Did I mention that we went on amazing trip over the summer? Because, yeah, there was that. I’m normally a total Type-A when it comes to planning for vacations but with the Alabama move on the horizon and selling a house on one side of the country while simultaneously building a home on the other side, well, the truth is that this trip waylaid me. Really. I went into it having planned practically nothing. It was a good thing that the majority of the trip was via cruise ship with built-in entertainment because I just was not prepared. The good news is that despite my unpreparedness, we had an incredible time. I’m sharing both photos and details with you in this, my virtual trip diary–no passport required.
The trip began in London. It was the first time my boys had ever taken a spin on the tube.
This was my second visit to London and–just like before–I found it to be such a lovely city. On our first full day we visited Westminster Abbey. If ever you are in London you simply must go. It’s gorgeous indeed, but also just so mind boggling. Before visiting I had never set foot in so massive a house of worship. The building itself is huge with all these little side rooms and tombs. Yes, tombs. As in, places where bodies are buried. There is an astounding number of people buried within the actual church building and below the floor. The self-guided audio tour is a quick and easy way to learn some fascinating history.
Our hotel in London–the Doubletree Westminster–offered us a very convenient location from which to tour. We were within walking distance of a number of attractions, including Big Ben. We walked past it one night on our way back to the room. I did my best to capture a photo. Can’t you just see Peter Pan and Tink fluttering around up there? No? Just me? Moving right along then.
Our stay in London also included a trip to the Borough Market–a first for me. It was love at first bite–er, I mean sight. The Borough Market is an awesome outdoor market that features not only fresh fruits and veggies but also artisan breads and cheeses and just about every other product you can imagine. I could have spent an entire day wandering around from stall to stall.
After three whirlwind days in London we hopped on a plane and headed to Copenhagen. We were there for just about a day and a half, so not a ton of time to explore the city before we boarded the Disney Magic. We did, however, eat at Mother pizza one night. The design itself was absolutely charming. Look at this beautiful table setting. The pizza was not as impressive, sadly–totally overrated in my opinion. The next night we ate at a restaurant called Tight. It, unlike Mother, surpassed my expectations. We enjoyed a delicious meal.
The most noteworthy of the touristy things we did was visit Nyhavn. It’s a quaint street on a canal with colorful buildings and a bustle of activity. The street is lined with bars and sidewalk cafes. We were there in late June and it was quite cold. We thought it was cute that all the sidewalk cafes had blankets draped over the chairs and space heaters to keep guests toasty warm. Jeff had a beer and I enjoyed a glass of wine at one of the sidewalk cafes while listening to live music. It was a quintessential Copenhagen thing to do; we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.
As I mentioned, though, it was quite cold. I couldn’t resist snapping a quick photo of my cold weather footwear on the cobblestone streets.
And speaking of the cobblestone streets…they were so charming. I just love wandering down side streets in the world’s greatest cities; there is always a pleasant view in store.
While in Copenhagen, we also visited Tivoli, the amusement park that inspired Walt Disney to build Disneyland. Given my love of Disney I’m definitely glad we went, though I can’t say I’d visit again. Mostly Jeff and I escorted Jayce from ride to ride–not my idea of a great time. I think we would have enjoyed it more if the weather hadn’t been so chilly. They typically have live music and several gardens to wander through.
We boarded the Disney Magic the next day for the first of our twelve nights aboard. Our first port stop was Oslo, Norway. I came prepared for cold weather but for the first several days of our cruise I found myself to be terribly overdressed. Our day in Oslo was beautiful. We enjoyed sunny skies and temperatures that bordered on hot. Oslo was one of the few port stops for which I had planned an excursion. We spent that day at a climbing park set high on a mountain top. There were several courses of obstacles and ziplines for us to maneuver. Both Jeff and I were shocked that there was very little in the way of training before the guides set us loose in the park, allowing us to belay our own lines. It was the teensiest bit unnerving for me to watch my nine-year-old hook himself in without a professional there to double-check that he hadn’t missed something. I can’t say that the edge ever wore completely off, but we did spend most of our day climbing and we had a crazy fun time in Oslo.
We had two more stops in Norway: Kristiansand and Stavanger. I had not made plans for either stop so we simply disembarked the ship and walked around in each port. I love port cities that allow us to do something adventurous and fun, but so, too, do I love the ones that are ideal for wandering around with some cash and my camera. Both Kristiansand and Stavanger fit the bill. We explored all that each stop had to offer in the way of browsing shops and photo opportunities.
As the ship pulled out of Stavanger we went on deck to wave goodbye to the passengers of another ship that was in port that day. While we were on deck, we experienced just a bit of serendipity with regard to the send-off song. Take a quick listen. :)
From Norway, the Disney Magic set sail for Iceland and boy did we experience a swift temperature change after crossing through the Arctic Circle. Yikes, it was cold! We arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland on July 4th. As we sailed into port there was a super fun and festive party in the Atrium Lobby during which every patriotic song ever to have been recorded was blasted from the speakers. There was dancing and red, white and blue confetti and face painting, too. Outside the ship–on deck–there was the opportunity to spot a few whales. Fun day! This is the view that was opposite the ship in port.
Idyllic, no? But that was just the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Compared to the Norwegian ports we visited, Reykjavik lacked charm. It’s a far more industrial looking city with clean lines and boxy architecture. Luckily what it lacks in charm it makes up for in undisturbed natural beauty. On our second day in Reykjavik we rented a car and drove a portion of the Golden Circle. We saw the most gorgeous scenery. Iceland is an absolutely beautiful country.
We got out of the car at one point to say hello to some friendly Icelandic horses that were gathered near the side of the road.
We had one final stop in Iceland: Akureyri. Again, I had nothing planned so we opted to simply browse for some great souvenirs to take home. It was another really, really cold day. Luckily, I was prepared for it with a head wrap I bought in Copenhagen.
Jeff and I left Jayce on the ship that day and went to shore alone. We found a cozy little cafe on a hilltop and ordered two chai lattes. They were served to us with a two-inch thick layer of cream on top–think along the lines of the perfect mix between airy whipped cream and a thick custard and you can imagine the texture of that delicious concoction. I have no idea how they did it, but it was quite yummy. The last stop on our cruise before we disembarked in Dover was Kirkwall, Scotland. I was so excited for this stop because I had arranged to tour the island by bike. I’m sure it would have been a lovely way to spend the day had it not been for a bitter, cutting wind that seized the island that day. It was downright frigid! Rather than brave the wind by bike, we opted to duck into a church to have a look around. Yet again, it was a beautiful church. We saw so many during this trip.
The Disney Magic’s stop in Kirkwall marked the first time she had ever called on a Scottish port. You can bet that the residents there were overjoyed to host her, too. As we were about to set sail after our day there, what seemed to be the entire population of the small town came to the port to see us off. They had signs and flags and Mickey hands waving goodbyes. They even had a Scottish band come and play.
I’m not sure that my photos do our travels justice. It was an unforgettable trip that included some unique destinations that I doubt we’ll ever get back to. I’m happy to answer any questions on the comments if you’ve got ’em. Cheers!