January 08, 2017

A Not-Resolution Resolution for 2017


Last year's travel wish list ended up... busting, to state it mildly. Between adjusting to a baby, saving our pennies for our three week trip to Germany, managing a full time job and buying a house, we didn't go very many places. Out of the sixteen items and two bonus items on that list, I completed six.

Womp womp.

So this year, rather than posting specific travel and lifestyle wish list items, I am simply resolving to be present and to do.

Simple enough to manage even for a working wife and mother, right?

By the end of this year, I want to look back and identify at least one new thing for every month, no matter how simple. I want to be present in my hometowns (Charlottesville and Richmond, Va.) and to do things here. While I'll always hunger for going somewhere else, during this time of having to stay closer to home, I want to make the most of it and discover why people come visit this area. Because they do! And they do so to experience many things I have yet to do.

As one example, both Charlottesville and Richmond have vibrant food scenes, thanks to the plethora of restaurants that call this area home. This month I tried eggplant for the first time at an Afghan restaurant here in C'ville. If I accomplish nothing else in the next three weeks, at least I can claim that as a new experience for January! The food was delicious, and I loved how the decor transported me to another corner of the world.

So now I just need to compile a rough idea of things to do and see in our area (and maybe one or two out of state things we can squeeze in?). If you were to come to central Virginia, what sort of things would you like to do or see?


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January 03, 2017

2017 - Two Is Better Than One


Happy 2017, everyone! Surprise (or no surprise), the Gypsy family is expanding yet again! It's time to prepare for another passport purchase when Baby #2 makes their appearance in early July. We seem to have a knack for holiday babies (our daughter arrived on Christmas eve 2015), so I would not be surprised if we end up with an Independence Day babe. Anyone want to place a bet?!

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While many were relieved to see the backside of 2016 and welcomed 2017 with cautious optimism, we enjoyed a wonderful 2016 and feel that 2017 has some big shoes to fill. We enjoyed so many firsts. Our 2016 began with a new outlook on life, seeing the world through the eyes of a newborn. From outings to staycations to visiting new places and revisiting favorites, we took Baby Gypsy everywhere with us. While traveling is a completely different ball game with a child, it is not only completely doable, but something we highly recommend, both for your child's sake and yours. It has compelled Danny and I to work better as a team and permitted us to experience the world in a new way as we share it with our little one. While Baby #2 will keep our hands even more full, I can't wait to take this newest little one near and far, too! Visiting Germany in 2018 for the World Cup sounds like a great idea. Time to turn these littles into Mannschaft fans - Mia san mia, y'all!

Admittedly, our travels in 2016 were few and far between compared to previous years, but this was only partly due to having a little one. We began looking for a house in the early spring, and by summer, we were under contract. We took a few trips around the state (bumping into Ozzy Osbourne while he filmed a TV show at Jamestown was one highlight), took a couple trips up to Amish country in Pennsylvania, and spent three glorious weeks in Bavaria visiting Danny's German relatives. But with the impending purchase of the house, we were mindful of our finances and satisfied ourselves with exploring our two closest cities - Richmond and Charlottesville, Va. - instead of more exotic international destinations. 2017 will likely also be a more subdued travel year due to Baby #2's mid-year arrival, but with so many things to see in our state (let alone our whole country), I'm sure we'll have more than a few new things to enjoy!

With so many things on our plate regarding home ownership and new baby, I daren't even make a 2017 travel wishlist because it's likely I won't accomplish a single thing! However, I am resolving to be more present in the present - spending less time mindlessly scrolling online and being more efficient with what time I do spend in cyberspace. Plus, let's face it - having one kid is time-consuming enough, but two?! My poor blog is going to be so neglected! However, I still maintain a presence on Instagram with photos from past trips and recent excursions. But unless or until I win that coveted lottery and can achieve stay-at-home-trophy-wife-and-mama status, I can't promise that my blogging frequency will improve. :) But I shall try!

What's going on in your lives?!

Regensburg with the little and my sister in law

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December 07, 2016

Tales from the Icelandic Coast


So I've been to Iceland.

Okay, so I've been to the Iceland airport. Twice! But unfortunately, even by my own rules, that doesn't count.

Luckily for this blog, however, my dear friend Sierra traveled to Iceland earlier this year on her honeymoon and has a few anecdotes and photos to share from her adventures in Iceland!

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Honeymooning in Fire & Ice
I’m Sierra Brown. I am a Charlottesvillian, a wife, an adventurer, and I am a WAHOO. I have three major passions (in no particular order): travel, outdoor adventures, and food. So, when it was time to choose a honeymoon destination, my husband and I thought Iceland would surely feed these passions. We were right!

We did the Iceland stopover option with IcelandAir on our way back from England (also wonderful, but in different ways). We took 4 days, but really only had 2 full days to explore. Our trip was at the end of May, which was great because Reykjavik wasn’t too crowded yet and prices for hotels were still reasonable. Also, the sun went down just enough to give us that dusk effect and helped us sleep a little. The downside to going in May was that some tours are not available yet due to snow and ice blocking the way in higher elevations. Nonetheless, we booked some great tours to explore the beautiful landscape and had plenty of daylight to explore the cute town of Reykjavik.

Most folks who travel to Iceland for a short time do the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle tour and catch some hot spring, waterfalls, and glacier highlights. We are not most folks. Our adventures started with a trip in a tricked-out, off-roading, monster van driven by a tiny, beautiful, blonde Icelander. She picked us up from our hotel and drove us and a small group out across moss-covered lava fields down into a lava tube. After a short walk into the cave, she asked us all to turn off our lights then shared some traditional scary stories and lullabies. They love spooky bumps in the night—I guess it comes from all the winter darkness. After that, we crawled through some very low ceilings. My husband stood up on the other side just long enough to catch his toe and topple head-over-heels into a 4-foot-deep hole, breaking his left hand in 2 spots. Although they had a walk-in clinic just up the street from our hotel, we weren’t about to waste a minute in a doctor’s office. So, on to a pub for an expensive recovery beer instead (we got him patched up at home a few days later).

Reynisdrangar beach
Our second day of touring was spent on the Southern Coast of Iceland. Once again, we were picked up, but this time in a GIANT off-roading bus. Our driver drove us down the scenic ring road several hours past the snowcapped Eyjafjallajökull (E15) volcano and water walls that fell from cliffs and disappeared into the wind before hitting the ground. We first stopped to explore the black sand beaches of Reynisdrangar with giant monoliths, sea caves, and basalt towers then on to the town of Vik for lunch. After a hot bowl of lamb stew, we met our guides and geared up for our trek on Sólheimajökull glacier. This was incredible. The ashy soil covered the glacier in spots, which validated the nickname of “Mordor” for the front of the glacier.

On the way back we stopped at two enormous waterfalls: Skógafoss waterfall and Seljalandsfoss waterfall (made famous in a Justin Bieber music video). Seljalandsfoss has a path that goes behind the falls, and you can take in the beautiful landscape through the pouring water. It’s pretty epic!

Selijalandsfoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall

Ok... Let’s talk about food!

We started our first afternoon with a trip to the 10-11, a small convenient grocery store, for peanut butter, jelly, bread, skyr (thick Icelandic yogurt), chips, and bottled water (the water at our hotel was very sulfurous). Although the store had many more traditional options like dried fish, we stuck with the basics to keep in our room.

After out shopping, we hit up the Public House/Café and tried their “Best of Iceland” tapas sampler.
  • Grafinn Lundi – Cured Puffin
  • Timianreykt Bleikja - Arctic Charr on a senbei cracker
  • Hreindyr - Reindeer w/ Icelandic Blue cheese
  • Haegeldadur Lambaskanki – Lamb shank in an Icelandic donut
  • Viking Beer sampling
All of which was A-MAZING!

We ate a few more meals in town. I would recommend them all: crepes at Eldur and Is, pizza (bacon, maple syrup, spinach, and apple!) at Eldsmiðjan, coffee at Te & kaffi, and sushi from Sushibarinn delivered to us during trivia!

Although Reykjavik is known for its wild club scene going all night, the restaurant scene closes up early. You had better get your dinner before 9:00 PM because everything closes after that—which seemed extra strange because it was still so light out. However, if you get an early start on dinner, you’ll be more likely to catch the abundant and necessary happy hour specials to cope with the insane alcohol prices. We popped into a few places for drinks: The Lebowski Bar (Big Lebowski themed) and Dillon Whiskey Bar (which sits on top the Chuck Norris Grill). We even managed to WIN a few free drinks in a game of trivia at Kofinn. All the questions were based on American movies—WINNING! They gave us each a Viking lager and a shot of Hot & Sweet, a traditional licorice liquor.


I’m afraid that even with all my ramblings, I haven’t fully captured the complete awesomeness, quirkiness, and wild nature of this country, the landscape, the people, or their capital. You’ll just have to experience it yourself. Get going!


All photos are by Sierra Brown and are used with permission for this article. Images can not be used without expression permission of the owner.

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