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30 Before 30 List: Year in Review

I have entered a new decade of life!

This also means that my 30 Before 30 List is over. And once again, I didn’t complete my entire list. I finished about 50.5% of the things on my list this year. A few favorites include: visiting Iceland, buying my first house, trying standup paddleboarding, biking the San Juan Islands, buying a mixte bike, doing yoga for a month, and going to 200ish new restaurants.

So of course the next logic step is to create a 31 New Things Before 31 list. And then I need to try harder this year! :)

What should I put on my 31 Before 31 list?

#18. Try Kiteboarding, er Stand Up Paddle Boarding?

Guess what? I didn’t go kiteboarding! Ever since my windsurfing class in Naxos, Greece, I’ve been wanting to try kiteboarding. I’ve tried all the board sports I can think of [and loved them all!], except kiteboarding and stand up paddle boarding. I figured I would have the opportunity to try out kiteboarding this spring during my “escape from weather hell” vacation. After deciding on Hawaii, I started looking at paddle boarding instead. So after researching Maui stand up paddle boarding (SUP!) options, we ended up renting two at the beach and sharing. So. Much. Fun! Honestly, I thought it would be a little harder — the balancing part, I didn’t go catch waves or anything though. Next time. :)

We started from the beach, put the board in the water, hopped on (kneeling), and paddled out over the tiny waves breaking and then it was fairly smooth sailing from there. Apparently you’re supposed to be “light in your legs” and use your core. Definitely a core workout. My BFF and I paddled around for a good amount of time and then took turns holding paddles to jump into the water, followed up with a bit of downward facing dog. Success! :)

Not sure I’ll be paddling down the Willamette on a paddleboard, but I’d love to try it again somewhere warm and try catching waves on one. That would be brilliant. But it really made me want to go surfing again.

I’m a little sad that I have no photographic evidence that I went paddleboarding, but it was on the above pictured beach. C’est la vie.

Have you been paddleboarding?

10 Things I Love About Iceland

Iceland has been on my hypothetical “interesting/someday” travel wish list for a few years now. Although, my obsession with Icelandic culture started with Leif Erikson — original Viking bad ass — in the 3rd grade (Erikson was quickly followed by a brief obsession with Abraham Lincoln… where were we? Ah yes, Iceland…). After finding an Icelandair deal for $438 roundtrip in July, I didn’t do much planning other than grinning at pictures of Icelandic horsies, dreaming of the Blue Lagoon, and listening to Sigur Ros.

One of the perks of working for a travel company, is that after chatting about Iceland to a coworker who writes our Iceland travel guide, you might see your very own custom 5-day Iceland itinerary pop up in your RSS reader a week or two later. Thanks Katie! :) So without further ado here are…

10 things I loved about my trip to Iceland:

#1. Icelandic ponies horsies

Ever since I saw pictures of the uber-adorable Icelandic horses, I knew I would be riding horses while in Iceland. They’re like life-size My Little Pony dolls, and they tölt. If I was a horse, I would totally be one of these little hearty creatures. Yeah, I identify with Icelandic horses… le sigh…

#2. Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon exceeded my expectations. I’d heard more than a few times that the Blue Lagoon was a little over-rated and expensive, but was looking forward to it anyway. Visiting the Blue Lagoon was one of my favorite things in Iceland. With 6 hours of daylight and freezing temperatures, it was fun to bliss out in the lagoon for a few hours. Highly recommended.

#3. Meandering about Reykjavik

Reykjavik looks like a tiny toy town from the Hallgrímskirkja church tower. The downtown area is a walker’s paradise. After a day of wandering, I felt like I pretty much knew my way around, and I had a great time just meandering about town during the 5 days… poking into shops, visiting the Sun Voyager sculpture, getting lattes (my favorite cafe for lattes was a tiny little place called Grái Kötturinn — Grey Kitten? I’m assuming), window shopping at 66 North, popping into a design shop or two…

#4. Brewery tour & duty-free alcohol

I hadn’t really thought of doing a brewery tour in Iceland until I heard about it from my coworker. It ended up being a lot of fun to hear about the history of drinking in Iceland, quite a few drinks were included, and we got drink vouchers to use back in town for $5 beers instead of $9 (yes, $9!). And one of my favorite Iceland tips: if you’re going to have at least a few drinks while in Iceland, stop at duty free in the airport and snag your drink of choice. Alcohol and the tax on alcohol is very expensive in Iceland.

#5. Seeing the last 3 songs of a random Icelandic band

I love catching local (or not so local) music while I’m traveling. So after hearing a band playing while walking down the street, we wandered into a pub for the last few songs. I have no idea who it was or what the pub was called. A fun mystery. :)

#6. Golden Circle – Golfus & Geysir

After considering renting a car and driving the Golden Circle, we decided to take the easier and cheaper route and take a half-day tour. I think we picked the coldest day of our trip too, as apparent by the cold cringe in a few of my pictures. It was fun to get out of Reykjavik again and into the outdoors, and really made me want to return in summer.

#7. Frozen pond sliding

We stayed near the pond in Reykjavik, and noticed people ice skating and playing on the ice, so after a few days of walking past the pond, we stopped for some fun. I’m tempted to post a brilliant video of someone falling on the ice, perhaps another time…

#8. Bæjarins beztu pylsur (hot dog stand)

Hey remember that time I ate a tarantula in Cambodia? Yep, all bets are off when I travel (Lie. Sometimes true at home as well). Although I consider myself a pescatarian, I’m not dogmatic about it, and I’ll try almost anything once, because life is short — and really it’s more fun to eat strange things while traveling! Back to Iceland… and hotdogs — one of their most popular dishes, Bæjarins beztu pylsur is Reykjavik’s most famous hotdog stand. I got one “with everything” and loved the fried onions, mustard sauce, and remolaði. Tasty. So you probably won’t find me snagging a 99-cent hotdog at IKEA, but it was fun to check out Iceland’s most popular dish. Baaaah!

#9. $$$ dinner

Although I consider myself a budget traveler, I like to splurge every once in a while on a trip. We decided on Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish Market) and it didn’t disappoint.

#10. Skyr

Skyr is like Greek yoghurt on crack. It was the first and last thing I ate in Iceland. I’ll probably be hitting up Whole Foods way too often for my Skyr fix.

I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention something else epic that I love about Iceland, but for now this is my <3 list. And I can’t wait to go back in summer! Or maybe go to Iceland Airwaves!  2012, anyone?

#9: Go To 52 [More] New Restaurants – 30 Before 30 List

After completing #9 on my 30 Before 30 List of going to 52 new restaurants/coffee shops/bars in the first three months of my list, I’ve continued to keep track of places, so here’s round two of 52 new restaurants. Foursquare makes this so easy to keep track of. :)

New Restaurants Visited September – November:

  1. Pok Pok – possibly over-hyped — awesome regardless
  2. Olympic Provisions
  3. Dragonfish Asian Cafe
  4. Kennedy School (Counts! I had never eaten there!)
  5. Ugarit (foodcart)
  6. North 45 – awesome patio
  7. Pyro Pizza (foodcart) – tasty, tasty pizza
  8. Whiffies Fried Pies – I could maybe [not] eat 11 pies?
  9. Madison’s Bar & Grill
  10. Red Flag
  11. Tabla Mediterranean Bistro – 3-course meal: delicious
  12. Afrique
  13. Muu Muu’s
  14. Gold Dust Meridian
  15. Chopsticks Hawthorne
  16. Bridgeport Ale House
  17. Pizzicato
  18. Night Light Lounge – Dr Spaceman!
  19. Cabezon – finally used my Groupon for this one. Tasty pescado!
  20. Broder – squares = good.
  21. Pix Patisserie (other location) – desert & wine
  22. Pad Thai Kitchen
  23. Pambiche – cafe con leche = bueno
  24. Clarklewis – Gorgonzola pear sandwich = bliss
  25. ?Por Que No? – horchata. indeed.
  26. Habibi – good Lebanese, another Groupon, still like Ya Hala better. :)
  27. Stumptown (diff location! Ace Hotel)
  28. Clementine Bistro – No. Just NOOO.
  29. The Standard
  30. Holman’s
  31. Bertie Lou’s
  32. Public Domain Coffee – I need to use my Groupon to here.
  33. Sweet Basil Thai – Really tasty.
  34. Spints Alehouse – Exceeded my expectations.
  35. City State Diner
  36. Cafe Babalu – Reykjavik, Iceland – fun cafe
  37. Icelandic Fish & Chips – Reykjavik, Iceland – good sauces!
  38. Grai Kotturinn – Reykjavik, Iceland – loved their lattes. Tucked into an adorable little corner.
  39. Eldsmidjan – Reykjavik, Iceland
  40. Tapas Barrin – Reykjavik, Iceland – Tapas with an Icelandic spin. Fun.
  41. The English Pub – Reykjavik, Iceland
  42. Cafe Paris – Reykjavik, Iceland
  43. Kaffitar – Reykjavik, Iceland – Iceland’s Starbucks!
  44. Svarta Kaffio – Reykjavik, Iceland
  45. Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – Reykjavik, Iceland (hotdog stand) – yep, I ate a hotdog. And it was tasty.
  46. Fish Market [Fiskmarkadurinn] – Reykjavik, Iceland – Best. Meal. Ever. Also, most expensive meal, ever.
  47. Cafe Oliver – Reykjavik, Iceland
  48. Greasy greasy spoon brekkie – Reykjavik, Iceland
  49. Tiga
  50. Candy Ultra Lounge
  51. Screen Door – fiiinally
  52. Cacao Chocolate – you can get “shots” of drinking chocolate here. $2 = win!

Perhaps #9 should have been visit 200 new restaurants?

#25: Start a Grown-up Liquor Collection – 30 Before 30 List

Yoga one month, drinking the next. :)  The only liquor I have at home is Pastis, and the occasional vodka or gin. So when I decided to do a bit of research for #25 on my 30 Before 30 list, I first of all discovered that I should call it a liquor collection, as alcohol collection is clearly the wrong name. So what belongs in a liquor collection?

According to my dear friend Martha (who likes to hide information in 20 page photo galleries and downloadable pdfs, of which I don’t have the patience for) the following items belong in your liquor collection. Also, after realizing that I know very little about alcohol, other than that gin tastes like juniper trees, I looked up each one on Wikipedia as I went, so it’s kind of like a 4th grade report, only more fun….

How to Stock a Home Bar


Base Liquors:

  • Bourbon: Bourbon is an American whiskey, a type of distilled spirit, made primarily from corn (maize) and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky. It has been produced since the 18th century. While it may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I purchased: Maker’s Mark. Drink of choice: Whiskey ginger.
  • Gin Gin is a spirit whose predominant flavor is derived from juniper berries. Although several different styles of gin have existed since its origins, gin is broadly differentiated into two basic legal categories: distilled gin and compound gin. Distilled gin is crafted in the traditional manner, by re-distilling neutral spirit of agricultural origin with juniper berries and other botanicals. There are several distinct styles of gin, with the most common style today being London dry gin, a type of distilled gin. I purchased: Beefeater London Dry Gin. Drink of choice: Pink Gin Fizz!
  • Single malt Scotch or Irish whiskey Single Malt Scotch is a type of single malt whisky, distilled by a single distillery in a pot still, using malted barley as the only grain ingredient, in Scotland. Irish Whiskey is a whiskey made in Ireland. There are several types of whiskey common to Ireland: Single Malt, Single Grain, Pure Pot Still and Blended Whiskey. Most Irish whiskey is distilled three times while Scotch is distilled twice. I purchased: Bushmills Irish Whiskey.
  • Tequila Tequila is a blue agave–based spirit made primarily in Tequila, Mexico. I purchased: Jose Cuervo Especial Gold. Drink of choice: Margarita.
  • Vodka is a distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made from fermented substances like grain and potatoes. I purchased: Rain Organic Grain Vodka. Drink of choice: Vodka tonic.
  • Rum Light rum is a dry, light-bodied rum, light in color and lightly sweet in flavor. It is produced from sugarcane juice and molasses, and normally has a short aging period. I purchased: Barcadi Light Rum Drink of choice: Mojito!

Other/Extras/Stuff I Wanted:

  • Pastis Pastis is an anise-flavored liqueur and apéritif from France, typically containing 40–45% alcohol by volume.
  • Kahlua Kahlúa is a well known Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur. It is dense and sweet, with a distinct taste of coffee, from which it is made. Kahlúa also contains sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean.
  • Baileys Irish Cream Baileys Irish Cream (the registered trademark omits the apostrophe shock!) is an Irish whiskey and cream based liqueur, made by Gilbeys of Ireland.
  • Brandy Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine, the wine having first been produced by fermenting grapes. Brandy generally contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink.
  • Triple sec Triple Sec is a variety of Curaçao, an orange-flavored liqueur made from the dried peels of bitter oranges from the Caribbean. Triple sec, which is French for Triple Dry, is one-third as sweet as regular Curaçao.

Base Mixers:

  • Angostura bitters often simply referred to as angostura, is a concentrated bitters made of water, 44.7% alcohol, gentian root, and vegetable flavoring extracts by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. They are typically used for flavoring beverages, or (less often) food.
  • Cointreau
  • Dry (white) vermouth
  • Juices: orange, pomegranate, and grapefruit juices
  • Seltzer (club soda)
  • Tonic

Next up: declare a signature drink… other than Pastis mixed with water/ice. Also, I currently have an embarrassing amount of alcohol at my house, thanks to shopping on the Interwebz.

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

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