Iceland 2018 Day 2-The Golden Circle & Snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier

Day 2 began with snowmobiling on the “long” glacier. We were the first to travel on the 3 feet of snow that fell over the previous 24-hours. The black “stuff” is from the volcanic eruption in 2010. Very cool experience!  Our guide operator was Mountaineers of Iceland

The second stop of the day was the Gullfoss Waterfall. 32 meters (104) feet in two separate waterfalls.  A pathway takes you right to the water’s edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous power of the falls.

The next stop was the Geysir geothermal area. The famous Geysir is not too active, but amongst the many hot pools and steaming vents, you’ll see Strokkur blast water 20 to 40 m (66 to 131 ft) high every few minutes.  We stopped to admire the show of boiling water that is spilled out of under the earth’s crust at regular intervals; there are several geysers in the same area and in some you can stop to see the bubbling water as in a pot.

Just off the Golden Circle lies Faxafoss, a waterfall that is often forgotten among all of Iceland’s scenic offerings. With less tourists then nearby Gullfoss, this pitstop was well worth the turn off. On the grounds there is both a restaurant and campground (which are open during the summer months), meaning Faxafoss would be one of your best options to spend the evening.

 

Our fourth stop for the day was to Kerid Crater.  This 6,500-year-old crater is a stunning sight; 270 metres (886 ft) long and 170 metres (558 ft) wide, with a permanent pool of water filling the bottom of the red-rocked caldera, it can be approached without constraint after paying the landowners a small fee of 400 ISK. Its formation came from an enormous eruption in which the once cone-shaped volcano emptied its magma chamber; the structural weakness this caused meant the peak collapsed in on itself, leaving behind a wonder for all to enjoy. For those visiting Hveragerði, Selfoss or travelling the Golden Circle, it is highly recommended to amend one’s route to include a stop at Kerið; such a unique and beautiful sight is rare

 

We then headed south to find our accommodations for the night in the Hvolsvöllur area. Hotel Rangá is a 4-star hotel situated between the towns Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.  This was a wonderful hotel and as it turned out the best place for us to see the Norther Lights.  We had a wonderful dinner where we experimented with some local fare.

The Northern Lights were pretty amazing.  We were thrilled to see them so early into our trip.

 

12 Days In Iceland-Along the Ring Road

Steve and I spent twelve days in Iceland celebrating our 30th wedding Anniversary driving the entire Ring Road.  Upon arrival we went straight to Thingvellir or Pingvellir National Park.  This incredible location is in the rift valley between two continental plates; you can walk between Europe and North America here. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history; in 930 AD, early settlers founded what would become the world’s longest-running, ongoing representative parliament here.

We walked the path to the Öxarárfoss waterfall in the park, which is not one of the most spectacular but of its location is magical.   It falls into the American part of the Earth’s crust and it is surrounded by lava stones.

This was an incredible location between two continental plates, Europe and North America. It’s also where some of the Game of Thrones is filmed.

We then headed into Reykjavik to check into our hotel and to explore the city.   Here are some of the highlights.  We visited Hallgrimskirka Church with the statue of Leif Eriksson at the entrance. This is the largest church in the country, and towers over the center of Reykjavík. Its 73-metre-high tower provides a wonderful 360° view over all Reykjavík, the mountains around and the ocean stretching west to Greenland and the Americas.  We paused outside to admire the Alexander Calder-made statue of Leif Eriksson; the Icelandic explorer “discovered” North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.  

We loved the beautiful buildings around town as we walked to City Hall to meet our travel agent Guide To Iceland.  This statue below was just outside city hall but be sure to duck your head inside to check out any temporary exhibits, and to orient yourself with the massive 3-D map of Iceland.

We walked on to The Harpa, home of Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and quite arguably one of  the most beautiful buildings in Reykjavik.

Then we strolled down the waterfront to see The Sun Voyager.  This is another fine example of the amazing art and architecture scene in Reykjavik.  It is an ode to the sun, and it’s supposed to represent the desire to explore undiscovered territory.  It was a beautiful as I had imaged.  

Our hotel was located on Laugavegur is the street where it all happens. From trendy cafes, unique shops and cozy bars to world-class street-art murals and smaller, intimate art galleries, Laugavegur encapsulates the Icelandic spirit: calm, quirky, artsy and simply spectacular; you can find anything and everything here.  We ended the night early with a local beer and chips at Reykjavik Chips!

Travel Journal-Florida, Coast To Coast in 24 Hours

I had a work related trip to Ft. Lauderdale planned for Monday and Tuesday this week so I decided to take the opportunity to make it a long weekend and spend some time at our second home on Marco Island.  We arrived on Friday and spent the weekend with friends, drinking great wine, taking in some beautiful sunsets and doing a little sea kayaking.  We had a great time but most important it was restorative and relaxing.  On Monday I drove over to the east coast for a financial conference.  We stayed at the W right on Ft. Lauderdale beach.  Nice hotel but a little too cool and trendy for me.  On Monday night we had a craving for Cuban food, so we choose an authentic restrauent located just ten minutes from the hotel, named Padrino’s.  They have several locations along the eastern coast of Florida.   The atmosphere was pleasant, clean and a little cozy.  I’ve included the link here.  http://padrinos.com

We ordered a few cocktails before dinner. We each choose a mojito, which might just be the perfect cocktail. With mint, simple syrup and white rum it’s always refreshing and tonight did not disappoint.  In fact, I had two!  Dinner started with a few appetizers.  We had picadillo empanadas, which included puffed pastry with seasoned ground beef and fresh guava chutney.  We also had mariquitas, which were crispy plantain chips served with garlic sauce.  Both were very tasty but I LOVED the plantain chips!

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For my entree I had churraco, a char-grilled skirt steak with homemade chimicurri sauce.  It was served with black beans, white rice and sweet plantains.  Yummy.  I ordered my steak medium and it was cooked perfectly.  I eat every bite.

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I got up early Tuesday morning to go for a walk and catch the sunrise.  It was a cool, windy day at the beach but nice weather for a brisk walk.  I walked along the beach for about a mile and took in the sunrise.  It was a little cloudy but still so pretty.

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I also snapped a photo of this iconic landmark along Ft. Lauderdale beach.

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After the conference I headed back to Marco Island where my husband and I grabbed a quick dinner at new restaurant on the island, just two months since their opening, Thai Sushi.  We dined in and I had the vegetable role pictured here.  It was really tasty and the service was terrific.  We will defiantly make this a regular stop on our trips back to Marco.  They are so new they don’t have a website.

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We then went to the beach to catch the sunset.  Still a little cloudy and chilly on the west coast, but still a beautiful evening.

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We then spent a few hours in the pool for one last swim.  Back to chilly, gray Cincinnati tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Journal-A quick trip to New York City

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I travel a ton for work.  This week I’m in NYC for a quick one-day trip.  We are staying at the Times Square Renaissance Hotel.  The location is great if you are here as a tourist.  You can’t beat the proximity to Times Square, Broadway, central park and the Empire State Building.  For a business trip, it is far too busy and loud and the hotel was just ok.  The decor was old and the hotel was VERY worn and my room was pretty filthy.   I was very disappointed in our accommodations.  Here is the info on the hotel. https://renaissance-hotels.marriott.com/renaissance-new-york-times-square-hotel

Here is a pic from my very dirty window.

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We did have a fabulous dinner at an Indian restaurant near the hotel named Utsavny, located at 1185 Avenue of the Americas (PLAZA), New York, NY 10036 (Enter on 46th St. between 6th & 7th Avenues).  http://www.utsavny.com.   We decided to have a couple of appetizers including Samosa, which is masala potato, green peas, cashew nut and tamarind sauce.

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We also had Lasuni Gobi, which is crispy cauliflower, Sirach garlic sauce.  This dish was wonderful and probably my favorite of the evening.

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For our entrée we had butter chicken, saag paneer, Chana masala, naan, and rice.  The naan and rice were perfect, and butter chicken and chana masala were amazing.  I didn’t really care for saag paneer, it lacked flavor and was a thick and pasty.  We decided to have beer with dinner, which was a great choice.  We had the Taj Mahal lager.  It was so smooth and tasty.

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By far the highlight of my trip was dinner.  I highly recommend Utsavny if you are in town and happen to be staying near Times Square.

 

 

Welcome to 2018

I have a feeling 2018 will be an awesome year.  For me I’m determined it will be a year of  personal growth, love, and adventure.  I like to start the year with family.  This year in Cincinnati it is FREEZING cold.  The temperature this morning was -3.  We started the day with a beautiful brunch at my daughters house.  Spending time with our granddaughter is this best!

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For dinner we celebrate each New Years Day with a traditional meal of pork, sauerkraut and potatoes.  Pork and sauerkraut is believed to bring good luck and good fortune in the months ahead….part superstition and part tradition, eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day is like a Pennsylvania Dutch-style insurance policy for the new year. It is believed to bring good luck and good fortune in the year ahead. We are surrounded ourselves with family and friends, celebrating with love, laughter and good food.

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Hears to a happy, prosperous and loving 2018!

 

 

An evening out… February

I just spent last night with my oldest daughter and sister for a night on the town dining and seeing the broadway play, Anything Goes.

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Before the play we tried another new restaurants in Over The Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. We headed to The Mercer. The Mercer is an American/European style bistro. It is a swanky eatery with a sleek Euro vibe. The wine list was extensive and we each enjoyed a by-the-glass selection. I loved the cote du rhone selection. We decided to share our meal selections and began with the ricotta, onion compote with grilled bread. Yum! We then moved to the starters menu and enjoyed the pork belly with jalapeno cheddar grits, with cabbage and apples. The pork melted in my mouth and the jalapeno cheddar grits paired beautifully with the sweet apples and earthy cabbage. We then move to the salad selections where we choose the beets with goat cheese with arugula and apple mostarda and a wild bitter greens salad with pearl onions and lardon egg. The beet salad was the best. Beets were cooked perfectly and the dressing was a perfect balance with the sweet beets. The bitter greens were ok. They lack a bit of seasoning.

The entrees we selected were quite good. We enjoyed mezza rigatoni which included rapini, wild mushrooms and vegetable brodo as well as risotto, pork belly, green onions and truffle and blueberries. For desserts we enjoyed chocolate and strawberries along with the tiramisu. Both were to die for!

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If you would like to check out the menu for yourself, click on the link below.

www.themercerotr.com

We enjoyed the play and our evening out. Can’t wait until next month when we see the Lion King.

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Real Life Foodie

I decided to start a blog because of my passion for food, good, real food.  If you look up the word foodie the most common definition you will find is: “A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.”  This is a fine definition but I’m not sure it really captures the heart and soul of a foodie’s passion and love for food.

 

To be a foodie is not only to like food, but also to be interested in all aspects of growing, preparing, tasting and serving really great food. A real foodie wants to learn everything they can about food, and then savor each and every bite.  I hope you will enjoy my blog.

 

Lisa