Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

My CRAZY True Story about Colin Kaepernick in Egypt

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It started off like any other 4th of July in Egypt.

 

The sun cut through the hotel shades giving my wife and I a perfect view of the distant pyramids of Giza from our room.

 

I had been dreaming of seeing the pyramids since I was a little kid. I knew all about them…what I didn’t know was what was waiting for me inside.

 

Inside the great pyramid of Giza

A bad picture inside the larger corridor going to the tomb room.

So off we go, rambling through a maze of Cairo traffic (which is INSANE) and we finally made it to the Great Pyramid. I was in awe…and when I found out that my wifebought tickets to actually go inside, I was beside myself.

 

Inside the Great Pyramid is a narrow long climb into the tomb chamber, a climb that only fits one person at a time through some parts. But it isn’t a bit deal since it is pretty small and only like 10-15 people are in there at a time. So as my wife and I were about to leave, we saw a party coming up and waited for them.

 

But then something caught my eye. I made eye contact with one of the gentlemen walking up and he looked…familiar. Maybe my father’s friend, maybe someone I knew from high school…I didn’t know him, but I knew him, if you know what I mean.

Zack Oates Annie Oates

So I brushed it off and after a few hours of camel rides, and pictures and visiting more sites, we drove the short distance to the Sphinx. I was posing for a picture when I looked to my side and there was the same guy!

 

‘What are the chances?’ I thought to myself. Out of ~8,000 people there that day, the same guy I bumped into inside the Great Pyramid would be right next to me at the Sphinx hours later.

 

It was then that it hit me!

 

It was Colin freaking Kaepernick!

Colin Kaepernick

I pulled my wife and tour guide aside and told them who it was as I snapped a quick pic and they both insisted I go up and say hi, since my dad played for the 49ers. (Bart Oates…ya, I pretty much always won the ‘my dad could beat up your dad’ argument growing up.)

 

Knowing how pro athletes could be sometimes, I didn’t want to bother him, but my wife, always up for adventure, ran up to him and said, “Hey! Could we take a photo with you?”

 

Colin looked at her blankly and said, “Why do you want to take a photo with me?”

 

A little surprised, since it was the first time my wife had talked to a real celebrity (especially one so embroiled in scandal), she said, “Oh, well you look like Colin Kaepernick.”

 

“I am…and?”

 

Another pause.

 

“Well, his dad used to play for the 49ers and is good friends with Steve Young.”

 

Then his quizzical face turned sour. “I’m not a fan of Steve Young. He has said some not nice things about me.”

 

And with that, he turned and walked away.

 

(Only if it would have been a week later, after Steve Young said he was “surprised” he remained unsigned, maybe my wife would have gotten a kiss with the picture!)

 

My wife turned around and said with a sly smile, “It was for the orphans!”

Image result for nacho ramses douche gif

He’s talking about Ramses…get it? The wrestler who didn’t give the signature? Egyptian pharaoh? …? Eh…? Ah…come on!

 

So that was that.

 

The most random double encounter in a day with the CK (short for Colin Kaepernick).

 

Crazy.

 

Couldn’t believe how random that was and just figured that was that.

 

…but I was wrong.

 

The tour ended.

 

We were dropped off at the hotel, took a quick nap, and then decided we wanted to take a last minute trip to the Egyptian Museum.  As we were walking through one of the 107 halls viewing one of the 160,000 artifacts as one of the ~250k tourists that year–I looked up as I almost bump into someone.

 

I would have been more surprised to see one of the mummies rise up.

 

It was…ready…guessed it yet?

 

Ya–it was our tour guide!

 

No, I’m kidding.

 

It was Colin freaking Kaepernick…again!!

 

I am not. even. kidding.

 

Colin Kaepernick Egypt

I had to grab another creepy photo because well…SO WEIRD I had to.

I wanted to go up and say hi, but figured I’d leave him alone unless I sat next to him on the plane home too.

 

But seriously though…is that not just crazy?!

 

In this giant city, we bump into him as one of a dozen or so people inside the Great Pyramid (I did grab an accidental video of him, but too grainy to make you believe me), a couple hours later end up standing next to him at the Sphinx, and then 19km away and 5 hours later, I literally almost bump into him in a random room of a HUGE museum with hundreds of people bustling around!

 

I mean it was like fate was trying to bring us together. I’ll put it this way: if I were single and Colin Kaepernick was a single woman, I would have thought we were supposed to get married with how random the whole thing was.

 

Later I found out that he was supposed to be in Ghana looking for his roots or something…but hey, I won’t hold that against him.

 

So in the end, what do I think?

 

I think that he might have taken a photo with us if we told him we agreed with what he did off the field; if we didn’t mention Steve Young; if we weren’t white Americans; if he wasn’t supposed to be on the other side of Africa…but hey, I don’t agree with what he did, I do know Steve, I’m a proud American, and Egypt (turns out) isn’t Ghana.

 

And THAT is my bizarre story of sort of meeting the [insert adjective of choice] CK in Egypt.

 

Five Tips for Traveling in Iceland (with 7-day itinerary)

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Iceland scenery

Okay, so it seems like everyone is going to Iceland (due to a combination of cheap airfare and Instagram), so I thought I’d save you hours and hours of research and help you plan an itinerary to get the most out of your week in Iceland. This is the blog post my wife and I wish we had prior to going.

 

(Also note: We are not getting paid for any links or tips here–this is straight up our opinion.)

 

Overall here’s what you need to know about traveling to Iceland: Getting there is cheap, staying there is cheap, doing ANYthing there is super pricey, but man…the place is beautiful!

 

My wife and I did the whole trip for $2,700 for 1 week ($1,400 flights and hotels through Groupon Getaways + $300 rental car + $1,000 food, gas and activities for both of us).

 

 

1. When should I go?

 

For us, it all revolved around the northern lights. That was the main reason we went. I’ve always wanted to see them and we got lucky enough to catch them for a bit.

 

Summertime pictures look incredible, but no northern lights. Wintertime is simply enchanting, but northern lights are fickle (http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ that is the site where you can get a forecast of how strong the lights will be and the cloud cover).

 

Northern Lights were a bucketlist item for us, so we went in the winter and were lucky to have a day where the lights were strong and the cloud cover was minimal.

 

 

2. Should I rent a car?

 

renting a car in iceland

They drive on the right side of the road and renting a car for a week should set you back less than $350USD. If it is stormy and wintertime, the roads will be pretty rough, but it is WAAAAAAaaaAAAAY cheaper to rent a car (even with gas being $7-$8/gal) than doing tours the whole time.

 

Also, I loved being able to stop along the way to pet Icelandic horses, video goats battling and stay longer/leave earlier as we wished. If you don’t want to drive, and are okay paying a lot for tours and need the local history voice-overs…then do the tours.

 

 

3. What should I eat?

 

Iceland breakfast

So I’ll give a couple of restaurants that we ate at, but don’t be shocked to see that the prices are way more expensive.

We ate burgers and fries (no drinks) and paid $60USD.

Yeah.

Not even kidding.

And no, it wasn’t the best burger OR fries I’ve ever had…in fact, they were pretty okay.

 

We did breakfast in the hotel every morning, made a little sandwich for the day and bought some snacks along the way and then ate out for dinner in Reykjavik. I thought it was a good combo and helped keep costs down for meals.

 

There were four restaurants that I MUST recommend in Reykjavik (and keep in mind, Iceland is known for their incredible fish dishes…but I detest fish and yes, I’ve tried it since I was 4 years old and yes I still don’t like it and no I don’t take Omega 3 pills and yes I’ll probably die from it…but I’ll die without a fishy grizzled look on my face).

1. Bergsson Mathus for great breakfast and brunch

2. Kryddlegin Hjortu has amazing soup and salad bar for dinner

3. Snaps Bistro Bar for some great sandwiches and duck salad

4. Vegamot for just all around great food–the open steak sandwich and the noodles were great and this is a popular local eatout

 

 

4. What should I do there?

 

So make plans, but be willing to change the days around of those plans depending on weather.

 

We were based out of the CenterHotel Klopp in Reykjavik, which was a GREAT hotel with a central location. Hot water had good pressure, good breakfast every morning and great service.

 

Day 1: See the city and chill.

reykjavik church

Get in, take a short nap, walk around the city and keep yourself up until at least 7. You can lose the first 3 days if you go to sleep too early to take too long of a nap. Not worth it. Also, the drive to and from the airport from Reykjavik is about an hour or so and is fairly pricey. If you have a rental car, you save the money of transportation to and from the city.

 

Day 2: Blue Lagoon and northern lights.

The Blue Lagoon Iceland Zack and Annie Oates

The Blue Lagoon is the super cool hot spring you always see on Instagram. It is even cooler than the pictures. Yeah, it costs like $100USD to go, but sheesh, it is cool and I did not feel that I overpaid. Note, you MUST have reservations. Also note: there is a dry sauna and steam room–try both of those out too while you’re there!

 

The northern lights is one of those things that makes it so much easier to have a rental car because the tours are charging you tons of money to just drive you 15 minutes out of the city and if you have a car, you can decide when to do based on the forecast.

 

Day 3: The Golden Circle and City Pool

Gulfoss waterfall Iceland Zack and Annie Oates

This place is seriously awesome. It is a beautiful day-trip to catch a lot of the main attractions of Iceland: waterfalls, horses, hot springs (if you want), hikes, custom foods, etc.

 

Here are three sites I found useful in doing this drive:

  1. http://theblondeabroad.com/2015/09/23/the-ultimate-guide-to-driving-icelands-golden-circle/ This one has a simple map you can use
  2. http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2014/12/drive-it-yourself-the-golden-circle/ This one has a more detailed map
  3. https://expertvagabond.com/golden-circle-iceland/ This is a good overview

 

We then came back to the hotel and went to a pool in Reykjavik. There are some sprinkled all over the city, so just pick one and go. They have hot and dry saunas and hot tubs of different temperatures. Very relaxing ending to any day.

 

Day 4: Snæfellsjökull National Park

Black beach in Iceland Annie Oates

This is a few hours to drive up there, but it is so worth it! The countryside is breathtaking and the views along the way are incredible. The black beaches, the cliffs, volcanoes, wildlife, lighthouses, churches, everything is just awesome.

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/50/e0/f8/50e0f82f8641738ac96c6f1ef0ae2b6c.png This is the only decent map I’ve found on this drive.

 

Day 5&6: Drive the South Coast

So admittedly, we were not able to do this because of the weather, but from what I’ve heard this is such a lovely trip and can be extended to stay for one day out there at the end of the dive and come back the next day.

 

http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2015/01/drive-it-yourself-a-south-coast-adventure/ That is the link we were going to use…but alas, it will have to wait until next time we go (in the summer).

 

Day 7: Snorkeling

20161124_123559

Okay…I know it sounds crazy, but I’m telling you…snorkeling was so much fun–even in the winter!

 

It was soooooooo cold and seemed crazy at the time when it was sleeting rain and the water was just at freezing, but it was incredible to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It looks like a stream from above, but when you get down there, it goes down over 100m and you can see all the way to the bottom if the sun is shining. The water is that clear.

 

I’d recommend going in a dry suit (they do have a wet suit option is you are a masochist) and this is another one of those things that must be booked in advance with a tour company. We ended up booking it the day of, but had to go through a bunch of hoops and almost didn’t get it done.

 

My body was not that cold, but my face and hands got a little chilly. Even though I’m a baby when it comes to cold, I wasn’t uncomfortable–it was just the thought of it that made it cold. The dry suit kept me pretty warm. Bring an extra change of clothes though, because water leaked into my suit and I was sure glad I had something dry to change into in the car.

 

A tour company we saw a lot of people using was this one: https://www.adventures.is/iceland/day-tours/snorkeling-and-diving/into-the-blue/. You can find it cheaper though.

 

 

5. Any last thoughts?

Snæfellsjökull National Park

Yeah…go!

 

Iceland is a beautiful country with amazingly kind people. I loved sitting in the hot tubs and just talking with the locals (and don’t worry, because almost everyone speaks English). They are really used to travelers since there will be 1.3M people who visit this country of 300k in 2016.

 

It is a great way to spend a week of your life and will be a trip you will remember forever.

 

Like with all traveling, you will never have the time, you need to make it. If die never going to Iceland, it isn’t because you couldn’t find the time, it is because you didn’t want to go–and that’s fine. Just be honest with yourself. You have full control over going and can do it for a very reasonable price. Look, you’ve made it this far into the post, so either you are seriously considering it or already decided to go.

 

If you have decided to go: yeah man! Rock on and enjoy the trip. Let me know of any other good restaurants/activities I can post.

 

If you are still considering it: just do it. Put aside $50/mo to go and you’ll be able to afford it in no time. If you can’t take that much time off of work, for for fewer days. Just make the decision and do it.

 

Let’s put it this way: I’ve been to 34 countries and this is the only one I already have plans to go back to.

 

Happy journeys and if you have any questions, drop me a comment.

 

 


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