24 Hours in Reykjavik (and where to eat!)

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Reykjavik is a colorful, charming and growing city, full of activities and food. When traveling to Iceland, be sure to make exploring the city a part of your itinerary. You can do it in 24 hours and spend the majority of your trip off exploring all of the natural wonders and landscapes around the country. (or spend more time if you can!) We dedicated one full day to the city on our trip. Here are a few options of what to check out!

We stayed down by the old harbor and our backyard view was like a charming secret garden. We could walk anywhere in the city and come home to a pretty quiet street. The location could not be beat.  While we stayed in an Airbnb, there were multiple inns and guesthouses on our street.

To get a good solid day in, wake up early and head out for coffee. There are coffee shops all over the city. You could do a full coffee shop crawl and compare. The first one we popped into was Reykjavik Rost, right down by the harbor. The interior is a charming instagramable dream. I had a deliciously stuffed croissant with ham and cheese and the most perfect cappuccino.

Because this particular coffee shop is located on the harbor, I should mention the tours! There are tours you can take out onto the water, like whale watching and the northern lights. While we wanted to do both tours, the weather and cloudiness were not on board with our northern lights tour; so that didn’t happen. We also talked to travelers we met who did do a whale tour and they were not able to see much.. so we ended up skipping it. If you go, let me know how it was/is!

While food and drink costs can be high; many bars and restaurants offer a happy hour. Yes its probably geared to visitors to the city but the deals are worth it! Check out a few places for drinks and small bites, if it includes a charming outdoor patio, even better.

The street art! I could have spent a full day just checking out all of the street art in the city. My travel companions may think I’m a bit odd… snapping photos all over the city… but there’s so much to see! Who doesn’t want to pose like my friend below 😉

And because posing is hard work: back to the food 🙂

Be sure to grab a cinnamon bread from Braud and Co. Its a local chain bakery with the most delicious baked goods. I went here three times for this bread!

Look at that cinnamon perfection.

And you cannot leave the city without trying an Icelandic hotdog! Here they are made with lamb instead of pork or beef. Order it with everything; raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade sauce. Its delicious but sweeter than I anticipated. You can try different ones throughout the city. We queued up for the ones at Baejarins Betzu and I’m wishing I had ordered more than one… 

When you need a break from all that food; head to Hallgrímskirkja church and up the tower. You’ll see the city from above in all its colorful glory.

After taking in the view and getting a bit of an appetite back; a fish and chips crawl is always a good idea. We tried a couple different places like from a food truck and from restaurants.


There are a few museums in the city if you are interested; some of them seemed a bit too tourist geared (ahem the penis museum… yeah I said the P word) but you never know what might strike your fancy in there 😉

Shopping abounds all over the city. You can find cold weather gear, a Christmas centered store, local wool sweaters, art, you name it.

And but of course, I’ve gotta close this post out with more food. Two of the best meals we had in the city were at Fish MRKT and Forerttabarinn.

And of course this doesn’t hit all of the many options for your 24 hours of exploring the city but it sets a great starting tone. What other questions do you have about exploring the city?

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How to Explore Iceland’s South Coast

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After four days spent exploring Iceland, I can tell you my absolute favorite was driving through the south coast and visiting Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

Below is how we did it in one day.

We stayed in Reykjavik and took an entire day to drive to the Lagoon and back. We left our Airbnb at 6 am to start our drive. The total drive time depending upon weather is four and a half to five hours to the Lagoon. Always check the weather prior to departure. Keep in mind conditions can change in an instant depending on the season you are traveling.  You can also choose to stay in towns on the way like Vik or rent a campervan and stay wherever you choose along the way. But, it can be done in a day too, weather dependent.


Once you get to the lagoon the views are breathtaking. You’ll see white, blue, black and turquoise icebergs floating and dancing before you. The icebergs are 1,000-year-old pieces of the Oraefajokull glacier breaking off and heading out to sea. You can hike around the perimeter or during the summer months take a boat tour out and around the icebergs.  We saw multiple seals swimming around and lounging near the icebergs.

After hiking around or boating between the icebergs, there are a couple of food trucks situated by the Lagoon parking lot. These could be weather or seasonal, but when we were there the options were fish and chips or a truck with lobster rolls and seafood stew.

On your way to the Lagoon or your way back, take time to pull of the side of the road and explore. There are waterfalls coming out of everywhere! Could you imagine this backdrop as your backyard? Many of these are private property (and many are not). Picture your morning view, a cup of coffee and the beauty of a backyard waterfall. I’m in.

Skogafoss waterfall is also on your path to or from the Lagoon. Skogafoss is about two hours out of Reykjavik. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a rainbow or two… we did 🙂 Unfortunately I did not get to climb the 370 steps to the top of the waterfall (stairs and being 6 months pregnant does not equal a great climb), but if you do I hear the view of the coast at the top is beyond worth it. There’s also a hiking trail that begins here and a camping area.

Renting a car versus taking a bus tour was how we picked to explore and I’m so glad we did. Every time something popped up into our view that we wanted to check out; we just pulled over and explored. We could take our time or just a picture and hop back in.

On our way back to Reykjavik we stopped off to check out the Black Sand Beach, Reynisfjara in Vik. There is a parking lot here with a restaurant, toilets and a food truck, in case you need to fuel up!

The black sand mixed with the powerful waves and rocky cliffs is a sight to behold. I’m guessing there are fewer visitors early in the morning; so if you can, make it your first stop on your way to the Lagoon.

Keep in mind the sneaker waves. Do not stand too close to the water and never turn your back to the water.

Finally to wrap up your South Coast tour; if you’ve done it in one day as we did, pizza and beer is the only acceptable end. Olverk Brewery is a must on your way back into the city. The brewery is located about 30 minutes outside of Reykjavik.

After stuffing ourselves with pizza we made it back to the Airbnb just before midnight. A very successful day of exploring the South Coast.

Truly there is so much to see! Any questions about traveling Iceland’s South Coast?

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How to Honeymoon in El Nido, Philippines (And What to do!)

With a running list of places I plan to visit one day, determining where we should honeymoon should have been easy right?


With flights, costs, timing, seasons and future plans, I found picking a place to be almost overwhelming.

We narrowed it down by determining what we wanted to do. A honeymoon to me has always looked like a beach, a lounge chair and a cocktail in hand. We wanted a region we probably would not visit for some time afterward.

The Philippines has always been on that running list and after seeing images of El Nido; I was on board.

El Nido is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been. El Nido is in the province of Palawan. The white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and limestone cliffs are breathtaking.

After many google searches and trip reviews, we found and settled on El Nido Resorts for our stay. It doesn’t get more “honeymoon-esq” than Pangulasian Island Resort. With only 42 villas, at times we felt like the only guests at the resort. We always had more than enough space on the beach and at the pool. We rented kayaks and paddled our way around the island. Service was impeccable and I always felt so welcome. We were told the average stay here is more like 4 days; so by the time we left they were calling us the long timers. We actually met a family also from Minnesota at the resort. They’ve been coming for years and plan to continue to do so; 30 plus hours of travel be damned. If that doesn’t speak to the magic of this place, I don’t know what else will. The monkeys were the only ones not thrilled with our arrival 🙂 Make sure you lock your doors as they are known to enter your villa and make a mess of things! Or they will steal your bananas and cookies!


There are many stay options from airbnbs on the beach of El Nido, to hostels and bed and breakfasts and other resorts off of the mainland.


To get there we flew from Minneapolis to Chicago, Chicago to Seoul, Seoul to Manila and from Manila we took Air Swift to El Nido. The views over the islands are spectacular in flight. Try to grab a window seat 😉 Bonus if you are staying at an El Nido Resort Hotel; at the airport you have a private lounge with snacks, water and wifi; key! (Just a warning; Air Swift is prone to delays and cancellations. Hold your breath and hope for a smooth arrival!)

Once we got to the El Nido airport our hotel guide was waiting to take us on a golf cart to the docks and then a 30 minute boat ride to the resort.

The resort offered a lot of the island tours included with your stay; but if you are staying in town, get up early and negotiate a private boat tour. The lagoons will get crowded. I’m serious about the early part! Catching the sunrises are an extra perk.


The secret lagoon was my favorite; we kayaked through the hole and found ourselves the only visitors. It was serene and stunning. Again…. go early! There are so many island tour places to see; Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Helicopter Island, Snake Island, Commandos beach and more.


Besides island hopping, the diving and snorkeling are out of this world. The coral reefs are unbelievable. We only had to swim five feet from our hotel beach to see the beauty of the underwater world. We also took a boat tour that dropped us off in a few different spots; sharks, turtles, squid and jack fish were everywhere.

If you need a break from the sun and water, try some bar hopping. El Nido is hastily developing and every traveler and backpacker looking for a cold one has options.



You must eat grilled seafood on the beach; point and pick out what you’d like. Its grilled right there in all its glory.


We took full advantage of the “it’s our honeymoon so we are just going to relax mantra.” I mean, could you find a better spot to do so?



There are also private island day trips to be found. El Nido Resorts owns one of them: Entalula Island. We paid for a day trip to the island, which included lunch and an all-day stay. With cabanas, cocktails and that stunning view; what more could you want? There was a public side to the island where many of the boat tours dock for lunch as well.


Is El Nido on your list? If so, any other questions for me about El Nido? There is so much to say 🙂

Back to Blogging 2018

Hello friends! It’s been some time since words hit this white space. A lot has changed. You won’t find any more comedy about bad dates. Though you can re-read and reminisce here. And here.

Instead, you may find the joys, laughs, and lessons of marriage.

Because this happened:

IMG_1806 (2)

You will still find delectable bites and drinks; perhaps an occasional recipe or two. The love of food doesn’t fade.


In about five months you may also catch tips and tricks for the new mom or mom to be.

Because this also happened:


What does remain unwavering is the love of travel and joy of writing. With trips to Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, and the Philippines; we’ve got a lot to catch up on!


Ready to join me again? Or for the very first time? 🙂

Nutmeg’s Spreads: My New Favorite Snack that Gives Back

Farmers markets are my jam. I could spend every weekend perusing each vendor. I want to learn about the products, those new cookies and that bundle of flowers.

When the season is right, I stock up on ALL the tomatoes I can get my hands on. I’m always walking out with two or more bundles of flowers. At the Minneapolis Farmers Market you just cannot get me away from the pork egg rolls, omg yum!

But the last time I went to the Linden Hills farmers market; I may have just found my new go to every day snack. Like I need a new jar of this already. I’ve licked that thing clean.


Have you had Nutmeg’s Spreads yet!? If not, introduce your life to the best peanut, almond and cashew butter. Not only is this my favorite almond butter, but every time you’re eating this delectable snack, you’re giving back! Nutmeg’s exists to provide financial resources to nonprofits in Kenya. So every time you’re snacking.. you are actually spreading the love.


During the time I spent sampling each; I met multiple repeat customers. They either told me or I overheard; we just cannot keep this in our fridge. Our kids/we/me keep eating it!

So its delicious and you’re spreading the love. What more could you want? Well an added bonus is that Billy and Megan, the owners are so welcoming and informative. They’re mission driven and full of jokes. The company reflects them and is named after them, Megan (Meg) and Billy (he’s the nut ;)).


This weekend you can find them Saturday at the Northeast Farmers Market and Sunday back at Linden Hills. Stop by, say hi and try those spreads!

Where to Wine: Willamette Valley

I recently returned from a bucket list trip to Portland, Oregon. I had heard tales of this Foodie Mecca and for far too long drooled over the Instagram posts coming out of that city.

Finally it was time for me to explore Portland and feast away!

We walked all over; ate till we could not eat anymore; stopped by as many breweries as we could in sequence… and got caught in a political protest!  The airbnb may have had mice, but even that could not stop my new found love for Portland.

Not only did we traverse the city…. But we found ourselves a driver and booked it to wine country. I may be a wine country newbie but the Willamette Valley blew me away. Our driver Chris, if you can, you must find Chris, was the most knowledgeable, funny and charismatic guy. He has lived in the area for many years and developed relationships at multiple vineyards. I credit Chris for much of the attention and care we received in each and every tasting room.  With Chris we truly received the VIP treatment. Every naïve wine question I asked was answered with respect and an intent to educate. I’m quite certain we received more pours than the anyone else in those tasting rooms.

The rooms we were in felt personal, welcoming and boutique.


Our first stop was at Domain Roy & Fils. Upon arrival we were treated to champagne and a tour around the facility. We were given time to enjoy the view and walk around. I could sit on the patio here all day. Our tasting took place by the fireplace and could not have been more enjoyable. Jordan explain their processes, the wines and exchanged dog stories. If you go, he is the best!

Our second stop was at Alexana Winery; another beautiful tasting room with floor to ceiling windows over looking an 80 acre vineyard. Here to my surprise I found a Chardonnay that I absolutely love. It is a stunning bottle and may have reopened my palate to Chardonnay. I’d be remiss not to mention that I also walked out of Alexana with a few Pinot Noirs as well. The staff here were beyond happy to educate, talk and get to know you.


Our third stop was Fairsing Vineyard and I’m quite certain the view cannot get any better than here.


There are no descriptors for this place. Its like a heaven on earth, a peace, a calm and warmth from the wine. Take me back.

Our fourth and final stop was Saffron Fields Vineyard. We sampled more wine and walked around the beautiful Japanese garden here. Our trip happened to coincide with a thanksgiving meal pairing and we snacked to our hearts’ content. I walked away with a bottle of the most delicious Rose.  The tasting room staff gave us many more restaurant recommendations for our last night in Portland.


Seriously stunning. I’m dying to go back. Who is with me?


Season of Joy and Coffee.

Thanksgiving weekend came to a close and it is raining outside. Raining! In November. In Minnesota! I’ll take the rain though and patiently await the snow. Perhaps it will make this holiday season feel as if it is not racing by. I always say I’ll  take in and savor each activity, each moment with family and friends and every twinkling light. And yet every year it all goes by in a blink of an eye.

The rain almost reminds me to stop, breathe in the season’s tidings and enjoy it.

Perhaps this season will be one of new traditions for you. One I just started is decorating seasonal plants for our front porch. Ok ok.. I know tons of people do but this year was my first time. I was totally that person out front in her pajamas decorating, with my coffee in hand of course! I loved it.

Another new tradition I’ve enjoyed this year has been heading to Caribou Coffee and creating my own drink. Caribou is going over the top this season, with toppings to make more than 500 holiday drinks!

 I stopped by my local Caribou, ordered up my drinks of choice and played around with toppings to my heart’s content. I was a barista for 5 years so Caribou’s Topped By You is right up my alley. I totally miss whipping up new drinks behind the espresso bar.

Of course I couldn’t just try one; I mean I dream of one day ordering an entire restaurant menu… at one sitting 🙂

So first I went with the Blended Truffle Mocha, topped with dark chocolate chips, brownie bits and candy cane.


Next up, the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Mocha with more brownie bits and dark chocolate chips. Both were topped with vanilla whip cream. Let me introduce them to you below, my Joyful Chocolate Delights! (because with this amount of chocolate you cannot help but be joyful!)

Voilà. And holy yum.


Head into your Caribou Coffee store for Topped By You Tuesdays. Try all of the whips and toppings being offered for free between 3-4pm. Also on Tuesdays snag a dollar off a large holiday drink throughout the holiday season! Create your own holiday drink, Top Me and Top Bou. Or order one of my Joyfuls!

I’ll be over here breathing in the season, taking it slow and sipping on a Joyful Chocolate Delight!

(I’ve partnered with Caribou Coffee in facilitating this post. All opinions are my own.)


To Do In Philly: The Magic Gardens

On this 70 degree November day, my heart is happy. I’m jumping for joy and lifting my face upwards towards the sun. Give me all the rays!

I am one of those forever summer people; one who’d be pretty happy posted up on a beach for the rest of forever. So naturally I get the end of summer blues. At 30 I’ve finally learned the cure to such blues.

Fall travel!

The first such trip was to Philly in September. Have you been? I absolutely love Philadelphia. On this trip I wanted to check out Philly’s Magic Gardens. The Magic Gardens are a non-profit, visionary art environment. Its located within Isaiah Zagar’s largest public artwork. The gardens are an outdoor installation spanning half a city block on South Street. Isaiah used nontraditional materials to transform an empty city lot.



Walking through this beautiful mosaic garden, I felt almost transported back to Spain. It felt like a Gaudi masterpiece. There was so much to look at, so many colors, materials and sayings. As we perused the garden, the artist himself was even there, happily engaging visitors in conversations regarding his work.



I highly recommend you add the Magic Gardens to your itinerary. And after you’ve explored to your heart’s content, you’re going to need some afternoon wine and snacks. So make your way over to Tredici Enoteca.

The restaurant has a warm coastal feeling.


 No better place to Rose all Day 😉

To enjoy some oysters..


And to eat hands down, the best bacon wrapped stuffed dates ever!


I’d say this trip was a great fall blues cure.

Do you experience the same blues? How do you beat em?


The Montserrat Tour to Take: Barcelona, Spain

I was listening to a podcast the other day, in which the speaker stated that there were two ways to look at life. There were those that would sit in their cubes dutifully saving income in order to live life after 60. Then there were those that looked at life as a now and not as a future state. Those that seek to explore while they are young. Those that will find a way to build that lifestyle they seek now.

Of course there are more than two ways to look at life. However if we are going to follow along and play into that speaker’s philosophy, I’d fall into option two. I strive to find a way to play now. To explore now. To put my wanderlusting soul in a box, with a key only to be opened upon hitting a certain amount in my 401k; would equate to a death sentence for that part of my soul.

Perhaps you call option two the proverbial millennial in me. Call it what you will.

Travel I must. It’s a directive running through my veins. It cannot be ignored.

So along the lines of option two, I am finally getting up a few more Spain travel posts.

Most of our trip in Spain we planned on our own, not being held to tour times or group travel. Some places were picked out and others we ignorantly wandered into. But that’s how we like it. A mix of planned and spontaneous. I’d call myself semi-type A, I like lists and itinerarys but I also like to get lost. To see what I may never have seen. To meet and taste and smell the unexpected. Even if sometimes that means I’m lost in an Irish field,the rain is sprinkling down, my hair in hideous waves due to the thick fog and my nose dripping with snot. (See story here)

While we mostly wandered Barcelona on our own schedule we did take one tour. If you are to take one tour in or around Barcelona, this is the one company to use! They gave us exactly what we liked. A bit of an organized tour, a bit of time to ourselves to wander and a guide who was personable, knowledgeable and eager to build new relationships.

Our tour was to the must see monastery and mountain region of Montserrat. The area is full of legend, housing a beautiful Benedictine abbey, the Virgin Sanctuary and did I mention a farmers market of cheese vendors?! You can also ride the Funicular up to the top of the mountain for breathtaking views and a walk with the clouds. It is not to be missed!

Walking in the Clouds

The beauty, mystique and legend of this place not only speaks for itself, it can be felt. My descriptors and pictures lack just how this place takes your breath away. You are quite literally walking within the clouds. Whatever your religious leaning may be, the spiritual presence is enveloping.

Mountain View 2


Our tour capped off with a leisurely Spanish lunch and winery tour.

Winery Vines

Oller de Mas is a boutique winery built out of a family legacy. They are quite literally bottling by hand and allowing the youngest family members draw and design the labels. Even the children have a hand in the boutique aspects of this place. With a private tasting room within the castle we got to know our intimate tour group. Thought not a sommelier our guide knew his wine and knew the winery. Our wine tasting was knowledgeable, fun, relaxed and hey, there was a lot of wine!

Winery lunch

Winery Lunch 2

Winery Dessert

I cannot recommend this tour more. It was one of the top days of our trip. I may or may not have ended the day with a slight wine induced nap back to the city.

Wine glasses winery

Winnery Barrels

Thank you Castlexperience tours for an unforgettable day!

(To be clear we found this tour through other reviews. The company did not compensate me for this post, (nor did they even know I was writing it) I merely wanted to share a great experience with those looking for tour options in Barcelona)

I am a Dreamer.

If you asked, I’d say yes, I am a dreamer.

I am one of those that can get lost within my own head for hours. I dream of worlds different than this; of realities that don’t exist.

My imagination fueled my childhood and that of many cousins, as we gallivanted through our grandparents property… pretending to be the “Raiders”, or saviors of souls in need. Off we were to free towns from peril, swinging our sticks in an epic battle with imaginary forces.

My day dreams have filled many an international plane ride’s seemingly endless flight.

Day dreams are fewer and far between these days, though they  have not disappeared.

In fact this year I turned four of those dreams into goals.  Yes I became that person that actually writes down her personal goals. I’ve never done this before, outside of a corporate setting. I’m working on two of them. Progress, right?!

While I will selfishly keep them to myself for now, just working towards them helps relieve the feeling as if I’m a gated puppy, chained to my cube, which the corporate world often imparts upon me. It’s a feeling of being stifled, of turning off portions of your brain, creativity or as I’ve been calling them; dreams.

In the meantime new restaurants call my name. But  of course! What is this blog without food? I recently checked out Upton 43 and it lived up to the hype.

Upton 43 Rose

I mean Rose all day right? This glass was the perfect balance of sweet and dry. I like it right in the middle.


Get the charred cabbage… this dish had me at marrow butter. At home, I would have put my entire face into the plate. The boyfriend can attest… this has happened.


The peas, grains and fermented strawberry dish was just as summer should be. All in a plate about to be inhaled.

Chicken and Cauliflower

My pressed chicken, cauliflower, ham hollandaise and truffle was absolute comfort. This is my new go to comfort food.

If you asked, I’d tell you to order all three dishes and more 🙂

I’ll be over here working on my dreams and gallivanting around the Twin Cities’ restaurant scene. Don’t worry, you won’t catch me with any sticks hoping to ward off imaginary enemies. I’ve traded sticks for Rose.

Have you been to Upton 43?