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icelandic fish and chipsThe Icelandic Fish and Chips was my favourite meal of the trip. It was affordable and healthy, well, as healthy as fried fish can be. They’re an organic bistro that use spelt flour and rapeseed oil! They provide dips made of skyr (an Icelandic yogurt that is sold everywhere) with different flavours. We chose (from left to right) coriander and lime, truffle and tarragon and tartar. The truffle and tarragon was by far our favourite. They have different fish to choose from depending on what they can get, I had a haddock and it was very flaky. The potatoes on the other hand were so so.

herefod steak houseClockwise from the top: smoked puffin, lobster soup with cognac, Skyr, whale peppersteak and grilled puffin breast. We decided to splurge on a meal of Icelandic fare and found Hereford Steak House to give us the best bang for our buck. They had a whale or puffin prixe fix meal for $60. Puffin tasted like jerky and the whale tasted like a beef steak. It was pretty tasty but I don’t have to have it again.

icelandic hot dogsThis is the infamous Icelandic hot dog, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. It has fried onions at the bottom, topped with a weiner with remoulade sauce and Icelandic sauce (which tasted like mild mustard) squeezed on top. For $3.80, it was the cheapest thing I ate. I still think a Toronto street dog taste better, although I might be biased.

saegrefinnThe Saegrefinn was an interesting restaurant, you first choose the already skewered fish and vegetables. Then they take it to the kitchen to grill it and then bring it to your table. The lobster soup was very good but I do suggest sharing it if there are two of you, it was very filling.

cook at homeMy last tip for eating on a budget in Iceland is to go to Bonus, a chain grocery store with a funny pig as their logo to buy food to make breakfast and snacks. We made breakfast every day and had dinner in the apartment once. Icelanders love organic food so all the vegetables we bought were organic. My omlettes have never tasted so good because the vegetables were much sweeter than the ones back at home! I really do miss those Icelandic eggs.

Read what to do in Iceland here.

Iceland has been on my bucket list for awhile and so two weeks ago, I went with a girlfriend to see what the fuss was all about. First off, Icelanders are such incredibly nice people, our host not only picked us up from the bus station, carried our bags up three flights of stairs and had breakfast ready for us (smoked salmon with egg on toast and yogurt with fruit). Talk about hospitality! I was surprised at how well everyone could speak English so we had no trouble getting around. But I was also surprised at how expensive Iceland is! It was quite cheap to fly and stay in Reykjavik but the cost of living there was insane. Main courses in nicer restaurants run from $50+, I had a soup that was $18 and by the end of the trip, I thought a $13 grilled cheese sandwich was quite reasonable! I’ll share some cost saving tips in this post and the next one on food in Reykjavik. Here are a couple of things I did on the trip that I recommend. blue lagoonYes, it is as magical as it looks. We spent the day here at the Blue Lagoon and got the package which included a robe and a towel. If you can bring your own robe and towel you’ll be able to save about $30. Since we came during winter, the water felt wonderfully warm and we didn’t want to leave the pool. There are buckets of mud masks that you can put on your face along with a bar in the pool. We also got an in water massage where they have you floating on a piece of foam and a blanket over you to keep you warm. I would probably recommend this only during the warmer months because the blanket could only do so much to keep you warm.
Tip: Try and bring a sandwich and snacks with you to the Blue Lagoon, they have food to buy, but again very expensive ($15 for a sandwich). We bought sandwiches from local convenience stores for $6.

northern lightsPardon the crappy photo, this was actually an iphone photo off a dslr camera from a friend we made on this tour. Fingers crossed he sends me the photos! This was the best thing I did in Iceland. The Northern Lights tour companies don’t guarantee that you’ll see the lights but you are welcome to go on the tour again until you do. Luckily for us, we saw it on our first tour! They picked us up from our apartment and drove for about 40 mins where we stood outside for an hour waiting for the lights to happen. It was a very long hour and it was blisteringly cold (I just opted not to get back onto the bus). I saw many shooting stars while waiting and then finally a soft green glow started appearing in the sky and the lights danced for us! I didn’t actually see any red lights but in the photos on the dslr with a long exposure, the red lights appeared. This is a must do in Iceland but dress warmly and bringing heat packs are a good idea! Northern Lights can only be seen from September to April.

open air museumThe Abraejarsafn museum or it’s also known as the Open Air museum are a collection of old houses, antiques and relics they’ve restored to show how people use to live. In the summer, they have people dressed up playing the roles of farmers, etc, they bring livestocks in, have hay barreling contests and grow crops. In the winter time, they close down and only have a daily tour at 1pm. The museum isn’t in downtown Reykjavik but I wouldn’t suggest taking a taxi since again, it’s a very expensive city! Instead, we caught bus 19 from Hlemmur for $3.50 which took 20 mins to get to the museum. We caught an earlier bus since we didn’t trust ourselves to get there in time so we were there a whole hour early. The tour guide was very nice and let us into the children’s toy exhibit room so we would be out of the cold. We saw the room and our eyes lit up. They had tons of costumes, masks and sets to play with so I quickly made a makeshift tripod and did an impromptu photo shoot! Thank goodness the tour guide never checked in on us once, we looked ridiculous. Afterwards, he led us around the grounds where we went into a church and two houses. I would love to come back in the summer when everything is open and people are dressed up and playing roles.
Tip: Bring a sandwich with you for lunch since there’s nothing to eat near there.

tigerIf you’re getting the shopping itch, you’ll have to get yourself to Tiger. It’s probably the only store you can afford anyways. Everything in there is usually either $3, $6 or $9. They had very random stock ranging from tissue paper to home decor to toys to makeup to stationary. I as usual went nuts over anything that was packaged well and is paper related.
Tip: They seem to get new stock every week, so if you have the shopping itch, go back often to see if new inventory has come in.

phallological museumYes, that’s me, next to a whale penis. Before the trip, Final Member was playing at the Bloor Cinema and we knew we had to see it. It’s about how the founder of The Icelandic Phallological Museum wanted to find a human penis to complete his collection. It felt like coming to a full circle after seeing the film and then being able to appreciate the museum for what it is. Don’t be a prude, it’s the only phallological museum in the world. Do yourself a favour, watch the movie and then go, it’ll make the experience that much better.

hallgrimskirkjaThe Hallgrimskirkja church is another must do in Iceland. If you’re lucky, there will be an old man inside playing the organ. Take the elevator up to the top and you’ll be treated with a wonderful view of Reykjavik.
geysersGeysers are these natural hot pools of water in the ground where it erupts into the sky. They’re quite a spectacle to see and I don’t think any picture can do it justice. These geysers are part of any of the Golden Coast tour. Also, as part of the Golden Coast tour we saw the Gulfoss which is a waterfall and Þingvellir which is where Iceland took their first step to independence. There were a lot more other tours I was interested in, but I think next time I would do my research on all the different natural sights I wanted to see, and rent a car so I could do it on my own time. A lot of times they gave you too much time at one place and it’s extremely windy in Iceland!
Tip: Again, bring your own sandwich and snacks on these tours. I ended up getting a $18 soup where the Gulfoss is.

cafe rosenburgWe spent three nights at Cafe Rosenberg where they feature live music every night except Mondays. There’s a cover to get in though, usually $20 but on Saturday we paid $25. The atmosphere was lovely and it was great hearing local bands play in both Icelandic and English.

Stay tune for my next post on food in Iceland (I tried puffin!)

feast lele luauA Hawaiian luau was probably the one thing I was looking forward to the most and it truly didn’t disappoint. We went to Feast at Lele in Lahaina, Maui because it featured different Polynesian food and dance. We were greeted at the front with a fresh lei and a Mai Tai and led to our seats where we overlooked the ocean just as the sun was setting. The luau’s theme was based on four Polynesian cultures, Hawaiian, Maorian, Tahitian and Samoan. There were four courses, corresponding with the four cultures. Dances from each culture would be followed after every course. At the end, after the dessert was a fire dancer. This was the best thing I did in Hawaii and did I mention it was all you can drink? I lost count on how many Pina Coladas I had!
505 Front Street, Lahaina
surfingSurfing in Haleiwa, Oahu Uncle Bryan’s Sunset Suratt Surf Academy made me want to move to a surf town, open up a little dessert store and turn into a surfer. I knew I wanted to surf while in Hawaii but was nervous because I would rate my swimming skills at “I can swim to save my life, maybe.” But once I was out in the water on the surf board with the instructors, all my fears were gone. Being able to stand up on the surf board and ride the wave was pretty exhilarating. I chose to surf in Haleiwa because it was known for having gentler waves but on the day of the lesson, hurricane Flossie was just coming into Hawaii and made the water quite choppy. At least I can say I surfed during a hurricane! Don’t forget to put a ton of sunscreen on your bum and the back of your legs, I just did a light coat and I burned all down my back side. I could barely sit for three days!

Afterward, go and explore Halawei, a very cute surf town and have an acai bowl which are blueberries, strawberries, and bananas with a deliciously creamy acai smoothie.

snorkelingSnorkeling in Kapalua Bay, Maui was beautiful, I think I could have spent all day under the water swimming with the fishies.

wailuku first fridayWe were lucky to be in Maui on the first Friday of August because every month, Wailuku has a Friday Town Party. There was live music, food stalls and people selling knickknacks. My favourite was the custard Malassadas.

black sand beachblack-sand-beach The road to Hana is a 68 mile long highway with 600 turns in between Paia and Hana. If you love driving, this is the drive for you. Along the way there are forests, waterfalls, coconut stalls and beaches until you get to Hana. My favourite was seeing the black sand beach, the sand was actually black from lava flowing into the ocean. This road to Hana has also been called the road to divorce because it will really test the patience of the passengers because they would have spent the whole day car sick! If you do go, be sure to stop by the Nihiku Market Place just before you reach Hana for some delicious home made coconut chips.

It’s still hard to believe I was lying on a beach in Hawaii just two weeks ago. Especially in Maui, it was so serene with no light pollution, I loved sitting on the terrace, having wine and watching the shooting stars.

If you know me, you’ll know that I love trying local food, here are my favourite spots I dined in!

eggs n thingsHands down, the best breakfast place I’ve been to. Eggs ‘n Things in Waikiki constantly had a line up but it’s well worth it! My favourite was the Hawaiian Loco Moco, the Portuguese sausages and the pancakes. My father had stacks of pancakes every day!

343 Saratoga Road, Honolulu Hawaii 96815
2464 Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu Hawaii 96815
451 Piikoi St. Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

shirokiyaShirokiya is a Japanese department store in the Ala Moana Centre, America’s largest mall and the world’s second largest. On the second floor is a Japanese food market with takoyakis, skewered meat, ramen, shaved ice, yogurt, packaged foods and a whole lot more. Just the sheer abundance of choice will overwhelm you. They also do $1 happy hour beer!

Ala Moana Center. 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 2250, Honolulu, HI 96814

MagokoroYou can’t leave Hawaii without having Japanese food, we found Magokoro, a tiny sushi restaurant with modern decor. The sashimi was very fresh and everything we ordered was really yummy!

1831 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 102, Honolulu, HI 96815

bluwaterWe found Bluewater Shrimp and Seafood truck in Haleiwa, a cute surf town in the north shore of Oahu that I fell in love with. We had just gone surfing and I was ravenous! The truck is parked behind a gas station with a couple of picnic tables set up next to it. Everything we got was so delicious The garlic bread and shrimp was my favourite. I regret not trying more shrimp trucks while I was in Hawaii!

66-031 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

I had been dying to check out the food scene in San Francisco and I planned my trip around breakfast, lunch and dinner! Here are my favourites!ferry buildingThe Ferry Building:
This was on the top of my list for checking out in San Francisco. I even came back a second time! Go on a weekend and check out their farmer’s market. The Cowgirl Creamery also makes this special Weekend Raclette where they melt the cheese and scrape it on to a piece of toast with housemade pickles. It was to die for!! Also check out their flavoured steamed milks. I loved the vanilla milk! I’m not a coffee drinker but every time I passed by Blue Bottle Coffee, there was always a line up! I’m very picky about my waffles and this one definitely passed the Joanna test.
1 Sausalito – San Francisco Ferry Bldg  San Francisco, CA 94111

slanted doorThe Slanted Door
Also in the Ferry Building, is the Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant. It was the perfect restaurant to start off our San Francisco adventure.
1 Sausalito – San Francisco Ferry Bldg  San Francisco, CA 94111

park chowPark ChowThis was hands down the best breakfast I had, a breakfast pork carnita was the best way to start the day. Oh and almost everything in San Francisco is either organic or farm to table or farm fresh or grain fed chicken laid eggs or vegan or gluten free.
1240 9th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122

tacoliciousTacolicious
Tacolicious was taco heaven with $30 margarita pitchers to drink myself silly in the middle of the day!
2031 Chestnut St

nopaNopa
I loved where we sat when we ate a Nopa, we were up at the top where we could stare down into their open kitchen where we got to watch the sous chefs put together the food. At first we weren’t completely blown away by their menu but after tasting our goat cheese appetizers, we knew we were definitely going to order dessert!
560 Divisadero

yamoYamo
I had been dying to try Burmese food and was recommended to go to Yamo for it. I find that the best restaurants are usually a hole in the wall. Yamo may not be very attractive inside or out but you can tell it serves up good food judging by the line up outside. When we came, there were people waiting lined up outside at two in the afternoon on a week day! The line goes by fast because the four Burmese ladies inside are super speedy. The place has literally ten seats inside their narrow space, so don’t think of coming with a large group.The tea house salad was my fave here.
3406 18th St

foreign cinemaForeign Cinema
Everyone I had talked to prior to the trip recommended Foreign Cinema, and I’m glad we ended off our trip with this restaurant. Everything I had, I could have licked the plate clean. They have an outside component to the restaurant where fairy lights are strung up and a foriegn movie is projected onto a brick wall. I would love to host a party there.
2534 Mission Street

youve-got-mailSan Francisco was a blast, we literally ate breakfast, walked to lunch, ate lunch, walked to dinner, ate dinner along with snack pit stops peppered along the way. Look for my upcoming recommendations for food in San Francisco. For now, I’ll tease you with my instagrams of the city by the bay.

I was obsessed with the envelope bag from Kate Spade awhile ago, and lo and behold I found it at the Paragon Outlet! I couldn’t help myself and got the matching wallet.

top: jcrew / skirt: french connections / shoes: marc by marc jacobs / clutch: kate spade / necklace: target / watch: michael kors / rings: marc by marc jacobs, primark, house of harlow

SAN FRANCISCO