Sunday, December 20, 2015

Iceland Day 2

Its almost 70 degrees outside. In December. You know where its not 70 degrees in December? You guessed it - Iceland. You like that? 

I can't emphasize enough how bipolar the weather is in Iceland. It literally hailed, snowed and rained while we walked a block. It's not even that cold in Iceland but the wind - uff the wind - its soul shattering. 

Something I forgot to add in my previous post but I would like to emphasize now: take as many pictures as you can. Don't say "oh i'll take the picture on our drive back." Nope. No. Nada. Do. Not. Do. it. Just pull over whenever you want and take the picture. I missed many many shots that I regret not stopping and taking. As you're driving, there are road signs with a camera (don't confuse these with the speeding camera - we made that mistake), stop at these spots. Also, if you're driving, make sure your passenger knows how to use your camera (cough cough Bob had no clue). I regret not taking enough pictures. I regret not taking a picture of everything. Literally, take a picture of everything.

Day 2 in Iceland started as everyone had predicted - we overslept. My phone battery died (while Bushra's phone was charged at 100%). I think the biggest and most important consequence of us waking up late was the fact that we missed free breakfast; the only free thing we got in Iceland, other than the water.

I quickly changed and went to get the car out of the parking garage. There I was distracted by this wall mural.  One of the guys working asked me where I was from, and I told him DC (by the way, I was never sure how to respond - America? USA? The States? DC?). He told me his mom lived in Philly but he didn't know where DC was. Close by buddy. 

I assumed you could pay exiting the garage. My assumption was incorrect. Everything was in a foreign language and I couldn't understand anything. Oh and I'm in this big SUV blocking everyone else from exiting. I push the help button and the guy keeps on saying, yes yes pay pay. Uh, how do you pay pay? Yes yes pay pay. This was our conversation. Someone came to the rescue and I paid, I'm sure some crazy amount. So I exit the garage and I can't figure out how to get to the hotel. I see the hotel but of course there is no straight road and I can't tell whats a one-way or not. I say Allah's name and start driving. I ended up on a road which had a sign I could understand: Do Not Enter. Bob saw the idiot in the white SUV and came to my rescue. 

According my detailed itinerary, it was the day to see the West Coast: Akranese, Hraunfossar, Gerouberg, Arnarstapi, Londrangar, Djupalon, and Grundarfjorour.

We started our journey to Akranese. After much persistence and some yelling, Bob finally stopped on the highway so I could take these pictures. So pretty you guys. 

We also stopped at this random farm. That tiny little red dot is the farm house in front of the mountain. 

      First stop, Akranese. Akranese is a cute little port city.  One thing I notice was there there was no brown dirt anywhere. Everywhere you looked, there was black dirt. The colors, like my fabulous orange boots, really stand out against the black ground. 

I made a friend at this port named Gre-goooryyyy (if you have snapchat, you would have met him). He told me that the boat pictured below was contracted by an American to be built in Iceland. Once they started building the boat they told the American that they would need more money to finish building it. The American was like "yeah sure, let me just go back home and I'll send you money." 60 somewhat years later, they're still waiting for the money. 

Okay now the most important part of the day two: meeting these cuties. I begged and begged and begged and begged and FINALLY Bob pulled over so I could meet the famous Icelandic ponies. These ponies are so so friendly. Maybe too friendly. They come to you and nudge you so you can pet them. They also run after you when you're trying to run away from them so walk away slowly. Also, if you're going with someone, make sure they have you back. Bob stayed in her car, while I ran for my life. 

We skipped Hraunfossar because there wasn't enough daylight left to drive that way. Our next stop was Gerouberg. You see the squiggly lines on the sign, that sign means this is a tourist spot. So if you're driving and see this sign, quickly google what it is and if its worth stopping and seeing. Gerouberg is a place with Basaltic columns. I kept on telling Bushra during the trip and I'll say it again, I bet Iceland is gorgeous in the summer time, when its green and warm.

There was a snowy mountain front of us and Bushra was feeling adventurous so we drove a little bit. There we saw this stream. 

Next stop was Arnarstapi, another fishing village. These are the roads we drove on. Dotted white lines to show a two-way street. Wtf? We drove from behind that mountain. Literally no other car for kilometers and kilometers. Just me and Bob. 

This cool stone structure is Bárður Snæfellsás - cool looking Viking. There was a pathway behind the structure to see the ocean. 

It was getting dark at this point but we weren't willing to give up yet. We quickly drove to the next spot, Londrangar. These are ancient basalt volcanic dikes sticking out from the sea.  You had to park and walk to these rock formation.  The long was would take 45 minutes and we had maybe 5/10 minutes of light left.  Bob saw a man-made pathway and decided that was the shortcut.  There were tiny stairs going down and we walked as quickly as we could. Don't let this picture fool it, by the time I took this picture, it was pitch black - thank Allah for the wide lens I rented. We took a few pictures and decided it was probably not a good idea to be in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with no one else around. We started heading back and lost the pathway a few times; our car was parked behind the mountain we cut. Let me remind you again, its pitch black. Thank Allah for the flash light I brought. I may or may not have freaked out but Bob kept her cool. 

This was our last spot. There was no point of continuing our journey in the dark. We headed back to our hotel to maybe, hopefully see the Northern Lights. We stood in the dark for hours. One hour. Nothing. Moved to the next spot. Nothing. Our bus got hit by a house, yes a house, but no stupid Northern Lights. Stupid lights. 
We got back to our hotel around 2 A.M. and were knocked out. I made sure my phone was charged and set my alarm for 8, enough time to shower and more importantly, get some breakfast. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Iceland Day 1

It's finally here, the moment you have all been waiting for, an exciting summary of our trip to Iceland (only Day 1). 

Let me get the bad news out of the way first, no, we did not see the Northern Lights (I am pretty sure we got nazar). Yes we are incredibly sad but the trip was definitely worth it. 

Anyhow, you may be asking, Iceland? Why Iceland? To be truthful, I don't even know. I just remember standing in Bushra's kitchen showing her the Groupon deal for Northern Lights in Iceland (air + hotel + city tour + Northern Lights tour) and buying it. I still can't believe we went. 

You guys, I literally spent months researching and talking about Iceland. I am pretty sure I spoke to everyone who lives in Iceland, went to Iceland, or thought about going to Iceland. There is a lot of information online that is helpful and a lot that is not, but there is nothing like actually being in a different country and making mistakes. Bushra and I made a list of things that you should keep in mind when traveling to Iceland:

(1) Get a Traveler Rewards credit card so you get points and won't get charged international fees - I got mine from Bank of America. 
(2) If you're renting a car, check for traveler insurance (we did not and paid extra for insurance) and buy your own car adapter with phone charger (we did not and paid $20 for an adapter)
(3) Know the emergency line (its 112 in Iceland)
(4) Get an international line before traveling 
(5) Convert Icelandic prices into dollars by getting rid of the last two digits -- so if something is 1,400, that equals approximately $14. 
(6) Accept that fact that everything is Iceland is super duper expensive
(7) Make a list of places you want to see and decide which ones you can skip because there is not enough daylight in a day to see it all (applies in Winter only).
(8) If you are renting a car, know that there are speeding cameras everywhere. If you see a sign blinking on the road, its blinking because you were speeding and it took your picture. 
(9) Use Google Maps for directions because it works without the internet once you have already put in the address. We did not know this until we had used most of our internet. Internet is very very important. 
(10) Be careful of the roads. Roads are divided by a dotted white line and not a solid white line. There are lots of one ways and traffic circles.
(11) Clothing - take lots and lots of layers. We took socks (40 below socks are amazing), lined boots, gloves, hand warmers (very important), caps, scarves, sweaters, t-shirts, and tights (lined and regular). Don't b
(12) The weather is super bipolar in Iceland. It rains, snows and hails, all within 15 minutes. They have a saying in Iceland: if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes - a very true statement. 

Now the trip. We went Sunday night and got there early Monday morning (the states are 5 hours behind Icelandic time). The flight was about 5ish hours from Dulles. We landed at Keflavik International Airport. From there we waited until our rental car guy came from Sixt and drove us to pick up our car. It was pitch black this whole time. The sun doesn't come out until about 10:30 and decides to set around 4. Yes, the days were barely 6 hours long, which is probably why we didn't see as much as we wanted to. Anyhow, we got the car and drove to Reykjavik which was probably 45ish minutes. In Iceland, you drive on the right side of the road, American-style, but the speeds are in kilometers per hour. The road names are incredibly confusing so you can't really get around with GPS. There was a parking garage near the hotel so parking wasn't an issue. The street signs make no sense. There was a round blue sign with a red X and we had no clue what it was - means no parking. 

We got to our hotel but of course couldn't check in until after 1. Our hotel was situated right in the middle of Reykjavik - a lot of restaurants and shops within walking distance. There was no food on the flight so we went to the closest thing, that was open at 9, and had a $10 bagel. Ten Dollars. 

By the time we got done eating, it was time for the city tour. This picture pretty much summarizes Iceland. Dark. Wet. Cold. 

The first spot was seeing a piece of the Berlin Wall, this little neon dude right here. 

Right across this was the Former French consulate, the site where a meeting between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev took place to discuss the Cold War. 

Next was the Northern Light museum, which was meh (okay fine it was cool, I'm just bitter about not seeing any myself) but not as cool as the wall murals across the street. Iceland is really big into art and music and there are wall murals everywhere. My favorite were these by Guido Van Helten: 

Then was Hallgrimskirkja Church, try saying that quickly 10 times. 

Last spot was the Perlan or the Pearl. There is a revolving restaurant on top of the building where you can see the whole city. The guide told us that usually people go around the whole circle to see the city but there was no point of doing it today because it was so foggy and rainy. Everyone ran inside while Bushra and I walked around. We were literally flying because of the wind but walked/ran it all! It was raining and super windy by the time we got to the Pearl so there are no pictures. 

Afterwards we finally checked in and got our thing settled. Bushra wanted to "rest her eyes" but I convinced her otherwise (it wasn't easy). We walked around Reykjavik and bought some souvenirs. I was eyeballing the famous Icelandic wool sweater, but the cheapest was $150. $150. I quickly changed my mind on buying a sweater. We had dinner at a Pakistani restaurant (you don't want to know how much we spent here). Halal food is shockingly everywhere in Reykjavik. We thought it would be a good idea to buy food for the next day so we wouldn't waste any time/money doing that. We got a large cheese pizza for, wait for it, $28. We got back to our room and crashed. 

Day 2 started off in a very interesting way but before I write about that, I need to edit the pictures. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

2015 Recap

You guys, it's December. O. M. G. December. Let that sink in. Where did the year go? I don't even remember what I did this year. I don't even remember last week. 

So the last post was in September, lets try to quickly recap what has occurred since then. As I'm typing this, I'm thinking hey it's only been a few months since I blogged but it just hit me, its been more than a year. I passed the Bar a year ago. Woah. Anyhow, September came and went. Then came October. Nothing notable in October except PASSING THE BAR EXAM. That's right. This girl is officially a lawyer. I don't think I'll ever forget looking for my name. Oh yeah, Virginia posts names on a website, a PUBLIC website, for everyone to see. Bushra had agreed to check the site for me so I wouldn't have a panic attack. I just remember being on Facebook and out of nowhere seeing "I passed the Bar" statuses. I texted Bushra immediately and she wouldn't respond. One text. Nothing. Two texts. Nothing. A million texts. Nothing. I kept on thinking she isn't responding because I didn't pass and she didn't want to break my heart. After 30ish minutes, I finally had enough courage to turn on my computer. 15 minutes later, I had enough courage to open Internet Explorer. Another 10 minutes, I had enough courage to type the website url. Around this time, Bushra called me and said she had been in a meeting all day and that I had passed. AHH. PASSED. I finally checked online, scrolled to the Ks and saw the most beautiful thing: Komal Hameed Khan. I'm not afraid to admit it, there were tears. We then packed our bags and drove to New York! New York was, to say the very least, eventful. Some things that shouldn't be said publicly but definitely a trip I will not forget. Finally saw Grand Central. Ate from the Halal Guys. Walked in Central Park. 

November. I have no clue. 

December. I was sworn-in in Richmond and represented my first client with a Reckless a day later: Bushra Khan.

January - June. I was jobless. Reema got married. 

June. Ramadan. Got my first job.

July - August. Worked. Sabah got married. Went to a One Direction Concert. That's right, 1D and enjoyed every second of it. 

September. Laid off my first job.

October. Stayed busy doing nothing.

November. Found my second job. Went to ICELAND. ICE-LAND. 

All that blah blah to get to the main reason for this post: to brag about ICE-land. 

You may be thinking right now, Iceland? This fool went to Iceland and thinks its something to brag about. Oh its worth bragging about because it was beeeeeeautiful. Mountains. Waterfalls. Volcanoes. Craters. Elf houses. Trolls. Abandoned airplanes. Cliffs. Weird rock formations. Black sand beaches. Geysers. Hot springs. I think thats all for tonight. Enough to keep you wanting more. Ttyl. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Update

Can't believe it's September already. August went by super duper fast. It was just one thing after the other. 

We started August with a Bridal Shower for the Bride-to-be Sadiah. Mashal was the planner and she did a wonderful job with everything; just wonderful Mish-Fish! I have been seeing these floral crowns on Pinterest and I knew I had to make them for something. Mashal wanted a floral themed event so it was perfect! Mine was pretty amazing. Aww look at us. 

And then it was here, Sadiah's wedding. dun. dun. dunnnn. Still can't believe my BFF got married. Sigh. Still can't believe Bushra got married. Bushra's wedding, then graduating, then the bar exam, then Sadiah getting married. Everything is happening too quickly. Nonetheless, Sadiah looked beautiful on both days mashallah. Unlike Bushra's 4-day festivities, her wedding was 2 days. Thank God. After dancing all night on the mehndi, I don't think my body could have handled another 3 days. The winner from the mehndi night is Hajrah. Hajrah girlfran, your thumkas are on-point! Sadiah we had fun without you at your house--played luddu drinking homemade coffee. I miss the coffee. What I don't miss, the air mattress that died on me. 
August also happens to be a busy month for Birthdays. Saif (5th), then Ebaad (2nd) and then the birthday twins, Ghanva and Mashal. (Excuse the quality of these photos, they were taken with my iPhone--I should really start using my camera more)

Adieu August, you were fun!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Date 3, 4 & 5 Recap

I have loved each and every one of these dates (including yours Asu) and I'm sad that it's all over. With everyone's busy schedules, its hard to just get together and hang out. 

Date #3: Asu
Asu claims that our date did not count but it did my friend, it did. We spent it, together; I watched TV and Asu clicked away on her laptop, finalizing some proposal. We fought. We laughed. We chilled. It was amazing. 

Date #4: Asmara 
Asmara has been wanting to go to Burger 7 for months now so thats where we went. They have really yummy cheeseburgers and the Napkin Zone Fries. You have to try them--they have chili and mac and cheese and onions and of course, fries. Ahhh. So good. The best part, its all halal. Beware, you will be in a food coma afterwards. We couldn't finish our fries so we took them to go and even though we both swore we wouldn't eat them in the car, they were all gone by the time we got home. We also shopped at Kingstowne and met up with Asu at Ikea. Asu is an Ikea addict and basically lives there. 

I also completely forgot to take a picture of Asmara. Sad face. 

Day #5: Samreen
Rena and I went to Mate in Georgetown for our date. Mate has really good sushi (get the volcano, believe me) and the best virgin mango mojito I have ever drank in my life. After some sushi, we went to Baked and Wired, which is literally up the street. I went here with Sadi a few years ago and loved it. This time I went it wasn't as great as I had remembered. The cupcakes are good but I felt like they weren't Georgetown Cupcake level this time. The icing was super sweet and the red velvet was pretty dry. Nonetheless, we ate our cupcake by the harbor. As we were eating, we saw three women walking around that were wearing t-shirts that said "We are sisters" and a picture of them together. Rena thinks this is a great idea and is thinking about getting shirts for all of us. Prepare yourself other Khan sisters. After Georgetown, we went to Tarboush in Arlington and then the World Market in Kingstowne. The World Market is such a great place! So many pretty things. 

And after my date with Samreen its over. I guess it's a good thing. My face isn't reacting very well with all this junk food in my stomach and with Sadi's wedding coming up, my face needs to be in good condition. Oh lawd. Sadi is getting married. I'm going to go be sad and watch some Harvey Specter now. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Date #2: Nosheen

I spent Tuesday with the lovely Nosheen (and Utbah crashed our date). We decided on dinner and a movie. Okay fine, I decided on dinner and a movie and it was the greatest plan ever. We ate at Olive Garden and watched Guardians of the Galaxy; the movie was a-ma-zing! I am not a big 3D fan but that was the show time we ended up going to and I highly recommend watching the movie in 3D--totally worth the extra money.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Freedom & Date #1: Bushra & Ati

It's finally over. Driving to Roanoke wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was quiet peaceful. The Roanoke Civic Center was crazy cold. I should have brought sweaters to wear under my suit like some smart people did. I don't think I will ever forget where I sat: Lime, Row 4. No more waking up early. No more spending hours studying about negotiable instruments and the million different ways a contract can be accepted. The misery is finally over. Studying for the Bar may have been the most stressful thing I have ever done in my life. Worse than law school and law school really sucked. BUT at least its over! FREEDOM

After the exam I decided that I would have a date with each of my girls. 5 days, 5 sisters. They dealt with my craziness and they deserve time with sane post-bar Komal.

Monday was Bushra's day. Ati really wanted to go to DC so thats where we went. We got a cheesesteak from some place in Arlington (it was really good) and then ate at National, watching the planes fly by. Bushra really wanted to go paddle boating in DC but that plan fell through; don't say "paddle boating" near her, just believe me. We did end the date with a trip to Georgetown Cupcakes, which as always, is amazing; the red velvet and peanut butter ganache especially.