It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four weeks since I landed in Playa del Carmen. Between switching apartments, fixing our broken wifi, and meeting an endless parade of wonderful new friends the time has just flown by. We have yet to take a single trip outside of town, but I’m happy with our days here. We get work done, take long walks on the beach and grab a few cervezas with friends in the evening. It’s exactly what we came down here to do.
But what fun are words when you can have pictures, right? So here’s a quick glimpse into our life in Playa via – what else? – Instagram!
I can’t believe it’s been three years since I started this blog. AND that I’m coming up on my five-year anniversary as a digital nomad, which practically makes me an elder in the nomadic community. AND that this is the year of my 30th birthday. It’s pretty obvious at this point that I should be the girl who’s got everything figured out.
But I’ve never been one for “should.”
Almost 30-something-people “should” own a house, have a proper career and be thinking about popping out babies. If that’s what you’re into, more power to you! But it’s not me. I go with my gut in life, and my gut tells me that I need to be planning a trip to Africa right now. And possibly writing a book.
Did you read Part 1? Good! Let’s continue with Part 2 of my epic adventure in the land of ice & fire…
I mentioned that our guide Jon (“like Jon Snow!”) has a ton of Game of Thrones knowledge. We discussed the Lord of Bones and Mance Rayder, Orell and the book-only character Varamyr Sixskins. We also went in-depth into the Lord of the Rings universe, which bears a striking resemblance to many parts of Icelandic landscape and myth, as well as hearing tons about the history, geology, legend and culture of Iceland. This man is a fountain of knowledge.
Apparently the Icelandic history books are written a lot like A Song of Ice and Fire. Throughout their history, different chapters have been written from different perspectives. You’ll be following one family for a while until one chapter… BOOM! They’re all dead and you’re reading about someone completely new. Sound familiar?
When Jon, known as The Traveling Viking, picked us up for our Game of Thrones tour he instantly felt like an old friend. After introducing himself (“Call me Jon, like Jon Snow!”) and immediately launching into a discussion of the Prince That Was Promised legend from the books, I knew this was going to be a wonderfully geeky tour.
We were about to embark on a journey “beyond the wall” – the land of vikings, trolls, and, of course, wildlings. The team at HBO chose Iceland’s gorgeous wilderness to represent the wild, snow-covered regions North of the Seven Kingdoms for good reason. The series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, and you could hardly find a better place to represent that than Iceland. Full of glaciers, hot springs, icy rivers and explosive volcanoes, Iceland could easily fit in George R.R. Martin’s world of dragons and white walkers.
The East Coast of the US was absolutely covered in a blanket of white last night. Here in DC we only got a few inches, but it was just enough to merit a snowy photo shoot! We’ve got icicles, snow-covered branches and frosty Christmas lights, but my favorite were these cute little lamps and their funny white hats.
As I look back over my shoulder at the year that was 2013 I’m amazed we managed to squeeze it all in! We went west around the world starting in Hawaii and finishing in Iceland, stopping at dozens of points in between to eat, laugh and marvel at the beauty of our planet. It was a year of green islands, wild countryside and amazing beer with new friends.
One of my favorite things about visiting Iceland in December is the festive holiday atmosphere that emanates from every street, house, hotel and bar. Everything is shiny and bright – including people’s smiles!
Cafes cover their ceilings in garlands and shiny baubles, dozens of delicious Christmas beers become available, and even Reykjavik’s famous hot dog stand gets decked out in holiday colors!
Tomorrow is the winter solstice, when the entire Northern Hemisphere is at its darkest point all year. The North Pole will be tilted a perfect 23.5 degrees away from the sun, and everyone in the Arctic Circle is in 24 hours of darkness. But starting Sunday we’ll gain a little bit of daylight each day, moving ever closer to summer. (Or, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s about to get a little bit darker. Which is also cool!)
This was probably the craziest adventure I had this year, and that’s really saying something!
Everyone thought we were insane. Except, of course, the wonderful people who run Iceland Travel and Arctic Adventures, the companies who send crazy tourists like us out on snorkeling, diving, ice climbing, and caving adventures year-round, cold weather be damned!
As we drove through the snow and ice to the snorkeling site in Þingvellir National Park, our guide Sarah told us not to worry. The water sits at around 2°C, MUCH warmer than the -10°C we were experiencing above the water!
You’re feeling reassured right now, aren’t you? I can tell.
A hot summer day in Germany is just what my winter-chilled brain needs to think about right now!
Just a quick train ride out of Berlin, Potsdam was the residence of the kings and Kaisers, so it’s got plenty of opulence to go around. It’s endless gardens and grand palaces are a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Hope your weekend is off to a similarly epic start!