What we did with a 10 Hour Layover in Iceland

Iceland may not sound like the most exciting place to have a layover, but in the last year it has become the “it” spot for layovers. Icelandair offers to have everything from a few hours to days of layover in Iceland. It’s a great way to explore a place you might have never otherwise visited. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Iceland myself with a 10 hour layover. I can tell you it wasn’t nearly enough time to explore this beautiful country, but it sure was the BEST layover I’ve ever had. Let me walk you through what my layover looked like. Granted we had already done some planning to enjoy the hours to the fullest.  Also, we had a schedule before arriving that was not followed at all due to unforeseen things, this is the accurate version of what happened.

6:30 – Landed in Iceland

After some moderate sleeping on the plane we arrived and were ready to make the most of our layover in Iceland.

TIP: Always be sure you’re ready to go as soon as you arrive. Also, early mornings in Iceland are cold, dress accordingly. 


7:30- Picked up rental car

Picking up our rental car took too long because it was two people taking care of several reservations. Be sure to allot a good amount of time, we definitely underestimated the wait time.

TIP: Our car rental place had free bottles of water that we kept and refilled for a good part of our trip.


8:00- Hit morning Traffic

While we were driving we forgot that not everyone is a tourist and that some people actually had to go to work. Not realizing that we would be hitting the morning commute we got stuck in traffic which threw back our whole schedule.

TIP: Don’t forget to plan for unexpected traffic.


8:30- Arrived in Reykjavik

Besides the traffic make sure you enjoy the views on the drive in. We drove around Reykjavik mostly to try and find where we were supposed to go, but it was nice to see the city from the warmth of our car.

TIP: Drive around a bit when you arrive in a new city. It helps you see more of the city and get acquainted with how things work.

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8:45- Found a parking garage on the corner of Hvertisgata St and Smidjustigur St. 

This parking garage is called Traoarkot, but really you can’t miss the huge blue ‘P’ sign. The first hour of parking is 80 ISK ($0.62 currently) and every hour after is 50 ISK ($0.39 currently).

TIP: Park your car and walk along Hvertisgata and the neighboring streets, because this is where all the cute stores and attractions are.


9:15- We had breakfast at Grey Cat Cafe (Grai Kotturinn)

While driving around to find where to park and eat, we saw this cute red door that was slightly underground. After we parked and walked a bit to check out the restaurants in the area we settled on the cute Grey Cat Cafe we had seen from the car. Make sure you don’t miss it, it’s a few steps down from the side walk. Red doors and green walls means you are in the right place. While there we had just your average breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes. Let me tell you , I have never had better bacon in my life. It might have been the hunger talking, but from what I remember it was pretty delicious bacon.  And the company was quite wonderful. We met some other American tourists who had actually been in town a few days so we asked what we should do, eat and try before leaving. Some of their recommendations: Blue Lagoon, Boli Beer, and Rye Bread Ice Cream.

TIP: When you are in a location with other travelers, never be afraid to talk to them and get recommendations from them. Travelers love to share stories.

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10:00 – Walked to Hallgrimskirkja while getting distracted by cute stores and colorful roads.

On our walk to this famous landmark in Reykjavik we made sure to enjoy our walk by stopping into a store that hadn’t been open yet, several souvenir shops one of which we purchased a shot glass made of lava rocks (I collect a shot glass from every place I visit), and a rainbow road. It was a lovely walk in a brisk fall morning.

TIP: When looking for a souvenir try to find things local to each place. Also stop into even the unlikeliest stores.

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10:30- Got to the top of Hallgrimskirkja.

After arriving and taking pictures outside we entered the beautiful church where the paying system is on an honor system. I was a bit shocked that they trusted tourists this much, but this is after all Iceland where the people are wonderfully kind and trusting. The view from above is just gorgeous. You get to see all of Reykjavik and beyond, it’s quite beautiful.

TIP: Take a minute to just look out at that view. It’s a beautiful peaceful moment when you’re on a crazy busy schedule.

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10:45- Walked back to car while trying Rye Bread Ice Cream

We decided to follow the recommendation of our fellow traveler and try the Rye Bread Ice Cream. It is not something that I would typically order, but it was actually pretty good. It was sweet and had a little bit of a grainy texture to it. I definitely recommend you at least taste it.

TIP: Always try something that was recommended to you by another traveler or local, even if it sounds totally bizarre. Also, walk into a store and ask the local for something that is native to the country or city you are in. (Example: My sister asked me to get candy from every country I visited, and the store workers with the help of other locals gave me recommendations on what to buy. It was fun and educational.)


11:00- Got lost on our way to the Blue Lagoon

In every trip, there is always a moment where we are totally lost in a country we don’t speak the language of and have to stop and ask for directions. In our case, we were already late for our Blue Lagoon ticket time so we stopped at a pizza shop for directions. I, literally, stumbled into the store because I didn’t see the bottom of the door frame to ask for directions. They were very nice and even showed on a map how to get there. Without their help, I’m not sure how we would’ve gotten there.

TIP: When you get lost, always remember to stay calm and reassure yourself that everything will work out. It is not the end of the world. It also makes for great stories!


11:30- Check in at Blue Lagoon

With every situation you get lost in, you always find kindness on the other side. For us, it was the amazing hostess at Blue Lagoon who not only allowed us in past our ticket time without a penalty but also helped us change our reservation at the restaurant.

TIP: Even when you’re stressed out, worried and behind schedule, always remember to be kind to those who you meet, they might just turn your day around. Also, always carry safety pins, you never know when your bathing suit will decide to break….


11:45- Head to the bar in the Blue Lagoon

After arriving, getting our lovely bathrobe, flip flop and goody bag we headed to the locker rooms to change. We quickly changed and headed to the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon. It was a much needed relaxation. Our ticket offered a free drink from the bar. I had the rose wine cooler and it was  delicious! They also offer non-alcoholic drinks such as a slushie called Krap, which my friend had. The great thing is everything from your free drink, to lunch to extra drinks you might want to purchase are all go on your bracelet, so make sure you don’t lose it.  Grab your drink at the Lagoon Bar in the water then enjoy the steaming hot waters. Make sure to stop by the small waterfalls too.

TIP: Alcoholic or not, always try something local. The walls are all made with rocks so there are some places with natural seating if you just want to sit down and relax. Also buy a waterproof bag for your phone so that you can enjoy taking pictures.

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12:00- Do the Silica Mud Masks

I’ll let the description from the website do the talking: “The white face mask that you’ve probably seen in photos is the Silica Mud Mask. The mask is delivered at the Silica bar, located in the lagoon. You can apply as much as you want to your face and body, before leaving it on for at least 5 minutes. When you wash it off, you will feel a significant difference in the softness of your skin.”

This “Silica Bar” they refer to is a wooden box with slots just big enough to fit a hand through and grab a handful of it and spread it on your body. The great thing is everyone does it, so we all look ridiculous together.

TIP: Just do the mask. Trust me.


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13:00- Lunch At Lava

On site the Blue Lagoon, there is a wonderful restaurant called Lava. At first it feels extremely weird walking into a fancy restaurant in a bath robe, but soon enough you see a few other people in bathrobes and then you realize that you are too fancy to be wearing real clothes anyways. It was a strange but awesome transition of feelings. We had a wonderful lunch, where we did rush it a bit to get back to the water before leaving.

TIP: When you are allowed to go have lunch in your bathrobe, take advantage of it. How many people can say they’ve had lunch at a fancy restaurant in a bathrobe?

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13:45- Headed back to the water

We couldn’t leave without one last dip in the water.

TIP: It’s hard to leave the water, but keep track of time so you don’t miss your plane.



14:45- Rushed out of the Blue Lagoon

Realizing we over stayed, we rushed out of the Blue Lagoon after showering and changing back to our travel clothes. When I say rush, I mean we ran to the car as fast as we could after paying.

TIP: Be prepared for situations that might make you uncomfortable like nudity and see-through showers or showers with no curtains. At the end of the day, we are all human beings. (PS- this was all in the a same sex locker room)

15:15- Arrived at Airport

It was a mad dash from dropping off the car to getting to the gate.

TIP: Having everything already packed and organized while driving over to the airport, made the car drop off a lot faster.


15:30- Waited in line to board with a Boli

While we were behind on our schedule, thankfully so was the airplane, giving us enough time to try one more recommendation, Boli. Boli is a very popular beer in Iceland and we couldn’t leave without trying it. It was very refreshing after a day of relaxation. It almost took us away from the craziness of an airport.

TIP: Remember the water bottle from the car rental we spoke about earlier? We asked around until we found water fountains to refill our bottles. Every airport should have something that can refill bottles, look for them.

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16:35- Take off

We were satisfied with how much we got to do and getting the chance to experience Iceland, even if it was just for a little bit.

TIP: If you can extend your layovers to explore some of this beautiful place, do it!


Like you see above, you can do a lot in a layover as long as you plan accordingly. If you’re planning on going to the Blue Lagoon, plan your tickets in advance they do sell out. If you plan for your layover at night you can drive out to see the Northern Lights. Also, car rentals aren’t necessary to get to Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon they do have buses available, we just preferred to have the freedom to be on our own schedule. Iceland is a beautiful place and I can’t wait to explore more of it!


Enjoy your adventure!

6 Valentine’s Day Dates in New England

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you have yet to plan something to do with your significant other or your friends, let me help! New England around winter time can be equally as beautiful as it is bountiful of activities. Here are some ideas of places to go for this Valentine’s Weekend.

1. Fancy Resort

If sitting in a hot tub with mountain views sounds like the perfect day for you, I think I have exactly what you need. New England has many ski areas with several grand resorts, most of which also have spas.  Whether you’re out skiing all day or bumming out in a soft bathrobe and eating room service to your heart’s content, a weekend in these hotels should be the perfect romantic getaway. Here are a few recommendations of resorts in the New England: Mountain View Grand Resort (New Hampshire), Harbor View Hotel (Massachusetts), and Q Burke Mountain Resort (Vermont), Hidden Pond (Maine). You can never go wrong with a getaway relaxing in a resort with beautiful views.

2. Local Breweries & Distilleries

For beer lovers or spirit lovers, here’s a neat and unique option. You can spend the day learning how some local beers and spirits are made and then have a tasting at the end. New England is full of local breweries, but here are a few you can visit: Mooselick Brewery (New Hampshire), Allagash (Maine), Harpoon (Vermont), and Samuel Adams (Massachusetts). Click here for a few more options. And if you just want to go to a different bar, one with a lot of character and variety check out this list by Boston Magazine on what they consider to be the Top Breweries in New England. So why not make a day of tasteful drinking? And instead of driving around, you can Uber or even rent a limo for the day?

3. Vineyards

Going along with breweries and distilleries, vineyards are also a great romantic date. You might even want to look up any special events wineries are hosting. Or just grab your partner or friends and head down to winery and have your own little party. Dogs + wine = White Mountain Winery (New Hampshire). Enjoy!

4. Inns

If fancy resorts aren’t your thing and you prefer a small quaint room or cabin, then a small inns might be a better option. Still on ski grounds so that you can enjoy all the outdoor activities, an inn has the perfect home away from home feel. For a romantic sleigh ride in the snow, Franconia Inn (New Hampshire) has got you covered. A few more options to look into are  Red Lion Inn (Massachusetts), WilloughVale Inn (Vermont), Rendezvous Bed & Breakfast (Vermont) and Rabbit Hill Inn (Vermont).  Each inn offers a different perk or attraction so make sure to look into them before picking one, I guarantee you’ll have a hard time choosing one.

5. Food Tours

For the couples who love to eat, but most of all love to eat together without putting any work behind it, this option is for you! Food tours are available in several cities around the New England area. A few are: Savoring Rhode Island, Taste of New Haven and Boston Food Tours. For more options check out this website: Discover New England.

6. Chocolates

Yes, chocolates. They are every girl’s best friend and a tasty treat for all. So why not take your partner to a special evening in a chocolate maker? Fascia Chocolates in Connecticut offers a Valentine’s Day Dessert Night. So if you know of any chocolate stores in your area, check in and see if they’re offering any special events for Valentine’s Day.


Whatever you choose for this Valentine’s Day just remember the important thing is to try new things together, because that will always bring people even closer. Anything big or small can be turned into an adventure, it’s all up to you.

Enjoy your adventure!


PS- For more ideas on what to do in New England check out these articles I wrote: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Vitoria, Brasil


Let me take to you a beautiful place called Vitoria in Brasil. It is actually my mother and grandmother’s home town and one of the reasons my name is Victoria. Vitoria is a city with so much life and a lot to do, yet somehow manages to provide a laid back atmosphere. Whether you want to take a trip with your family, your significant other or with your friends, it is the perfect vacation spot for any age.  Here are my top five reasons, you should also visit this paradise.

1. Beach

The first thing I think of when I think of Vitoria is all the different beaches. Whether you’re a surfer or not there are tons of beaches for everyone. You can even try windsurf, paddleboard, kayaking and many other watersports on different beaches. If the water isn’t for you, worry not you can just lay on the warm sand while vendors walk around selling seafood, popsicle, beer, and corn. Going to the beach in Brasil truly is a party.

2. Food!

One thing you will quickly learn is, I proudly say Brasil has the best food in the world. (I may be a little biased!) The biggest attraction food wise in Vitoria is the seafood. Being so close to the beach means the freshest seafood around. The variety of seafood plates is mind blowing. For a true experience try either crab, “muqueca”, “siri”, fried fish or “bobo de camarao”. And if you prefer eating on the beach, there are tons of restaurants right on the coast. Pull a chair and enjoy some seafood along with some coconut water.


3. All The Comfort of a Big City With A Small Town Laid Back Way of Life

Vitoria in size and in the amenities it offers is considered a big city It has malls, countless restaurants, an array of nightlife options and many other things found in a metropolitan area. However, the best thing about this city is it doesn’t feel like a big city. Everyone is very laid back in how they act and dress. Walking around you never feel like you’re in the middle of the hustle bustle, it feels like a small town you’ve known your whole life.


4. Nightlife Options

Along with the the benefits of a big city comes options for nightlife. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere head to the nearest “barzinho” (bar) which is open all day long and has plastic chairs and tables and friendly staff which makes leaving really hard to do. A plus in Brasil is bars often offer food til late at night, so you can enjoy a beer while eating some “petiscos” (snacks) til late into the early hours of the morning. Some of these “barzinhos” are even located on the beach with live music. They also offer several “boates” (clubs) which is where you go for dancing. The different clubs cater to different music styles, but some clubs have special events that play several different types of music throughout the night. Whatever your preference of nightlife you are sure to find a good option there.


5. Garoto

If you are a chocolate lover, this reason is right up your alley. One of the biggest chocolate brands in Brasil is called Garoto, and the factory happens to be in Vitoria. The site offers factory tours, a free museum and a huge store filled with chocolate. If you plan on visiting the factory, pack a pair of pants, tennis shoes and short sleeve shirt or else they cannot let you in by health and safety regulations. If you cannot or don’t want to take the tour, I highly recommend stopping by the store. Grab a box as a perfect souvenir!

These are just some of the reasons you should visit Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brasil. It is a fun, laid back, happy city that is ready with open arms to welcome you.