Saturday, April 16, 2011


A wonderful opportunity presented itself on Thursday. Sarah received an invitation for a speaking event at the Embassy of Iceland from a colleague at the World Affairs Council. The ambassador of Iceland himself, Hjalmar W. Hannesson would be speaking. Of course, after about 2.5 seconds of consideration I jumped at the invitation to join her! I cannot explain the countless times I have walked by the House of Sweden, which is home to the Embassy of Iceland, and marveled at its chic, contemporary architecture. This would be a fantastic chance to finally see the inside of this towering, beautiful structure.

To our surprise, the location changed a few hours prior to the event. It would be held at the Ambassador's residence! I had never been to one before, so I was very excited and scared at the same time, knowing well that this meant the party would be intimate. Not knowing much about Iceland, beside what I could gather from Wikepedia and Google Images, I made it a point to read up as much as possible on current events.

After a traffic-ridden ride up to NW DC, Sarah and I finally got to the residence. The homes were absolutely beautiful! We were greeted at the door by the ambassador himself, and were told to head straight to the open bar-like area. There was wine, water, sodas and vodka-obviously we had to try the Icelandic vodka with soda.

Ambassador Hannesson began to speak. He made a wonderful speech regarding Icelandic history, U.S. relations, economics, etc. We couldn't help but laugh multiple times at his jabs toward whaling, the use of the term "Scandinavian" and such. The evening got even better, with a full dinner being offered, consisting of Herring (yes, I tried and loved it!), rice, glazed chicken, a tomato and onion salad, vegetable lasagna and the infamous Icelandic Thunder Bread. I can now say that I have tried this and highly recommend it. It is a dark brown bread, with a slightly sweet taste, originally made by placing dough in sealed pots and putting them into geothermal hot springs.

Overall, the evening ended splendidly. Not only did we get advice on what tour to take in Reykjavik from the ambassador's wife, but we also received similar information from Ambassador Hannesson. According to him, we must try whale, shark and Brennivin (also dubbed "Black Death"). Check! Another three must-try items added to our list, and another successful step toward Europe! Skál! (cheers in Icelandic)

Monday, April 4, 2011

And the trip planning begins...

Last night, Sarah and I sat down in her dining room and decided we needed to start planning how to cross the pond into Europe. We both go to grad school together and were accepted for a month-long symposium on peace and conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation. The best part- the symposium takes place in Bologna, Italy.

Since we're dedicating a full month to intensive paper-writing, seminar-attending and workshops, we decided, "why not travel before and after?!".

After a night of playing around with numerous airline websites and the oh-so-handy Wikipedia, we decided to be spontaneous and book our flights to Iceland, London and Bologna. Iceland?? Yes, Iceland. Odd, but we found a stopover in this beautiful nation to be cheaper than a direct flight to Italy.

So here we start our adventure, two flights to Europe...check!