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Friday, April 4, 2014

Travel Tattoos

Plane tattoo
The question of the day is do you have a travel tattoo?  Do you want one?  And why?  As you can see in the picture above, I have a plane tattoo on my foot, which I love.  It seems perfect for me and my jet setting ways and I felt it appropriate to get because of my travels.  While tattoos may not be for everyone, they can be a way to freeze a moment in time or to honor a person or a place.

Do you have a travel tattoo that you'd like to share?  Why did you get it?  Or if you haven't gotten one yet and are thinking about it, what are you thinking about getting?  Anyone have a cruise tattoo?  Tattoo of a world map?  If you have one you'd like to share, go over to our FaceBook page and post it there.  Share away and let's see those tramp stamps, sleeves, and more!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com


Friday, March 21, 2014

Travel Essentials: Carry On vs. Checked Baggage

Traveling can be fun and exciting, but also stressful.  There are some items I have learned to always pack whether I am traveling for a weekend trip, a cruise, or a longer trip.  I have Post It notes that I've made with those items I seem to frequently forget to prevent me from forgetting them each time I pack. By following my list, hopefully, I reduce my stress.  

In my carry on bag:

  • My passport and/or government ID at the ready:  While we all know that we need to carry these to travel, have them ready.  Nothing is worse than waiting in line behind someone who has to rifle and unload their entire bag to find their ID.  You did know you were traveling today, right? 
  • Carry on bag essentials: You probably already know that all of your most important items should never go in your checked bag.  Pack them to go along with you in your carry on bag.  I'm talking about cameras, laptop, iPad, and other tech gear. 
  • Extra clothes: I always pack what I'm wearing the next day in my carry on bag.  This way I don't have to rifle through my checked bag to find clothing, but also to cover me in case my checked bag is delayed or worse, lost. 
  • Ibuprofen/Tylenol: Sometimes traveling means headaches, colds, or even injuries.  I always pack pain reliever and carry it with me in case I need it.
  • Good pair of headphones: Although the airlines regularly have headphones for sale, they tend to be on the cheap side.  Invest in a good pair that you can use exclusively for travel, especially one with noise reduction capabilities. 
  • Hair bands: While I really like the Emi-Jay brand because it doesn't leave a telltale dent in your hair, if your hair is long, pack a few of these in your carry on bag.  You never know when you will  need them and nothing is worse than realizing you forgot to pack a few. 
  • Lip balm or moisturizer: My go to is Nivea as it goes on smoothly and is clear unless you get one of the tinted ones.  Great for cold weather areas or the dry air on an airplane. 
  • Makeup wipes, moisturizer, makeup: Ladies there's no reason not to look good while traveling.  Makeup wipes are a great way to clean up on the go and you can easily reapply your makeup in a flash.  
  • Food for special diets or those that are plain hungry: It's often difficult for me to find healthy, high protein meals at the airport.  That means I generally do better if I pack my own food.  Some tempeh strips, veggie burgers, Gardein, etc. cooked and placed in sandwich bags certainly do the job. Whether vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or on a restricted or special diet, plan ahead and it will save you considerable angst.  Or if you like to eat, pack lots of snacks to avoid a rumbling tummy during your travels.  
  • Mints or gum: Inevitably you will probably get bad breath.  Save us all the hassle and chew on something… please. 


In my checked bag: 

  • Sample size health and beauty products: This is so important!  Instead of carrying full size bottles of products I use, I instead try to get as many sample sizes as possible.  A great place to do this is when shopping at Sephora.  I will get small sample sizes of moisturizer, makeup, perfume, hair products, and so on.  I pack them in my bag and it not only cuts down on needing so much space for big bottles, but when I'm done, there's no need to bring it back with me, which means more space in my bag. 
  • A business card or my name and address on a slip of paper: Yes, that's right.  I put my name and address inside my bag just in case for some odd reason my luggage tag should fall off and the airlines need to reunite me with my bag. 
  • Small tote or shopping bag that rolls or folds up: Instead of relying on carrying multiple plastic shopping bags when you shop while traveling, consider bringing a small bag that you can use on your travels.  Many roll or fold up and take little room and this can be an invaluable lifesaver. 
  • Extra of the "important" things you need: I always pack extra contact lenses, an extra pair of eyeglasses, medication, and yes, even underwear.  I will put half in my checked luggage and the other half in my carry on bag.  This is so just in case my checked bag and I should get separated, I won't be completely lost (or blind!).
I also dress in layers to help me adjust to whatever temperatures I will encounter, either in the air or at my final destination.  Better to overdress and slip off the extra layers than to shiver uncontrollably.

Happy travels!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pharrell Williams "Happy" - #HAPPYDAY from Norwegian Cruise Line


Ever get a song stuck in your head for no apparent reason?  Although I don't typically listen to popular music (Top 40 and the like), I couldn't help but smile while watching this video from Norwegian Cruise Line.  In honor of the March 20th International Day of Happiness, Norwegian guests and crew pay tribute to Pharrell Williams' wonderful, inspirational song "Happy."  The video was filmed entirely on the brand new Norwegian Getaway with the crew.


I don't want you to wait until tomorrow to be happy.  Watch the video today, get "Happy," and I dare you to get the song out of your head!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com


Friday, March 14, 2014

Taste of Iceland VIP Media Preview Event in Boston

Although I've been trying to find warmer weather lately, nothing would make me miss the Taste of Iceland. Almost as good as going to Iceland (almost!), I had the chance to attend the VIP Media Preview for the Taste of Iceland dinner held at the Rialto restaurant in Cambridge, MA on March 13, 2014.  This annual festival highlights the best of Icelandic food, music, and culture through a five day long event.  I highly recommend making time to attend at least one of the events, if not all.  Afterwards, you'll definitely need to plan a trip to Iceland immediately.

Chef Hákon Már Örvarsson
The first part of the event is the Taste of Iceland's Icelandic Menu prepared by Iceland chef Hákon Már Örvarsson, winner of Bocuse d’Or and World Culinary Cup.  Chef Örvarsson will collaborate with Rialto chef Jody Adams, a James Beard Award winner and former Top Chef Masters competitor. Diners will enjoy a four-course meal featuring traditional tapas style dishes, fresh Arctic Char, free-range Icelandic lamb, and Skyr of the Vikings.

The Taste of Iceland VIP Media Preview gave the media the opportunity to not only sample every element of the Icelandic menu that will be featured during the event, but to also meet chef Hákon Már Örvarsson.

The Rialto set up a special room for the event complete with attentive servers to bring food and drinks around.  The preview allowed us to sample the food that is going to be served throughout the upcoming days including the incredibly fresh Icelandic fish and meat flown in especially for this event.

Strawberry Mule
In addition to wine, the Taste of Iceland event created a special cocktail available to sample called the Strawberry Mule.

Strawberry Mule and Reyka Vodka

Made with Reyka Vodka, strawberry, ginger, and lime, I was tempted, but stuck with Pellegrino.  It looked so good and I do love my Reyka Vodka!

Haröfiskur, Cured Salmon in Brennivan, and Pickled Herring with Curry
Now the food!  Chef Örvarsson has prepared a special Icelandic menu showcasing the best of Nordic cuisine.  If you love fish, then you will love the bounty of fresh fish that is going to be served at the Taste of Iceland. Here's the breakdown:

Pickled herring with curry dressing, green apples and spring onions on sweet rye bread
Traditional Tapas Style Dishes

  • "Haröfiskur" Icelandic dried fish with Icelandic butter
  • Cured salmon in "Brennivan" with cream cheese, cress and lumpfish caviar on sweet rye bread
  • Pickled herring with curry dressing, green apples and spring onions on sweet rye bread
  • Deep fried crispy balls of cod and potatoes with dill sauce
  • Grilled Icelandic langoustine tails with garlic and herbs

Here's another image of the starters with the langoustine and crispy cod and potato balls.  The food went quickly as everyone thoroughly enjoyed every tasty morsel!

Arctic Char
Next up was the Arctic Char.  Cold smoked and gently cooked filet of farmed, Icelandic Arctic Char.  Served with honey-grain mustard dressing, cream of horseradish, fresh herbs and dill oil.

Free Range Icelandic Lamb
For the main course, guests will dine on Free Range Icelandic Lamb.  Seared and slowly cooked filet of free range Icelandic lamb, glazed root vegetables, celeriac purée, juniper berry infused lamb jus reduction, dust of dried wild Icelandic herbs and blueberries.

Slightly blurred but Skyr of the Vikings
Dessert?  Oh yes, there was dessert and it was Skyr of the Vikings.  Delicate mousse of the Icelandic Skyr and Skyr ice cream.  Served with hazelnut crumble and cinnamon flavored poached rhubarb.  The picture above is of the dessert on a tray as it was whisked away for fear that I might want to dive in! Unfortunately, since I neither eat meat or fish, I was unable to taste the food to provide any commentary, but if clean plates and satisfied looks are any indicator of the quality of the food, then you should know that the food was spectacular.

Logi and Unnstein from Retro Stefson


Who really enjoyed the food?  These guys!  The biggest treat for me at this event was the opportunity to meet both Sin Fang and Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson and his brother, Logi Pedro Stefánsson, of Retro Stefson.  Of course, I felt like a 14-year-old teenage girl who couldn't shut up.  Not everyone in the room might have known who these guys were, but they are currently in my playlist and I listen to them daily.  More than slightly enamored and a little star struck, I couldn't believe that I not only got to take pictures of them, but chat with each of them for a while.  I listen to Retro Stefson's "Julia" every day when I run and here they were! When Unnsteinn recognized my Aegishjalmur (or "helm of awe") for what it was and not a snowflake as it is so often misidentified, I could hardly contain my joy.

While talking to Logi Retro Stefson I learned that he is in a new group called "Highlands."  Don't worry - he's not leaving Unnstein to fend for himself.  He met 18-year-old Karin Sveinsdóttir during a singing competition in Iceland where he was a judge and one thing led to another and now they're making music.  Take a listen to their first song, Hearts, here:



Sin Fang
Sin Fang is one of Iceland's biggest up-and-coming musicians and his third solo album, Flowers, was recently named “Album of the Year” by Reykjavik Grapevine, while his single “Young Boys” was named “Song of the Year” and is also currently on my run playlist.  Sin Fang was quirky enough to strike a pose in his pizza slice sweater, but kind enough to answer my questions about whether having songs like "Young Boys" and "Two Boys" was coincidental or not.  Only I would want to know!   Just like their music, both Sin Fang and Retro Stefson were approachable and interesting and they made me fall a little more in love with Iceland than I already am, if that's even possible.

#TasteofIceland #IcelandSecret
Here are the specifics for the upcoming events for the Taste of Iceland in Boston:

Chef Hákon Már Örvarsson talking with Karen Grete of Scandinavian Today
ICELANDIC MENU AT RIALTO RESTAURANT
An authentic Icelandic meal will be available Friday through Tuesday at the legendary Rialto Restaurant, located in Harvard Square.
$85 per person (tax, gratuity, and beverages not included). For reservations, call
617-234-8026 or email annie@rialto-restaurant.com.
March 14-18 | 8PM | Rialto Restaurant & Bar | One Bennett St. | Cambridge

REYKJAVIK CALLING CONCERT
The free Reykjavik Calling concert combines three of Iceland’s most talented musicians with two Boston-area musicians for a night of spectacular collaborations. Past Reykjavik Calling performers have included of Monsters and Men, Asgeir Trausti, Lay Low and many more. Presented by WERS 88.9 FM and Iceland Naturally, admission to the concert is free and will be granted on a first-come, first served basis. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 9 p.m.
Icelandic musicians: Hermigervill (Electronic) | Retro Stefson (Electronic/Alternative) | Sin Fang (Indie/Electronic)
Boston musicians: The Love Experiment (Indie/R&B) | Skinny Bones (Folk)
March 15 | 8PM | The Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub | 472-480 Massachusetts Ave. | Cambridge
PRICE: Free
TICKETS: Eventbrite

REYKA VODKA CRAFT COCKTAIL CLASS
New to Taste of Iceland in Boston, this special, hands-on craft cocktail class will teach participants to artfully assemble cocktails using Icelandic Reyka Vodka. Led by Liberty Hotel Mixologist Juan Carlos Perez, the class is free and attendance is limited to 50. Must be 21 years or older to participate.
March 16 | 4 p.m. | The Liberty Hotel | 215 Charles St. | Boston
PRICE: Free
TICKETS: Eventbrite

About Taste of Iceland
Taste of Iceland is a festival that brings the best of Iceland’s food, music and culture to cities across North America. Taste of Iceland in Boston is presented by Iceland Naturally in cooperation with Icelandair, Reyka Vodka, Blue Lagoon, Icelandic Glacial Water, Promote Iceland, Rialto Restaurant & Bar, The Liberty Hotel, The Middle East and WERS 88.9 FM.

About Iceland Naturally
Iceland Naturally is a cooperative marketing organization that promotes the tourism, services, products and culture of Iceland. It represents the true essence of Iceland, its creativity and spectacular natural wonders. The group is comprised of Icelandair, Icelandic Group, Islandsbanki, Reyka Vodka, City of Reykjavik, Icelandic Glacial Water, Blue Lagoon, Keflavik International Airport (KEF),
Landsvirkjun, Promote Iceland and the Government of Iceland. For more information visit: www.icelandnaturally.com.

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Let's Get Physical! Staying in Shape Onboard Royal Caribbean

These days everyone wants to stay in shape, be healthy, look good, and feel great.  Did you know you can continue your fitness routine while cruising? Yes, it's true and Royal Caribbean shows you how in the following video:





I don't know about you, but I cannot wait to get onboard a Royal Caribbean ship and work out!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thomson Cruises Presents "DreamRunners"

Too impress me takes quite some effort.  When it comes to ads, most advertising is underwhelming at best for me and predictable. So when an ad comes along that makes me look twice, it has to be good.  When it's for travel and it happens to also be for cruising, it's even better.

Thomson Cruises, a British based cruise company was founded in 1965 and has been one of the many cruise lines in place to invite more British passengers to enjoy cruising.  With five ships and destinations including the Caribbean and Central America, Canary Islands and Morocco, Western or Eastern Mediterranean, and Scandinavia, the Baltic & UK, cruisers have more than a few fun ports to choose from these days.

But what Thomson Cruises did to impress me was that they made a sequel to their 2013 advert or "film" entitled "Platinum Parkour" which was about the multi-million pound makeover of the Thomson Dream.  This time they created an ad about one of their new destinations, Jamaica.  Not only does it have a hot, sexy location, Jamaica, but throw in Yohan Blake, Olympic silver medalist, and the incredibly talented and steamy freerunners from 3RUN.  Unfamiliar with 3RUN?  You shouldn't be as these guys have worked on Hollywood blockbuster films like Casino Royale and World War Z.

What happens when you combine many of the great locations of Jamaica like Dunn's River Falls, Ocho Rios, rafts on Martha Brae River, and the cliffs of Negril with the talents of the amazing freerunners of 3RUN?  An ad that makes you want to immediately book a cruise to Jamaica.  If you're not sure that's true then watch it for yourself.


You might even be as impressed as Chase Armitage, boss of 3RUN and director of the video, who said: "“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with Yohan Blake, let alone race against him. The Jamaican scenery is awesome and it was amazing for us to freerun against spectacular backdrops like Dunn’s River Falls and Martha Brae River.”

The Thomson Dream sails from Montego Bay starting in December 2014 to destinations including Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico.

You can also check out 3RUN on Instagram for some amazing pictures of what they do every day.  As for me, I'm wondering if Thomson Cruises might want to invite me to go along on a cruise soon.  Hint, hint!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com


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