Tag Archives: travel

Reykjavik, Iceland!

After June’s 100th birthday party, we realized that ragweed allergies were just going to get worse (hot weather and lots of rain just kept the plant flowering and pollinating).  Monday afternoon, i booked flights for Dallas and me to leave Tuesday afternoon for Iceland.  We had actually wanted to visit Greenland, but it was too late in the season, snow and ice already moving in and tourist boats being pulled out of the water, so we spent 2 weeks in Iceland instead.

Iceland population:  339,661  Reykjavik population:  120,000 (200,000 in the Capital region) Iceland has a surface area of 39,770 square miles and it is the 108th largest in this respect. However, that harsh geographical landscape is one of the reasons why its population remains so low. Iceland has the lowest population density of all European countries at just 8 people per square mile.

We flew United Airlines, and as usual had stellar service.  They have implemented a new strategy wherein they can know if passengers are arriving late for a connection and hold the next flight if it is reasonable to do so.  We sat on the plane in Newark nearly an hour waiting for 15 passengers who would have missed the flight to Reykjavik since their flight was delayed by thunderstorms out of Houston.  So, while the record for on time departure may look wonky, the record for getting passengers where they need to be will soar!

The first week was spent entirely in the capital city, Reykjavik.  I was concerned that we’d be twiddling our thumbs for want of activities, but i was unduly so.  To our surprise, there are oodles of things to do and see at a leisurely rate – even without booking day tours (which are numerous!) outside the city.

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Next morning after arrival was a trip to the pharmacy for cold meds.  (our first ‘souvenirs’)  Armed with drugs, we were ready to hit the streets within a few hours.  Hooray!
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Hallgrimskirkja

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Lutheran mass services start at 10:30a on Sunday mornings and are in Icelandic.
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Organ in the Lutheran Cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja 
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The sculpture garden behind the Einar Jónsson Art Museum.

 

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The unique and stunning Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre.

 

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Listening to the warm up for this evening’s season opener in the magnificent Harpa. https://en.sinfonia.is/concerts-tickets/ravel-and-sibelius
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Dallas in line for a world famous hotdog from street vendor downtown Reykjavik.
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The green and white label indicates having been grown in Iceland.  Icelandic regulations on ingredients, additives and labeling generally follow EU directives.  Since 2012, a regulation on Genetically Modified Organisms requires any product containing more than 0.9 percent materials produced from GMOs to be labeled and for manufacturers to maintain traceability records for five years.
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Grocery stores, conveniently located around the city are the way to go to save considerable money on food.  Eating out is REALLY expensive.  This is a produce display at SUPER1, (Hallveigarstígur 1, 101 Reykjavík S. 419-7600) just 5 minute walk from our Centric Guesthouse.
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So, our grocery bill was a bit higher than necessary!  But gotta have my Mars bars when in European countries.  Why are they  not sold in the US?!
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The National Museum of Iceland
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Allow at least two hours to explore this treasure trove of Icelandic culture and history. Highly recommend.  National Museum of Iceland
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Went for a short walk to the National Museum (in the 47 F with random wind gusts and downpours) to discover it would close in only 1 1/2 hours so we’ll go in the morning. However, our return yielded a beautiful full double rainbow-too wide to fit in my camera. Arching over Reykjavik with ducks, geese, and swans splashing about on Tjörnin, the pond.  (What’s the national bird of Iceland?  why ‘crane’ of course!  HA< HA>HA)
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Sun Voyager sculpture at the edge of the ocean.  It is located on the Sculpture and Shore Walk.  Much to see, read, and enjoy on this lovely paved walkway.

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“Domkirkjan is Reykjavik’s Lutheran Cathedral, or the Reykjavik Dome and the bishop’s place in Iceland. It is located downtown in the capital right next to the Alþingi, house of parliament and together they form a unity of law and order in the country. The altarpiece and artwork inside the church are definitely worth the visit!”

 

We were walking around town and saw the announcement of a performance offered free of charge at this lovely cathedral.  Of course, we made special effort to attend.  Just lovely.

 

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Excellent meal at Icelandic Fish and Chips in the capital city.  This one attached to The Volcano House  museum about the island and its not-always-tame explosive geography.
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Random sculpture on streets of Reykjavik

 

 

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Iceland is an island of fire and ice.  Geothermal vents spew heat and steam all over.  Just gotta build the infrastructure to capture and transport it.
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Perlan (The Pearl) – notable landmark in Reykjavik

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Dallas always has a different perspective and interest, so enjoy his photos of Reykjavik.

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Alaska, USA!

To begin our escape from annual ragweed allergies, Dallas and I headed to Alaska on 20 August 2019, the day after i mustered in my bulls and hauled them away from the cows.  All according to plan.  We got away just in time, however, this was a short trip because we needed to be back in time to celebrate Allen’s Aunt June’s 100th birthday party on the 7th of September.  Monday, we had appointments to adjust our backs, hips, heads, shoulders, ribs, etc and since allergies were extremely bad with no trend down, we came home from our afternoon appointments and i started booking Iceland.  We left for Iceland on the 10th.  Another blog entry for that later.

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We flew Alaska Airlines from Kansas City to Barrow (Utqiaġvik), Alaska.  It’s a long way from our house.  Since we attended a wedding near Hamilton the afternoon before, we took separate vehicles with Allen returning home whilst Dallas and I drove on to Kansas City.  We stayed at a hotel that allowed us to park there for the duration of our holiday.   After 15 hours of flights and connections from Kansas City to Barrow, Dallas stood beneath the iconic baleen whale rib bones on the beach of the Arctic Ocean in the most northern city of the United States.
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Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska
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Looking towards Point Barrow.  We could only drive within about a mile of the Point.  Mud and degraded road conditions preclude going further – plus, you pretty much have to obtain permission from private landowners to go any further.
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Bowhead Whale Skull – these buggers are huge and are still hunted in traditional wooden boats with harpoons during the spring by local  Iñupiat,

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In an October 2016 referendum, city voters narrowly approved to change its name from Barrow to its traditional Iñupiaq name, Utqiaġvik. The governor had 45 days to rule on the name change and it was officially adopted on December 1, 2016.

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Yup, proof – we was there!
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Main airport terminal at Utqiaqvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska.  Name of the airport is the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport.
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All the dumpsters were decorated as part of a town beautification project.
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Rebuilding the ocean wall protecting the town from the constant waves needs regular attention.
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This is the old Top of the World hotel which burnt August 31, 2013.  We stayed at the new one located on the north beach.  Highly recommend.

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Evidence that this area has been settled since at least 800 AD.  Remains of horses and musk ox indicate that this area was much warmer in the past than it is now.
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Since there are no roads and rails from Barrow to Fairbanks, we flew, then hailed a cab for a trip to our hotel.  Our hotel did provide a free shuttle, but i had no phone service in Alaska!!  One of the spots that Chariton Valley Wireless doesn’t quite reach i guess.  The iconic Moose Antler Arch – Gateway to Fairbanks.  Antler Arch web cam
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Downtown Fairbanks is an historical and tourist destination.  The locals have created a wonderful place to learn about this city’s unique contribution to US history.  If you have time, read the above Vignette of History about the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.  Amazing structure.
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The horizontal support is topped with a Teflon type product which allows the pipeline to slide back and forth as needed to accommodate the 39,000 earthquakes (about every 15 minutes) Alaska experiences each year.
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Sure you can rent a car out of Fairbanks and drive to Denali, but the train provides a different view and experience.  We chose the dome top full service guided car.  Well, we did have to pay for our meal.  
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Hiking in Denali National Park
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Ptarmigan – Alaska state bird.

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There are no fish in the glacial melt in Denali National Park because there is so much gray silt in the water.  However, someone thought they spotted a fish, so this multi million dollar overpass is being built courtesy of you the taxpayer just in case there was one.
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Beaver dam on the Horseshoe Lake Trail.  There are a multitude of easy and moderate trails in the park.

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Not just big ole mushrooms are grown in Alaska.  Despite the short growing season in days, the length of daylight each day compensates and record breaking produce is grown and exhibited at the state fairs.  The 2019 pumpkin weighed 2051 lbs!
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There’s the engine pulling our McKinley Explorer dome topped car – Alaska Train Denali to Anchorage
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Gray silt-filled glacial melt water just outside Anchorage.
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Not as much to do as i expected there would be in Anchorage, but a highlight is this well maintained Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  We didn’t walk the whole thing (11 miles one way), but we enjoyed part of it.  There are no grocery stores in the touristy areas.  Historical and cultural museums are great as well as the city tour on the Anchorage Trolley.

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Traveling Chooks!

So we have some traveling hens. Brett took these chooks for a ride on the pickup to the North place, where apparently they hung out for about 15 minutes, then continued their bumpy muddy gravel road journey to Highway Y, pulled in at the Neal farm and loaded two big bales of hay then continued to Brook road, another mile west on Brook road (another muddy, hilly gravel road. Cord drive was too muddy for a pickup, so Brett held up there to unload the hay for tractor to pick up and continue another mile to take out hay. It was during that down time, the hens apparently decided they’d had enough travel and hopped down to make themselves known. Dallas caught them and they scored an up front ride home. Never a lack of entertainment on the farm.

How did they go unnoticed for 22 miles?  The only answer must be that they were settled on top the spare tire which is bolted underneath the bed of the pickup.

Cheers!

tauna

The route of the chooks!

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Staying Relevant in Travel

Interesting article i read this morning and a very important reminder to businesses which want to remain relevant, vibrant, and thrive to the next generation.

They’re not millennials: Targeting Generation Z

By Jamie Biesiada 

Lisbon, (Lisboa) Portugal

For Americans, Vasco de Gama (1460-1524), Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), and perhaps to a lesser extint, Bartolomeu Dias  (1451-1500), all come to mind as famous Portuguese exploeres, all sailing the world during the Portuguese Golden Age of Exploration.  (Although Christopher Columbus married a Portuguese lady and had a son with her, and even lived and traveled out of Lisbon for a while, he was Italian.)  And indeed these men accomplished a great deal for the world and their country!

However, what struck me as a defining point of history was far more recent; the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.  This natural disaster occurred on 1 November, so you can imagine all the religious leaders and believers thinking indeed it was the end of the world.  Although, as massive as the quake was, anyone caught up in it would believe that.

With a population of about 200,000, estimates of death loss in Lisboa alone are up to 100,000.  However, this seems to be a lot of debate.  Who was killed by the earthquake?  or the fires that consumed a good portion of the city? or was it those who rushed to areas near the water and were swept away by tsunami 40 minutes later?  Whatever the numbers, the loss of life and destruction of almost the entire city is one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded history (barring Noah’s flood, of course).

The effects of this earthquake were felt in Scandinavia and maybe in Iceland.  Recently (2015), documentation was found that indicates high waves were experienced as far away as Brazil!  The time after the Great Earthquake was the birth of modern seismology.

We think that disasters are worse now, but i suspect that may not be the case, however, they do occur and are ‘rumoured’ (reported) more frequently and immediately due to modern communications.  And these will continue until the end.

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Old fashioned trolley followed closely behind by a modern one.  These are essential to moving the 2.8 million people of the metropoliton Lisbon plus the 7 million tourists visiting the area each year!
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Tiles abound in Lisbon, both inside and outside buildings.  These particular tiles are found on walls of the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem.

 

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Jeronimos Monastery – With Papal permission in 1496, building began in 1501 and completed in 1601.
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Carmo Convent – The Convent of our Lady of Mount Carmel – founded in 1389 and completed in 1423 and was used as a convent until the 1755 Great Lisbon earthquake destroyed most of the building including the library and some 5000 volumes.  There were some repairs and used for various groups, but after another earthquake in 1969 damaged it again, it was given as a museum.
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Interesting artwork at Lisbon on the Rio Tejo
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Monument to Discoveries – Belem, Lisbon, Portugal.  Built as a permanent structure in 1960 honoring a glorious past of Portugal’s overseas expansion and discovery.  In the background, the 25 de Abril Bridge, a suspension bridge connecting Lisbon with Almada and inaugurated in 1966.  Due to its coloring and style, it reminds one of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
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Pena Palace

 

 

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Igreja de Sao Domingos – dedicated in 1241 and the site of the execution of Jesuit missionary in 1761 for treason.  Damaged in the 1531 earthquake and then nearly destroyed in the 1755 Great Earthquake, and barely survived a fire in 1959.  Restoration efforts still show significant fire damage.
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‘Road’ in the Al Fama  district of Lisbon.

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Commerce Square – Praca do Comercio – Lisbon
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Quinta de Regaleira of Sintra – Lisbon – house and eclectic and quirky park.

Travel Light!

In September/October of 2014, my 2 sons and i spent a month in Scotland.  Travel light is my mantra – above is my wardrobe for the month.  With the exception of key pieces, ie the new Ecco walking shoes ( have never spent so much on shoes, but arthritis and old age are requiring me to make investment in quality shoes now) and the 100% Shetland wool ponch we had made from our own wool, the remaining total investment was about $40, including the suitcase.  Since then, i’ve given away the old style suitcase (it’s wheels were too close together and it was a fight to keep it from toppling over on uneven surfaces) and purchased a new one with four wheels.  Looking forward to trying it out on the upcoming trip to Scandinavia – leaving tuesday and meeting my daughter in Copenhagen.

Cheers!

tauna