Author Archives: dcborn61


When you take the FlyBus between Reykjavik and the airport, you stop in this little town 10k out called Hafnarfjörður, in front of the Hotel Viking. Well, this small town now has a northern lights viewing pace called Aurora Basecamp that we decided to try out. So a new adventure.

But first, we had to visit Reykjavik Roasters and Braud & Company for breakfast. Then a walk down to the water because we hadn’t yet seen my favorite sculpture, the Sun Voyager.

Sun Voyager

The weather cleared today, so we had neither horizontal sheets of rain nor 40mph mile winds. Just the natural beauty.

We figured out the local bus, buying tickets brought the app and taking the 25 minute Number 1 bus to Hafnarfjörður. And we found a charming town.

We had lunch at Brikk, a breads and spreads place. It was all Icelanders and us, no tourists.

We then visited the local museum with the history of Hafnarfjörður (fishing and more fishing and then shipping). Next door was a local merchant’s house turned into a museum. It was supposed to be open but it was locked. I walked back to the museum and asked, and they came over and unlocked it just for us. And left us alone to wander. Couldn’t imagine that happening anywhere else.

Walking to dinner, we caught sunset.

We had one restaurant in mind, but then walked right past Krydd, which looked nice. And they were having a 2/1 special on the tenderloin so how could we not? And it was well worth it.

So we are off shortly to see if we can see the aurora borealis. But it was a wonderful day already.

Reykjavík: Punk museum and A Regular One, Too

While this is my 6th visit to a Iceland, there are always new things to do.

Today started with killer French toast at Bergsson Mathús.

Amazing French toast

The “regular” museum today was Hafnarhús, the modern art museum. Some of the displays, like this one from the artist Shoplifter reminded me of things we see at Artechouse.

We had read about the Icelandic Punk Museum. It’s in a former underground public rest room. Of course.

The museum manager very excitedly took this picture and posted it on Facebook

Lunch was at Reykjavik Street Food. Food was great, service even better. So friendly. Why is that so rare these days? I had fish and chips, Ellen had lamb soup.

We then visited the Einars Jónssonar Museum. He was a sculptor and his museum was the first on the hill where the Hallgrímskirkja now resides.

We had to go into the church, because we were there.

After a coffee break at Reykjavík Roasters, we rested briefly before havin our nice dinner of the trip at Fiskfelagid. The service was phenomenal and the food just as good.

We started with glazed cod.

My main course was lamb, with one lamb side and one lamb ribeye piece.

And for dessert, we shared a hot chocolate fondant with caramel filling and ice cream.

Reykjavik (again)

We can’t really stay away. Having been here last in August for the marathon, we were able to reload our SIM cards, rather than starting from scratch.

A bomb cyclone threatened our travel, but it added some excitement and our first 4:10am flight departure.

The winds had subsided from hurricane strength by the time we arrived at our hotel around 5pm. We are staying at the Kvosin Hotel, which is right next to parliament.


We walked the main shopping street and hit my favorite clothing brand, 66° North. We chatted with the employees for awhile about our love of the store and Iceland. Ellen asked for a dinner recommendation and we ended up at Bastards Brew and Food. Perfect place for pub grub and a drink.

Paris (last month)

I said I was going to do a post on our trip to Paris. And here I am a month later in Reykjavik and I didn’t make it happen.

So this is a place holder that I will add more detail.

The impetus for this trip was the Da Vinci exhibit at the Louvre. It celebrated his 500th anniversary and brought together his works from all over the world. We also visited the Picasso museum for the first time. And all of this in under 3 days.

Philippines/Singapore/Malaysia Endnotes

What a great trip! I like to jot down some of my impressions from our travels.

Manila, Philippines 🇵🇭

  • Any place Ben & Courtney are is worth visiting.
  • Infrastructure and public transportation desperately needed but difficult to retrofit into a city.
  • Nicest people anywhere.

Singapore 🇸🇬

  • GREAT public transportation. Subway run every 3 minutes. Clean stations/trains, clear signage everywhere for subway line, where to stand, where to exit. CHEAP! We put $17SP ($12.75US) on our cards, took buses and subway everywhere and didn’t use it all up.
  • More on the subway: a public campaign to encourage good behavior. Stand up for seniors, don’t put your bag on the seat. Reinforcement/public shaming necessary. I mean, #bagdownbenny and #standupstacey!
  • You see your tech addiction when you see a a society COMPLETELY addicted to their smartphones. Like, they never look up.
  • Really good food. The hawker centres meant you could eat for cheap. Regular restaurants were a little pricey.
  • The Singapore Airport deserves a trip all by itself. Waterfalls, butterfly gardens, movie theaters, restaurants, shopping. And we got to visit it 5 times!
  • People were friendly.

Penang, Malaysia 🇲🇾

  • Great history. Combination of Malay, Chinese, British and Dutch makes for interesting history, culture and food. Much of it still there if you learn where to look.
  • Really, really good food. And really reasonably priced.
  • Place we stayed, Edison, was wonderful. Greeted by name by the hotel manager? Meet the proprietor? Just doesn’t happen. Room faced a karaoke bar, but they told us and provided earplugs.
  • Not just pedestrian unfriendly, but pedestrian hostile. Sidewalks sometimes, until they just end. Don’t stop for pedestrians, don’t even slow down. Ellen came half a step from being hit by a mini-bike zipping between lanes. Be careful.

Random Travel Observations

  • Humans were not designed to be stuck in cylindrical tubes for 18-19 hours without the ability to walk and stretch. Airlines need to design this into their ultra-long haul flights.
  • We are working on travel minimalism. This trip we both took a weekend suitcase and a backpack. We did laundry once (Thanks, Joy!). We stored our suitcases at Singapore Airport for the Manila and Penang trips, since just a backpack would do. Technology wise, I have ditched the laptop and use just an iPhone and iPad mini. I’ve forgone my digital SLR for a point and shoot, to save space. And I’m going to see how I can reduce what I bring even more with each trip.
  • Smartphones have changed travel. Mostly in a good way. Getting easier and easier to get SIM cards that are very cheap. We had 100GB in Singapore, plus 3GB in Malaysia from Singtel for $22.50US. My SIM card in the Philippines had plenty of data and cost $2US.
  • Rideshare like Uber and Grab are a game changer in travel. Eliminate language barrier, currency issues, fear of being ripped off. And you meet regular people who are usually very nice.
  • Try the app Citymapper. It allowed us to figure out not only subways but buses, which can be really tricky when you travel. So smart it tells you which car to get on based on where you are going and which exit to leave the station from. So, so helpful.
  • The British loused a lot of places up that are still dealing with their intrusions.

Thanks for reading along. We have more trips in the works, if you can believe it.

P.S. Some people “like” the posts on Facebook and Twitter without clicking on them, based on blog stats. Not you of course. And some people will casually mention they are enjoying our trips without ever liking a post to indicate they are following. Again, not you of course. 😆

Penang: Green Mansion

We didn’t have a set agenda today, so we made it up as we went along. We first tried the Protestant Cemetery which is near us, but the gate was locked and a crazy person was out front, so we turned around.

We decided to get more Peranakan history, so we headed to the Green Mansion. It was ornate and filled with collectibles.

When we were finished, Ellen wanted to get back to the restaurant from our food tour yesterday where we got duck. We enjoyed the dish again and also got to see them make the bamboo noodles.

We then made one of our few errors this trip. Penang Hill offers a view from mountains 1/2 an hour west of the city. We decided maybe a drink up there would be nice, so we took a Grab there. But it was very crowded, with a long line for tickets and then probably an hour or more to take the funicular up. So we decided to Grab back to a coffee shop. But our first few tries said there were no cars around. Before investigating a taxi, we tried Grab one more time and were successful.

After coffee (and sharing a chocolate bar), we sought out one more iconic street art, boy on a motorcycle. It was worth the hot walk.

Ellen didn’t like the heat, but did stumble on a newly opened smoothie art place called Purée Fruit. What is smoothie art, you say?

They even had a stand with a light that you could put your smoothie on to Instagram it!

After a cool off at the pool, we went out to dinner for the last night and to celebrate our 34th anniversary, which is tomorrow. We went to Jawi House Cafe, another Peranakan restaurant.

Our food was delicious, having different lamb with rice dishes but it was the anniversary that was the star.

The restaurant had no alcohol, so we stopped at a bar on the way home for a celebratory drink.

It was an active bar street!

Tomorrow we fly to Singapore. We then have about 11 hours to hang before our 18-ish hour flight back to Newark.

Penang: Street Art and Food Tour

We got to Penang yesterday evening. Our hotel was a 30 minute Grab ride from the airport. We are staying at the Edison George Town, a hotel in a former mansion. Ellen booked us a suite, and it is just fantastic.

After breakfast this morning, we set out to experience as much of the street art as we could. And it did not disappoint.

I even got into the act.

We had clay pot chicken for lunch at the Jetty Food Court.

After lunch we walked out onto the Chew Jetty, rustic houses and shops built on stilts over the water.

Even the jetty has street art.

And pretty views of the water.

We went back to the hotel in the afternoon to read at the pool. And to get hungry for our food tour!

We went on the food tour that Ben & Courtney has recommended. Our guide, Danny, was an enthusiastic tour leader, blending history and culture into the food scene.

Here’s where my lack of flair for food writing is a real detriment. We went to food carts and restaurants and had food from somosas to duck to other things I didn’t know what I was eating. Even watching the food be made was mesmerizing.

Here are some more pictures. Talk to Ellen if you want more passionate details.

One more full day and then we spend our anniversary and the day after on our trip home.

Singapore: Botanic Garden & Peranakan Dining

Today we headed out in the morning to the Singapore Botanic Garden. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

It was an easy subway ride to get to. In first entering, we found the gardens green but lacking other color. Then we got to the orchid area. They were truly beautiful.

On the way out, we made a reptilian friend.

Lunch was nearby, at a Michelin one star Peranakan restaurant, Candlenut, that Ellen was so excited about. The dishes were incredibly flavorful, I had a chicken thigh unlike any other. Ellen had prawn in coconut sauce.

We figured out a bus home, 19 stops, and it started raining the second we got on. Storm was just about over when we got back to the hotel.

We were supposed to go the Singapore Zoo for their night safari, until we found it was about a hour and a half to get there. We decided it was too far and would be difficult to get home and decided to skip it this time.

So we decided instead to hit a New York burger place, Black Tap. They are known for their burgers and CrazyShakes™️ (seriously, take a look). The burgers were pretty awesome but we went only for a classic shake.

Tomorrow we take the party to Penang, Malaysia for the last leg of the trip. It’s almost Christmas here, so I’ll wish everyone a merry Christmas! 🎄

Thanks to those who sent concerns about my stomach. After some thinking about what I had that Ellen didn’t, we believe that almonds bought from a market in Little India might have been the cause. Evidently, the US requires almonds to be pasteurized but that isn’t done everywhere. Regardless, I’m on the mend.

Singapore: Boat Ride, Chihuly & Gardens

We had a light pre-planned agenda, so we decided to start the day with a 40 minute boat ride on the bay.

It gave us a good luck at the iconic sites.

We had planned high tea at the Chihuly Lounge in the Ritz Carleton. Stomach issues that appeared last night made that a bad idea so we went for a quick view and a small snack instead.

The last thing for the day was Gardens By The Bay, a top Singapore attraction. The two domes had botanical plants and decorations.

And finally, they have an outdoor Christmas Wonderland, which was mostly lights.

One more full day in Singapore tomorrow.

Singapore: ArtScience and Aquarium

Yesterday, we did more attractions, and even managed to figure out how to take some buses!

First stop was the Art ScienceMuseum. It reminded us in some ways of our favorite ARTECHOUSE in DC, an interactive art/technology museum. We attended two exhibits, first was on the use of technology in Disney films.

The second exhibit was their permanent Future World exhibit.

We got to do some drawings that were then transformed into animations. That was fun!

Next stop was the aquarium. It is on Sentosa Island, which is much like Vegas, with a casino as its centerpiece. The aquarium was excellent, but going on a Sunday near the holidays meant that it was exceptionally crowded.

For dinner, we went to the Maxwell Food Centre, perhaps the most famous of the hawker centers. We had to get Hainanese chicken from Tian Tian, the stall made famous by Anthony Bourdain.

After dinner, we went back to the Marina Bay, where they have a water show at night. It was 15 minutes of crazy water!

And we took the bus home. It was a full day!