Did you take a summer vacation? It’s always fun to hear where other people are exploring and recharging for the year ahead. Below, four A&F employees share their favorite recent trips, including spotting wild Icelandic horses and navigating the massive Tokyo subway.
Reykjavik (pronounced Rake-ya-vick) is the capital of Iceland, but the city is smaller than Towson. When you step off the airplane you feel like you’re in a European version of the town from Leave It To Beaver—it’s very quaint and everyone says hello.
The landscape is striking. We took a day trip to the southern coast where we walked on glaciers and went past waterfalls. There are black sand beaches and wild horses feeding on big bales of hay. It was so pretty. And even though the weather was in the mid 20s to low 30s, we saw lots of people swimming! The Icelandic hot springs are used to fill communal pools and also supply the buildings with geothermal heat, which costs next to nothing. We saw tons of windows open in the winter. – Carol Wettersten, Assistant to the Vice President
Kona is on Hawaii’s Big Island, but the town itself is tiny—maybe 10 blocks long. It has two sandy beaches with clear turquoise water, but the rest of the coastline is covered in sharp, dark volcanic rock. There are dramatic climate differences from one side of the island to the other—from desert to rainforest and everything in between. We hiked to see Kïlauea, a live volcano, and saw red hot lava shooting from its sides surrounded by acres of desolate volcanic rock, with no plants or animals as far as you could see. It felt like being on another planet.
Every night we’d walk to a local stand to get a volleyball-sized Hawaiian shave ice. The owners reduce pineapple and other local fruits into fresh syrups and pour them over shaved ice. It’s delicious. I also tried way too much of the local Kona coffee. It is great, but full-force. – Jeff Sutton, Associate Director of Procurement
Astoria, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia
My siblings and I joined my mother on a cruise in celebration of her 85th birthday. We stopped in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Astoria, Oregon; Victoria, British Columbia and Vancouver. Astoria was a unique spot—it’s beautiful and rugged, right on the banks of the Columbia River. The town actually triples in size when a cruise comes in! Vancouver is very cosmopolitan and 21st century—very bikeable and walkable. You can stand in the middle of the city and look down the street and see the road disappear into the water.
I love cruises—it’s like taking your hotel room with you to see a bunch of different places. A really good tool for shopping around is VacationsToGo.com – they consolidate all the cruise lines and you can search by location/line and compare prices. It’s a fun site to explore at night with a glass of wine. – Joe Oster, Vice President
My brother lived in Japan for 20 years, and this year I finally made it over for a visit. We stayed on the outskirts of Tokyo in his traditional Japanese farmhouse, which had beautiful wood beams and rice paper doors inside. The city is massive. You could spend hours going from one side to another, and the subway system is monstrous and meticulously organized, down to lines painted on the platform corresponding to where the subway’s doors will open. There’s a famous intersection called the scramble that has hordes of people all dodging and dancing to get across the intersecting roads.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was sailing in Tokyo Bay. We had to pass through special tsunami gates to get out of the marina, and then we were in the middle of a beautiful bay. It was strange to look up from this peaceful water and see one giant metropolis everywhere around you. – Dorothy Proctor, University Budget Coordinator
Have you been on any trips lately? Where’s the next place you’d like to visit? Share in the comments below!