Saturday, July 5, 2014

L.A. to New York, Iceland to Spain, and Back Again

Vacation is over. In many ways it was exhausting, as active holidays often are, but I think I ultimately succeeded in unwinding.  I came back home eager and ready to finish designing our house project, instead of trying to avoid it, and that's saying something!

We were gone for two weeks, with our first mini-stop in New York City.  Instead of spending our nine hour layover sitting in the airport, we decided to head into the city and squeeze in some extra sightseeing. We ate at Mario Batali's restaurant, Del Posto, in Manhattan and absolutely fell in love with the Chelsea area.

There are few cities I've visited that I felt like I could live in,  (Dublin.  That's probably it.) and I honestly wasn't prepared to like NYC (I thought I'd be claustrophobic and on edge. I'm used to spread-out-California.) so it surprised me.  I loved the style, the literature, the music, the pace, the people.  I want to go back!

After that brief excursion, our first main stop was Iceland.  We've long been intrigued by Iceland (the music scene, the remoteness) and finally decided to go. We aren't big hikers or backpackers, so we were rather oddball tourists there...when we travel we really love to see the architecture and history, and experience the people, food, and culture.  Iceland offered plenty of those things, so we didn't feel like we were missing out by not being super outdoorsy.

We inadvertently visited during summer solstice, so it never really got dark the entire time we were there.  The sun officially set around midnight and rose around 3am, but the sky never actually gets past dusk.  The landscape is so interesting in Iceland—very volcanic with moss and some wildflowers, but very few trees outside the city.

Apart from Reykjavik, we visited the Blue Lagoon: geothermal hot springs with natural salinity and silica clay that give the water its signature color.  The weather was actually quite temperate, considering how far north the island is.  All the people we met were friendly, and the food was good (though there were a surprising number of hot dog and hamburger joints).  They love skateboarding, and I was thrilled that we happened across a small competition on one of the days we were there...I missed my kiddos.

The Blue Lagoon.
Midnight sunset in Reykjavik.
The Laundromat Cafe...that's my kind of decorating!

Art in Barcelona.  :)

After Iceland, we traveled to warmer climates.  We spent a few days in Barcelona, and then met up with my brother-in-law in Ibiza and Mallorca. I sprained my ankle in Barcelona, so we didn't get to do as much exploring as we wanted to, but it all ended up working out.  We became soccer converts (that's a big deal for us non-sports people) and watched many a World Cup match in one of the local cafes. We also went to the Picasso Museum strolled through the Gothic Quarter.

The islands were beautiful...especially seeing them from the water.  I'm not a big boat person, but  Ibiza wouldn't have been nearly as wonderful if only seen by land.  It was worth the rocking and rolling, the perpetual equilibrium distortion, and the challenge of getting on and off a boat with a sprained ankle.  We didn't go to any clubs, though that seems to be what Ibiza is known for (thank goodness because that really isn't my scene) but had plenty of good people watching.

Seeing the progress on our house when we arrived back home was another treat.  The walls have been insulated, and the finish work is progressing.  It's starting to come together!  I can't wait for the day when my time can be used for reading and writing instead of house design and decisions.

I did get some good reading time in while I was away, but that'll have to wait for the next post.  For now, happy summer and happy reading.

Cedar siding in the master bedroom.  So pretty!


  1. Wecome home! The Laundromat Cafe seems like a funny name for a restaurant decorated with books! You'd think there would be a more bookish name. The Cedar siding is beautiful. Iceland seems so remote and beautiful. My son wanted to take a trip there out of the blue; I was rather surprised by that. He hasn't gone yet.

    1. Iceland was really unique and lovely. I wish we'd had time to do some more exploring. My 10yo daughter was disappointed that we didn't see any ponies roaming around. I did bring back some Icelandic wool to knit with though. :)

  2. I love reading travel posts. Iceland looks so fascinating and your pictures are great. Have you read Burial Rites yet? It's set in Iceland and it's a novel loosely based on the last woman to be executed by the state.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I looked in bookstores while I was there but didn't buy anything. It was too overwhelming, & I didn't know where to start.

      I never take enough pictures when I'm on vacation...I'm always just busy soaking it in and I have to remind myself to get the camera out.

  3. What a wonderful trip! My husband and I have been talking about visiting Iceland. We're only moderately outdoorsy, and so it's good to hear that there's a lot to do even for those of us who don't want to backpack. We're also talking about taking the whole family to Barcelona next summer (my kids' language program has classes there). I've never been, but I've always wanted to go.

  4. We really enjoyed both places. And really, I think that they'd both be great with kids. Icelanders seemed very accepting and oriented and not easily offended/phased. Barcelona is pretty easy going too. I haven't been to other parts of Spain, but I've loved the parts I've seen. I hope you get to go!


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