This blog has merged and moved! You can now find it here:
I went to Iceland 16 to 19 January, traveling with former colleagues. This was my second visit to this beautiful country, first time was in August 2010, almost 3 1/2 years prior to this trip. I was happy and excited to go visit again.
We had to travel via Gardermoen (the so called Oslo Airport), to getting there took a bit. When we arrived, we checked into the Grand Hotel Reykjavik, which was to be our “home” for the week end.
We went to a restaurant called Lækjarbrekka, and the food was really nice. If I’m to go back to Reykjavik, I might very well end up going back there – I loved the lentil burger I had there. It’s not always restaurants like that are good at vegetarian food, but these guys knew how to do it!
While the others went out sightseeing on Friday, I decided to go horse rinding. I love horses, and did the same thing last time I visited Iceland, so this was something I had been looking forward to. It was good to see the winter landscape from the horseback!
After a day on the horseback, it was good to go for a walk down to city centre, after I had done some relaxing. Spent a bit of time by myself, before I met up with the others for dinner at Fredik V, a fancy restaurant serving five courses. I wasn’t very impressed by the vegetarian food, though.
Here are some photos from the coast of Reykjavik:
Saturday morning I went to the centre of Reykjavik again. A couple of the others and I walked along the coast, which was a really nice walk. The day before I had just gone down to the coast while in the centre, but this time we walked all the way from the hotel.
After walking down the coast, we went our seperate ways, and I had a walk around the centre of the city. I walked up to Hallgrímskirkja, but didn’t go inside. However, it’s a magnificent view, and you can see it from many places in the centre.
There’s few things as good as a nice cup of coffee after wandering around for a while, so I headed for a coffee place I’d been recommended: Kaffitár. I enjoyed sitting there with my (good) coffee and read my book.
In the afternoon we all headed for the Blue Lagoon. I had really been looking forward to go there again, and it was wonderful to spend some hours there. Being there at windter time was absolutely magic! It’s a pity we didn’t get to see any northern lights, but that’s Mother Nature for you, you don’t always get what you want! It was still great, and I’m sure I could spen even more hours there.
Sunday it was time to bid farewell, and head back to Norway. I hope to go back to Iceland in a not too distant future!
The first thing I did when I sat out after breakfast yesterday, was to pop by the New York Public Library, just to get that photo of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, that I so much wanted. It didn’t take long, so when I was done, I headed for International Center of Photography.
International Center of Photography was a nice surprise: It was a lot better than I had expected it to be. Its content was far more political than I thought it would be, and it was in general very well laid out. As for beauty, I think the pictures by Wangechi Mutu from Nairobi, Keny, were the ones I liked the best. However, what made the strongest impression on me were Gideon Mendel, Thomas Hirchhorn, and Rabih Mroué, all whom had important projects with a strong message. I was surprised not more people visited this centre, as it’s smack in the middle of the city.
A place where there were tons of tourists, on the other hand, was Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, which is only a short walk from the International Center of Photography. MoMA, on the other hand, was less impressive than I thought it would be. That being said, it wasn’t a bad place in any way, and it did have a some good pieces. Here you find pictures by Frida Kahlo, Monet and Andy Warhol, among others, so it’s definitely worth the pricey ticket.
I’m not sure how much time I spent at MoMA, but it’s huge. And I wasn’t up for walking a long way after that, so I went to have a look at Rockefeller Center. I guess it’s one of those places you really should visit when you’re in New York. I didn’t go up on the deck, though, as I didn’t feel like being all that touristy. It was nice just to walk around as well.
When I had been walking around Rockefeller Center for a while, I was hungry, and I realized it was dinner time. I went to have my meal at Madison & Vine, which is connected to the hotel. Though I love the hotel (I’m staying at the Library Hotel, which I’ve mentioned before), the food and service there was disappointing. I had wild mushroom ravioli, which sounded promising on the menu, but it didn’t make my taste buds dance, so to say.
After dinner, I headed for my room to rest. I was indeed tired. When I had rested for a while, I went down to the Reading Room for complimentary sparkling wine and cheese, and to read.
I went for a walk in the evening, just around the area of the hotel, before going back to my room.
I felt like an early bird when my alarm went off this morning. The breakfast at this lovely hotel is complimentary (as well as a lot of other things), so I hasted to eat before it was over. After breakfast it was time to visit a place I’ve dreamed of visiting for a long while: New York Public Library.
New York Public Library is known to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and that is not without reason. This is a truly beautiful place! Swarming with tourists, but still a beautiful library. And lots to see. Should you ever go there, be sure to have a couple of hours, at least, to spare!
Unfortunately, the battery of my camera ran out while I was there, so I might go back to get some snaps of some things I wasn’t able to photograph while I was there – like the real Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals! Yup, there they were: Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga… It was lovely to see them!
After my trip to the library, I went back to my hotel room, as I needed to charge the camera battery. While waiting, I went to have a cup of complimentary coffee in the Reading Room. It was nice to sit there, reading my book, jazz playing, and having a rest.
My plan was then to visit the south of Manhattan. I wanted to do a couple of bookcrossing releases. From one spot to another, I came across a cookbook shop, and I just had to stop by. Turned out this was an independent bookshop, and I ended up having a lengthy chat with the owner about cookbooks, and independent bookshops in general. She was really sweet, and I found an interesting cookbook I just had to buy. I can hardly wait to use it!
My last bookcrossing release stop was 66 Perry Street. These stairs are known from the TV series Sex in the City, based on the book with the very same name. They are seen in several scenes in the TV series, and famous for being the stairs to Carrie’s flat (she’s the main character). As you might have guessed, the book I wanted to release here was exactly that book.
After releasing the book, I headed to Union square to take the underground back to the station right by my hotel. On my way there, I made several stops. There’s a lot to look at! At Union sq. there were people playing chess and all sorts of things.
When I got back to the hotel, I popped by my room to drop my handbag, before heading back to the Reading Room, where they served complimentary sparkling wine and a selection of cheeses. It was so nice! After eating cheese and drinking wine, I went back to my room, as it was then quite late, and I was tired.
Today has been pretty uneventful, to be honest. I’ve traveled most of the day. I left Las Vegas in the morning, and am now in New York City again.
On Tuesday I had a rather slow morning. I had deiced to take it fairly quiet, and only went for a walk down the Strip. It was still very hot, so the energy level wasn’t great. However, walking south down the strip was interesting enough. I got to see more of the hotels, and the hotels in Las Vegas are strange. Like New York, New York, which is supposed to look like, as you probably guessed, New York. There’s also one that looks like Disneyland or something. And a whole lot of other strange hotels. Remember I said Las Vegas is a bizarre city?
After my walk, I decided it was time for me to try my luck in the casino. I mean, it’s the thing you just have to do in Las Vegas. I didn’t play for a fortune. I lost the total of $1 on the slot machines, and $1 on the wheel of fortune. Oh well.
My friend D came to pick me up in the afternoon, and he took me to Hoover Dam. It was actually constructed during the great depression; the construction work started in 1931, and was finished five years later. I found the dam quite impressive, especially since it was built in a time when they didn’t have the modern technology we have today!
The dam is on the border of Arizona and Nevada, and from the point we were looking at it, we were officially in Arizona, and by that another time zone! That was a bit funny.
After having a look at Hoover Dam, we stopped to enjoy the view of Lake Mead, which is the reservoir connected to Hoover Dam. It is huge, and quite beautiful.
D and I went to have dinner at Port a Subs, where we both had wraps. Mine had avocado and salad and stuff (as I am a vegetarian), and some yummy unsweetened tea. After dinner, D dropped me off by my hotel.
In the evening I went to see the Cirque du Solieil show at the hotel (I got 20% off the tichet as I was a guest there). I have been wanting to see Cirque du Soleil for ages, as I know they are quite unique at what they’re doing. They have several different shows, and the show at the hotel is called Zarkana. This was actually the show in Las Vegas I wanted to see the most!
The show was spectacular! I loved the whole steampunk and goth look it had, and the acrobats were amazing. The thing that really does it, though, is how it’s all wove together, the music, colours, stunts – the whole thing! It’s more than just acrobats “doing their thing”. It really was the prefect end of the day.
Yesterday was spent mostly by the hotel pool. It was nice just to relax and take it easy. I found a sunbed in the shadow, and I either read my book, or went for a swim in the pool to cool down.
The travel to New York City today went smoothly. I love the hotel I’m currently staying at: The Library Hotel. I admit that it’s expensive to stay here, but so are most hotels in New York. It’s very central, though, and designed for book lovers. There are books pretty much everywhere! And the complimentary chocolates welcoming you have book or library related quotes too! I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight!
Las Vegas is probably the most bizarre city I have ever visited. It sure isn’t like anything else! Arriving at the airport, which I blogged about yesterday, would give a fair hint of that. But more about that later, first things first.
The past few days I had been communicating with a bookcrosser here in Las Vegas about meeting up, and at noon she came to pick me up. We headed to the Town Square, where we were to meet with another bookcrosser. We found something to eat, and sat outside in the small park there. It was fun to chat about bookcrossing and such. We then went for what we call a “release walk”, which basically means walking around and leaving bookcrossing books around.
The other bookcrossers had brought their kids, and after the release walk, the kids got to play in an area with some water fountains designed for that very purpose. Brilliant in my opinion, especially in the Las Vegas heat, which is more intense than any heat I have ever experienced before. We’re talking about temperatures of almost +39°C (or +102°F).
After the other bookcrossers had left, I walked around the Town Square for a bit, even managed to find a pair of nice, comfortable, black sandals that I’ve been searching for for ages. After that, I bought something cold to drink, and sat down to read in the park, while waiting for my friend D to pick me up.
After relaxing and reading for a wee while, my friend D, whom I’ve known online for over a decade, came to pick me up. He took me to the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. Las Vegas is in the dessert, and even though the heat in the city is intense, it’s better out in the canyon. You have a bit more air, so to say.
Red Rock Canyon is situated 24 km (15 miles) outside the city of Las Vegas, and when you see the mountains you immediately understand the name: The rocks are indeed red. It is simply beautiful, and I found it to be quite breath taking.
D took me around the scenic route, which is a drive of 21 km (13 miles), and we had a few stops to enjoy the view. At Sandstone Quarry we even experienced a moment of silence: No cars, no people talking, just the breeze. It was broken by a car approaching, but the short moment was quit wonderful.
After the visit to Red Rock Canyon, we headed to have dinner at a restaurant. The menu was an interesting read. It stated it had over 30 vegetarian dishes (but where were they all?), and had several warnings. One of the warnings really made me laugh out load: The olives had pits! OK, so I know that they often remove the pits from olives, but the good ones should still have them.
I ordered the Greek salad, that was supposed to have olives and feta cheese. I love olives and feta cheese. However, when the salad arrived, I thought it was a sad excuse for a Greek salad. The feta cheese I’m not sure was real feta cheese. It neither looked nor tasted like it.
After dinner, D dropped me off at my hotel (I’m staying at the Aria), and I had a rest in my room before heading out again. I went for a walk on the north part of the Strip. The Las Vegas Strip really is somthing else – this is where you find all the main hotels and casinos in the city, and it’s full of billboards, neon lights, music coming from “nowhere” (not really, but it feels that way), and people.
I went up to the Bellagio, which is famous for its spectacular water fountain show. The show is designed in a way so that it seems as if the water “dances” to the music. I stayed for two whole shows, and they were actually two different shows: One was to the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the other was to Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”. I took a lot of footage, which you can see it the video below.
After my walk, I headed back to the hotel, and ended my first proper day in Las Vegas.
Yesterday was my last day in the state Washington, and my friend Meg took me to a really nice little forest called Bresemann Forest. It was a warm, sunny and lovely day, and perfect for a walk in green surroundings.
So, we went walking, and we were chatting, and I had a wonderful time. We also found a small creek.
In the afternoon it was time to leave for the airport, and then to fly south to Las Vegas. The flight was delayed, but we were finally heading south, and a couple of hours after takeoff, we arrived at the airport in Las Vegas.
Now, the airport in Las Vegas is nothing like any other airport I’ve ever been to! It felt surreal – just have a look at the footage in the video below!
I went to take the shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel. After standing in the line to buy a ticket, I went up to the bus, and was told that sorry, the bus was full, and I had to wait for the next bus. So the next bus arrived, and then I had to wait for it to fill up, before it finally took me to my goal.
Checking in to the hotel went smoothly, and even though the view from my room’s window isn’t as fantastic as from my room in New York City, it’s still good. The room is good though! And it was nice to finally be able to getting to bed.
Thursday morning we headed north, to give Canada a visit. On our way up we had a stop at a café north in Seattle called the Jewel Box, where we met up with a friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen since she was living in Norway over ten years ago. It was very good to see her again!
After that we continued towards our goal. The passing of the boarder up to Canada went smoothly, I even got a “Welcome to Canada!” from the guy who had a look at our IDs (and so my passport).
We woke up to rain Friday morning, but that didn’t stop us. Right after breakfast we headed to the centre of Vancouver, and I got to visit the central library there. It was a huge building, and quite lovely. From above it actually looks a bit like spiral, from what I’ve seen on photos.
After walking around at the library for a while, we set out to Granville Island. This is an artificial island, and has a lot of places to eat and small, fun shops. We spent quite a bit of time there, though most of it went to lunch, as we had to wait for our food for ages.
After our visit to Granville Island, it was time to leave the city centre, and we traveled by something they call the sea bus, a sort of ferry that takes you from downtown Vancouver to the northern part of the city.
Today we got early to visit the Lynn Canyon before heading back to Washington. The Lynn Canion was beautiful, and it’s woods and waterfall and just in general good smelling nature. Something different from most of what I’ve seen since I came over to Northern America.
Driving back to Washington (state) took some hours, including a detour (due to a collapsed bridge) and having both lunch and a leg stretch or two. When we got back, I went for a walk, and it was a very sunny and warm day.
Today I went to Seattle. I got in touch with a bookcrosser there yesterday, and after mailing back and forth, we ended up with her picking me up here in Spanaway. It was fun to meet a new, and very friendly, person!
Our first stop was the Seattle Central Public Library. It was a huge library, with 10 floors! OK, so not all were open for the public, but it was a huge library. Lots of open space too, and it was just wonderful. Some floors were quite colourful, and it felt a bit like as we were in some sort of book ourselves!
After the library, we headed to the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. This was a very good museum, and I found it to be fun and interesting. It has three floors, and the first told about the Nordic immigrants and how they arrived in the US. It was called “The American Dream”. The gift shop and a bit more could be found on the second floor, while there were rooms dedicated to the Nordic countries on the third floor: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland had all their own rooms.
When we had explored the museum, my new friend had to pick up her daughter at school. So we did that, and then headed back to my friend’s house. Her daughter was eager to show me their scrapbooks, which was fun. As the family is Jewish, the scrapbook, of course, holds photos from Jewish holidays and shows Jewish tradition. This is something I don’t know a whole lot about, so I certainly learned a few new things.
My new friend also made sure to take me to one of the Little Free Libraries in Seattle, which was very cute! It’s very much in the bookcrossing spirit, and it was fun to see.
Then it was time for me to back to Spanaway, and I managed to find the right bus, and arrive safely in Tacoma. I made us some dinner when I got back, and it was nice to have a home cooked dinner.
Yesterday I left New York and the east coast. I headed for the airport after breakfast, as I didn’t see the point in dragging my suitcase around New York. In other words, I had plenty of time at the airport, where I spent most of my time reading my book and relaxing.
I’m doing my domestic US traveling with Delta, and I have to say I’m disappointed. On a 6 hour flight you could buy expensive snacks. No serving of meals. Not even water! If you wanted to watch any of their films or use the wifi, you had to pay. I even had to pay US$ 25 to check in my suitcase! Now, I can understand the rest, but the suitcase? Very annoying. I’m not likely to ever fly Delta again after this trip.
Here in Washington I’m visiting my friend, whom I’ve known online around 15 years. I was very excited to finally meet her, and she’s pretty much how I thought she would be like!
Today she took me to Tacoma, and the first stop was Freighthouse Square. It was obvious that there once were more shops here, but there’s still a few small independent shops, as well as a food court, there. It was quite nice.
Nest stop was the water side, which was bliss! Quiet, sunny and in general very nice. We walked ou on the pier where we could look down into the water, which was very clear. There were pretty flowers to look at, and benches for sitting down and relax. There was a small park there, where you could see a big sun dial. I loved it!
I found just driving around for a bit interesting too. In some ways, like plants and such, it looks a bit like Norway, but the houses and shops and things like that, are typical American. We even stopped by Wallmart, which surprisingly looked pretty much like a big Obs! shop.