Our Scandinavian adventure starts here! We eventually went on a 7-day road trip to check out all of Denmark (overall a 4 week roadtrip), which will be laid out in the upcoming posts. But to start off, we stayed at an Airbnb for 2 nights in Copenhagen. Copenhagen was a great place to visit. It appears everyone in the city owns a bicycle, and uses it as their primary transportation. Our favorite thing about Copenhagen was the social atmosphere.
We left Minneapolis at 7:30pm with IcelandAir and arrived in Copenhagen at 12:45pm with a short layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. Once we arrived, we went through passport control and were on our way to grab our luggage. We ended up checking two bags – one for our camping gear, one for our clothes. Unfortunately, only our camping gear showed up (we would pick up our clothes in two days ☹). It was the start of our trip, so we were not going to let a misplaced bag slow us down! We took the train from the Airport to Central Station and then Central Station to Dybbølsbro and walked to our Airbnb. We stayed in the Versterbro borough near the Fisketorvet shopping mall, which ended up being a prime location; close to any shopping necessities you may need at the mall or grocery store, and walking distance to local sites, or the train station.
Since the first half of our day in Copenhagen consisted of travel, here is a 1.5-day itinerary for the city.
After settling into our Airbnb, we took the train back to Central Station and caught a bus to Freetown Christiania. This is a famous utopian commune in the borough of Christianshavn. In the 70s, the Social Democratic government gave Christiania the official temporary status of “social experiment”. Old barracks have been transformed into practical spaces such as houses, kindergartens, workshops, cafes, and the streets are completely void of cars. The community also has its own social services and likes to do things its own way. Drugs seem to be the norm here – on Pusher Street, there are stalls lined up selling all types of Cannabis. It was a fun and unique area to explore.
We strolled back towards Christianshavn and grabbed a pizza to go along with a 6 pack from the nearby corner store. We ate and drank on the edge of the canal and watched the boats stroll through. We decided to walk the canal back to our Airbnb and saw many bars/restaurants along the Kobenhaven Havn (a main water channel through Copenhagen). There was also a Jazz Festival taking place outside that drew a lot of attention. It was very relaxing to walk along the canal, drink in hand, sunset on its' way. It had been a long day of traveling, so we went to bed early to make the most of our final day in Copenhagen.
We started the morning bright and early with a walk to breakfast at Mad & Kaffe. The menu is laid out so you can choose 3, 5 or 7 items to create your own breakfast. We thought it had great variety, but was slightly expensive (we would rather spend our money on dinner). The food was fantastic though.
We stopped at the mall on our way back (while we were on the phone trying to sort out our luggage situation). We found a grocery store there – Lidl – which quickly became our best friend. Breakfast options are much cheaper here. We stocked up on a few snacks for the day, and also some wine.
After getting our luggage sorted out, we took the train to Østerport to start our walking tour of the city. Our route for the day – Kastellet – The Little Mermaid – Amalienborg – Nyhavn. Kastellet is one of the best-preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe.
The Little Mermaid isn’t very interesting – there are a lot of tourists and overpriced street merchants selling coffee and ice cream. It was worth the 2 second view, but we kept walking. We walked past Saint Ansgars Church which was lovely.
Next we saw Amalienborg Palace – which is the home of the Danish royal family. It is guarded day and night by Royal Life Guards and at noon they execute the changing of the guard (which we happened to see!).
We walked a block further and were able to see the Copenhagen Opera House – which appears to be made entirely of glass. Then we arrived at Nyhavn – a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district. The harbour is lined by brightly colored 17th century townhouses, bars, cafes and restaurants. The canal harbours many historical wooden ships.
For lunch, we made the short walk to Torvenhallerne (you will pass Rosenborg Castle – definitely worth a picture) – a food market that has over 60 stands selling everything from fresh fish and meat to gourmet chocolate and exotic spices. There are also restaurants serving up paninis and other quick items with all those fresh ingredients. There is plenty of outdoor seating. We picked up some fresh fruit for the next day’s breakfast.
We walked back through Strøgert (shopping street) to window shop and went to our Airbnb. We waited here for a few hours (drinking wine and playing cribbage) hoping our bag would show up (it did not). When we got tired of waiting, we went out to Island’s Brygge to watch the Jazz Festival. There are so many places to eat/drink/listen to music on Island’s Brygge – worth a walk down (or two!). After the Jazz finished up, we grabbed a bottle of wine from a corner store (they actually hand you plastic glasses because they know you are going to drink on the street) and walked to a bar called the Fermentoren. This was a great spot with many local tap beers in a good setting. We would definitely recommend it. After a drink, we hopped over to Mikkeller Bar – also a great setting with a great beer selection.
We then walked back to our Airbnb – tomorrow we are picking up our rental car and starting our Denmark road trip (and getting our lost luggage☺)!
For me, there are two types of getaways - a trip and a vacation. A trip is something that entails sightseeing, museums and exploring nonstop. A vacation is a chair on the beach with a drink in hand. This was a vacation.
Holbox is a little slice of heaven. I have no idea how we found it, but I am grateful that we did. The island is northwest of Cancun, and is far from what you get with a trip to Cancun. There were no highrise hotels or restaurant chains, just local people with authentic cuisine and beautiful beaches. It is also a popular spot for kite-boarding, fly fishing, and whale shark tours.
We hired a taxi in advance to pick us up from the airport, drive us to Chiquila, get on the ferry to Holbox and have a golf cart waiting on the other side to take us to our Airbnb. When we arrived at Casa TomTom - we were informed that the owner had to give our room to a family friend and that we would be staying next door in her friend's house. We were uneasy about it at first, until we realized that this was a free upgrade to a large beachfront home with a private pool, and private beach to ourselves - www.airbnb.com/rooms/16945736
What you can expect at Holbox is a great place to mingle with locals and fellow travelers. Wake up to the ocean breeze and head over to the French Bakery, Le Jardin, and get fresh croissants and quiches for breakfast at a very good price (the chocolate croissants are the BEST). A few blocks east, you can find a fresh squeezed juice for 20 pesos. Go for a long walk along the beach. Then find a place for an authentic lunch; fresh caught fish is on most menus. Then it's beach time! Grab a book, mix a drink, and hang out on the beach for the afternoon sun. Keep an eye out for beach merchants delivering fresh empanadas and other afternoon snacks. Around 5pm, head to the beach bar at Hotel Zomay for a cocktail, and hang around for the sunset. After the sunset, walk into town for dinner. There are many great places to eat; we recommend Los Peleones and Casa Las Tortugas! After dinner, find a rooftop bar for drinks or even some salsa dancing lessons. They have a local drink called mezcal, which is definitely worth trying! As night falls, you may hear live music at the Hot Corner, where many people will gather to conclude the night. Then wake up and repeat for as many days as you can!
Instead of taking the same taxi service to return to Cancun International, we met a couple and split a small private plane with them. This cost $120 per person vs the $80 per person cost for the taxi service. The flight is about 25 minutes and well worth the extra cost.
Northern Wisconsin in November!? Yup. If you're looking for a nice, quiet weekend getaway, you can't go wrong with any city in Northern Wisconsin. This place, called the Buffalo Farm, was near Cable, WI. There are many State Areas nearby within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest which has some casual hiking paths. This weekend was a focus on quality family time inside with card games and movies by the fireplace. For others in the area, this is prime time for deer hunting.
Family vacation for 3 nights at the Buffalo Farm - www.airbnb.com/rooms/4588602
This was the start of it all. Our 2-year wedding anniversary trip. Here is our 3-day National Parks Tour.
Emily was heading to Las Vegas for a work conference and we saw that as a good opportunity for Derek to come along, so he flew out to meet me for the tail end of the conference. We had both done the Vegas thing before; the drinking, the gambling, and waking up with a vague memory of the night before. We thought we'd switch gears and go to the beautiful National Parks in the area.
Derek got in on Thursday evening, picked up the rental car and headed over to the MGM, where Emily was staying. We had an awesome dinner - shout out to Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak!
We got up early and began the journey to the Grand Canyon South Rim – this was just over a 4-hour drive. When we arrived at the park, we purchased an annual National Parks pass for $80 (since we were going to head to 4 parks over the weekend, we opted for the annual pass, since each park on its own would cost $30).
We started at the Bright Angel Trailhead and hiked down the trail into the Canyon for about an hour. We knew that it was going to take twice as long coming back up, so we planned accordingly (bring water!). There were quite a few people hiking for the first 15 minutes, but the crowds thinned as we got lower into the Canyon.
After we were done exploring the area, we started driving east out of the park on Highway 64. Luckily, the sun was setting, it as cloudy and misty, and there were about 8 lookout points, from Grandview Point to Dessert View, that we continued to stop out and catch the sunset. We finished the day by driving 2.5 hours to Page, AZ (and staying at the most expensive Motel 6). I would book your lodging ahead of time or camp.
We arrived at Waheap Marina in the morning and boarded a boat with a top deck. If you have never heard of Lake Powell, google it. It was the coolest boat cruise I had ever been on. The cruise lasted about 2.5 hours. We cruised through Antelope Canyon and Navajo Canyon. These canyons were insane. The Navajo Canyon walls are 600 feet above the water. When we returned, we headed on towards Bryce Canyon. The cruise was $75 per person and included an audio set.
After the cruise, we started on our way to Bryce Canyon, which is about a 2.5-hour drive. We ate lunch in Kanab at Rocking V Café. When we got to Bryce Canyon, we drove out to Rainbow Point - which is the very tip of the park. We hiked Bristlecone Loop and decided to drive back out of the park and to stop at Inspiration Point for sunset. Just our luck (with all the rain) - there was an actual rainbow landing on Rainbow Point. After the sunset, we drove an hour to our lodging for the night – Parkway Motel in Orderville, Utah.
We wanted to catch the sunrise at Zion, so we woke up real early. And it is probably a good thing it was dark and we didn't realize we were driving on cliffs. It was only about a 30 minute drive to the park. We drove to the start of Canyon Overlook Trail - which is on the east side of the park. It was a little difficult to find the trailhead, but THIS WAS THE COOLEST THING WE HAVE EVER DONE. The pictures speak for themselves.
After sunrise, we drove to the visitor center and hopped on a shuttle bus to the last stop in the park – Riverside Walk. We hiked backed as far as we could before we realized why everyone around us was wearing water shoes...
We left Zion around lunch time, grabbed lunch at Oscar’s Café in Springdale and then headed back towards Las Vegas (about 3 hours).
It was a lot of driving in 3 days, but oh so worth it. There are so many parks to see in Utah and Arizona, next time we will be back for a whole week, ready to camp!
What we learned
1. Don't run out of gas in the dessert.
2. These National Parks deserve more than 3 days. Next time, we are going back for a week with our tent!