Amazing Iceland: Land of mystery and wonder

Keflavik to Bláa Lónið, a.k.a. the Blue Lagoon, to Reykjavik
It’s about 1AM Minneapolis time, but now we’re in Reykjavik and it’s 6AM. After deplaning, we made a beeline to the Hertz Rent-a-Car to pick up our car. The lights were bright, which seemed appropriate for “last call”, given the hour, at the makeshift Hertz desk made out of particle board. The Icelandic Hertz rep simply said to exit through that door and our car would be in the adjacent lot. We scanned all four lots, pulling our suitcases all the way and finally found the correct license plate, and car. Read more

Playa Fun

6a00d8341f7e1253ef00e54f1d9a2b8834-800wiErnesto and I went to Playa del Carmen last week. This was the fifth time there. I just can’t say enough about this wonderful place. I go to Playa for a truly relaxing vacation. The days started with running on the beach. It’s quite a challenge to run on sand because it has very little resistance, and the tide coming in moves you from left to right. The big reward at the end of the run is to take off your running shoes and dive into the ocean. Breakfast included the usual huevos rancheros and plenty of fresh papaya with a generous sprinkle of lime juice. The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent on the beach body surfing, soaking up the sun, and looking forward to a cold Victoria and octopus, shrimp, and cod ceviche. Later on we’d meander over to the new gay Tukan beach and sit back at the bar with a piña colada while we’d watch people bake on the beach. There were usually a group of guys doing acrobatics, assisted by an embedded bosu ball in the sand. Some days they had drummers to accompany them.

By around 4pm we’d head back to the hotel room for our nap in the hammocks. I really like the Shangri La Caribe hotel. This is the second time we go there. The “garden” rooms we stayed in have two levels. They look like they were designed by an architect influenced by Swiss chalets and Mayan palapas. The second floor rooms, where we stayed, have vaulted ceilings since they are part of the palapa. They all have balconies with hammocks. After our nap, we’d get ready to go out on the town. “La Quinta”, or 5th avenue, runs parallel to the beach. La Quinta has lots of restaurants, most of them Italian. There are plenty of ex-patriot and quaint Mexican bars, and gift shops with hand made crafts. I realized that thousands of people walked up and down the beach during the day, and in the evening, thousands of people walked up and down La Quinta. We did the same, and eventually we actually had to make the one decision for the day. Where should we go for dinner?!

Playa Fun


I miss the warm, yellow light of the tropics. It’s odd coming back to gray and white. Playa del Carmen was, as usual, a lot of fun.

The days started with a run on the beach toward the point by the small, hurricane damaged palapa cabanas. We were rewarded at the end of the run by diving into the crashing waves. We had breakfast at our hotel, the Shangri La Caribe, a great hotel with double decker Mayan-German style palapas complete with balconies, colorful hammocks, and mosaic-tiled bathrooms. The rest of the day, while the sun was high, was devoted to relaxing and walking on the beach, taking a dip in the ocean, ceviche and beer.

babesPlaya nights are all about walking up and down Avenida La Quinta, people watching, perusing all of the quaint shops and boutiques filled with Mexican artifacts, stopping off for a beer or two with quesadillas, and finally deciding where to go for dinner. We went to our old favorites like Babes Noodle Bar, Media Luna, Ristorante Da Bruno, and the excellent Glass Bar, which is part of the Mosquito Blue hotel. There’s a lot more photos here.

Seattle / Vancouver

annedriving_4Our mountain-climbing, city-seeking trip to Seattle and Vancouver began when, finally, Anne picked Mother and I up at the Seattle airport. We managed to convince Mother for about 50 miles that we were indeed headed for Seattle. This photo shows Mother still anticipating the Seattle skyline and all the cats circling her legs. Our true surprise destination was to Vancouver. Along the way, we stopped at a rest area and Anne had bought some great focaccia sandwiches. She even brought her own cloth napkins!

I think it was a trip full of surprises, drumming up old grievances as well as old and new memories. That’s the way it is with siblings, family…sort of a love/hate relationship. It was good for the three of us to be together for such a long time.

I was anxious to see, well, Canada! I had never been to Canada and Vancouver was supposed to be an incredibly cosmopolitan city with high density all around…and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. The only problem is, even though we were there in July and everything seemed well and good within our fantasy (actually only Anne’s and mine) of moving there away from the whole Bush scene, when we realized how cold the winters must be in Vancouver or any city that far North. I’m looking to get away from horribly cold winters in Minnesota and I don’t think that Anne would want to leave mild, but rainy Seattle.

mothercarThe view from our hotel was really great. The Vancouver skyline looks like everything was built between 1962 and 1972, mostly glass buildings and the other buildings were pretty much kept the same on the outside and renovated on the inside. Too bad it was so late. I would’ve liked to check out the club scene. There were people milling about at every corner, waiting to be let in by burly bouncers. Whether it’s Vancouver or Manhattan, I just love the density and, well, people! Often times in Minneapolis, one could walk the streets and think they were all the sudden in a ghost town.