Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 2 Iceland- Golden Circle Tour

Day 2 was our Golden Circle Tour. We waited for our pickup at the hotel patiently as they were running a little bit late. Once we were picked up we went straight to the bus depot where we transferred to a luxury coach liner. Iceland has the tour thing down where everything runs smoothly and is pretty comfortable.

Our first stop on the tour was the Friðheimar greenhouse. Here we learned all about how farming is done locally in Iceland. If you have a chance, try the Friðheimar tomato soup which is made from the tomatoes grown on the premises. Iceland tries to grow their own food as much as possible so they don't have to import from other countries.
Icelandic Greenhouse
We continued on to Gulfoss waterfall which looks triangular and is fed by the waters of Iceland's second largest glacier Langjökull.
Throughout the ride on the side of the road we saw many horses. Icelandic horses are so special as they are pony sized and walk with five gaits.

The second part of the Golden Circle tour is to visit the geysers. Strokkur Geysir and the geothermal pools were so stunning to look at. The colors were beautiful, steam came out of the ground, and water exploded into the sky.
Hot, hot water.
Waiting for Strokkur to explode.
Stand back!
To conclude our Golden Circle Tour, we ended at Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir National Park is where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are separating from each other a little more each year. It was a center of parliament in the beginning, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and most recently a backdrop for Game of Thrones.
Thingvellir National Park
Photography Credits: Roxwriting, Desmond Chow

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Day 1 Iceland- Tour of Reykjavik

We took a trip to Iceland in February through an amazing package deal sold by IcelandAir. Weekend trips to Iceland were a bit of a trend with New Yorkers for a bit. We extended our trip by adding a few extra days to our vacation. We had high hopes of viewing the Northern Lights, looked forward to enjoying Valentines Day in Iceland, and couldn't wait to climb a glacier and experience The Blue Lagoon. It was time for some adventure and relaxation.

Our trip began with going through JFK airport. We were greeted by many airport security, who when they saw that our boarding passes were for Iceland, gave us funny looks and joked with us that we were leaving cold New York City for an even colder place. Iceland does sound like a cold and remote country but the weather forecasted for that week was to be slightly warmer there than in New York. We'd see for ourselves soon enough. Our friends' trip to Iceland just a few weeks before us showed pictures of them in snow bundled up and with waterproof windbreakers to protect themselves from harsh rain. It was a breeze checking in and going through airport security. We arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare.

IcelandAir was such a nice airline to ride. The seats were spacious, the food was decent, and there were tvs with movies and television shows for each seat. Each seat also had an Icelandic greeting to teach you a few simple Icelandic words and cultural bits.
Learning Icelandic
We arrived at Keflavic airport after a five and a half hour flight. Keflavic was a really nice airport, very clean and modern looking. The bathrooms were high tech and each stall was its own private bathroom. I had booked our transportation to our hotel in Reykjavik with Flybus. Flybus was a luxury coach liner and the ride was about 45 minutes into the heart of Reykjavik. Everything went smoothly. I was just really surprised with the epic winds we met outside of the airport walking to the bus. The winds were so fierce that they would push you. We even saw a few suitcases escape from their owners and end up on the other side of the street. Hold on to your bus vouchers, luggage, and children if you have any!

We did not have any specific plans for the first day except to get on a boat at night to go on a Northern Lights tour. We took advantage of the free time to see the city of Reykjavik.

Our self guided walking tour included visiting Harpa, Sun Voyager, Hallgrimskirja, Perlan, and walking through town. I'll elaborate more on the Northern Lights in a separate post.
Concert hall Harpa. I didn't get a chance to go inside because it was so early but the building itself was really nice to walk around. The lights on the outside change colors ever few seconds. Here you will smell the sulfur off of the water. Yay for rotten eggs.
This is the path we followed along the water to see many of the sights.
Sun Voyager sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason. This boat was massive and looked different depending on the lighting.  Take many pictures. They will all be beautiful!
The colorful houses of Reykjavik.
We went to the top of Hallgrimskirja church. It costs 700 kr to go up, roughly $7 USD.
The view from the top.

We saw Perlan in the distance from the top of Hallgrimskirja. It looked close enough to walk to. Bad idea. The route was not direct and the hill to climb to it was slippery from the ice and snow.
                    We took this picture on the roof of Perlan. We chose not to go to the Saga Museum or eat at the restaurant.

Photography Credits: Roxwriting, Desmond Chow

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Snacks in Amsterdam

It's very easy to get the munchies in Amsterdam. Even if you don't partake in the cafe culture, there is plenty to snack on in Amsterdam. Here are a few treats we came across on our trip.
Grocery store ice cream sandwiches.
Apple Taart from Winkel 43. Wash it down with mint tea.
Frozen Yogurt
Bloodsinaasappel (blood orange) sorbet
Hot dog with sauerkraut, fried onions, and bacon
Photography Credits: Roxwriting, Desmond Chow

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scenes from Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. It's also one of the most interesting. I loved the vibe of it all and could see myself living there if I had a choice. Here are some pictures we took along our daily walks.
Skinny and tall houses
Bicycle parking along the canal
Cheese everywhere
The Tulip Museum
Moving day.
Large pieces of furniture are moved in through windows or doors not on ground level.

Bubblegum Pink Fiat

View of the outside from the inside of a houseboat.
I amsterdam

Photography Credits: Roxwriting, Desmond Chow

Scenes from Paris

Paris is lovely for strolling. It's a walking city and you have to find those special areas, alleys, restaurants, bakeries, and nooks that will make it your own. Here are a few of my favorite images from my Spring trip.
Paris homes and beautiful flowers.
Paris loves vespas and bikes.
Strawberry cake
Meringues as big as your face.
Nutella crepes!
Cheeseburger and Roast Chicken and Thyme potato chips. The cheeseburger tastes like mustard!
Photography Credits: Roxwriting, Desmond Chow

Friday, January 2, 2015

Green-Wood Cemetery Visit

Green-Wood Cemetery Entrance
Green-Wood is a famous cemetery in Brooklyn. For me, it is the Pere Lachaise of the United States. It's filled with famous people, historical figures, and beautiful tombstones. Even if you don't know someone buried there, there are reasons to visit. It's a tourist attraction complete with bus tours and trolleys. It is large enough where if you are on foot you may be caught out of breath. If you have your own car, I highly recommend bringing it so you can drive through the cemetery and just park whenever you feel like walking around.
Green-Wood Chapel
Since Green-Wood is a cemetery, first and foremost, be respectful. I have visited the mausoleum and it is well maintained and very clean. There is plenty of room and seating to take a moment to pay respects. There is an area outside where you can burn incense or set up offerings to your ancestors. Funeral services are kept in line with culture and religion.

Upon entering, you will receive a map. Visit the graves of the Morse family, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, the Tiffany family, and more.

One of the many elaborate tombstones.
If you are into letterboxing, Green-Wood is a great location to scavenger hunt.

Look for a letterbox in a tree.
Leave your mark!
Climb the highest natural elevation point in Brooklyn: Battle Hill.

Set aside a good three hours to view the cemetery. It is subway accessible. There is a small bakery deli across the street. Have a picnic. There are a few benches scattered and a nice lake. Watch out for the birds and wild parrots and hold on to your map so you don't get lost.

Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A New Type of Pumpkin Patch- Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns

Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is back this year in Old Westbury Gardens in Long Island. I was fortunate enough to see this pumpkin patch last year. It was definitely a fun and new experience. Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is not your ordinary pumpkin patch. You don't buy these pumpkins, rather you tour the grounds to see all the carved pumpkins. They are serious works of art!

A car is needed to get to Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns since it is pretty far out. At night, the roads are completely dark. Don't speed. It gets extra spooky around Halloween. There will be a long line but the tickets are a timed entrance so that there is a steady crowd control. Expect to walk around for an hour. Bring a jacket because it gets cold and bring a camera. You won't believe your eyes!
Spooky Nights
Pumpkin Carver
Edward Scissorhands
The Legend of Zelda

Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns
71 Old Westbury Road
Old Westbury, NY 11590