Archive for the ‘Vacation’ Category

Iceland Trip

In August, Anjali and I went to Iceland.  This was a last minute decision to go to Iceland.  I was changing jobs and had a full week before my new gig started.  Iceland had been on our shortlist and the timing worked out great with tickets, hotel availability and the fantastic weather in Iceland at the time.

We started our journey in Reykjavik.  The trip from the airport to downtown is about an hour drive and right away, you can start to see the volcanic terrain of the island.

We spent a night in Reykjavik and did some local sightseeing, before heading out in our rental car along the northern coastline.

The main church of Hallgrímskirkja was right next to our B&B.

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The next morning, we began our drive to the volcanic Snaefellsnes peninsula.

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There were so many beautiful waterfalls along the drive.iceland003 - 1.jpg

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The drive ended at the ocean and the Londragar lava formations.  One can follow the lava flows from the mountain all the way into the ocean.  Fantastic!

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As we drove further into the northern part of Iceland, we ran across a seal “crossing” near Hvammstangi.  The seals were lounging in the sun and there were dozens of them. Look closely – there are three seals in the foreground and six in background.iceland1002 - 1.jpgiceland1003 - 1.jpg

On day 4 of our trip, we made it to the northern city of Husavik.  This is known as Iceland’s whale watching capital.  We took an all day boat tour on a a viking sailing vessel from North Sailing.  I’d highly recommend their tours as you will see from the below pictures.

On the way to the whale site, we ventured past Puffin Island – a natural habitat for the puffin birds.  There were tens of thousands of the birds.

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Finally, we got to the whale site and after about two hours of seeing humpback whales from a distance we finally got “lucky” and had one come up right along side the boat.  What a thrill!  We also saw a number of Minke whales – these whales are much smaller and faster.

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There was one whale that played along side our boat for at least 40 minutes.  According to the captain, this was quite an unusual treat.  Must have been the fantastic weather!

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Definitely the highlight of the trip and ingrained in my memories for life.

From Husavik, we drove a couple of hours inland and saw a pair of waterfalls called Dettifoss and Selfoss. Dettifoss (which is a short distance downstream from Selfoss) is know to be the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.

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Next stop and a bit further inland is Lake Myvatn. The area surrounding Lake Myvatn has the highest concentration of volcanic and geothermal sights in Iceland.  In a single day, we were able to explore pseudocraters, rock formations, lava fields, see mud pools and steam vents and eventually relax in a volcanic steam bath.

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These are photos from the Hverond Mud pits and Steam vents – a little off the beaten path but so eerie and quite smelly. Definitely worth the drive!

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iceland1022 - 1.jpgAfter Hveraond, we went a short drive to Dimmuborgr Lava formations and explored the natural lava formations.


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In the distance, you can see the Hverfjall Cinder Cone.  We spent a couple of hours and hiked to the top of the cone.iceland1024 - 1.jpg

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At the end of the day, we went to the Jardbodin Nature Baths.  It’s the northern Iceland equivalent of the Blue Lagoon Spa.  The water is heated and regulated by the steam vents.  Kind of an odd experience – probably would not go back to do this.

From the Myvatn area, we headed back to Reykjavik to catch our flight back to LA!

What a fantastic, experience and highly recommended!  With less than a week between booking our tickets and beginning on our journey, we leveraged the expertise of a travel planner from Kim Kim.  I’d highly recommend it as our planner Chris McCarty pointed us to so many sights we would not have known about.


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Mexico Vacation

We just got back from our vacation to Mexico City and Huatulco.

We landed in Mexico City and spent the first few days seeing the sights.  We took a day trip to see the pyramids in Teotihuacan.  These are the Sun and Moon pyramids and we got to climb to the top of both of them.





The ride back from the pyramids is about an hour and a half and we pass thru the mountain ranges and see the the most colorful houses.


On Day 3, we went to a small town on the Pacific side of Mexico about a 1 hour flight from the city.  We rented a nice beach house right on the sand on Playa Bocana just outside of Huatulco.


We had the most amazing sunrise every morning.


Here is a picture from the pool deck.




About a 10 minute walk up the beach, there was a reservoir with pink flamingos!


All day long, we would see the pelicans fishing in the ocean.


On one of the last days in Huatulco, we went for a river rafting excursion.


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It looks pretty scary but wasn’t too bad.

Check out this amazing photo of an eagle we saw on the river.


We are now back from vacation and getting ready for school after a long summer!

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After Bordeaux, we  drove a few more hours thru the South of France to a town called Toulouse.  My room mate from Harvey Mudd College lives there now with his wife and three kids.

The kids made some new friends and we had a great time.



Here are me and Laurent – visiting for the first time in 15 years!


khare-blog-0018Laurent has been busy for the last few years, building his own house from the ground up.

Here is a picture of the outside.  It is completely off the grid.. all solar powered and assembled from 40 foot shipping containers that he welded together.  Pretty amazing!




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From Bilbao, we drove a few hours to Bordeaux.  Along the way, we stopped for lunch at one of the beach towns in the northern part of Spain.




Bordeaux is the quintessential French town in the south of France.  This is the view from our hotel room.



We went at the perfect time of the year.  The grapes were abundant and the weather cool.




We went for a couple of wine tastings, the most memorable was in the Grand Cru area of St. Emilion.



The winery was Le Chatelet.  The owner was very hospitable and shared a number of fantastic wines.  We ended up buying a magnum of Chateau Le Chatelet vintage 2009 and will save it for a very special occasion!

Their wines are aged in an oak cask and then stored in an underground cave until ready to be sold.




Here is a parting shot of picturesque St. Emilion.khare-blog-0015

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After a few days in Barcelona, we rented a car and drove about 6 hours  to the northern part of Spain to Bilbao.  Bilbao is famous for the Guggenheim Museum. Here is the entrance to the museum.  Right away, you can tell it is going to be a very different experience.


Here are the boys on the bridge to the museum.


Here is the outside of the museum… couldn’t really take pictures inside as they were prohibited.


This is the giant spider protecting the museum!


During the week we went, there was a festival in Bilbao.  There was quite the part atmosphere every night.


Here is Annika enjoying one of the funky stores!


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We just got back from two weeks in Spain and France.  Our adventure started in Barcelona amongst all the fantastic architecture and museums.  From there, we went to Bilboa in the northern part of Spain.  We visited the Guggenheim museum in Bilboa.  Next stop was Bordeaux.  Only two days there but had a chance opportunity for  private tasting and tour of Le Chatelet winery.  Next stop was Toulouse where my roommate from Harvey Mudd College lives with his family.  Then back to Barcelona and the long journey home.  A total of about 1200 miles of driving and a lot of Tolls!

Here are some pictures from Barcelona.  I’ll post the other sights separately.

This is the family on the tour bus the first day in Barcelona.   This is a great way to see the all the major sights in the city.

Barcelona Tour Bus

Barcelona Tour Bus

Barcelona has the most amazing blend of both new and old architecture throughout the city.

Here is a picture of the “bullet” building or the Torre Agbar designed by french architect Jean Nouvel.  The outside lights up in different colors at night.


One of the most impressive is the Sagrada Familia church designed by Antoni Gaudi with construction going on since 1882.


The interior is much more impressive than the exterior.


Gaudi has influenced much of Barcelona architecture.  Here is a local park called Parc Guell.  The views are amazing.


The crowds were even more so!



Of course, no trip to Barcelona is complete without the Tapas.  We found our favorite vegetarian friendly Tapas Restaurant called La Ciutat Comtal near Plaza Catalunya.  This was a very short walk from our apartment in the Gracia district.  We tried several different ones but kept going back to La Ciutat.

Try the bravas, cabreados, padron peppers and their sangrias (both the white and red)!

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Fried Egg over Fries – Cabreados


Padron Peppers




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We just got back from our summer vacation in Santa Teresa Beach on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.  Once again we rented a beautiful beach house.  The trip to the house was a little more involved.  Two flights from Los Angeles to San Jose.  A two hour car ride to the Ferry terminal.  A two hour ferry ride  and then a 2 hour car drive!

Here’s the gang on the ferry ride to Santa Teresa.

The first of many beautiful sunsets.

Here’s a picture of the iguana in our back yard, affectionately know as Mr. Fluffy Pants. (don’t ask me why!)

Here is a picture of a parrot in our back yard.

On our second day, we all took surfing lessons.   Getting up on the board was not too difficult for the kids.


For me though… not so easy.  Its harder than it looks!

After a hard day of surfing or swimming in 80 degree water.. we would usually go out to eat at one of the many wonderful restaurants in Santa Teresa.

On one of the days, we took a short hike to one of the many waterfalls in the Mal Pais area.

This one took about an hour of pretty strenuous climbing and navigating rocks but was definitely worth the hike.

This is a picture of the swing at our house.  Many an hour was passed staring at the ocean!

Here is Annika enjoying the water and the sunset behind our house.

On one of the days, we went for a hike into the local rainforest.

We saw many capuchin monkeys, parrots, woodpeckers and many other creatures.

The beach on our last day in Santa Teresa.

A very relaxing vacation.  We are already planning our next trip to  (stay tuned).

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