Reykjavik, Iceland: The Best Place In The World To Have a Layover

When it comes to purchasing a flight, I admit that I gravitate toward the least expensive route possible. I’ll choose a longer layover or take the seat with less legroom if it will save me a hundred bucks. But while it’s a kind gesture to my bank account, I can’t say it’s the most convenient (and definitely not the most direct) method of travel. Hence why a month ago, en route to Amsterdam, I found myself in the midst of a 10-hour layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. And that, my friends, is where my layover-expectations were irrevocably raised.

After a 6 hour IcelandAir flight and 4 hour time difference from Washington D.C. to Reykjavik, I landed in Iceland at 6:20 a.m. How people ever manage to sleep on airplanes I will never understand- necks at 90 degree angles, flight attendants whooshing by, seatbelt signs flickering on and off, caffeinated-beverage carts creaking around hourly. By the time we landed, I’d watched two and a half films, listened to the entirety of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Basics, and read every provided magazine from cover to cover.

By 7:00am, I’d already eaten breakfast and paced around the airport several times trying to figure out how to spend my lengthy layover. I was exhausted and anxious to get to my destination, but also curious and eager to explore a quick slice of Iceland.

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I headed down to Iceland Air’s arrival hall to see what I could do, and despite my time limit, found many options. There were several kiosks providing trips to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa about 20 minutes away by bus, and frequent shuttles to the center of Reykjavik. Although a bit pricey (around 65 euros for the roundtrip bus ride + entrance fee) after seeing a few pictures of the cloudy blue water surrounded by moony landscapes, I decided the Blue Lagoon was worth the splurge. It’s something you can’t find anywhere else, and I’m always a sucker for that kind of thing.

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Diagnosis: Pt 2

*This is a story in parts, so before you read this one, make sure to read Diagnosis Pt 1 so it all makes sense! 

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I don’t remember packing my bags. I do remember logging on to AOL Instant Messenger, messaging Liz, and telling her I couldn’t hang out because I had to go to the hospital instead. She called me and I stepped outside, sat down on the front porch. Tracing lines on the brick steps with my fingers, voice shaking and cracking and weak, I said it out loud for the first time: I think I have diabetes. I almost cried- but didn’t- hearing my own voice sputter something so foreign, talking about myself, my body, in cold words I didn’t recognize.

You think you know how to take care of yourself. You think, I don’t have it all figured out, but what I do have figured out starts with something like this: I wake up and brush my teeth and eat cereal. That’s a good start. That is the first step to doing things, to getting through the day, to building a life. It starts inside- getting enough rest, eating, staying hydrated. Without that self-care, few things are possible.

That day, doctors told me I was sick- very sick- and the way I’d taken care of myself for my whole entire life would no longer work. It was no longer that simple. It was no longer, to put it bluntly, enough.

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Wonder & Wander: 12/7

So much happens in the span of 7 days. We have so much information zooming towards us from all angles, at all hours, it can be difficult to find the time or head space to reflect on what we’ve just done, or even what we’re currently doing. But in this crazy age of Instagram, I find myself taking tons of photos every week that can document how I spend my days; what I do, what I notice, where I wander. I’m hoping, while also giving a little window into my life abroad, Wonder & Wander will help me appreciate the past week in lieu of just hurdling into the next one. Because as we know, “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”


 

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My life closed twice before its close–
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

– Emily Dickinson

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You have to take a step back

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“Taking stock of your life requires some effort. You actually have to slow down. You have to take a step back. And you have to be really honest with yourself about how you are living and why. That process is hard for a lot of people. We don’t want to slow down… that seems weak. We don’t want to have to stop what we’re doing to think about it. And more than anything else being honest with ourselves sucks because it means we’re going to have to own up to our own shit. We’re going to have to look in the mirror and admit that in some aspects of our lives we’re off track.”

– Clark Patrick

 

Thanksgiving in Holland ~**~*~*~

Technically, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Black Friday. But as I breezed through the shopping centers that afternoon in Amsterdam, you would never know that just a hop across the ocean in the retail world, shit was going down. People were probably folding up the tents they’d staked out in over the past 2 weeks. People were probably getting trampled. People were definitely turning into bargain-thirsty werewolves. But on the bright side, according to this terribly morbid yet honest Black Friday Death Count website, no one has died this year. Good job, guys! RIP 2 people in Chicago :(

My festive holiday intake on actual Thanksgiving day was treating myself to a tall Toffee Nut latte at Starbucks. I wasn’t upset about it. Those of you that know me pretty well probably know that I am a nervous cook. Probably because I have no cooking skills. Give me a break, I graduated college like 5 months ago, so up until I moved here and lived with a family that sat around a dinner table together and spent time cooking nice meals, my go-to dinner was a plate of nachos and a glass (or 4) of red wine. So I’m working on it.

For Thanksgiving, I cooked stuff. I made sweet potato casserole with pecan crumble and marshmallows, pumpkin pie, and I opened the can of cranberry sauce, which I then gently forced everyone at the table to try, despite the fact that yes, it still has the imprints of the can’s ridges in it. We also had a huge turkey and gravy and cornbread + cranberry stuffing that the mom, who loves cooking, made and it was all delicious. Most importantly, they enjoyed the cranberry sauce in all of its can-ribbed glory. I love introducing them to weird American shit, and this is weird American shit at its finest.

But let’s rewind a second, because I just made it seem like it all happened a lot more seamlessly than it did. Because you can do that on the internet. I could easily just post the pictures of the finished products that turned out great, and be done with it. But reality is so much funnier! And more interesting! And more human! And that’s what I like to talk about.

So here are some moments during the past few days that the Thanksgiving dream meal got dicey: 
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Things I’m Semi-Seriously Grateful For: Diabetes Edition

keep calm

Sometimes being grateful means looking for the silver lining in something that is generally a rain cloud. In this case, it is a chronic rain cloud. A rain cloud without a cure.

Diabetes is mad annoying and frustrating and scary, but it’s not all needles and blood and people asking me Are you sure you can eat that? (For the record: Oh my god yes I’m sure)
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people more than anything

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“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.”

― Jamie Tworkowski


I’ve been missing my people back home a lot lately. (All the time, but especially lately.) The holidays are definitely the toughest time to be away from home long-term. I’m so grateful to have such an amazing group of friends back home. They are my favorite thing about my life, this group of kind and hilarious people who somehow (thank god) all found each other in weird Hampton Roads. Our friend-family is a constant source of stability, reassurance, and laughter. We go on vacation together every summer (okay actually we go on like 5 vacations every summer. Vacationing is what we do best), we go on road trips, we have Friendsgiving. We go to each other’s graduations and birthday dinners and one day  we will go to each other’s weddings and we will all promise to have open bars (we haven’t discussed this, but I just decided)  and it will be beautiful. Sometimes we fight like siblings and call each other out and get annoyed and frustrated and bitchy. We all know each other so well. We’ve been growing up together and we all have no fucking idea what we’re doing and we’re confused and scared and broke but we always help each other find the humor, and that, I think, is the most important thing we can do. I miss these people more than anything. Thanks for making my life so bright. You know who you are.

wonder & wander: 11/13

So much happens in the span of 7 days. We have so much information zooming towards us from all angles, at all hours, it can be difficult to find the time or head space to reflect on what we’ve just done, or even what we’re currently doing. But in this crazy age of Instagram, I find myself taking tons of photos every week that can document how I spend my days; what I do, what I notice, where I wander. I’m hoping, while also giving a little window into my life abroad, Wonder & Wander will help me appreciate the past week in lieu of just hurdling into the next one. Because as we know, “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”


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It’s November’s world, and we’re just livin’ in it.

Here’s a quote I love that actually has nothing to do with November:

I gave myself permission to care, because there are a lot of people in this world who are afraid of caring, who are afraid of showing they care because it’s uncool. It’s uncool to have passion. It’s so much easier to lose when you’ve shown everyone how much you don’t care if you win or lose. It’s much harder to lose when you show that you care, but you’ll never win unless you also stand to lose. I’ve said it before. Don’t be afraid of your passion, give it free reign, and be honest and work hard and it will all turn out just fine.
- Tom Hiddleston
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Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please came out last week and I bought it immediately, despite its lukewarm reviews. I love Amy Poehler. She is a hilarious human and I personally think her book is wonderful and anyone who likes her and wants a good laugh should read it. “I tried to tell the truth and be funny,” Poehler writes in the intro, “What else do you want from me, you filthy animals?” I love memoirs because I love learning about other people’s lives. I want to know everything about everyone, especially the tough stuff. If you ever just want to tell your life story to someone, I’m your girl. (But please don’t ask me for advice because I have no fucking idea what I’m doing either.)

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This is a Dutch Oliebol. That literally translates to “Oil ball.”

Yesterday, my host dad came home with a bag full of them, some with raisins and some without. They’re basically like giant doughnut holes without the glaze, and come with powdered sugar packets that you can sprinkle on. They were delicious and oily, as they were supposed to be, I think. I think their name is simultaneously hilarious and appalling, but at least its realistic! I think if we named everything in America what it really is… we would stay away from a lot of foods and maybe not be so obese. Let’s start by re-naming corn dogs “deep fried cornmeal mystery meat bits.” You’ll never think of a corn dog the same way again. You’re welcome!

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 11.59.43 AMI’ve been spending a looooot of time inside this week watching a sick lil 8 year old, so when I had a free evening on Wednesday, I decided to take an hour-long walk to the city center. Walking is my very favorite thing to do, I think, and it all started during my time in Aix en Provence, France- where it was a 40 minute walk just to get to the city center. I like not having to rely on anything but myself, not really having to abide by traffic laws (I’ll walk down this one-way street in whatever direction I please!), and being able to go at my own pace (which is actually extremely fast, much to the annoyance of my slow-walking friends. But sorry, leave the weak behind, am I right?) Walking feels very freeing to me, and it’s a bonus that it’s such good exercise and is actually a much overlooked mode of transportation. Plus, when you’re crossing a bridge and see a magnificent sunset like this one, you can stop right then and there and take a picture instead of fumbling with a phone and a steering wheel and getting a terribly blurry picture, or even worse- missing the sunset entirely. Walking rules.


 

As I once again attempt to get my shit together with this whole blogging endeavor, my next post will be covering my past 2 weekends, highlighting: me attempting to be a tour guide to my friend in a city I’ve lived in for 2 months, Halloween, Museum Night, and a park in Amsterdam that secretly (not really secretly) has kangaroos and alpacas!!!! It’ll have you on the edge of your seat.