All posts by Sean Kuriyan

Why blog about travel?

I’ve been asking myself this question quite a lot over the past few days. I’ve been asking myself this mainly because I’ve procrastinated writing about my travels. I half-wrote one post the first week and then didn’t touch it till almost a month later. I’ve been feeling guilty about how far behind I am on writing so I figured writing about it could help get me into the mood to write (type?) and perhaps re-affirm the reasons I wanted to do this. Bonus? Maybe one of you reading this actually cares to know!

So here goes:

  • I’ve been wanting to put my thoughts out there in a blog format for many years now. I’ve brushed it aside many times because I wanted to write about a variety of topics and did not really know where to start. Setting a temporary focus for my blog (travel) is helping me kickstart and set my website up for the grand plan I have.
  • A website seemed like the best medium for me to share my travels with friends and family. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to communicate as much as I wanted through social media. In many ways it felt restrictive and even though I’ve only written one post, I can say I’m glad I chose to share my travels via a webpage.
  • One may ask, why share at all? Why not just enjoy those experiences and leave it at that. Well, I have had so many wonderful, meaningful and interesting conversations with people when I have been able to show them pictures and share the stories of the places I’ve visited. I may not always remember the highlights of the places I visited but I could use this as a reference the next time I need to.
  • A well written post about my experiences in a new city almost feels like a souvenir from there.
  • I’ve always enjoyed providing easy to use travel recommendations for people and what better way to do it than a website?
  • I (obviously) really care about travel and believe everyone should travel to new places often if they have the means. I love learning about new cultures, traditions and ways of life. I’m hoping writing about my travels will inspire more people to travel to those places and this in turn will make the world a little smaller and perhaps more understanding (yes i know this is corny).
  • A few people asked that I blog and share my travels and being almost 3 months behind makes me feel guilty!
  • Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give up on the missions I set for myself. Even though this task is 100% self-imposed, I set it for myself and now I must follow through.

Denmark: Copenhagen

Location:

Copenhagen, Denmark

Time Spent:

5 days

Summary

Copenhagen was where I really felt like I started my Europe Trip. The feeling that my journey had begun really hit me when I met my friend getting off the metro station. The streets, the weather, the people around was everything I had imagined it to be like in my head and better. Perhaps it was all the excitement or really the case – nevertheless, I soaked it all in.

At this point I must warn the reader – I didn’t do a “lot” in Copenhagen, so if you’re here for travel tips skim down to the very bottom of the page. Copenhagen was my first proper stop and a break from the crazy few weeks I had prior to my trip so I really took the time to relax, get rested, hang out with my friend and do some planning for the rest of the journey.

I did create a short video of some of the places I went to. I wish I had done a bit of video editing before my trip because almost half of my footage until I edited my first video is going to be useless. More on this in another blog post..

Fun Fact:

Copenhagen is also written in Danish as København (yea, not so fun fact? – like i said I did a lot of resting and sleeping here less fun fact learning)

Sights I saw:

 

Food & Drinks

Language & Culture:

 

Phrases & Words I learnt:

Hygge

Currency:

Danish Krone

Music:

 


Tips for Travelers:

The Good:
  • Was fairly easy to get around using public transport
The Bad:
  • N/A

Map:

Final Thoughts:

I am definitely going back to Copenhagen. Next time I go I’ll probably do a free walking tour if there’s one available and maybe even rent a bike (as long as it’s not too cold). Also on the list – Smørrebrød. Especially after it was featured in this Lonely planet list of top food experiences around the world.

Lastly..

Copenhagen Streets
One of my favorite shots of Copenhagen

Iceland: Reykjavik

Location:

Reykjavik, Iceland

Time Spent:

20 hours

Summary

I took a WOW Airlines flight from San Francisco to Copenhagen that had a 20 hour layover in Iceland. I only had time to visit the Blue Lagoon and walk around other parts of Reykjavik for a bit.  Even though my time here was short, this was a great place to start off my trip to Europe. The Blue Lagoon was very relaxing and a much needed break after the long journey and a busy few weeks of work, moving out and prepping for my trip.

Blue Lagoon
Outside the entrance to Blue Lagoon, Iceland

I took a bus transfer from Keflavik airport to the Blue Lagoon which took about 30 minutes. Here’s a quick video I made of my trip to the Blue Lagoon (It’s the first video I’ve ever edited and it was a fun experience. I have to say I have a lot more respect for people who make amazing travel videos now. It takes a lot of patience!)

Fun Fact:

During July there’s almost 21 hours of sunlight in Iceland. It really throws you off when it is 10 PM and it is still bright outside.

Sights I saw:

Blue Lagoon

I made my booking to Blue Lagoon only a couple of weeks before my trip. I went here directly from the airport and spent about 3 hours here. The Blue Lagoon is a geo-thermal spa that is rich in minerals like Silica which apparently has many healing properties. They even provide you a generous dollop of silica paste that you can apply as a face mask while you are in the water.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Inside the Blue Lagoon

Harpa Concert Hall

I took a the bus from Blue Lagoon to Harpa Concert Hall and walked around inside for a bit. The architecture and design inside the building was quite impressive.

Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa Concert Hall Ceiling

Hallgrímskirkja

The other landmark that I saw was the Hallgrimskirkja church. There’s an option to pay about $10 to go up to the top. It was nice to see the city from that vantage point but I didn’t think it was worth the price.

Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja Pipe Organ
Hallgrímskirkja Pipe Organ
Hallgrímskirkja Rooftop View
Hallgrímskirkja Rooftop Views
Hallgrímskirkja Rooftop View
Hallgrímskirkja Rooftop Views
Hallgrímskirkja Rooftop View
Hallgrímskirkja Rooftop Views
Food & Drinks

I didn’t really research where to eat so I just grabbed food at the first place I saw. The fisherman’s favorite was delicious but I didn’t love the Kleinur – it tasted like a donut without any of the sweetness that you would expect.

Icelandic Street Food

Fisherman's Favourite
Fisherman’s Favourite
Kleinur
Kleinur
Viking Beer
Viking Beer
Language & Culture:

Icelandic

It was very easy to communicate as everyone spoke English.  I did not get to interact with too many locals but all my interactions were pleasant. A couple of locals even went out of their way to help a girl I met on my flight retrieve her cell phone. She had left it behind at a charging station at the Information Center but because it was so bright outside, we did not for a moment think that it was night. A server at our restaurant made multiple phone calls until he was able to get a hold of someone who could open up the Information Center and help her get her phone. The guy who actually opened up the place had already gone home for the day and had to drive some distance to come back yet he did not complain once about the inconvenience! I think small acts like these really form a lasting impression of a country and it’s people – sometimes even more than the sights you see.

Phrases & Words I learnt:

Takk: Thank you
Velkomminn: Welcome

Currency:

Kroner

I actually never had to withdraw any cash during my layover. My credit card & Samsung Pay was accepted  everywhere.

Music:

There was American music playing everywhere. I discovered an REM song on my bus to Blue Lagoon.


Tips for Travelers:

The Good:
  • Free Wi-Fi everywhere
The Bad:
  • Expensive

Map:

This map only contains the places I went to in Reykjavik. Obviously, there is a lot more to do there.

Iceland is pretty expensive. WOW Airlines always has great offers for traveling to Europe but if you don’t do your research you could end up spending just as much as you would on another airline on your 20 hour layover. Expect to pay at least 15-20 dollars per meal. Transportation is very expensive as well. Renting a car is probably the most economical option.

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t really get to experience the culture or learn about Iceland’s history due to the short layover. I’m hoping to go back some day to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. A couple of my friends have visited Iceland and they went to the waterfalls and geysers nearby which I hope to do on my next trip to Iceland!