2017 - The Surznick Common Room

Friday, April 28, 2017

Lately... (X)

Hi there, it's us! It's been eerily quiet around here, huh? Apologies for the radio silence. We've just been... living, I guess. Our weeks have been filled with work and our weekends with chores, fun, and relaxing when we can (I've been watching a lot of Fixer Upper.) None of it has felt very "blog worthy" (except this bacon shiplap screenshot below.)

I'm not really sure what changed, but ever since returning from our trip in February, I've felt less attached to social media. I scroll through Instagram maybe every other day and post even less. It's kind of freeing, but at the same time I feel like I'm missing out sometimes.

Anyway, we do miss sharing here and wanted to pop in to give a little update on our lives. We're still trying to figure out how we want to move forward with posting content regularly but not working ourselves to the bone just to have something to say here. We hope you stick with us while we figure it out.

Killer sunrise taken after a morning run this week
Wedding Things
If you missed our last post on #MeetTheMeowburg wedding plans, check it out here. Not much has changed since then, but we did 100% confirm our venue! It's beautiful and totally us and we're stoked to get married there.

My mom is coming to visit us soon and while she's here we are going to make my bouquet. I'll share a tutorial on that once it's done! The flowers I purchased are faux, but so beautiful. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

This weekend we're going to try and get the guest list ready so we can send out save the dates. And we're hoping to nail down a photographer soon!

Concerts and Other Fun Things
In early April we drove to Cleveland to see New Found Glory on their 20 year anniversary tour. IT WAS AWESOME. I saw NFG for the first time in 8th grade on their Sticks and Stones tour and saw them several more times in the years following. I will never grow tired or ashamed of the music I loved as a teen and getting to see NFG perform Sticks and Stones and their self-titled album in their entirety in one night was a DREAM.

Popped into East End on a sunny Saturday afternoon
Speaking of music I loved in 8th grade... tonight we'll be heading to emo karaoke at Mr. Smalls. This is easily becoming our favorite monthly tradition. Live band karaoke with only songs you know and love? It's the best.

This month we also went to Howl at the Moon (a piano bar) for our friend Jess's birthday, babysat our cute little niece Cece, spent a day brewing beer with our friends Sarah and Sam for their upcoming wedding, attended a vegan dinner with some of our favorite PGH blogging friends, and window-shopped at the Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer.

As the weather gets nicer, pretty much all I want to do is walk around neighborhoods and do fun city things. Any recommendations for cool things coming up in PGH?

Home Projects
We finished the dining room! If you have not yet checked out our post about it, or our post on the Home Depot blog, please do! I love seeing that pretty patterned wall every morning.

Now that the dining room is done, it's on to the master bedroom. We shared our plans for this awhile back but haven't gotten further than that yet. We just ordered our ceiling light fixture (that we also used in Nick's music room.) As soon as it arrives we'll have our electrician come in to swap out the massive ceiling fan for the new light and add some new outlets (all of our outlets are poorly placed.) Can't wait to see it all come together.

A few weeks ago Nick and our friend Geoff started a garden in our backyard. It started as mostly Geoff's project, as he needed space for his plants, but now it's everyone's little baby and we're excited to see how everything does. They planted tomatoes, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, wineberry, and strawberries. There are also a few prickly pear cacti in there that I hope to one day transfer to the front of our house. The only downfall so far is the deer. For living in the city, we have an insane amount of deer in our neighborhood and they eat everything. For now we've placed Irish Spring soap in cheesecloth bags all around the garden to deter them. It's semi-effective, but we're open to other recommendations. Send them our way!

We also started composting! It's going surprisingly well and we both feel awesome that our food scraps are not going right into the trash. We've also been very meticulously meal planning each week, so luckily we have less scraps/waste than we used to anyway. We'll share a post about how we started composting soon in case you're interested to try!

I think that's pretty much it? My best friend will be visiting from Alaska soon and I can't wait to see her! And in a couple weeks we'll be heading to Baltimore to see My Favorite Murder live. What have you been up to lately?

Sarah & Nick

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Before & After: Dining Room Makeover

Our joint living room-dining room area has been slowly progressing over the past 9 months and we are so close to being completely finished. So far you've seen our art prints above the sofa and our color-coded built-in bookcases, but today it's all about the dining room. We are SO EXCITED to work with Home Depot on this project and to finally share it with you!

Most of the beautiful after photos of the space are over on the Home Depot Blog, so make sure you go check that out! We wanted to put up this post so you could really get a feel for the ugly "before" space that we were working with:

Hard to believe we lived with this little table and mismatched chairs for so long. Today it is really a million times better. We updated our floor trim, cased and trimmed the window, added new window treatments, hung some floating shelves, and got a gorgeous new dining table. I also hand-painted the pattern on the wall (yes, that is NOT wallpaper!)

Sources (If I missed anything, let me know!):
Dining table
Eames chairs
Door paint
Pineapple door knocker
Round jute doormat
Wall paint
Cordless window shade
Floating shelves
Fiddle leaf fig (It's faux! Smaller size here)

For more details and photos, check out our post on the Home Depot blog! Thanks for reading and for your support!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, April 7, 2017

#MeetTheMeowburgs: The Plan

We've been engaged about a month and a half already and we're well on our way to planning our wedding. We knew we wanted to have a relatively short engagement, so with about 10 months to get everything figured out it feels like we're talking wedding stuff everyday.

To be honest, it's a little overwhelming. Most "wedding planning schedules" I've found are 12 months and we have less than 9 months to go. Also, I'm not someone that's been thinking about my wedding since childhood, so I didn't have anything in mind other than to marry Nick. We're figuring it ALL out as we go. But despite us not having any ideas for our wedding, we've been hearing, "You're going to have the coolest DIY wedding ever!" for years now. Long before we were even engaged. NO PRESSURE, RIGHT?

Just kidding (kind of.) It's actually been kind of hard for me to let go of outside expectations of our wedding and to just do what we want. Our favorite weddings that we've attended have been 100+ people, a full meal, open bar, tons of dancing, etc. The "typical" wedding, I guess. Even though people probably expect us to have a backyard wedding with a pizza buffet, it's not exactly what we're going for. Regardless, we have had a few requests to share everything about our wedding here on the blog, so we're going to get started today with the plan (thus far.)

Pittsburgh, of course! We 98% have our venue - we just need to sign the contract. Pretty excited about it though.

January 2018 - it'll be here before we know it! We'll actually be getting married on our 9 year dating anniversary, which is cute, but also we only have one date to remember forever, so it's convenient.

Wedding Party
We're not having one! This is a bit non-traditional, but picking out a wedding party felt more like picking out a MySpace Top 8 and we just didn't feel comfortable playing favorites with our friends/family (we love them all!) So we're going sans-wedding party.

If you couldn't already tell, we have a hashtag! Thanks to our friend Jess, we will be celebrating our wedding with #MeetTheMeowburgs. (Because cats + Malburg.)

I already bought a dress online! I just couldn't picture myself in a boutique trying on dress after dress with a bunch of people around, so I found something pretty online and bought it. I obviously can't talk much about it yet, but you'll see it in 9 months.

I'm making my own bouquet! I'm pretty excited about this too. I'll share a tutorial here (assuming all goes well, ha.)

I think that's it so far! What else do you guys want to know? I think our next things to figure out are photography and a DJ... any recommendations? Thanks for reading!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, March 31, 2017

Surznick Reads: March 2017

Another month come and gone already. I know we've been pretty quiet lately, but next week we'll give you an update on some of the wedding plans we've been making! In the mean time, here's what we read this month!

Sarah's Reads!

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists)
From Amazon.com: "Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life's most important things - which actually aren't things at all. At age 30, best friends Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus walked away from their six-figure corporate careers, jettisoned most of their material possessions, and started focusing on what's truly important. In their debut book, Joshua & Ryan, authors of the popular website TheMinimalists.com, explore their troubled pasts and descent into depression. Though they had achieved the American Dream, they worked ridiculous hours, wastefully spent money, and lived paycheck to paycheck. Instead of discovering their passions, they pacified themselves with ephemeral indulgences - which only led to more debt, depression, and discontent. After a pair of life-changing events, Joshua & Ryan discovered minimalism, allowing them to eliminate their excess material things so they could focus on life's most important 'things': health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution."

Nick bought this book a couple months ago after we watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. I liked the documentary okay, but was not the biggest fan of Joshua and Ryan - two guys who left fancy, six-figure jobs to tour the country talking about becoming minimalists... not exactly relatable. Yet, I decided to read their book on a whim since it was short and would be a quick read. The book made me like them less. It felt very, "Me, me, me! Us, us, us! Listen to OUR story!" On nearly every page of the book was a URL directing readers to something on their blog - literally endless self-promotion. It felt like they just wrote a book about their own lives and tried to disguise it as a guide to help others. I already feel like I'm in a place where I'm living more minimally (see my closet clean-out post here), so maybe if I was hearing about all this stuff for the first time I would have found it more beneficial to read. If you had to pick one of the two, watch the documentary instead.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Surznick's Reads!

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris
From Amazon.com: "Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable. Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows. Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed."

Pretty much everyone in our book club gave this book a terrible rating. Sarah and I are no exception (except Sarah is a little less harsh than I.) This book was basically a PG version of what could have been a good book. Imagine a really dark thriller with an evil main character and sick, twisted plans. Now imagine that that book falls short of delivering on every single aspect of the story. The main character "feeds off of fear" like some mundane Disney villain. The worst, twisted plots of terror involve nothing more than paining a room ENTIRELY RED. (Gasp?) Basically, this book was a complete breeze to read. Reading 300 pages in a couple of days is not something I can usually do, but this book was a piece of cake. With that in mind, some part of me must have enjoyed the actual act of reading it, but the story overall was pretty garbage-esque. (As a side note, please don't tell B.A. Paris about this review. I feel kind of bad.)

Sarah's Rating: 2 Stars
Nick's Rating: 1 Star

Have a lovely last day in March!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, March 24, 2017

Reykjavik, Iceland (Part 2)

Our last two days in Iceland were kind of a whirlwind. Let's get to it!

Day 2
Before we went to bed the night before, we received an email saying that our Golden Circle tour for the next day was cancelled. So we slept in a little bit on day 2, knowing we had the day free to roam around Reykjavik. We also started reaching out to our Airbnb host and were waiting to hear back so we knew what our check-in time would be for the next day (foreshadowing.)

We ate breakfast at the hotel buffet, which we touched on more in last week's post. It was seriously delicious and a great way to say goodbye to our lovely hotel. We got dressed and decided we would walk into town to visit Hallgrimskirkja, which is the huge church in Reykjavik that you've probably seen many photos of. The weather was... not great. We were totally prepared for the cold but we were NOT prepared for wet. The walk into town was actual torture. I was almost blown over several times by 30 mph winds, and with rain and sleet hitting me in the face every step of the way, I was tempted to just give up.

But finally, we made it to the church. It was packed, as pretty much every tourist in town was there to find solace from the crazy weather. We sat for awhile to get our bearings (and reach out to our Airbnb host) but then took the elevator up the 8 flights to see the amazing views of Reykjavik from the top. The viewing floor is open-air, insanely cold and windy, so we only lasted enough time to get our photos and leave. Regardless, it was a really cool experience and I'm glad we got the epic photo of Reykjavik that everyone gets, ha.

Right across from the church is Reykjavik Roasters, which we've heard is the best coffee shop in town (turns out, it's literally one of the best roasters in the world!). It was so quaint and charming inside, but crowded (again, that weather issue.) We grabbed two Americanos and sat down to try and contact our Airbnb host again. By this time, it was early afternoon and we were starting to get nervous. The tourism in Reykjavik is insane and every hotel and hostel in the area is at full capacity months in advance. I reached out to Airbnb directly and within the hour found out that our reservation was cancelled.

I still have no idea if this was a scam or if the person just decided last minute that they couldn't host us, but we went into emergency mode. We had to find a place to stay and find it fast. We checked every hotel and hostel and no one had a room/bed. I started reaching out to Airbnbs and several declined on account of it being last minute (...what, two hours isn't enough notice? Just kidding.) Finally, I reached out to a host that advertised his space as room for 1 guest, but it had a double bed. Luckily he and his girlfriend were gracious enough to accept us for the weekend. Seriously, such a relief. We thought we'd be sleeping in the bus station, for real.

With a little more pep in our step now and the weather finally improving, we headed to Lebowski Bar (yes, a Big Lebowski-themed bar!) for veggie burgers and fries. Super delicious - I wish we had gotten to explore this bar more. In full disclosure, we've never seen The Big Lebowski so we probably didn't pick up on all the little nods to the movie. The bathrooms were cool though! Afterwards we headed to our new Airbnb which happened to conveniently be right next to Reykjavik Roasters (yes, the same place we spent two hours trying to find a new place to stay!) Later that night we walked around town a little bit and grabbed beers at The Laundromat Cafe. It's a super colorful spot, full of rainbow bookshelves (reminds me of home!) Afterwards we went to Microbar and got a flight of local beers. Then it was back to the Airbnb to sleep off the craziness of the day.

Day 3
We woke up early on our last full day in Iceland and went back to The Laundromat Cafe for breakfast. After peeking their menu the night before, we couldn't get their breakfast options out of our head. The rest of the day was spent on the Golden Circle tour that was cancelled the day prior. The weather was still rough, but we were happy that the tour was still on. The Golden Circle is primarily three stops: the geothermal hot springs in Haukadalur (including Geysir), the Gullfoss waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park. The stops are actually not too far away from Reykjavik, but the tour bus drives out of the way so you can see Iceland's beautiful landscape and even Icelandic horses!

Fun fact (per our tour guide): Did you know there are naturally NO trees in Iceland? Every tree (about 4 million of them) was planted by a person.

After about an hour, we arrived at Geysir. It was pretty snowy and the ground was really icy in places, but we walked around the geothermal park to see all of the hot springs and geysers. It's a really beautiful area.

Next we went to Gullfoss, where we had the option to go to the overlook area or to the bottom of the waterfall. We just went to the overlook, but unfortunately couldn't even see because it was snowing so hard. Definitely a bummer because photos of it are really gorgeous. The photo above is our only photo of Gullfoss. Yes, that's a waterfall in there.

The last stop of the day was Þingvellir National Park. We didn't spend much time there, but while there we crossed back and forth between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates, which was pretty cool. All in all, most of the day was spent on the tour bus. We were so excited for this tour, but I think we would have loved it more had the weather been nicer.

Once we arrived back in Reykjavik we went to Pizza With No Name for dinner and it was soooo good. My favorite meal of the trip, hands down, and a great way to end our Icelandic adventures. It's a little hard to find since it literally has no name and no sign outside the restaurant. If you go to Reykjavik though, FIND IT. The following morning we woke up to 18 inches of snow, but packed our bags, trekked to Reykjavik Roasters again for coffee and breakfast, and then to the bus station. After a delayed flight, we were finally on our way back to PGH.

This was truly the trip of a lifetime. To be honest, we booked it on a whim after I was getting jealous of so many people I know traveling to Europe. I never would have thought we'd end up coming home engaged and ready to plan a wedding. We hope you enjoyed traveling along with us through these posts. One last recap from Nick below...

Ok, Nick here. Before I recap, I just have to say that we saw Greenland from the plane. I mean, Iceland is super cool, but it's a place that I honestly DID think I'd one day get to see, one way or another. But Greenland? There's something about the fact that I got to see Greenland with my own eyes that seriously excites me. I don't personally know too many other people that could say they did too. It was a pretty cool experience.

Travel & Transportation
- WOW Airlines: See last post for details, but we will definitely fly WOW again.
- Reykjavik Excursions: We booked our Golden Circle tour through RE. Similar to the Northern Lights tour, they picked us up in a van and transported us to the bus station where we boarded a tour bus. As mentioned above, our tour was cancelled, but they allowed us to go on the next day's tour. Only good experiences with them!
- Walking: Iceland truly is not that cold. Pittsburgh is typically colder in the winter months. We went to Iceland with the temperature in mind, but not the wind and complete irregularity of precipitation. Forecasting means nothing there, so have waterproof gear if you plan to go anywhere on foot.

- Reykjavik Roasters: One of my favorite places on the entire trip. Easily the most delicious coffee we had the whole time, and all-in-all a truly cozy, comfortable place. Spinning vinyl, world-class coffee, local food, comfy chairs, 'nuff said.
- Lebowski Bar: Very cool place with a super fun atmosphere. You can spin a wheel at the bar to win White Russians for yourself, you and a friend, you and four friends, you and TEN friends, and more. The food was hearty and delicious, but it was expensive (but quite frankly, that's just how EVERYTHING is in Iceland, so get over it.)
- The Laundromat Cafe: Super cute place with color-coded book shelves. Basically home away from home, so yeah, we liked it there.
- Microbar: A basement bar with a TON of local beers on tap. Nothing fancy or extra, just a room with tables, music, and beer. This was a super cool place.
- Pizza With No Name: Like Sarah said earlier, this was our best meal in Iceland. Pricey, gourmet pizza that does not disappoint. It shows up on google maps, but not in real life. Just go into the building that you think it could be in, and it is. (It is, just go in.)

- Hallgrimskirkja: Despite literally checking my face for BLOOD when we walked in because I thought the wind and snow had cut my face open, this place was pretty cool. The sanctuary truly wasn't anything that spectacular, though the organ was incredible. The real draw to this place is the view from the top. Iceland as far as the eye can see! Keep in mind, though, if it's 30 mph winds on the ground, then 8 floors up you'll find ladders falling from the ceiling rafters, just missing tourist's heads by inches while trying to capture a photo out of the window (just think about that for a second.)
- Geysir: I really loved this stop on the Golden Circle tour. The entire geothermal area was so beautiful, and there was tons to explore. Only drawback is that it smells like rotten eggs everywhere... but hey, what can you do?
- Gullfoss: I was really looking forward to this. It's truly a shame we couldn't even see it.
- Þingvellir National Park: This enormity of this view is impossible to capture in a photo, but being there was spectacular. It was the perfect last stop to a long day.

- Airbnb: We had quite the debacle with Airbnb this trip, but I also learned some valuable lessons. ALWAYS connect with your host right after they approve your booking and again a few days before checking in. Truth be told, our host approved our booking but we never messaged. Mistake. So, I still have no idea if it was a real person on the other end or if it was a scam. Airbnb reimbursed us our full amount + 10% that we used towards our replacement Airbnb. Very thankful to have found that last-minute home away from home! If you're interested in trying Airbnb, you can get a credit for your first trip through our referral link!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, March 17, 2017

Reykjavik, Iceland (Part 1)

Iceland is by far one of the coolest places we have ever been and probably will ever go. We have so much to say - let's dive right in!

Day 1
We arrived in Iceland late on a Thursday afternoon, the day after the first big snow storm of the season came through. International flights fly into Keflavik Airport, which is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. Once we landed and picked up our bag, we hopped on the FlyBus to Reykjavik. The drive from the airport to the city is actually really cool - all along the highway are fields of black lava rock. It's awesome to see. Once we arrived at the bus station, we walked to the Radisson Blu Saga to check in. You can read all about our time there in Monday's post but long story short - it was amazing.

We had a Northern Lights tour reserved for later that night so we only had a couple hours to find dinner before our tour left. We walked to the nearby Aalto Bistro, which was interesting - not the type of place we'd typically find ourselves eating. When we heard "bistro" we thought quick and easy sandwiches or something... what we got was a gourmet dining experience. We were seated by an older gentleman with big glasses and an Icelandic sweater. Nick immediately realized that the shelves along the walls were filled with magazines and cookbooks with this man on the cover. Turns out he's a renowned chef. We ordered the "pumpkin burger" which was good, but it was actually a salad. All in all, just a unique experience. This place was pretty fancy and nice (read: expensive) and we were just a couple of hungry American kids trying to get a cheap sandwich that were caught off guard. Oh well!

Finally we headed back to the hotel, got bundled up, and were ready to see some Northern Lights! Our tour bus took us about 45 minutes away from the city where there's no light pollution. The Northern Lights are caused by interaction between particles from the sun and the atmosphere near the North Pole, so they're not visible everyday, but our tour guide thought the day's conditions were promising. Of course, weather plays a factor too, so when it started to rain on the drive, it was a little disheartening. Luckily we had a pretty great tour guide to tell us all about Icelandic elves and trolls, which she legit believed in. I think I'm a believer now too.

Finally we arrived at the destination and there was a bit of cloud coverage. Once our eyes adjusted to the darkness and the clouds moved, there they were - the Northern Lights. This was so special. It's just one of those things I never thought I would get to see, but I did. They're not nearly as bright in person as they are in photos, but they're still there.

A note about photos: you cannot get a photo of the Northern Lights unless you're using a camera that can take extended exposures. Your phone won't work unless you have an extended exposure app, and even then it probably won't be great unless you also have a tripod. We used our DSLR and tripod and to be honest, it still wasn't easy to capture photos. In the pitch blackness, auto-focus on the camera doesn't work so you have focus manually, very slightly adjusting it and taking test shot after test shot until the sky looks clear. Each exposure is about 20-30 seconds, so it can take awhile to get your camera focused. If we didn't have the tiny bit of photography knowledge we have from running this blog, I think we'd be lost. Many tourists showed up with only their phones and I can only imagine how disappointing it would be to go on a Northern Lights tour and not have any photos to commemorate the moment. I will cherish these slightly blurry photos and remember how absolutely difficult and frigid cold it was to get them.

All in all, we highly recommend this tour. It was my absolute favorite thing we did in Iceland. If you don't see the lights on your tour, you can go again the next night free of charge. So do it, and take a good camera!

After the Northern Lights tour, it was back to the hotel for the evening. By this point, the "pumpkin burger" we had eaten earlier had left us pretty much famished. Seeing as our hotel wasn't really within walking distance to too many places and we were now in the midst of a pretty crazy snow storm, we resorted to some good old fashioned Dominos pizza and beers from the 10-11 (yes, seriously, the convenience stores are called 10-11.) We're not exactly proud of getting Dominos on our European vacation, but without a car we needed food on foot, and this was pretty much our only option. AND, if we're being honest, the Dominos pizza in Iceland was closer to pizza shop pizza - the cheese was better, the crust more flavorful, it was some seriously delicious pizza.

After wolfing down a few slices, drinking a few Icelandic beers, and taking the shower of an absolute lifetime, it was off to sleep in one of the most comfortable beds I've ever had the pleasure knowing. (Again, you can read more about our love for our hotel here.) Goodnight day 1 in Iceland.

We'll be back next week with the final post about our trip, but Nick is recapping final thoughts from day 1 below.

Travel & Transportation
- WOW Airlines: You've probably heard of WOW (they're the airline offering "$99 flights to Iceland.") I haven't read up on WOW very much, so we're just sharing our honest opinion. They offer inexpensive flights to/from Europe with the option to "stopover" in Iceland. We essentially booked roundtrip flights to/from Baltimore/London with a 3 day stopover in Iceland. The "$99 flight" cost is really just the base-rate. Then you tack on your seat cost, bags, taxes, and other fees and it's no longer $99, but it's still CHEAP. There's no bells and whistles on the flight itself (no free food or drink) and it's not the most comfortable seat in the world for 6+ hours of flying, but in our opinion it was SO worth it because we like to spend as little money as possible, ha. Our total cost for flights was about $850, roundtrip, for BOTH of us. Worth. It.
- Reykjavik Excursions: This is an affiliate company to WOW Airlines that we used to book our FlyBus tickets to/from the airport, as well as our Northern Lights tour. You can book right through the WOW website or the RE website. We purchased the basic FlyBus tickets which just took us to/from the airport and the bus station, but you can instead get FlyBus+ tickets, which will take you to/from the airport and your hotel. For our Northern Lights tour, they sent a van to pick us up at the hotel and took us to the bus station where we boarded a tour bus from there. On the way home, the tour bus dropped us off directly at the hotel, which was super convenient. I think there are several tour companies in Reykjavik, but we had great experiences with Reykjavik Excursions.
- Walking: Just a heads up if you're planning to visit Iceland in winter time: they don't plow, salt, or shovel the sidewalks. Underneath main streets (keyword: MAIN streets) they do pipe hot wastewater, which melts the snow and ice. So in the city center (where a lot of the shops and restaurants are) the streets are pretty clean, but outside of that be prepared for some difficult treks. People walk in the middle of the street to follow the freshest tire tracks because its easier than walking on the sidewalk. But if you're lugging around a 40 pound suitcase to and from the bus station on foot (which I was) it tends to make your journeys even more difficult.

- Aalto Bistro: This very tiny, very pretty restaurant is in a shared office space (along with a CrossFit gym and I think a dentist's office?) But it is pretty fancy. The food, though delicious, was a bit further up the price scale than we were interested in paying. Headed by what seems to be an at least moderately famous chef, the restaurant serves gourmet, seasonal food. Just don't go in craving a hearty veggie burger.
- Dominos: Yes, I'm seriously about to review Dominos on the blog. The Dominos in Iceland was GOOD. Nowhere on this pie could you find that weird, mushy, flavorless cheese that we see on our Dominos here, no! In Iceland, the cheese is a blend of sharp and mild cheeses, and the sauce (if there even was any) didn't flood the pizza with a sweet swamp of flavors no one even asked for in the first place. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of Dominos. But in Iceland? Yes. I'm a fan of Icelandic Dominos. It was also easily our cheapest meal on the entire trip.
- 10-11: Iceland's 7-11. Good for snacks and beers.

- Northern Lights Tour: You essentially HAVE to do this. I mean, you're in Iceland, go see the Northern Lights! As Sarah mentioned earlier, book in advance, have a tripod, and a DSLR camera on which you can control the shutter speed. We recommend booking it for your first night. That way, if you don't see them, you have more opportunities to go back out for free! If you book on your last night and it happens to be cloudy (which is often likely) you're screwed. Book early and be prepared! It's magical.

- Radisson Blu Saga Hotel: Just yes. Read the full post here!

Next time, on the blog: Reykjavik, Iceland (Part 2). Be sure to check back in a couple of days to see what the rest of the trip had in store for us. Thanks so much for reading!

Sarah & Nick