Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 2 : Copenhagen

Our second day in Copenhagen, we slept in (after much needed missed sleep the previous days) and spent a quiet morning at our hotel.  Venturing out only for Danish cinnamon pastries, which were amazing, and eating them in bed in our hotel was the perfect way to get going on the first full day of our trip.  We spent the rest of the day wandering the city, starting first with Tivoli Gardens (which unfortunately was closed on Sunday), then venturing over toward Nyhavn once again, stopping for lunch on the way and then spending the afternoon wandering the waterfront and the Grand Palace.  We had gorgeous weather in Copenhagen, with blue skies the whole time and weather that was chilly, but still pleasant.  Eventually we made our way back to our hotel and headed to the airport for our flight to Amsterdam that evening.  We really enjoyed our time in Copenhagen over all and while it’s not a city I would immediately rush back to, it was really enjoyable and interesting to experience Scandinavia for the first time. 

Tips for Copenhagen:  
-Lots of stores and restaurants are closed on Sunday, so work that into your schedule.
-Everything is so much more expensive than you think.  I was prepared for the high cost of everything and was still blown away by how much money we spent while there.  Bring more than you think you’ll need.

Photos courtesy of Nick Nieto Photography

Other Day by Day posts from this trip:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 1 : Copenhagen

Today we're starting into all of our day by day travel posts from Europe, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me on your very own journey through Europe, starting today in Scandinavia!

When we arrived in Copenhagen mid-day after our flight debacles, we were exhausted.  We grabbed a quick cab (though expensive, like everything in Copenhagen) to our hotel and spent a couple hours getting situated and napping.  We headed out after a while and walked the 15 minute walk to the Nyhavn area of the city, the area that is the most photographed in Copenhagen and perhaps the most identifiable image most people know of the city.  This charming little street centered around a canal, with colorful buildings up and down it is filled with cafes and restaurants and boats along the canal.  We had dinner at one of the outdoor cafes and just spent a leisurely meal chatting and watching everything around us.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel in the City Hall area near Tivoli Gardens and took the long way back, stopping at little side streets as the sun set over the city and finding hidden canals along our route.  We wandered for an hour heading in the general direction of the hotel and got to see a lot of the city that way, at golden hour as the sun was setting.  It was a lovely first evening in Copenhagen and so enjoyable just wandering the city and exploring.

Photos courtesy of Nick Nieto Photography

Other Day by Day posts from this trip:
Day 2: Copenhagen 

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Case for Home

I'm taking a quick break from trip posts today to talk about something I think is worth saying, to explore the concept of being home versus traveling.  To say that my last month was hectic would be an understatement.  The last month seemed to fly by in a jet lagged blur, from Denver to South Korea to Europe, I was on 15 different flights, 10 different cities and who knows how many different beds throughout the month.  And while my travel schedule isn't normally that crazy, this past month has definitely made a good case for being home.  While I whole heartedly believe that travel is amazing for the soul and each of our trips were great, I'll be honest, I'm totally worn out.

It's probably no surprise that the day we flew home from Paris, I got a sore throat, which has turned into a cold throughout this week.  I think my body finally knew it was time to stop, time to rest and time to recover.  I love traveling and I love seeing new places and keeping myself busy, but there are also moments in my life (particularly lately) when all I want to do is curl up on my couch with a blanket and a cup of tea or to sleep in my own (really comfortable) bed for a while without interruption.

Over the years I've called a lot of places home, but no where has ever felt as right and as much my own home as this apartment that Nick and I call home in Portland.  Our furniture, our pictures on the wall, our memories, this place is the place that I dream of coming home to at the end of a long day, the place that I'm always ready to get home to after a trip.  And while I won't be stopping traveling anytime soon and it will always be a passion in my life, we will be taking a break for a bit, only doing small and nearby trips for the next few months.  We happen to be in Seattle today while Nick is up here for work, but we're both very much looking forward to getting home this weekend and just soaking up Fall in Portland and having some down time at home.

One of the amazing things about traveling is that is makes you really contemplate what you have, it makes you look at other places and experience them and take them in, but at the end of the day, for me, there is nothing like being home either.  Traveling the world is nothing without a place on this planet that you call home, plane after plane is nothing if you can't think about that place that is all yours.  Wherever it is and whoever it's with, home is something that shouldn't be taken for granted.  And so for the next month, I plan on spending my free time curled up on my couch, with tea in hand, surrounded by this home that Nick and I have built, a place that no where in the world can quite compare to.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flying with IcelandAir

A few years ago when Nick and I went to Iceland, we booked our flights on IcelandAir because it seemed the easiest option considering we were going directly to Iceland.  I was miserably sick that trip and don't remember a lot about our experience on the airline, so when on this trip we were looking at options for our return flights from Europe, IcelandAir had the best prices for one way tickets and we could fly into Seattle, we jumped at the chance to experience the airline again.  Turns out due to our debacle of outbound flights and our whole ordeal on the way to Europe this trip, we ended up flying IcelandAir on the outbound trip as well, making it a full round trip on the airline this time around.

Overall, we were really pleased with the experience and enjoyed flying with IcelandAir.  Though because it offers lower prices than many of its other competitors, there are some things to note and remember when booking through them and I'll be touching on those items as we go through the review below.  But in hindsight, I'd definitly fly IcelandAir again and probably will many times since they are starting a direct route to Portland in the Spring next year.  So here's what I loved about the airline, what I didn't love and some tips to keep in mind when flying IcelandAir for your own travels.

What I Loved
On board service - As with most international airlines, the on board service is a million times better than our domestic US airlines.  I was pleased with the service we had on our flights and there were many flight attendants that were really friendly and helpful to us.

Prices - You really can't beat the prices on IcelandAir to get to Iceland or Europe.  It's the reason we booked them last minute for our outbound trip since we couldn't find anything else for under $2,000 one way for 2 people.  IcelandAir's prices were much cheaper than that, even a day before travel and if you search ahead of time, you can find some pretty amazing deals.

Routes - A major reason I love IcelandAir is that it flies into Seattle, but has many other US hubs as well.  For us, it's so nice to be able to go Seattle directly to Europe and then connect on as needed.  Another great thing about IcelandAir is their Iceland stopover option, so if you want to add a day or two in Iceland on your way, you can without any extra charges.

What I Didn't Love
Gate service in Seattle - It could have just been our particular agents but the agents at the boarding gate in Seattle on our outbound flight were really unfriendly and ignored me standing at the counter for a good 10 minutes before they even acknowledged me.

Food Choices On Board - While the food choices (to buy) on board of IcelandAir flights are alright, they get old fast.  Especially when you are flying them 4 flights on your trip, we got really tired of the same things over and over.  It would be nice to have a more varied assortment of food, not just snacks, on board.

Notes to Keep in Mind
Exit seats stowage requirements - We were booked in exit rows on the outbound trip and as we've experienced on other international carriers, you can't have your bags down in the seat in front of you in exit rows during take off or landing.  That just means you have to find more space to store your bags during those times and then bring them down during the flight.  Something just to keep in mind if you get booked in an exit row.

10 kg limit on carry on bags - We weren't aware of this prior to our flights but luckily our bags worked with the limit.  Keep in mind that you are allowed 2 carry ons but they can only be 10kg each.  Our gate agents weighed them, so make sure your bags work with this limit.

*True Colours was offered a discount on return flights from CDG-SEA, though all opinions on the carrier are my own.