08 January 2014

A Twist in Our Plans...

It turns out that I have a bit of unfinished New York business to attend to...  :)


I've always wanted to visit ICELAND!!

Hahaha.  I just thought of it a few days ago.  I mean - why not go North before we go South?! You should know that it's pretty common for me to surprise Danny with some crazy ideas. :) Luckily he just smiles and has to let it soak in.  But ultimately he's game, too.  He hasn't regretted one of my crazy ideas yet.  :)  And so, just last night we booked tickets.  I figured it's not everyday that you don't have kids and don't have jobs to report to.  In the winter you can see the Northern Lights in Iceland and go dog sledding and cross country skiing (in between thermal spas!) AND, IcelandAir has an amazing deal:  they let you fly to Europe with a free stop over in Iceland for up to 7 days.  So (pinch me!)...we are going to Denmark and Norway, too, since they are so close. We're especially thrilled to go to Denmark as it's a homeland for both of us.  We both have ancestors from there.  ["Kofoed" is actually a Danish name and also my Great-Great-Grandmother, Augusta, was Danish and married an American missionary who was serving there.]


I can hardly believe we're doing this (!)  

On Friday there was a glorious snow day in Park Slope and it got me excited for a winter wonderland. EVERY family out that day was heading to the park with a sled in hand, which was so, so cute to see. [By the way, if you live in New York and haven't gone sledding at Prospect Park yet, you really should- it's as fun as can be.  Sleds can be purchased at Tarzian Hardware or Save on Fifth. And, if you don't want to store your sled, you can sell it or give it to someone in the park when you're done. That's what we did and the people were THRILLED.]  









So, the packing and planning for our travels West (Alt Summit), North (Scandanavia), and South (Ecuador) are in full force around here.  We've been glued to doctor appointment schedules and work schedules for so long that it does feel very, very strange to just head out to wide open space - to move abroad - to make travel plans anytime - to step into this patch of untouched snow and see what we can make of it.  I hope we can look back (as I do now) upon our lives and say that we experienced something beautiful.

And, dear readers, do you have any tips or recommendations for Iceland, Denmark or Norway?? We would be over the moon to hear from you!  

Love, Mara

31 comments:

  1. Mara that sounds amazing! I went to Iceland a few years ago, the blue lagoon is fantastic and feels like you are on another planet! allow half a day there. It's on the way to the airport from Reykjavik so you can go on your way to/from the airport to save time.

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  2. Absolutely do the train ride between Bergen and Oslo. It's the most beautiful ride ever, and would be spectacular this far into winter.

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  3. We loved Oslo, it has a great feel. The castle grounds are beautiful and have a amazing view of the harbor. We also enjoyed wandering the Oslo cemetery.

    The train ride from Oslo was beautiful and it was only dark for about 4 hours at night.

    We did a fjord tour from Bergen and them the Flam train ride is really a must.

    What a great trip! I look forward to your pictures. Enjoy!!

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  4. Oh enjoy the Northern Lights! I grew up way up north and got to see them frequently. I loved it. They say making love under the Northern Lights is good luck! Bring that coconut oil and a blanket and have fun!

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    1. We saw the Northern Lights! And I just had to tell you that I thought of your comment that night and it made me laugh. Unfortunately it was way too cold - but - it was a nice idea. :) haha.

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  5. http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/

    Here is a link to a tracker so you can see when is the best opportunity to see them. They truly are magical. I don't see them as often now where I live but every now and then I do and I will drive out into the country so I can see them just dance! One time I was driving home one of my Young Women from our church activity. I started freaking out because I saw them. Poor kid thought I was having a heart attack. True story. She STILL talks about that day!

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  6. That is my dream trip!! So excited for you!

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  7. Mara, an absolute must if you're visiting copenhagan is the a modern art museum called Louisiana. It's a short train ride outside of the city, and it's seriously worth the trip just for the gift shop which is just full of beautiful Danish design pieces and clothing. The museum is by the sea and has an amazing sculpture garden. You guys will love it.
    My only other tip is to budget for Copenhagan carefully. It's the most expensive city I've ever been to. And you're going to want to shop bc everything is really beautiful.

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    1. we went to Louisiana today. OH. MY. It was the museum of my dreams. And you're right, the gift shop was unbelievable. I thought of you today as we browsed and shopped and wanted to buy every poster. Ah, my heart is Scandinavian.

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  8. You must go to Vigelandsparken in Oslo! It is a beautiful park filled with statues that the artist Gustav Vigeland made during his lifetime. Most of the statues are scenes from our life, starting as babies and ending with old age. Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. I also suggest visiting a staveskirke-- one of the ancient churches from the 1000s. I could recommend so much more but one more for right now. Go to Geirangerfjorden. Norway is the most BEAUTIfUL country on earth and s short boat ride through the geiranger fjord is awe-inspiring.

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    1. I wholeheartedly second Michelle's recommendations for Oslo! Vigelandsparken is about the most beautiful (man-made) park imaginable. I would also add the new Operahuset (Oslo Opera House). The architecture and the views from the Operahuset are just stunning, as are the views of the harbor.

      As for Iceland, I've never been in the dead of winter. I loved the thermal pools, but I will warn you that the healing nature of the thermal pools may be wonderful in general, but I found my face broke out a bit from it (but my face is hypersensitive). Nevertheless, it was still so worth it! You can big destination place like Blue Lagoon, but you really have to go off the beaten path and find a local thermal pool in a small town. They can be found all over the country, so depending on where you go, there's probably a good spot to enjoy - just ask around as Icelanders are probably the friendliest Scandinavian people, you just have to get them talking and let it go from there! The Me commentor below has excellent recommendations, The only think I would add would be a trip to the western-most point of Iceland - Látrabjarg. The cliffs there are just majestic and breathtaking.
      You may also want to check out: http://www.inspiredbyiceland.com/blog/

      On a funny note, if you want to eat any "ethnic food" in Scandinavia, and want it to really taste authentic, be sure to tell your server you can handle/prefer a full-spiced version. I think the Scandinavian palate is accustomed to more mild food so when you order something three stars, it may come back tasting far below one star. Seriously!

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  9. Flying home from Germany once, my plane had to make an emergency landing in Iceland (bomb threat found on the flight). It turned into a mini vacation in Iceland for two days. It was a long time ago, without looking it up between the airport and Reykjavik are some natural hot springs. I just remember it was really nice, you can rent swimsuits there, cafe, etc. Enjoy--sounds like an amazing trip awaits. Side note: I know ALT summit is sold out for SLC. Would you have any leads or know any possibility of being able to buy a tkt at this point for this event?? It's for my sister, Lise at uphillwithkids.com

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  10. you guys are inspiring! this trip sounds amazing!! best of luck to you both in the packing process. I don't know how you're doing it - I get overwhelmed packing for a weekend trip! ;) You should post about your strategic packing skills!

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  11. hurrah! will we see you in copenhagen?

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  12. What an AWESOME itinerary. I took advantage of IcelandAir's stopover promotion two years ago on my way to Copenhagen where my parents lived at the time.

    For Iceland, I based myself out of Reykjavik for the two days I was there. I took a half-day bus tour to see the geologic attractions- Gullfoss (amazing), a Geiser area and Pingvellir, the locations of the continental drift and original parliament. While I highly recommend seeing these three highlights, what I wish I had planned was renting a car and hightail out of Reykjavik all the way to Jokulsarlon, which is the iceberg lake approximately 6 hours away. Then I would drive back and see the three sights along the way. It would be a two day, one night trip and totally amazing.

    There's also a delicious lobster stew place that I'm fairly certain is dairy-free and so delicious. The name is Saegreifinn (The Sea Baron). Very easy to find in a guidebook or TripAdvisor, etc.

    In Copenhagen, I recommend the Louisiana. It is amazing and my favorite museum in the world! Then you can walk through the Jaegersborg deer park which is a train stop or two away. I liked the town of Roskilde with its Viking ship museum. Finally, one of the most idyllic days of my life was cycling around Hven, a Swedish/Danish island that was the original workplace of Tycho Brahe. This may be a seasonal attraction and unavailable but I wanted to put it out there for anyone planning a Spring-Fall trip!

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    1. THANK YOU! We totally tracked down the lobster stew. Thanks tons for that recommendation. That little place was amazing. Danny loved the stew (it did have dairy) but I loved the fish kebobs.

      And, went to the Louisiana today. I was in heaven. This Scandinavian design is right up my alley. I just love every bit of it.

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  13. A trip north before going south is a definitely MUST for anyone living in the northeast. That's something Joe and I love most about being in Boston: A good portion of the year it's actually cheaper to fly to Europe than to our respective homes on the west coast of the USA! Have a safe trip and can't wait to see your pics!

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  14. You are living life so well!!! I couldn't be happier for you two. There is so much to do and experience in this world outside of having children - I wish more people knew this so they could better consider whether they really want kids and how many they want. While having children is priceless, it's equally priceless to have all the benefits of a life without that responsibility - so much freedom, adventure, and whatever other paths you want to chart.

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  15. HOW EXCITING!! And smart! Going to Europe is a dream for both of us! I am a quarter Swedish and that is number one on my list to see. Enjoy your time there and your future adventures!

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  16. I don't have any recommendations, but I just wanted to say that your recent posts have been awesome, and I'm so happy for the two of you! You are always an inspiration and it's just so beautiful the way you have shared your story. Can't wait to see what's next (and say hello at Alt!). xoxo

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  17. What a fun adventure Mara! Denmark is our bucket list as well. Can't wait to see how you document it all! Carpe Diem!

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  18. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark has great rollercoasters and such, but I recommend visiting just to stroll through the beautiful gardens. At night it is decked out in lights and very pretty too.

    Also you MUST eat at this amazing Greek restaurant: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g189541-d4736439-r173211060-Taverna_Kreta-Copenhagen_Zealand.html

    I spent three weeks in Copenhagen preaching at Copenhagen Miracle Centre, a Ugandan church, filled with some of the kindest, warmest people I have ever met. If you get the chance to go tell Pastor Daniel I say hi!

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  19. We were there this past Saturday! So many kids and it was so much fun! We wanted to go ice skating as well, but the line was too long! Needed to head back to Jersey where we live. Maybe next time! Prospect park is awesome. You're lucky you still live there. Take advantage of your Brooklyn love before y'all move!

    xo

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  20. I was in Copenhagen the summer of 2009, it was amazing! I love everything about the city. I'm not sure about being there in the winter, but I agree with the above about the Louisiana museum. We ate at a vegetarian restaurant for lunch called rizraz, I remember it being fairly reasonable in price for a buffet. Everything is expensive in Copenhagen, bring lots of money. My great-grandfather was an immigrant from Denmark, it was exciting to see where my family came from.

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  21. I was just in Iceland in April 2013, which we booked rather spontaneously and enjoyed every moment! I see some have mentioned the Blue Lagoon, which is absolutely not to be missed. We did water massages in the lagoon and then splashed around for hours. Super easy on your way to the airport - it was a great end to our trip.

    I'd also recommend a day-long Jeep tour. We piled in with 2 other couples and a driver and saw glaciers, black sand beaches, waterfalls, and hiked a glacier. Stopped at an adorable country inn where we all ate stew out of a big pot. A great way to see the sights without having to navigate or rent a car.

    In fact, we managed the bus system pretty easily and didn't feel the need to rent the car at all.

    Happy to offer more details / food suggestions. Enjoy your travels!

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  22. I moved from NY to Copenhagen a year and a half ago. I recommend rentings bikes, checking out all the wonderful bakeries and shopping along the Strøget pedestrian mall. Enjoy!

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  23. I have not done much international travel, but was lucky enough to visit Denmark last fall. I was in the north, mostly Aalborg. They have a great viking museum. And we drove up the coast to Skagen where you can see the North Sea crash into the Baltic sea. Awesome. There is also a cool art museum in Aarhus with a giant rainbow installation art on the roof. Have a wonderful adventure!

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  24. I am overcome with excitement for you! I have a serious travel bug for Scandinavia and Iceland, specifically! gah! I've been pinning images of Iceland and Norway like crazy lately. CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT. Have so much fun!!

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  25. Oh, have so much fun! My husband is a Dane, and if it were in season right now, I'd send you to my sister-in-law's—they live on an estate outside of Copenhagen with the most beautiful gardens, which they open to the public a few times a year (http://www.langebaekgaard.dk/). Enjoy Copenhagen, so much fun stuff to do and see there...I second the recommendation to visit Skagen. It's out of the way, but SO amazing. We drove up there last Christmas, and it was bitterly cold and deserted, but the beach was beautiful. The light up there is just incredible (here's a pic from my trip: http://thefledglingmatriarch.blogspot.com/2013/01/grateful.html), and you can visit the "Church buried in sand" close by. Also, the ferry from Denmark to Norway is really fun (www.fjordline.com/)—superfast with duty free shopping on board. And Norway is THE MOST beautiful place I've ever been. Make sure you visit one of the stave churches...I was lucky enough to attend a wedding in the Borgund Stave church a few years ago. It was totally like a step back in time.

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  26. There are so many great places to go in Iceland. I would rent a car and drive around the ring road.

    Places like Hofn, Vik and Jokulsarlon are must sees.

    http://lisettewoltermckinley.com/lisettewoltermckinley/2011/11/iceland-hauntingly-beautiful.html

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  27. Mara, I live in Copenhagen and have lived in Norway, too. In Copenhagen, there is so much to see and do, it will be easy for you to find things to fill your days. I would definitely recommend a trip to Illums Bolighus on Strøget, just to take in so much gorgeous Scandinavian design, all in one place. You and Danny should take the train out to Humlebæk to visit the Louisiana Art Museum. If you buy your train tickets from the agents at the central station in Copenhagen, you can get a discount on buying a train-plus-museum-entrance combo ticket. Assistens Cemetery is absolutely beautiful, and after a walk through you could stop on Jægersborggade, a cute little street in Nørrebro, to get a coffee. Outside Copenhagen, there is an amazing Viking Ship museum in Roskilde. Aarhus has an incredible outdoor museum called Den Gamle By where you can see how people lived in Denmark in the olden days. Ribe is a beautiful, ornate town on the west coast. If you want an island getaway while here, Bornholm is a local favourite, though I have never been. Skagen, at the very northern tip of Denmark, is absolutely incredible - it may be too much of a trek for your trip, but if you have time, you should definitely go. Really, you can't go wrong here. It is a beautiful country. As for Norway, usually there are winter discounts on the Hurtigruten, which is a ship that travels up the Norwegian coast and back. If you can take the time, taking the Hurtigruten to the Lofoten Islands is something you will never forget.

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