All the links to the various photo albums are up at the top of this blog. The highlights album is for anyone who isn't a glutton for other people's vacation photos. It has my favorite pics from throughout the trip. It was hard to get it down to a manageable number, though, so there are still a lot of outstanding photos that didn't make it to the highlights album, so maybe I can suggest a degree of gluttony.
My last day in Iceland was spent at the Blue Lagoon. The photos on their web site are very cool, lots of steam. I'm pretty sure they took their pics in the winter. I was there on a warm spring day, so my pics don't have the same romantic/spooky quality.
After a long soak, two facial treatments, a skyr smoothy, a nice conversation with some Americans including a couple from Seattle who had just arrived that morning, another couple, and a single woman, I had a nice lunch at the LAVA restaurant, then got the bus to the airport, had time for shopping before boarding the (uneventful) flight home.
Here's a funny coincidence. The day before, while touring Snæfellsnes, Tom and Phil, the two Brits on the tour, talked about an American girl who was staying at the hostel and hanging out with them. While I was talking to the American couple at the Blue Lagoon, they asked me for some ideas of things to do, and I recommended the Snæfellsnes tour. The single woman in the group said that two English guys from the hostel where she stayed had gone on that tour as well.
It took a few days to get reacclimated to Pacific time. The first two mornings I woke up between 2:30 and 3:00 and had a hard time getting back to sleep. But I think I'm back on track now.
Now that I'm back, too late for me to take advantage of, the New York Times' Frugal Traveler is doing a summer trip to Scandinavia. This week's article on Copenhagen has some good hints I wish I could have taken advantage of.
And yesterday, an article by Henry Alford appeared in the Times on planning a visiting Stockholm based completely on blogger advice. Maybe someone will use this blog for that purpose one day. Henry used Nectar & Pulse and Spotted by Locals, neither of which I had heard of, and both of which I really wish I had. I will not forget about them when I'm planning my next trip.
It's amazing that this trip I planned for almost a year is now over. I was afraid I'd feel let down by no longer having my vacation to look forward to, but I'm still exhilarated by the many wonderful experiences and the memories of the people I met and the things I saw. I can't wait to go somewhere else new and exciting. I have a year or so to decide where, and then another year to start planning, so I can travel in spring of 2014.
What did I learn from this trip that I can benefit from in planning the next one? Probably not as much as I should have. I didn't have enough time most of the places I went, but I don't regret anywhere I went. I kind of wish I'd skipped Ærø in order to spend an extra day in Copenhagen, but I'm glad I saw Ærø, and I would have regretted it more if I hadn't.
I regret more that I didn't get to spend more time in Naantali. But then we get to all the extra things I could have done with more time. It's really pointless.
So I reject all regrets. I did this amazing journey. I know there are many journeys that would be far more exotic, greater adventures, bigger adrenaline rushes, more excitement. But this is the journey I took, and I have three weeks of memories I will cherish forever -- and a mountain of pictures to help me remember them.
I will probably plan my next trip the same way. It will likely be a two-way compromise, a balance between how many different places I visit and how much time I spend in each place. I'm not getting any younger, so I might strike that balance a little closer to the more-time-in-each-place side than I did for this trip.
Wherever I go, read along on my next blog!