Saturday, May 13, 2017

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Back in December, Jon and I decided to go on a quick weekend away close by for a "baby moon" while I was 35 weeks pregnant. We were also celebrating Jon's birthday so it was nice to get away for some much needed relaxation and child-free time.

We decided on a bed and breakfast about an hour and 15 minutes away in Charlestown, West Virginia near Harpers Ferry. We wanted something that would have some light walking or hiking and I wanted a bed and breakfast that had a cozy feel with a fireplace in the room. Bonus points, this b&b had a spa and small restaurant for its guests. The bed and breakfast wasn't housed in one building. It was more like many small buildings located on a large piece of land - very quiet and very serene.

The "lobby" of the main house

Our house for the weekend

The path to the main house, aka where the food was!

The main house and restaurant
We arrived early and stopped at the local grocery mart before chilling for the afternoon. I was a little hesitant to go inside, but this mama needed her snacks and water for the room.

We had signed up for a five course meal at the bed and breakfast that was to be served in the main house seating area. We were in a small room with three other couples (we each had our own table) and feasted on local, fresh food that the chef whipped up for us. It was a great experience and a tasty dinner!

The next morning we drove to Harpers Ferry. The area has gorgeous views of the Potomac and Shenandoah river valleys, as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are a plethora of hiking trails to choose from, and if I wasn't so far along in my pregnancy we would have spent the whole day hiking and admiring the scenery. We chose to walk up to Jefferson Rock since it's right in town, a very short walk up, and has great views of the area. We climbed from the downtown area, went past a church, past a cemetery, and up to the rock. The scenery was breathtaking and was well worth the climb.

35 weeks!

The rock
Afterward, we walked across the Railroad Bridge Tunnel into Maryland.

We spent some time walking around the cute, quaint town, passing by 1800s reenactments and Christmas caroling. We bought some gifts for ourselves and for Julia, got some food from a local restaurant, and warmed up inside.

We had a couples massage scheduled in the late afternoon at our b&b so we headed back to chill a little in the room. For Jon's birthday we headed into Charlestown and had a big steak dinner followed by some time in the casino where we basically threw away our money at the craps table.

We had a quiet morning inside the room sitting by the fireplace and then packed up to go. This was a great getaway and definitely was a relaxing trip before our little one was born. We'd love to go back and do some of the more strenuous hikes!

At breakfast 
The B&B

Tiny house

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Iceland Part VII: A Relaxing Hike on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

We had been trying to decide what to do with this day for a few days. It was our "free" day, so we had a ton of options to choose from. It took us a while to figure out what we wanted to do - we ultimately were deciding whether to do a long hike to see Glymur waterfall or find something to do on the peninsula. We decided against Glymur since it was over an hour away, apparently very popular and therefore crowded, and from what we read, a little more strenuous than I was hoping for. We were so happy with our choice to stay on the peninsula!

We relaxed a little in the morning and then set off to Snæfellsjökull National Park where we had a couple of hikes planned. After driving around for a bit we finally found the start of the hike we wanted. Rauðholl is a cone shaped crater that was created in an eruption about 5,000-8,000 years ago. There was a nicely marked path that we took to circumnavigate the crater that then took us to a lovely waterfall. We were completely alone with no one in sight! The scenery and weather were stunning so we parked ourselves for a good hour next to the waterfall and just enjoyed the tranquility of it all.

The start

Around the crater

We walked back to the car and drove further up the road to walk to Klukkufoss waterfall. This small waterfall fell over little basalt columns and was nice to sit and look at. We walked up further on the path hoping to find a larger waterfall called Snekkjufoss, but after walking for quite a bit we decided to make a detour towards the road and continue walking towards another area. We found ourselves walking in unmarked territory, with concerned sheep staring at us. We were never concerned though since we always kept the road in our view, and our shortcut led us right to the trail, and surprisingly the Snekkjufoss waterfall, which we were looking for.


Random bone that Jon found??


Hmm, now where is the car? 

We walked a little ways down the road and found our car. We drove back to our cottage and took advantage of our deck and down time. For dinner we drove to the fishing town of Borgarnes, about 45 minutes away. We thought there would be more to do here, even just an area to walk by the water, but we didn't see much. After driving through the small town we went to dinner, which was a delicious meal overlooking the water.

Dinner view

View from our cottage

What an amazing day we had! It was the perfect end to a perfect trip!

Our next day, which was our last day, we had big plans... not really. I actually needed to take a final for one of my masters classes and it had to be done on that day. It actually worked out since because we had to be at the airport at 3 and had to drive about 1.5 hours to Reykjavik (and then the 30 minutes to Keflavik) so we didn't plan much. So from 9-11 I took my final and then we checked out of our cottage and headed to the capital.

Since we had already been here we didn't feel the need to see anything major again. We walked around a different district as our main goal was to buy some artwork that we didn't get last time. After an hour or so we went to find some lunch (with our artwork in hand) and feasted on a delicious platter of fish and chips. Yum!

This was such an amazing trip and we're glad we made the decision to come back again!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Iceland Part VI: A Day on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

We slept in a little bit and enjoyed a nice breakfast of toast, cheese, and jam in our cute little cottage for two. Seriously, this place was calm and tranquil; I would love to stay there again!

We had a plan to drive around the whole peninsula while making stops in key places we wanted to see or explore. First on the list was Búðir church, a church covered in black that was built in 1703 and rebuilt in 1848. We made a point to come here for its idyllic setting in which the church overlooks a sweeping landscape of water and mountains.

Next we went to Rauðfeldsgjá, which is a massive crack in the mountain Botnsfjall, where you can ascend up a path and wedge yourself in. It doesn't look to be accessible from the road and it can be easily missed if you aren't looking for it. The gorge goes into the fissure where it keeps narrowing to where a stream begins. It is possible to go very far up, even as far as climbing up a rope under a small waterfall. We went into the fissure, and then Jon went a little more.

Next we stopped in the small fishing village of Arnastapi. We read about a nice easy coastal hike to do that would put us in the town of Hellnar where we could then have lunch. When we arrived we were impressed with the scenery. The arctic waters were laid out in front of us with a ton of space to enjoy everything around us.

The hike to Hellnar was about 2.5 km each way. It was an easy and scenic route that gave us beautiful views all around us. The trail goes on an ocean cliff and through lava fields so we were able to experience the different terrains that the area has to offer. It was so beautiful outside that we had to shed some layers and were able to just wear short sleeves. We had some lamb stew in Hellnar and then did the hike back to Arnastapi.

Next we stopped at a beautiful black sand beach named either Londrangar or Djúpalónssandur, I honestly can't remember which one.

Onward we went to the most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufell, whose name means Church Mountain. Kirkjufell sits just outside the town of Grundarfjörður and is situated right on the water adjacent to a small waterfall, which makes it very picturesque.

We stopped in Grundarfjörður at a cute little cafe and had some hot chocolate and coffee before moving on and driving back to our cottage. We relaxed for a couple hours before leaving for Stykkishólmur to have dinner. On the way to dinner we stopped at some lava fields nearby and had some fun with pictures.

The fishing dock where Walter Mitty runs to get the bike



Next up, another day on the Snæfellsnes peninsula!