since we had a big day planned. We had rented bikes the day before, and we were going to bike to the Louisiana Museum (modern art and sculpture garden). The Louisiana is about 20 miles north of the city, and the whole ride is with good bike paths and most of it is right along the coast. We started off kind of slow, but by the end we were on a long path with no stops and we just cruised. It was BEAUTIFUL biking, with a wide enough path to go side-by-side, the sun shining on us, and the sea and Sweden visible off to our right.

When we got close to the museum, we stopped in the town nearby and found some shops. We decided that since we had just biked 20 miles, we were entitled to eat whatever we felt like at the bakery – and boy did they have good stuff! The Danes really have amazing breads and pastries. At the museum, we sat in the sculpture garden and enjoyed an amazing view of the open sea.

We biked back (with one last stop at the bakery) and made really good time, got showered and changed, and then went out to meet Stella and Philip, the couple that we had rented the apartment from. We ate dinner at the Nyhavn canal, with a setting sun shining on the picturesque houses along the side. It was fun hearing all about their trip to Vietnam, and telling them about our time in Copenhagen. They seemed like a great couple, and we hope to stay in touch for our future trips or if they come to the US.

After that, we headed back to our new host’s apartment and turned in, since we had an early flight the next morning. I’ll write about our trip back (hint: we had an awesome 8-hour layover in Iceland!), but for now, it just feels great to wrap up our trip with such a wonderful last day in Denmark.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Have you ever seen a door that opens like this?

This is an automatic door we encountered, and we’d never seen anything like it, so of course we took a video.  Check it out!

Also, we’ve posted some pictures from the honeymoon.  They don’t have explanations, but we’ll be working through the ones with good stories on the blog, so keep checking back!  Here are the albums: Iceland and Denmark.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

We’re back from Aarhus

We went to the second-largest city in Denmark for a day trip, and we are back in Copenhagen now.  It was a cool trip, we found an awesome science museum and a cool women’s museum.  We also had much cheaper ice cream than in Copenhagen!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We went to Sweden today!

It was so much fun!  We wandered around Malmö, had lunch at Mello Yello, saw the Turning Torso tower, and found a few different parks and gardens.  We even got ice cream!  It was a great day.  We’ll post more about it tomorrow, probably, but the weather has finally gotten nice, so we’re spending as much time enjoying it as we can!

Back in time: Our first days in Denmark

We haven’t been writing much since we arrived in Copenhagen because we’ve alternately been keeping so busy and then relaxing, but I have a little time right now so I’ll share some pictures from our first few days here.

We arrived on a Saturday night around 11pm. On Sunday, we gave ourselves a day to relax since we had been traveling so intensely in Iceland. It was great! Then Sunday night we ventured into the city on our bikes and saw a concert from the Copenhagen Jazz Festival (thanks Farah!):



The next morning, we discovered a wonderful bakery just up the street from our apartment. We have become regular customers there, and Caroline took some photos of the many different fun items that they have. Some are really cute and delicious:


We took a little snack and biked to sit out by the canal and read. It was a wonderful way to relax and enjoy being in Copenhagen:


From there we went to go see the Little Mermaid statue (den Lille Havfrue), which is quite the tourist attraction. We had to fight to get a good picture with her!


The next day our adventures took us to the “free state” of Christiania. In the ‘70s it was a run-down, unused area of land in Copenhagen, and some hippies started squatting there. It became a sort of haven for alternative politics and lifestyles, and now they’ve actually negotiated laws with the government that makes it almost like a reservation. It’s essentially a giant artists commune. They don’t like you taking lots of photos there, so we have just this one from the restaurant that Jayson recommended, which turned out to be an excellent vegetarian place (thanks Jayson!):


We also stopped at Nyhavn, which we’ve learned is pronounced like new-haaun. This is the picturesque port canal that seems to be the most famous view in Copenhagen. It’s easy to see why. If you are there with good weather, it is bustling with Danes and tourists alike, and the entire length of it is lined with restaurants with outdoor seating where you can enjoy a beer and watch the people go by. We discovered an ice cream shop that makes these amazing belgian waffles topped with soft serve. We’ve had 4 of them so far!



Monday, July 18, 2011

We went to a CouchSurfing meet up tonight

We joined CouchSurfing because we found some positive things about it on some cool travel blogs, and it seems like there are a lot of interesting things to be found and done on the site.  We went to a meet up of CouchSurfing members tonight at a place called Compass Bar, and we met a bunch of cool people from Denmark, Morocco, India, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Poland, England, and Australia.  We had a great time, everyone was super friendly and spoke English (everyone else seemed to speak at least 4 languages, so we were the lame ones).  A lot of the conversation revolved around where people were from and where they had traveled, which was fun for us as we’re thinking about where we’ll want to live and travel abroad.

Tomorrow we’re probably going to go to Sweden, since it’s a 30-minute train ride across a cool bridge.  Today we went running and had a picnic in the park, since it was one of the few nice weather days we’ve had since we’ve been here.  We’re having a lot of fun!  More pictures and posts later!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Trip Back in Time – Iceland, Days 3 and 4

This is clearly out of order, since we’ve been in Copenhagen for a week, but we never wrote about the last 2 days of Iceland, and I know you all are curious.  On Day 3 in Iceland, we went white-water rafting in the Hvítá River, which is a glacier river.  We wore wetsuits and spash jackets and helmets and neoprene booties, some of which you can see in the background of the picture below.  Believe it or not, we didn’t take any pictures during the rafting trip :)


On the way to and from the river, we had to drive in a van across the narrowest bridge you can imagine.  There was really no room for error in either direction, but our guide/driver was extremely good!


When we got back, we rested for a while then walked around the city a bit more, stopping in front of the Hallgrímskirkja church.  I think it’s almost 9pm in this picture, not that you can tell!


We wandered our way over to the best ice cream place in Reykjavik, called Ísbuð Vesturbæjar.  When we got lost looking for it, a local pointed us in the right direction and recommended that we get the “old” ice cream.  We took his advice, and we were glad because it seemed like the “new” ice cream was just soft serve.  They gave us as many toppings as we wanted!  It was great.

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On our way back, we encountered this cool-looking house.


And this extremely cute one!


On Day 4, we only had a half day because of our flight to Copenhagen, but we made the most of it and went to the National Museum of Iceland, which was really fun.


They had these Viking-era mittens, which were created using a technique called needle coiling, which was a precursor to knitting.  Of course we thought of our friend Rebecca, who is a super knitter!


Here’s a closeup of one of the mittens.


One of the best parts of the National Museum of Iceland (and many museums, we’re finding) was the children’s section.  There was chain-mail armor that we could pick up to see how heavy it was, and of course the sword, shield, and helmet that were available for trying on, as you can see in the pictures below.

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There were also some less threatening costumes.  We look pretty awesome, right?


And then we left for the airport, which brings us to the end of our time in Iceland.  Next up, Copenhagen updates!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Laundry – Not so easy if you don’t speak Danish!

Today we had planned to do laundry. We are staying in the apartment of a couple around our age, and they were nice enough to leave us their laundry card so we could use the machines in the building here. Sounds mundane and straightforward, but it turned out to be a little more complicated than expected.

First, you have to sign up ahead of time for a time slot, similar to the laundry board at ZP actually. We signed up for 10am-1pm today, and then slept till 11:45. Oops.

We got down there and found another woman doing laundry. Apparently, there’s a rule that if you don’t start within 30 minutes of the time slot, then someone else can use the machines. Sensible enough, but we didn’t know!

It actually worked out well, since she had the next time slot from 1-4pm and now she was almost done, so we could use her time. But here’s where it gets really tricky. The laundry machine here has WAY more buttons than at home, and the sign on the wall that explains the buttons was only in Danish. Furthermore, you have to put your card into a reader and then push some additional buttons in order to pay for the laundry machines.

Needless to say, we failed miserably at all of these steps. The woman who had taken our time slot was nice enough to help out, but I imagine that she now thinks that Americans don’t know how to do laundry. We decided to hang our stuff to air dry so that we don’t have to wait around for the dryer – and so we don’t have to figure out another machine!

Now we are off to walk around the south part of the city. We will see the canals, visit the “Free State of Christiania” (we’ll explain more after we see it!) and hopefully eat a meal at one of the restaurants that someone got us as a wedding gift.

We will write and post pictures about it soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 2 – The Golden Circle

We got picked up by our Golden Circle tour guide van on Thursday morning at the very early hour of 8:00am. The plan was to go see some of the best natural sites in the area around Reykjavik. It’s called the Golden Circle because the tour makes a loop, and one of the best stops is the Gullfoss waterfall, which looks golden at sunset.

Some Early Troubles

The tour started off well, but we quickly ran into some trouble at the first stop, when Andre our guide tried to slide open the van door and this happened:



The Ancient Icelandic Parliament

The first stop was Þingvellir (pronounced Thingvellir), which was the site of the ancient Icelandic parliament from around 1000 A.D. From this site, you can see the slowly widening gap between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, leading to some amazing rock formations and natural vistas:




The water here is straight out of a spring, and you can’t even believe how crystal clear and clean the lake is. You can see straight down to the bottom and even see the ripples of light playing on the bottom surface. All around the edges, water was bubbling up from the springs and we drank this very pure clean water:


Geothermal Hotspots

Our next stop was a geothermal hotspot, where the water table is heated by underground lava to boiling hot temperatures. There were a lot of amazing features to see here, like Strokker, which regularly blasts water 20m into the air every 5-8 minutes. Check out a video below, or look at the picture if the video doesn’t work for you:


We also learned that the word Geysir originally applies to the specific Geysir here, which goes up to 60m in the air but is very intermittent and has been dormant since around 2000. The generic word geyser comes from the one named Geysir here.


We also saw hot-water mineral pools that were a beautiful blue color:


Amazing Waterfalls!

Our next stop was a huge two-tier waterfall called Gullfoss. It is a glacial river, so the water was grey with sediment and freeeeeezing cold! The falls were amazing to see, and the whole landscape was just beautiful:


On the way back, we also stopped at a waterfall on a spring-water river, and the water color was so pure and blue, very different from the Gullfoss falls:


Our final stop on the tour was a volcanic crater. This was a place where a volcano had long ago collapsed, and the interior is so deep that you can see the water table in the bottom. It had the same blue tint from the minerals:


And we stopped in a little cave on our climb down to the pool:


Back in Reykjavik

We got back to Reykjavik exhausted, but we just kept powering on! We asked the tour guide to drop us off in this big city park area because we wanted to check out one of the many public bathing pools in the city. Icelanders love bathing in the geothermal water in these public pools. There are a lot of customs and expectations about how you do it: shoes outside the locker room only! shower before entering with no swimsuit! dry off before re-entering the locker room!

We navigated all this successfully, and it was so worth it! The pool was a ton of fun, the sun was shining bright, and they even had a water slide.


It seemed like most of the people there were Icelandic, and we played a game where we looked for Icelandic versions of people we knew.

After the fun times in the pool, we wandered over to a beautiful botanical garden. It was already about 9pm by this point but the sun was still shining bright. After enjoying the plants and flowers, we found a little Cafe tucked in the back. This was a great discovery! We had wonderful meals in a very romantic atmosphere – even if we weren’t really dressed for it.



We had a long meandering walk home through the city, but at 11pm it was still full daylight and beautiful the whole way home. An exhausting but wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dinner with sunlight

We just went back to Cafe Babalu for a late dinner and had delicious
veg chili and a fantastic berry crepe for dessert.

Our hostel is very nice!

The hostel is clean and modern, and the other people here are very friendly!

We’re here! It’s not as cold as you might think!

Wow, we had the most amazing weekend of wedding, family, friends and fireworks. A lot of people stayed through Monday night, and we had a fun time spending Fourth of July with them and watching fireworks together. Then Tuesday was a whirlwind of errands and packing as we got ready for our red-eye flight to Reykjavik.

Fortunately, everything went smoothly and we landed at 6:30am in Iceland. We navigated with no problems to our hostel, and spent the day walking around and getting to know the city. You can see some photos below to get a taste of the area. It has a very small feel to it, since the population is only about 200,000 (for comparison, Boston proper is about 600,000), but it still has most of the cultural features of a larger city. We managed to see the symphony building today, a brand new gorgeous glass structure right on the waterfront.

We started off by just walking around, and this cemetery was the first thing we found. It looked just like a fairy tale cemetery. Surprisingly, the graves weren’t actually that old. We didn’t find anything earlier than about 1850.  It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful.

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You can get a feel for the beautiful city from these shots around the central lake, called Tjörnin. Good luck pronouncing that!  All the words in Icelandic are a gajillion letters and way too many that we don’t recognize!


We had an amazingly delicious pizza (that’s arugula on top!), and we found a relaxing place to lay out in the sun while it was shining through the clouds.

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This church is one of the landmark sites in Reykjavik. It’s stark and simple, but the architecture feels very powerful. Sam fell asleep!


We went to this nice little cafe to warm up with some hot chocolate. It was really similar to the 1369 Coffeehouse in Cambridge. They had this cool wall that you could write on with chalk, so Caroline commemorated our wedding in a heart.


On the way back home we walked by the beautiful new symphony. We thought we’d just peek in, but amazingly the front door was open. We started walking around and tried to make our way into the main hall just to see it. We went down a lot of back hallways and wrong turns, but we finally made it in!  Inside, a guy was tuning a piano, so we were very quiet!

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On the way back, Caroline noticed this statue, which is sort of famous, at least enough that it looked familiar to us. So we took a picture to wrap up a great first day! Tomorrow we are going on a tour of the amazing nature features on the island – geysers, waterfalls, hot springs and more! We will post again shortly. In the meantime, leave comments since we’d love to hear from you!


Sam and Caroline