My Reykjavik | BurgerJoint


I've mentioned it elsewhere- but Iceland has changed SO much in the past five years. The amount of people in every locations is exponentially more than when we first started going... and I would say more than doubled since even last year.

Whenever we saw friends or colleagues, they all asked us what we thought of it. The boom of tourism is changing the lives of all 330,000 people that live there. Every block in town and small village along the (only) highway is full of cranes and new business popping up in response to the hoards of tourstics flocking to Iceland.

While there are so many new (great!) places opening, I still feel drawn back to Burgerjoint (or "Bullan," as the locals call it) on days around lazy days when we are near the marina in Reykjavik..

This tiny shop tucked right on the marina makes fresh burgers. They're one of the most affordable meals in town, and they're pretty stinking good. No visit there is complete with a basket full of fries- generously sprinkled from the shaker of seasoning salt- and a coffee milkshake.

The BBQ bacon cheeseburger is a crowd-pleaser, but with huge sides (the large fries could easily feed 5 people), a small cheeseburger does the trick for me.

Find Burgerjoint at Geirsgata 1, Reykjavik 101, Iceland. (Right by the IcelandAir Marina Hotel)



 

*images by Ashel Parsons for Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on September 23, 2016 and filed under eat, iceland, travel.

iPhone (un)Operating System

 

Half-way through our trip to Italy, my phone stopped working. It wouldn't read the touch sensor for a day or so at a time- making it impossible to get into. I put up with it for a few more weeks (because I didn't have time to send it in to get repaired), and now I'm a month into a phoneless life and I have to say.... it is so nice.

While I wait, I have a £5 mobile phone. The tiny screen has a call log, contacts book, settings and game (singular- just one pathetic little game). It's so basic, and it has been a welcome detox from mindlessly scrolling social media and updating my inbox.

 

 

And all those helpful little apps? Whadday know- I can still login to my bank on my laptop and get everything done that I need as well as all the various functions that I spend clicking away at on my phone.

The only downside is that I never have a camera with me without my iPhone. I missed Viola's first day of school. I look at Harry's golden curls in the afternoon sunlight and realize that I only have my memories from sitting on the couch together, rather than a photo burst of them. So you know... pros and cons.

 

It's a real struggle to stay present- especially in the presence with my kids. In those quiet moments of sitting around the kitchen table or as they tinker with toys, I find myself constantly flicking back and forth between them and my phone.

I have the new iPhone 7 headed my way by the end of the month, and I'm already cringing at the bad habits that I'll fall back into.

How do you keep a safe distance from your phone usesage? My friend recommend the MOMENT app, which was a embarrassing yet needed look at how much I'm on my phone each day. (Or you could always go cold turkey and swap out for a basic cell phone. It's like a crash diet, and I have a feeling you may totally love it, too.)

 



 

*images by Ashel Parsons for Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Posted on September 19, 2016 and filed under kids, life, iceland.

Under The Tuscan Sun... and Just By The Olive Trees

 

When I was 19, I spent a semester in Italy. Just outside of Florence on a hillside of a sleepy suburb in a 15th century villa. In this villa, we had class, we had little Italian women cook for us and we stayed up way too long every night. I'm not sure anyone can spend three months at that villa and not have those moments stay with them forever. There really is something magical about "the villa," and I am so glad that I got to share it with my family this summer.

While we were there, my friend Grant snapped some pictures of us around the house. He, literally, took out his camera and starting clicking away after breakfast one day. (And from the lack of Tyler and/or group photos, you'll see that it was so casual that he went in to change out the laundry about two minutes into taking pictures and we had given up by the time he had come back out.)

I have to say, I love them. Not just because I can now appreciate the gift of having us all four in the same photo... but especially so because they're a reminder of a normal day that made up this gorgeous holiday.

There are so many memories that I have from the villa- visiting with my family in high school, arriving with my best friend and a huge suitcase to live out of for the spring whilst in college, saying goodnight to friends in the driveway during the summers in college, eating lunch with Tyler as newlyweds in the dining room, laughing on the terrace with Oxford friends after graduation, and now... well, with my sweet babies toddling around the yard.

 

I love Florence and the lifelong friends that we have there... and, well, now I have some pictures to add to the others we already love from this same special place.

 



 

*images by Grant Schol

 

Posted on September 9, 2016 and filed under italy, kids, life, photography.

Pack Your Bags | Iceland's Golden Circle

 

If you haven't seen by now on Instagram, we are in Iceland. We've been here for a week now and have a little under a week left. We've been exploring non-stop. My head is buzzing with so many thoughts: logistical (do we have the food allowance sorted? i need to tell the students what time we leave in the morning!), parental (i need to buy more snacks for the bus. remember to get harrison's shoe out from under the seat.), tourist (woah- iceland is exploding with people. things change quick when there is a tourist boom!) and personal (i realllllly want to buy a new wool sweater. and some OmNom chocolate).

In the midst of such chaos, I thought it might be good if I jotted down a classic day-trip from Reyjkavik for you. This is really THE day-trip that most people make. It's called the "Golden Circle" and features three main sites: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir & Gulfoss. Expect to spend about 4.5-5 hours in the car of driving plus the time you're going to spend visiting each of the sites. Plan to give this outing a full day of your time in Iceland, and you'll definitely want to have your own car to get you from place to place as there is no public transport.

While those are the three main anchors of the Golden Circle with a few "tier two" options you can add-in, I'm adding in a few extras of my own that I think really make the day all the better.

 


ICELAND'S GOLDEN CIRCLE DAY TRIP

 

THINGVELLIR

 

This is the first stop you'll make on the Golden Circle is at Thingvellir National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is worth visiting for a few reasons.

1. It is the meeting plate of the North American and Europe/Asia tectonic plates. In between the two plates there is an enormous rift valley that offers a stunning view of how these two pieces of the world fit together.

2. It is the site of the first parliament in Iceland was held here, which earns it a place as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 930AD, Althingi was held here at Thingvellir. There

3. You can scuba dive between the two plates in a fissure. Not only does this just sound amazingly cool- a dive between two tectonic plates!- but also, the water is stunningly clear. Don't expect to see loads of fish and sea life, but a chilly dip down into a gorgeous piece of the world.

 

SKAHOLT

In between Thingvellir and lunch, we had an hour of time to kill. We headed to Skaholt- a tiny stop that was about 20 minutes away from lunch. There we visited the tiny country church of Skaholt. A modern-ish church that is bright and airy inside. While the church is quaint and sweet to see, the visit is made more worthwhile to a visit downstairs where you can see the sarcophogas of a Bishop from the 1500's. Also, outside the church is a replica of an older Icelandic church- complete with grass and flowers growing on the roof.

 

FRIDHEIMAR

When the idea of stopping in a greenhouse for lunch was suggested, I was a bit.... ho hum at the thought. However, I'm glad I was convinced to go because we had such a great time. When you visit Fridheimar, you can get an introduction to how this small family-run greenhouse manages to sustain year-round growth of such high-quality tomatoes. But the fun doesn't stop there.... eat lunch at the restaurant for the full experience! For the basic version (what we did), eat the homemade tomato soup and fresh baked bread. Eat as much as you like of both- alongside fresh butter, creme fraiche and cucumber salsa.... oh, and fresh basil you can clip right off the potted plant at your table. (Book a table in advance so you don't have to wait!)

If you have time to visit their stables, it is also really fun. They did a show for us where they showed us all the five gaits of the Icelandic horse and then had tea & coffee for us in the stables afterwards. We drank coffee in the sunny September light and met the stars of the shows in their stables. It was casual and perfect.

Find out about booking a table, a horse show and all the rest on their site here.

 

Geysir

From Thingvellir, you'll want to continue on to Geysir. This is where we, in English, get the term geyser. It's a hot spring that, for years, was spitting out water ever few minutes. The classic Great Geysir has slowed down in recent years, but fortunately for the investors who built a massive and luxe visitor's center- the neighbor Strokkur Geysir is still going strong.  Go by and watch it blow hot water into the air, and then duck into the visitor's center for some coffee and a kleiner (homemade Icelandic donut). The gift shop is massive and full of great things, but notoriously more expensive than the same shop's offerings in Reykjavik- consider it a tourist tax?

 

GULFOSS

This waterfall, which translates from "Golden Falls" for the way the sunlight hits it in the summer evenings, is a great stop if you can only make it out of town for one waterfall. It's massive and easily accesible, and the various spots to view the enormous waterfalls are varied around the park, so you can migrate from far-off vantage points all the way up to the side of it where water will mist you will cold drops.

 

The scene is stunning- complete with rainbows scattered throughout the area from the constant mist and, with full admission, a considerable amount of fellow tourists. (But for good reason, you'll have a great time!)

 

HESTHEIMAR

After you've finished with the main attractions, head to Hestheimar for an evening ride on an Icelandic Horse. This small, family-run stable offers gorgeous trail rides throughout the day. (Fortunately for people like me, they work with people of all skill levels!)

 

We always spend the night out there and get dinner before the ride. It's always served in their cozy kitchen and is homemade and hearty. Think: homemade lasagna or roasted meats served hot bread from the oven and followed by warm apple cake and mugs of coffee. There are cabins available for rent, if you really want the full experience. (And by full, I of course mean, a misty morning in the Icelandic country and a hot breakfast of eggs and homemade pancakes covered in Nutella and powdered sugar.

 

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Looking for more tips and guides for Iceland? Check out my Iceland travel guide for all our favorite tops or my popular "Perfect Iceland Itinerary."



 

*images original to aspiring kennedy

 

Posted on September 7, 2016 and filed under day trips, iceland, travel.

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day... with Kids


I get emails from people asking for advice when traveling with kids: What do I do about jetlag? (Sadly, you only can suffer through it. No shortcuts. Expect one day for every hour in the other timezone before life gets back to normal.) What's the best stroller? (Quinny Moodd is great, in my books.) Do most places have highchairs in Europe? (England, yes. France/Italy, no. Stuff a cloth one like this in the bottom of your stroller.)

But over the past few years, I have come to develop a theory on dining out with children while traveling. You see, it's not that scientific, and I have a suspicion that other parents would feel the same... but it goes towards how to eat out with kids in a way that leaves everyone without trauma (you, them, other diners, and waitstaff!).

Basically, as parents, we know that children peak early in the day. As the day progresses, the behavior becomes less and less reliable and long dinners out seem nearly impossible. I would agree with this, too. The thought of bringing Harrison to dinner at 8pm in Paris makes me sweat. So where does that leave us? Sititng at home and never leaving the house? Packing sandwiches to eat in a corner of a park for every meal?

Nah. I couldn't get all those croissant shots for Instagram from my house. Here's what we do. I'll break it down meal by meal to help talk through each section of the day.

 

BREAKFAST

We eat out at the most gloriously gorgeous place for breakfast when we travel. Gorgeous hotels, amazing restaurants, fancy sunlit spots... you name it, we gladly haul our crew there. First, because my kids can be the best behaved. Second, because those around us have different expectations for who "should be" dining around them at this meal. If a kid is rowdy in a candlelit room at night, eyes rolls. If kids chatter and wiggle at breakfast, it's no big deal. Third, we like this because breakfast- no matter how nice the place- is never going to break the bank. Even at the poshest of hotels and places, breakfast items stay around $10.

 

LUNCH

Lunch is always on the go when traveling. We don't want to go back to the hotel or apartment to do lunch, so it's going to be out. Since we have typically done something bigger for breakfast, we can get by with something a bit more casual for lunch. Cafes, picnic in the park, sidewalk tables... something easier that isn't too stuffy and won't mind kids being there.

 

DINNER

Tuck and run. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not put your familiy through the chaos of sitting through a long multi-course meal. I mean, if you kid is tiny enough to do it- go you. We took Viola everywhere for ages no matter the hour of the day and she did fine. Additionally, if they are old enough to not flip out from a detour from normal bedtime- enjoy it. But if you have more than one that is mobile and not logical, know your limits.

This is a big selling point to getting an AirBnB when you travel. It just gives you the option to go to the local markets (so fun!) and get stuff to cook dinner at home. After dinner, toss the kiddos in bed and unwind with your spouse. Besides, you know you need an early night in to usher in the next day and the inevitable early wakeup.

So there you have it. One of our secrets for sanity in traveling with kids: start big in the morning and work your way down throughout the day. It's better for everyone and still lets you do great eating without the risk of tears!

 

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Traveling with kids is so fun- you just have to adjust your expectations and rethink what normal looks like. It doesn't mean to skimp and go without on everything. (Okay, some things have to go like sleeping in.) This is an easy way to still eat well and keep that integral part of the travel experience still on the table... just with a twist that helps it work for young families.

Please share some tips that help your family when traveling/eating. I'd love to hear the success stories from others!

 



 

*Images by Grant Schol. Original to Aspiring Kennedy.

 

 

Posted on August 30, 2016 and filed under babies, eat, travel, kids.