A Quick Trip to Chicago

We just got back from a quick and fun short trip to Chicago.  We came in stress-free on the train and enjoyed the very decent winter weather, allowing us to easily walk all over the city.  A visit to the Shedd Aquarium and various delicious meals made for a successful quick getaway. Continue reading A Quick Trip to Chicago

Myvatn Nature Baths (Blue Lagoon of the North)

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most marketed attractions.  Icelandair’s layover options allow for you to easily visit the nearby geothermal spa.  Heavy marketing in addition to close proximity to the airport and Reykjavik make for a heavily populated and expensive destination.  If you are traveling around Iceland there is an alternative option in the North, Myvatn Nature Baths.

Hverir
Steam vents at Hverir, close to Myvatn Nature Baths, offer great photo-ops.

This smaller, quieter, more relaxed and less expensive destination is located just east of Lake Myvatn.  The area has experienced a lot of volcanic activity over time, which has resulted in beautiful landscapes and unique features.  While not on the same scale as the Blue Lagoon it is much more calm and relaxed.  Doing a current price check it is approximately $20 less than the Blue Lagoon.  Prices currently range from $23 to $28 for single admissions, depending on low or high season.

Myvatn Nature Baths
View of the cold side.

One thing that we really enjoyed here that the Blue Lagoon does not offer is the cold side.  There is a wall that goes along the middle that divides the hot and cold sides.  If you feel like cooling down or are getting too used to the warm water you can hop over to the contrasting cold side.  Maintaining temperatures around 100 to 104°F, returning to the warm water feels as great as the initial entry.  Around the perimeter there are a number of underwater bench areas, as well as a beach-type slope to sit or lay on.

Part of the relaxing experience at Myvatn Nature Baths is that there is much less, if any, commotion.  Being on the opposite side of the country as Reykjavik, where most tourists stick to, there are far fewer people.  The water is sourced from beneath the panoramic volcanic landscapes surrounding the area, as deep as 2500 meters into the earth.  Also available here are steam baths and massages.  Being open all year it is quite a way to relax, especially considering you are only 65 miles south of the Arctic Circle.  In the winter time you can enjoy the northern lights while relaxing in the baths.

MNB03

The Myvatn Nature Baths are a perfect alternative to the Blue Lagoon – if you are going to be in North Iceland.  If you are going to pick one of the two options you will get a smaller, more peaceful experience at Myvatn Nature Baths.  If you visit the Blue Lagoon everything will be on a much grander scale, including the crowds, noises, and distractions.  We visited both and loved both.  They are similar in many regards but offer different experiences.

Have you experienced either/both of these attractions? Which experience do you prefer?

The Brice Hotel – Why We Love Kimpton

Staying for two nights at the Brice Hotel in Savannah, GA reaffirmed why Kimpton Hotels are so great.  While we wish we could say this post is sponsored it is not.  Ever since our first Kimpton stay back in May, during our River Road trip when we got engaged, we were instantly won over by the company.  We couldn’t believe we hadn’t stayed at any of their hotels earlier!
Continue reading The Brice Hotel – Why We Love Kimpton

2014 – A Yearly Recap

We had fun in 2014, checking off a few places/trips on our list.  Here are some highlights of what we did this past year.  We’re ready to see what 2015 has for us, aside from our wedding! Continue reading 2014 – A Yearly Recap

Airport Pictures: Back to Reality

It’s always nice being brought back to reality after an extremely enjoyable getaway.  This one is from our trip to Sanibel Island last year.  We were able to escape our frigid winter and enjoy our days on the beach, biking around, kayaking, etc.  The good times came to a screeching halt peering out of our window after landing back home.  However, dealing with frigid conditions for what (sometimes) seems like most of the year makes you really appreciate a warm getaway.  Here’s to winter vacations!

MKEairportwinter

4 Days Walking Around Savannah

We spent 4 relaxing days in the historic district of Savannah.  We stayed at two different hotels during our trip and walked the whole area daily.  The 24 town squares, great restaurants/cafes, historic buildings, and charm of the city made for an incredibly enjoyable visit.  This was all kicked off with our traditional pre-trip dinner of course.

SavannahPark

Continue reading 4 Days Walking Around Savannah

Rental Apartments in Reykjavik

Have you ever stayed somewhere that has won your loyalty?  In Reykjavik it is the Embassy Luxury Apartments for us.  Both times we visited Iceland we stayed in the Embassy Luxury Apartments for at least part of our time.  These full sized apartments are some of Reykavik’s most comfortable lodging at a very affordable cost.  We stumbled across them on the internet when planning our first trip and after walking in the door we fell in love.

100LivingRoomDuring our first trip to Iceland in 2011 we booked apartment 100 for one week.  Apartment 100 is a spacious one bedroom unit on the second floor featuring a private balcony.  The bedroom featured a king size bed.  The living room had a comfortable leather couch, a desk, and 4 person dining table.  The fully equipped kitchen offers a small table for two.  We paid a little bit extra to have them do some grocery shopping for us and have some basic food on hand upon arrival.

110kitchen

Our second trip to Iceland in 2013 was for two weeks, bookended with stays in Reykjavik.  Our final days in the city were spent based out of apartment 110.  This incredibly spacious one bedroom unit is what dreams are made of when it comes to affordable lodging.  Walking in to the ground level entrance you enter the front hall of the apartment, which is centrally located in the unit.  Straight ahead is a living room comfortably furnished with two couches and a plush chair.  To the left is the bedroom with a king size bed and plenty of closets.  A spacious bathroom and large kitchen are a real treat in this unit.

Gardastraeti

For our 2011 trip we were able to book under $100/night as we were able to get a weekly discount.  The 2013 trip wasn’t much more expensive being around $130/night, only for a couple nights.  Both times being in May it was easier to get a great rate for such accommodations.  June through August are going to have higher rates and weekly discounts may not be available.  Regardless of what you pay for any hotel in the area you are not going to get accommodations as great as these.  Next 110livingroomtime we find ourselves in Reykjavik we will certainly be checking for availability here first.

The building blends in with other apartments and homes in the Embassy District.  We really got used to living on Garðastræti, tucked quietly away just blocks from central Reykjavik/Tjörnin Pond.  Walking the streets is quite fascinating with so many great homes and numerous countries embassies being contained within a couple of blocks.   Castle House Luxury Apartments is their second building, on the other side of Tjörnin pond,  also offering apartment accommodations.  Both are blocks away from being right in the action of Reykjavik but in more residential parts of the city.

Simply put everything is ideal when it comes to staying in the apartments.  The price, location, space, comfort, and ability to feel at home while traveling make for a fantastic stay in downtown Reykjavik.

View official pictures of the units we stayed in: 100 & 110

Mink River Estuary – Untouched Wisconsin

The Mink River Estuary is one of my favorite places in Door County.  This State Natural Area  showcases some of Wisconsin’s most pristine and untouched land.  There are trails in the area that all lead to various points of the Mink River, a short spring fed river that mixes with the waters of Lake Michigan. Continue reading Mink River Estuary – Untouched Wisconsin

Random Goodies: Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear

This past summer we spent one week doing the Lake Michigan Circle Tour.  One of our most anticipated spots was Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We knew all about the massive dunes right on Lake Michigan and were eager to romp around.

Driving through the park you can easily park right at the top of some of the dunes directly on Lake Michigan.  While very beautiful, it’s too easy.  Head a bit north of the popular Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and visit the Dune Climb.  Turn around after doing the slow trek to the top of the Dune Climb and take in the scenic view of Glen Lake.  Here you will find plenty of trails offering great [but exhausting] hiking opportunities.

If there is any rule in the park it is that you have to run down the big dune back to the parking lot.  It’s guaranteed that you will instantly feel like a kid for a few brief moments.  No one can do it without a grin from ear to ear and bubbling with exhilaration.

SleepingBearDunes

Wisconsin & Beyond

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