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.

iceland wl

 

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.

iceland breakfast 3 wl  iceland breakfast 2 wl

 

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.

rainbow wl    Hallgrimskja wl

 

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.

Reykjavik wl

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….

20150901_081141

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.

20150901_082159  20150901_081955

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.

 

20150901_083215 20150901_083434 20150901_083512

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?

20150901_090613 20150901_091322

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.

20150901_084953

 

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.

Boli wl

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!

Top 12 Reasons Everyone Should Travel

Hello!

This is your official welcome to my blog! I hope with this blog, I can help you navigate the world of traveling. I will take you on adventures, while providing you with information for you to plan your very own amazing trips. The world is so big and beautiful and deserves to be seen. Traveling is by far one of the greatest experiences in this life. There are many reasons everyone should travel, but here are my top twelve reasons why YOU definitely should.

 

1. Meet New People

One of the greatest things about traveling, and one of my favorite reasons to stay at hostels is the people you meet along the way. From locals to travelers just like you, we are all experiencing the same city together. And if you do happen to stay at hostels, everyone else there is eager to meet others too! So start talking and get to know people you might have never otherwise met.

 

2. Learn About New Cultures

Now this one is truly one of the major reasons everyone should travel. When you live in the same place or the same country for a long time, you forget to look outside and realize just how diverse the world truly is. Traveling allows you to immerse yourself in different cultures and learn first hand instead of through a screen or book.

 

3. Learn About Yourself

You’ve probably seen countless quotes about traveling that talk about learning about who you truly are. I always thought they were nice but never really true, that was until I traveled around Europe in my 20s with only my friend. There are so many things you learn about yourself on these kinds of trips. You learn how you deal with difficult situations, foreign countries, and different people. But even deeper, you learn about yourself in ways you never would if you went on day to day not changing your environment. Even my feelings changed. It’s hard to explain, it’s one of those you have to do it yourself to see what I’m talking about. But I guarantee once you do it once and realize this, you won’t want to stop because you’ll want to see just what else you can do!

 

4. Food

I am a foodie, through and through. I LOVE food! So getting to experience authentic cuisine around the world is one of my favorite things. My recommendation is when traveling walk into a restaurant and ask them what is local to them. You might get some weird looks, but trust me they will be glad to show off the food they are proud to represent. And it let’s you truly experience what locals consider to be their food. This one is also true when you’re even traveling within the country you live in.

 

5. Memories

When you get older and have kids and grandkids, one of the things people dream of having are stories to tell them. We’ve all heard them from our family, so why not create your own stories to be able to tell? More than that, when you create these memories that’s the only thing you can truly take with you for the rest of your life. So go out and create some unforgettable memories!

 

6. How To Deal with Things Going Wrong

On number 3 I talked about learning about yourself and dealing with difficult situations, well let’s go a little deeper. It’s no surprise that trips don’t go exactly how you planned, and that’s okay! Sometimes those are actually the best stories you get! When you are faced with things going wrong in a foreign country, that’s when you truly learn how to deal with things.

 

7. You Will Experience Things, Place, People You Might Never Have Otherwise

This one goes along with experiencing new culture, but needs to be noted by itself. By stepping out of your comfort zone you will get to experience new things you might never have otherwise. I can tell you I never thought I’d be in the green fields of Ireland walking around in London, or walking the Carrick-a-Ridge Bridge with high winds or that I would actually kiss the Blarney Stone! But I did! And every single experience was incredible and truly eye opening. I never felt more grateful than knowing I was able to do these things in my lifetime.

 

8. You Gain New Perspective

By meeting new people and seeing new things you start to learn not only about yourself and about the world but you start seeing things differently. And when you start gaining new perspective that affects how you live your life. It makes you a better more open minded person, and that leads you to be a better citizens of the world.

 

9. This World Was Meant to Be Explored

Just like you go into every room of your house, every country in the world should also be visited. It’s so big, diverse and beautiful and just waiting for you to go explore and learn in it.

 

10. It’s a History Lesson

Every city, country, continent has it’s own history, and it’s impossible to visit those places and not learn at least one thing about it’s history. As much as the world is a museum to be explored, it’s also an open history book ready to be read.

 

11. Because Science Says It’s Healthy For You

The other day I read an article that said you should spend your money on trips instead of material things because the gratification you get from that is better, lasts longer and is healthier for you than any instant gratification you get from something you bought. So, if science says so you should definitely do it!

 

12. It’s FUN!

Need I say more? It’s fun to travel! It’s fun to meet new people and go on adventures! It’s fun to try new foods! Traveling is just plain simple fun. And when you look back on a trip, what you do end up remembering is the laughs and great times you had.

 

If I haven’t convinced you yet to travel, don’t worry I will! I hope reading my articles will inspire you to take the plunge and let the travel bug bite you too. In the meantime, enjoy my posts! If you have any suggestions, ideas or questions please feel free to reach out to me either by comments below or e-mail.
Enjoy your adventure!

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.