Sunday, November 30, 2014

November iPhone Pics

The month of November flew by.  With a trip out to Utah the beginning of the month (which I haven't even posted about yet!) and a big trip to Iceland and Sweden at the end of the month, I didn't have much else on my phone.

(Per the norm, Hunter dominated the pictures...)
  • Here he is in time out for screaming.  He has to put his nose on the wall and count to 10.  It's about the cutest thing I've ever seen. 

  • As I was driving home for lunch one day, I randomly pulled up next to my mom and Hunter at a stop light!  They were going to my house, too, so I drove beside them.  Hunter just loved it and was squealing and waving.

  • Hunter likes to feed the dogs.  But he only gives them ONE kernel of food at a time.  Deuce got tired of that real quick and went for the food bowl herself.

  • As usual, Kansas City had some gorgeous sunsets/sunrises this month:

  • We got our first snow!  Although the light dusting we got was a far cry from the few inches the weather man predicted...

Snow on my deck...that melted in an hour.

  • My Lonely Planet (I swear by them) Iceland book came in the  mail and I started planning out what I wanted to do and see in that country.  (Also trying to learn how to convert Fahrenheit to celcius so I know what's going on there!)

  • My sweet sister-in-law picked this little pencil sharpener globe up for me at a craft fair.  I love it and found the perfect spot for it on my desk at work. :)

  • I let Hunter have Nerds candy for dinner.  I think being an aunt is the best,  but I'm pretty sure his parents don't always love the things I let this kid get away with... ;)

  • I went out dancing at Kanza Hall with two of my three roommates one Friday night.  That place is always a good time.  For the people watching if nothing else!

  • This picture had to be documented.  This was my moms reaction right after I told her I was couchsurfing in Europe the following week.  Hahaha.  She has no idea how many nice, fun people there are out there in the world.  She just thinks everyone is out to murder her baby! ;)

  • Since I was going to miss Thanksgiving this year (traveling) I got my pumpkin pie early.  And I ate the whole thing in two days...

  • I had to wake Hunter up early from his nap to take him back home.  Poor little guy was so tired he just let me cuddle with him in the chair for a long time when we got there.  Sleeping baby (or toddler) snuggles are the best. :)

  • I went down town to the Kansas City Farmers Market to do some Christmas shopping early Saturday morning.  Found a few good things, and supported the local economy at the same time! 

  • I missed this little guy while I was in Europe, so shortly after I got back, we had a date night:  dinner and shopping at IKEA!

The best part of IKEA for Hunter was pushing this cart around...

  • Went for an early morning run one Sunday and it was much colder than anticipated.  I had to go back for my fancy touch-screen gloves, which I aboslutely love.  I mean, who wants to try and pull gloves off and on to change songs on your phone while you're running!? ;)

  • IKEA.  It's a love / hate relationship.  I always love their stuff when I'm at the store and love how cheap it is.  But then I hate it when I get it all home and actually have to assemble everything!

Let's be honest, the stuff is cheap for a reason.   Look at these nails!  They were so weak I bent over half of them, and finally gave up and just let them be bent.  
(They're in the back.  They don't show.)

Finished product:  two new nighstands that Christa is going to paint to look like suitcases!  We found some old suitcase hardware (handles and latches) online to make it look more real.

So excited to see the finished product!  

  • Two days after I got back from Sweden, this is what was going on in the skies back there:  
I'm fairly certain this photo is edited and not really what it looked like...

Why couldn't that have been in the sky when I was there!?  Oh well - I guess I'll just have to go back to see the bright green and purple dancing Northern Lights...  (Back to Iceland, that is...)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 9 - Travel Day

This should technically be like days 9 and 10 I think.  I mean I traveled for more than 24 hours to get home. 5 airports in 3 countries actually...

Longest.  Day.  Ever.  (BUT, totally worth it for the amazing experiences I had in Iceland and Sweden...)

The day started with a 5:15 am alarm clock at Tommy's in Kiruna.  I slept in my clothes, just grabbed my bags, put my boots on, and we were out the door by 5:25am.

The airport was about 10 minutes away, and I was really sweating it.  I mean my flight was at 6am!  But Tommy kept telling me it would be fine because the airport was super small.

Thank goodness he was right.  I walked right through security - well, minus getting my bag searched for the yogurt I was trying to sneak in.  Then they made me stand there and eat it before I could get on the plane.  I refuse to throw away good food!

Anyways, I was on the plane by 5:50.  Took off on time, and I slept for most of the 1.5 hour flight to Stockholm.  (The window seat and no one sitting next to me helped that cause.)

Flight number 1 of 4

Back in Stockholm, I stopped at the same juice place I did on the way through a few days ago.  It's as close as I was going to get to my regular morning smoothie I have at home. ;)  

I found a place where you can leave your bags for the day (or a few hours or whatever) and dropped off my backpack and my suitcase.  Did my research on the airport yesterday.  (OH - since I shipped some stuff home I managed to stuff one big purple Sorel boot in my red suitcase and the other one squished in the bottom of my backpack -- so I didn't have to walk around all day in those big heavy things any longer!)  With the luggage gone, I got my ticket for the Arlanda Express and took off for the city center in Stockholm.  

On the ride there, I realized I left my phone in my backpack.  Being phone-less is like my worst nightmare!  I mean I'm pretty addicted to it in general (even though the apps don't really work internationally), but the big thing is being without my camera!!!!!!  I was so distraught I actually coconsidered going back for it...but with a 40 minute train ride and only a few hours to see the city, I had to go on without it. :(

I got off at city center and had my map in hand.  It was a gray cloudy day.  Not raining but looked like it could any second.  And COLD.  Walked straight to Old Town (Gamla Stan) - this cute little area - I love narrow European streets and old neighborhoods.  Shops lined the streets and I went in about every single one.  Fashion is so cool here.  Europeans have such better style than we do.  So I couldn't leave Stockholm without some clothing purchase.  I decided to get some Tiger Jeans of Sweden jeans.  They did the alterations right there in the store in about 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, I was using the Iceland exchange rate in my head instead of the Swedish one and ended up paying a completely absurd amount of money for those jeans, hahaha.  Dang it!  (For the record, those exchange rates aren't even close.  So while I thought they were really cheap...they were actually really expensive.)

The only other thing I bought was my Christmas tree ornament that lights up and says Sweden on it.  I didn't see anything else in Stockholm except Old Town and the area around it -- and the areas on the walk between there and the train station.  

Thank goodness I was wearing my watch (since I didn't have my phone) so I made it back to the station and to the airport in plenty of time for my flight.  The airport is big and nice.  It seems like European airports are always nicer than the dirty American ones I am used to...  I had vegetarian lasagna and a fruit smoothie at a little cafe in the airport and it was really really delicious!

Made it to my gate on time and stayed awake for most of the 3 hour flight back to Reykjavic, Iceland.  

Flight number 2 of 4

The plan was to try and sneak out of the airport for a bit to see Mundi again, but it didn't end up happening.  Not for a lack of trying though, haha.  We landed at 3:30 and I literally was the second person off the plane.  I switched my seat to an aisle seat closer to the front so that I could jump up and run when they opened the door.  I had time to make it out there, but Mundi didn't get off work until 4, and I really needed to head back in through security and immigration by 4:15 to catch my 5pm international flight back to Denver.  I had been excited all day to see him again so it was a let down when it didn't happen... :(

I didnt get any food at the airport because I thought I still had plenty of snacks left in my bag.  So it was a surprise to me when I got on the plane and saw I only had two bars left!  That never happens - I always have food on me, haha.  I broke down and ordered some over priced and over cooked chicken dish on the plane and called it good.

Flight number 3 of 4

I wanted to stay awake on the 8 hour flight back to Denver so that I would sleep that night when I landed.  So I watched three movies to keep me up:  Good Will Hunting, Rain Man, and The Fault In Our Stars.  I think I had seen the first two already a looooong time ago, and I saw The Fault In Our Stars in the theater.  I cried watching it.  Again!  I am generally not a crier at movies, but dang it, that movie is so sad! 

Oh, one funny thing about the Iceland Air flight: the lights on the plane look like the northern lights! So I got to watch those for 8 hours and loved every second of it. (Video on YouTube). Also, it was like an eternal sunset out my window while we flew! The whole 8 hours was just beautiful!

Landed in Denver beyond exhausted and so hungry.  Staying up for that whole flight was a really poor choice.  Also a poor choice was not getting more food on that plane, because since it was Thanksgiving, everything was closed at the airport!!  I scrounged up some snacks at a convenience store place and called it good.  I mean, this is like the opposite of what a Thanksgiving meal should be in the US! ;)

My thanksgiving dinner. And the sandwich was so bad I had one bite and threw it away. :(

I was so tired by the time I boarded my next flight (two hour layover) that I literally was nodding off standing up.  Pretty impressive!  I think I had been up for almost 24 hours by that point.  (I wouldn't recommend trying it.)

I was asleep on that flight before it even took off from Denver and I didnt wake up until we hit the ground in KC.  And somehow I didn't pay attention when I checked in online and ended up with a stinking middle seat towards the back of the plane (neither of which I like).  Lucky for me the sheer exhaustion won and the seat didn't matter. ;)

My awesome brother was waiting for me just outside the airport when I landed - at 11pm.  I owe him big time for that one.  (I didn't want to leave my car at the airport at $7/day for 9 days and I wasn't sure I would be able to get a cab on Thanksgiving!)

I wondered if the jet lag would keep me up when I got home, but I literally was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.  Which was nice because I had to get up and be at work the next day at 8am!  I'm crazy, I know.  But hey, price you have to pay to squeeze every possible minute out of your vacation time! 

All in all, it was an awesome, successful trip.  Saw two beautiful new countries, met some great new people (one I hope to see again!), ate some interesting new foods, and finally saw the northern lights!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sweden - Day 3

Well, it's almost midnight here, and I have to be out the door by 5:15am for my 6am flight to Stokholm.  So, bullet points it is.  I'll fill in the rest of the day when I get home.

Up at 8:30, out the door at 9 for 45 minute walk to center of town.  Found some shortcuts!

Stephanie from Husky Voice picked me up and drove me to kennell outside Kiruna.  Other two didn't show up so I got private tour.

She moved from London to tiny village outisde Kiruna after falling in love with huskie and dog sledding on vacation.  Owns 16 dogs.  We only needed 5 to pull us on small sled. 

Dogs were crazy excited to go and howling like crazy.  They clearly love running.  A couple of videos on  my Youtube of the beginning. 

Bumpy ride at first, not much snow yet.  Sun was just coming up - or as much as it comes up these days.  Beautiful colors. 

Never been so cold in all my life.  Ever.  iPhone actuallyh quit working it got so cold.  It literally froze and shut off, so I missed pictures of the most beautiful part of the ride.

Went out on frozen lake where I got to drive the sled.  Dogs did all the work, I just held on.  

Stopped at little hut on the lake to build a fire and warm up over hot chocolate and cookies.  Feet were literally numb they were so cold. Had to take my boots off and stick them in the fire.

Dogs were so hot steam was coming off of them and they just buried themselves in the snow to cool down!

They were ready to go again and ran us back.  Put them away after giving them some love.  Stephanie drove me back to apartment -- not center of town.

The sun as high as it was going to get at 1pm

Ate my leftover pizza from last night for lunch.  Started watching Wolf of Wall Street on tommys big home theater system, fell asleep, Jon Tomas came over to keep me company for a bit.   Watched some videos on Sami people and learned more about the culture.  Also learned we are 180 kiometers past the Artic Circle!!  Didn't know that...

Still looked like sunrise at 12:30, then the moon was up at 3:30.

Sunset in the middle of the day. 

Took a nap, woke up at 5, showered, walked to big COOP down the street to meet other couchsurfing host for dinner.  I was supposed to stay with him but Tommy let me stay the whole time.  

Met Patrick, ate pizza (AGAIN) and had a 2 hour conversation about everything from food and couchsurfing to politics and Swedish culture.  Good company.  (Funny story:  showed him a picture of my dogs and he said, "Hmm they look quite fat.  Too much KFC?"  In his funny Swedish accent.  I about fell out of my chair laughing so hard.)

Walked back about 9 when Tommy got home from work.  Layered up and set out for more northern light hunting.

Went towards Abisko this time and got semi-lucky again!  Pulled over in the middle of nowhere to a giant light green rainbow streaking across the sky.  It was huge - like one of our rainbows we are used to times 100.  The lights didn't move much, but saw TWO shooting stars while we sat there.  I think I was almost as enthralled with the beautiful bright stars in the night sky as I was with the northern lights.  So still no dancing bright lights like I had hoped for, but I definitely saw the Northern Lights.

Came bak to apartment at 11:30, got ready for bed, and packed up.  Looooong day of traveling tomorrow.

5 airports, 3 countries, and 26 hour of traveling to get me home.  Yikes.

Recap:  Sweden was good, but Iceland was better.  (Even though I didn't see the northern lights there!)  Shouldn't have stayed in a small town for so long in Sweden -- I like moving around more.  Also, European toilet paper sucks.  They need some soft Charmin ASAP. ;)