On a walk around the tree-lined block from my hotel I encountered examples of amazing Gaudi architecture. The area stays filled with tourists naturally, and I wisely picked an early morning visit before the crowds.
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One of my all-time favorite vacations was a trip to Iceland in the winter.
Why, you ask?
Hint: I was celebrating a milestone birthday and what more unusual place to be in the world.
My husband and I chose to go on an Icelandair trip package in December, and it was simple to plan from its website. Not only did I book the flights, but the hotel and tours as well. The airline goes paperless, and it was convenient to have all my reservations downloaded on my phone prior to leaving the living room.
Upon arrival in the wee hours of the morning, you have an option to stop at the Blue Lagoon for a thermal bath before heading to your hotel. I am so glad that I did because it took away the jet lag and other related aches from plane travel. Floating outside in the dark with sleet coming down while my body was toasty warm was a surreal as it gets.
The temperatures that particular week were warm in the 30s and 40s, and the only odd thing to us was daylight hours were limited to four- 10- 2 pm. What made up for it was the simple Christmas decorations lining the streets and the festive holiday atmosphere.
Reykjavik is a cosmopolitan city and I loved the bookstores dotting every corner - Icelanders are avid readers - the juice bars for healthy snacks and the geothermal outdoor spas. I went to a second one later in the week just because...
The only disappointment was the succession of cloudly nights and no sign of the Northern Lights, which was one of our objectives.
I brought back a thick handwoven Icelandic sweater from a women's co-operative and some spa cleansing products from the Blue Lagoon as remembrances. Oh, and a rabbit fur hat that has turned out to be my winter go-to one.
Iceland is another country I wish to explore further in a different season.
The majority of places you will stay have one right in the room. Otherwise, ask at the front desk.
2. Expensive jewelry including watches
You are just asking for trouble otherwise. The less you are noticed, the better.
Borrow one at the hotel.
4. Extra credit cards and store cards
One back-up is enough along with your medical cards.
5. Baseball cap
Come on. Take it off when you come inside. Better yet, leave it at home. Locals will know that you are a tourist anyhow.
A safe rule of thumb: if you think you might need it, you won’t. Worst case, you can buy it there. Then you’ll have something new with a story attached, and what’s better than that?