The Charming Old City of Dubrovnik

Dubronvik
As our bus rounded the hillside and we were greeted with our first view of the walled in old city of Dubrovnik H and I knew we made the right choice in visiting Croatia.

Dubronvik

Before the fun could begin we had to tackle the mission of finding our accommodation, which from the reviews did not sound like an easy task. We had looked pass those comments when booking our room, caught up in our daydreams of the balcony with ocean views that awaited us.

So off we went into the heat rolling our suitcases, hoping the reviews were wrong. Well after walking up and down steep, yet charming, stairs we found ourselves laughing uncontrollably at how ridiculous our situation was.

Dubronvik
These stairs were no joke and we were dripping sweat by the time a nice postman found us just about giving up on ever finding our accommodation. Lucky for us he knew the way and we tried our best to keep up with him as he bounced down the stairs we just huffed and puffed up. When he pointed to our accommodation H and I nearly cheered with happiness to finally be done dragging our suitcases. And to add salt to the wound, the place we were staying was a mere left instead of a right turn at the start of the stairs.

Live and learn.

Now that we have finally arrived to our accommodation we were greeted by a sweet older woman who’s English vocabulary consisted of, one moment, which she said repeatedly while we waited for her son to meet us and give us the room keys. This was the most uncomfortable and hilarious twenty minutes of our trip by far.

Let’s set the scene.

H and I sat at a small table with the woman, no one was talking. We were dripping sweat and trying out best not to giggle. The nice woman gave us paper towels (clearly we were disgustingly sweaty) and then proceed to pull out an unlabeled bottle with some mysterious liquid.

Dubronvik
The liquid in question

She poured us each a shot, smiled, and said one moment (translation, please drink). H was proper and sipped the drink, I took one sniff and knew that a quick shot was the only way to get it down. Now we still don’t know what was in this extremely strong shot, but between being in the sun all day, little food or water, and lack of sleep we both felt that tiny shot instantly and started off our vacation with a buzz induced nap.

It was glorious.

Even more wonderful, waking up in our room and seeing this as our view from or balcony.

Dubronvik
We knew all the sweat and tears of finding our accommodation would be worth it.

Now that we had checked off find accommodation, drink unknown liquid, and take a power nap, we were ready to head into the old city and finally explore what lie within those walls.

Dubronvik
We arrived in the city in the late afternoon as the temperature finally cooled making it bearable to be outside walking around. The city was full of life with people finally daring out of their air conditioned homes, children played with parrots, and a band marched through the city much to all us tourists delight.

DubronvikDubronvik
DubronvikDubrvonikDubronvik
Every time we passed by a tiny little street my curiosity got the best of me so most of our evening was spent wandering down one tiny street after another, not really knowing exactly where within the walls we were. But when you follow an unknown street and come out with stunning views of the ocean, why even bother with a map?

DubronvikDubronvik
As we watched the beautiful sunset from our hidden gem of an area the feeling of finally being on vacation sank in. Don’t you just love when you can feel yourself relaxing and letting go of the stress of everyday life, just ready to enjoy your vacation?

Well our “moment of clarity” was interrupted with the grumbling of our stomachs so off we went to sneak out some of the tasty pasta we had been told to try in Croatia. H is super proud of his discovery of the restaurant we ate at that night, it totally wasn’t the luck of it being the first place we agreed on or anything.

Dubronvik
I will give him credit, the pasta was delicious!

Dubronvik
With our stomachs happy we walked back to our accommodation in the low glow of the setting sun, ready to start exploring more of the city first thing in the morning. If the sunsets make the city look like a magical glowing fairytale who knew what daylight had in store!

Dubronvik
The next morning started with breakfast on our balcony, I sure could get use to breakfast with a view!

Dubronvik
Since this was our last day in Dubrovnik H and I headed off after breakfast to brave the heat and get some more exploring in before we left for our next Croatian stop. When we entered the old city you would never had thought the streets where packed just the night before, it was a ghost town.

Dubrvonik
The only other people brave enough to face the heat!

We didn’t let the heat slow us down too much though and took off to climb a hill that offered some of the best views of the city!

IDubronvikDubronvikDubronvik

Dubronvik
Any Game of Throne fans out there recognize this area from the show?? Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take the Game of Thrones filming site tour but the entire old city made me feel like I was walking through King’s Landing.

After a sweaty climb we were more than up for grabbing some gelato by the harbor. We enjoyed our pistachio gelato while watching the boats make their way off to sea, and kayak goers attempt to go out to sea as well.

IMG_8525DubronvikDubronvikIMG_5058
The rest of our day in Dubrovnik was filled with aimlessly wandering the charming streets of the old city, but I will just let the pictures do the talking…

DubronvikDubronvikDubronvikDubrovikDubrovikDubronvikDubronvikDubronvikDubronvikDubronvik

Croatia sure made a great first impression!

Question of the Day?
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Have you ever been to Croatia?

Treasure Tromp

A Jam Packed Weekend in Reykjavik

When our office closed on Friday and the sun was out and shining I knew it was going to be a good weekend. Reykjavik sure is beautiful when the sun shines!

Reykavik via Unlocking Kiki on Instagram

Saturday morning H and I woke up before our very early 6 am wake up call to get ready for our half marathon race. This was H’s first half marathon and we were both to pumped to sleep. After rushing around the house searching for my good luck socks we headed off for the start line in the city center of Reykjavik.

Reykavik Marathon
Around 10,000 runners participate in races on this morning ranging from a 10k, half marathon and a full marathon. This was the first time I had someone running a race with me and I was so excited to share the experience with H.

Reykavik Marathon
People were outside of their homes banging pots and pans, playing instruments, full bands playing on the sides of the streets, the crowd support was awesome! The best part of the race though was crossing the finish line 3 minutes faster than my ultimate goal time and with H right along with me.

Reykavik MarathonReykavik MarathonReykavik Marathon

The marathon on Saturday was just the first item on the agenda for Menningarnótt (Culture Day) here in Reykjavik. All over the city was live bands, performances and of course food booths. After soaking in our favorite pool we were refreshed and ready to head off to check out what events where happening downtown for Menningarnótt.

We spent the afternoon walking the extremely crowded streets with the rest of the Icelandic population checking out the different events for Menningarnótt. The mass crowds made taking any pictures a difficult task so I didn’t bring out the camera until later that night when we headed off to check out one of the several concerts happening around town.

 Menningarnótt Menningarnótt Menningarnótt
My favorite band of the night was Hjálmar, they played a great show and had everyone on their feet dancing. Check out this song, it is one of my favorite Icelandic songs!
Leiðin Okkar Allra by Hjálmar on Grooveshark

Around 11 all the concerts around the city finish and everyone hustles off to find a spot to view the firework show. H and I lucked out and had the best seats in town.

 Menningarnótt

H’s Uncle was on night duty on this massive Coast Guard ship and invited us on-board for the firework show. First off just seeing the inside of the ship was amazing, add in the firework show that was basically right in front of us and it was one unforgettable night!

 Menningarnótt
Reykjavik gone dark, preparing for the firework show. I love how the city lights reflect off the water.

 Menningarnótt Menningarnótt
With every firework that went off the boat seemed to shake, by far the best firework show I have ever seen!

By the end of the firework show H and I were completely beat after running the race in the morning, walking all day, and staying up way past my bedtime. But we didn’t have long to rest up for Sunday afternoon we were off again to see Justin Timberlake!

Justin Timberlake Concert
Yes, JT came to Iceland and all of Iceland went to see him. I am not kidding the area was completely packed but the concert was awesome! What a way to end the weekend.

And now it is Monday morning and I am completely exhausted. All in the name of fun.

Question of the Day?
What is the best concert you have been to? Are you a fan of firework shows?

10th Month in Iceland by the Numbers

10 months already! I can’t believe I am closing in on my one year expatversary. This has been a rollercoaster year so far and who knows what these next two months have in store for me!

Backing up to this past month it was a busy one over here for me. An amazing vacation in Croatia, beautiful hikes in Iceland, back to work after summer holiday and enjoying the sunshine that has finally made an appearance in Iceland! Here are my favorite memories from my 1oth month abroad.

10 days spent enjoying the beautiful CroatiaCroatia
Our Croatia trip was amazing, this country is beyond beautiful! A recap of our trip is coming soon!

Dozens of tiny alleyways in Croatia wandered through
CroatiaCroatia
I think half of my pictures are of little streets in Croatia. I find them so charming and just love spending a lazy afternoon exploring them.

Four books read over my summer holiday
Croatia
Many of those books where read with a view like this, perfect way to spend the day! If you are looking for some end of summer reading I highly recommend checking out Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for a more suspenseful book, and The Vacationers by Emma Straub for the perfect beach read.

Too many delicious cocktails to count enjoyed in Croatia
Croatia
That is what your suppose to do on vacation though right?!

First Reykjavik Gay Pride Parade

I have heard so much about this parade and was so happy to finally get to see it for myself. The atmosphere is just amazing and this float by Páll Óskar was by far my favorite.

One day full of amazing Icelandic landscapes
Gjainn_001Landmannalagaur Landmannalaugar
Gjáin and Landmannalaugar are two of the most beautiful places I have seen in Iceland. If you ever are in Iceland I highly recommend adding these two places to your to do list!

Multiple trips to the swimming pools
Vesturbæjarlaug
When the sun shines in Iceland you don’t spend anytime inside! My favorite way to spend a sunny day is at one of the local pools. In my opinion the best pool to spend a sunny day is Vesturbæjarlaug, luck me that this pool is also two blocks from my house.

Second soccer (or football) game gone to in Iceland
Iceland football
I am not the biggest soccer fan but it was a beautiful summer night, the sky was amazing!

117 days until I leave to visit home!
Home
H and I bought our tickets to fly back to Oregon for Christmas this past week and I am beyond excited! It will be over a year since I have been home and I can’t wait to see my family and Azora!

An awesome month yet again, and after a rough few weeks adjusting back to work life has settled back into routine and time is just flying by. This weekend H and I are running in a half marathon together, it is culture day in Reykjavik with free concerts and activities all day and to end the weekend we are going to Justin Timberlake’s concert Sunday night. A fun weekend indeed! Have a great weekend everyone!

Previous by the numbers month recaps:
First Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Second Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Third Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Fourth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Fifth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Sixth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Seventh Month in Iceland by the Numbers
8th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
9th Month in Iceland by the Numbers

Question of the Day?
Are you a JT fan? Anyone else find soccer a bit boring to watch? What books are you reading this summer?

Daily Diaries with The Lotus Creative

5 Tips for Making Friends Abroad

After months of planning, researching, packing, and saying your last goodbyes you have finally arrived in the new country or city that you now will be calling home. Your excited, nervous, and ready to get out and explore. But wait, who is going to go exploring your new home with you? You just said goodbye to everyone back home and the just me, myself, and I feeling is really sinking in. So what is one to do?

These past 9 months have at times been a real struggle for me in the friend department. I left my small hometown filled with friends I have known my whole life to live in a place where I knew very few people. On a mission to make some great new friends I have been on some interesting “friend dates”. My friend mission is not over yet but after a few successful “friend dates” I wanted to pass along some ideas on how I have met people here in Iceland.

Friends Abroad

1. Take a Language Classes
If you are moving to a country where you do not speak the native language sign up for a language class. It is a great place to meet others, often many of your classmates will be new to the area as well. And learning the local language is always a good idea. I have meet some interesting characters in my language courses, but some of my closes friends are people that I met in class and we can relate to each other in many ways.

If learning a new language is something you don’t need to worry about in your new area sign up for a dance course, pottery, or even cooking classes. Okay all three of these are things I really want to take and am just waiting for them to be offered in English (or for my Icelandic to be good enough that I can understand).

2. Join Facebook Groups
In Iceland we have a few Facebook groups for foreigners living here and it has been a great resource for me to get information on questions I may have. This Facebook group is also where I found a local volleyball team to join (okay this didn’t go as well as planned but maybe I will give it another try in the future) and is also where I found my bookclub. The Facebook group often post information about events happening in the area as well that otherwise I wouldn’t have heard of.

Just a warning, you may come across negative people in these groups. Don’t let their negative nancy talk get you down. I struggled with this at first when many were posting saying if you don’t speak Icelandic you will never find a job. Look past the negative takl and find the good!

3. Join a gym
If fitness is your thing get a membership for your local gym. As us human’s are creatures of habits people will often go to the gym at the same time each day. It is just a matter of time before you start up a conversation with the girl who is always next to you in spinning class. Okay maybe it won’t happen exactly like this, but for me being active and taking classes at my gym has helped me met people with similar interest to me. And having a workout partner to help motivate me to leave my house during those dark Icelandic winter days has been very helpful.

4. Sign up for a club
Similar to signing up for classes, joining a club in something your interested in is a great way to meet like minded people. If your living in an area that has lots of awesome hiking trails maybe try joining a hiking club. Movies, knitting, reading, cooking, there really is a club for most anything you just need to look. My bookclub is one of my favorite things and I look forward to meeting up with my group every month.

5. Get an Internship or Volunteer
For some of us getting a job in the foreign country we are living in isn’t an option. When I moved to Iceland the first time I was unable to work here and knew I needed something to fill my time. My grandma suggested I find somewhere to volunteer and I am so glad I took her advice.

I found an organization that needed someone to handle all their marketing (which is what my college degree is in) and it was the perfect fit. I was able to gain experience and make some new friends. They also sent me to Paris so it was a pretty great deal. Some of the people I interned with I am still in touch with today and it was an experience that helped me land my current job.

These tips are all things I have tried myself. Some have been successful, others not so much. The main thing is to just be willing to get out of your comfort zone and try as many new things as possible! I know it can be scary going to events where you no nobody, you are in a foreign country and everything is new and frightening. But just think of how much more enjoyable it would be having someone who you can relate what your experience with.

So get out there and have some fun!

Question of the Day?
How have you met people after moving to a new place?

Linking up with Treasure Tromp