Denmark/Iceland Day 3: Sunday in our Hyundai

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We were still so giddy about having our luggage when we woke up, we weren’t sure what to do. Clothes! We could wear whatever we wanted. And fresh clothes at that!

We picked up our rental car, a Hyundai i30. 6 speed, diesel, fun to drive. We decided on the way out of town to do one very touristy thing. Her name here is Den Lille Havfrue, but we know her as the Little Mermaid.  She’s a fine sculpture, iconic of course, but is located inconveniently, and now just a tourist trap. Even so, we had to take her picture. DSC_0309

We then drove north to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. A world-class museum, most impressive were the scuptures, including Caldor’s, that are outside along a beautiful vista.DSC_0321 DSC_0320

We consulted Yelp, and found a completely local and Danish smorgasbord place for lunch,  Gamle Humlebaek Kro had no menus in English, the waitstaff spoke very little, but we figured this out. We had fried fish and herringed salmon, both served with dark bread. Delicious!

We hadn’t been to a castle since yesterday, so needed to change that. We drove next to Frederiksborg Slot. The home of Christian IV, it has elements that rival Versailles. Except not quite so over the top.DSC_0341 DSC_0351 DSC_0328

Then it was time to find out hotel. A castle, We are staying in an actual castle. The service has not lived up to the beauty, but can’t win ’em all.

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We searched again for dinner, and found an Italian restaurant in Helsinger. It cooled off, we ate comfortably outside, and enjoyed Restaurant Ciao Ciao‘s homemade pasta.

After another very warm day, we are looking forward to a high in the 60’s°F tomorrow.


Denmark/Iceland Day 2: Palaces (and anticipating luggage)

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We weren’t going to let anything like no luggage (or 91°F weather) stop us from enjoying our vacation. Although at times, both tried.

We got a decent night’s sleep, given the situation. The hotel offered a Scandinavian breakfast, and we enjoyed it. Off by foot, we were after the 3-star attractions today. First stop was a palace we hadn’t seen the first time, Christiansborg Slot. We like the Danish style, not nearly as over the top as others we have seen.   DSC_0268

2nd stop was Rosenborg Castle. Beautiful gardens surrounding it (it’s the picture on top of this blog entry).DSC_0282

After touring the castle, we found a coffee place for Ellen. The area, Torvelhallerne, had stalls with various fresh-made food, we both got tasty sandwiches. We saw this train station, which really brought home how others rely on things other than cars.DSC_0288

We used Google Maps to help us navigate public transit, to minimize walking in the heat. It never gets this hot in Copenhagen. We were also told that during our other visit here in 2003, when it was also scorchingly hot. We walked past this canel, which just looked so beautifully European.DSC_0294

Final stop for the day was Amelienborg Castle. Boy, royalty doesn’t have it so bad. DSC_0304 DSC_0299

We then figured out how to take train lines back to near our hotel. 5:00pm, still no luggage. Hotel was throwing a 4th of July party though. Burgers and beer (I just had a beer)!

We set out early for dinner. Without knowing if we’d see luggage and leaving Copenhagen tomorrow, we decided we might need something else to where. Because we eschew American brands like the plague when we travel, we thought what would work ironically best was Hard Rock t-shirts. So we picked two up.

Dinner was at a place we had ate at in 2003 when a Baltic Cruise finished in Copenhagen. I could never forget cooking your own steak on a searing rock. So we went back to Copenhagen’s oldest restaurant, Det Lille Apotek. It’s adorable. We ate outsite as it was starting to cool off. IMG_1291

On the walk back home, we had to stop at Tivoli Gardens. Ellen had gone their as a child, and remembers clearly riding the camel on the merry-go-round. So guess what we did? She even allowed this rare picture.IMG_1296

Beer and soda in the park, then we went back. The front desk gentleman who greeted us last night had the good news that the hotel had received a call that the luggage was on its way. Ellen said at first, deliver it whenever it arrives. I talked her back to a midnight deadline. Knock on the door at 11:30pm, and….WE HAVE LUGGAGE. It was a long and painful 24 hours, but we now have clothes and nothing to worry about but having fun.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, much more to come!

UPDATE: I forgot how most all of you were probably worrying about the SIM cards along with the luggage. After an issue with how much credit came with the cards, a call to Lebara resulted in great, English-speaking customer service which had both phones working before ending the call. Now, 2GBs of data, for only $7.50 each. Can’t beat it!


Denmark/Iceland Day 1: Bad luck out of the way?

The last thing you want to hear when aloft is that there is a problem with the plane and you’re going to land short of your destination. The captain presented it in a way that wasn’t alarming, but even so.

So while we thought we were flying to Reykjavik, instead we flew to Boston. Would have been nice if we could have seen Ben, but we didn’t even see the terminal. We taxied over to where the FedEx and private planes park, and waited. We were unsure what was going to happen, as first it was a question if the plane (something about the tail) could be fixed, then if it would be ready before the crew reached their time limit. Icelandair shared some info, but not much. There wasn’t pizza or drinks. Just sitting.

In the end, we lost about 4 hours. And with only a 1.5 hour layover, we missed our 7:45am  plane to Copenhagen. The next flight was scheduled for 1:15pm, but already 3 hours delayed. We were impressed that IcelandAir had already rebooked us and had our boarding passes ready. we should have withheld final judgement on them. <foreboding music..dun dun dun>

So we were in for a long layover. We made the best of it. We bought Nova SIM cards for Iceland so we would be set when we came back.  We went to the 66° North store and both bought a pair of Polar Fleece gloves. We had vouchers for lunch and got some food. And since we were flying Economy Comfort, we had access to Icelandair’s lounge. So, a lot of waiting and sitting. Lost 1/2 a day in Copenhagen, but better safe than sorry.

Our flight to Copenhagen was even later than the estimate. We had been upgraded to Saga (First) Class, that was nice. Uneventful three hour flight. BUT…no luggage. Waited until no more was coming out. Pulled a number for the baggage problem line. Spoke with the nicest lost baggage employee you’d ever want to, but the story was while we had eventually departed Iceland, our luggage had not. Supposed to be on a flight that arrives at 6am on 4 July. He gave us overnight kits, which included toiletries and a t-shirt to sleep in. That helped. Oh, and we managed to pick up SIM cards, installation to take place when less grumpy.

We figured out the train to central city Copenhagen. Our hotel, Andersen Boutique Hotel, just a few minute walk from the train station. Arrived just before midnight local time. Very nice desk clerk let us rant, nicely of course, about the trip we’ve had so far. The room is clean and very Danishly furnished (picture to come later). No air conditioning, as it never gets hot, except for when we visit. Fan in the room.

Showered as it’s been a long 2 days. But tomorrow, ready to get the exploring started!

Thanks for reading through this. Less talk, more pictures to come!


Savannah

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We took a 4 day trip to Savannah this past weekend. Neither of us had been there, we didn’t know too much about it, just seemed to be a nice place to visit. We were blown away by what a wonderful little city Savannah is. The history, architecture, parks, waterfront and food were all extremely noteworthy.

Here’s a quick set of links to things we saw and did:

Stayed at: Catherine Ward House

Ate at:

Visited:

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Poland Trip: Final Thoughts

 

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We’ve been back for a little while now, time to put down my final thoughts on Poland.

We have visited other formerly Communist countries: Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia. But Poland felt the most thoroughly European. There were still signs of the past, but a coat of paint or a building veneer hid much of it. But Poland seemed like it had been Western for a long time.

We were impressed with the Poles. They were helpful and friendly. And thin! We were amazed that almost all the Poles we saw were a healthy weight. And it reminded us how much of a problem obesity is in the US.  We saw couples having wedding pictures taken everywhere. That symbolized hope and optimism.

Poland acknowledged its history, that its major cities had been 1/4 to 1/3 Jewish until World War II. The monuments and memorials were in very public places throughout Warsaw and Krakow. And Auschwitz and Birkenau are chilling and life-altering places to visit. Having just been at the concentration camps, it made the current situation in Gaza strikingly clear: when you are dealing with an enemy unwilling to recognize your right to exist, you have to take those threats deadly seriously. Having also been to Dachau, I think we may be done with concentration camp visits though.

It was a pleasure visiting a European country that wasn’t outrageously expensive. Our most expensive dinner was $70. Our SIM cards cost $5 each. Poland is very affordable.

I think we are now done with bringing a separate GPS. This was our 2nd trip that we used Waze on my phone as our navigator, and it worked perfectly. Where we travel light clothes-wise, taking just a weekender suitcase, my backpack weighs too much. So I’m looking at all the equipment I haul around to lighten the load.

I hope you enjoyed traveling along with us. We don’t have a next big trip planned at this point. Our upcoming move will take much of our attention (and money) in the near future. We have committed to a 30th anniversary trip in December 2015 to Cuba. But there will be trips before that!


Day 8: Cemetery Visit & Return to Warsaw

Today was a logistics day to get back to Warsaw for our return flights tomorrow.

We started with another walk through Zakopane, this time to visit the Cmentarz na Pęksowym Brzysku cemetery. Next to a church that dates back to 1841, it has some amazing wooden tombstones. Take a look!


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We then started the 5 hour drive back to Warsaw. For lunch, we stopped at the Fashion House Outlet Center in Sosnowiec, really only because it was at an exit that had the food sign on the highway. We ate a not so great meal at the food court, but I did happen to find a Polish soccer jersey at the Nike Outlet Mall, which adds to my collection from Barcelona, Argentina and a Ireland rugby jersey. It is the only souvenir I look for anymore.

Just after 6pm, we made it to the Warsaw Airport. We are staying for free using Marriott points at the Courtyard here, so that we have it easy making our flight at 12:25pm tomorrow. We executed the fun ballet of checking into the hotel and bringing our luggage up, returning the car, taking the Europcar shuttle to the airport, then buying bus tickets to take the 175 back into Warsaw.

We found a modern Polish restaurant, Opasly Tom in town. I had spinach and ricotta ravioli, Ellen had pasta and boar. We had lody (ice cream) one last time, and took the bus back to the hotel.

We’ve had a great trip, Ellen did her usual phenomenal job of planning the itinerary and selecting the hotels. I’ll share my thoughts on Poland in a post soon.

 


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