May 16, 2016

Iceland: Reykjavik, See You Later

We wrapped up our inside jokes with dinner and drinks at Snaps and a trip to the Blue Lagoon before we all flew home. See you later Iceland!

May 14, 2016

East Iceland: Sneafellsness Peninsula

Sneafellsness Peninsula was very cold. We tried to go camping but the campgrounds were closed due to the bathroom pipes being frozen. Ya, not tourist season for a reason. We ended up in an Airbnb in Grundarfjörður near Kirkjufell Mountain. 

We spent the next couple of days exploring the peninsula. We found Hotel Budir (black church) and we decided to hike along the coast to Arnarstapi. From the trail sign it didn't sound like that long of a hike - we were hoping to be in Arnarstapi by the afternoon for tea and cake (I mean, I was traveling with the Scottish). Well, we got lost or the trail ended somewhere in the swamp flats. That is up for debate. We were getting desperate to make it to Arnarstapi before the coffee shop closed so we trudge along, in defeat, to the road to hitch hike the rest of the way. Car, after car, after truck, after car drove past us and no one, no one (!!) offered to pick us up, so we became a road block and a very nice couple gave us a lift. I think we overwhelmed them with our thankfulness and relief for finally getting a ride. Sometimes, you just really need cake. 

One of the days, we ate at Sjávarpakkhúsið which was the cutest restaurant, in a cute town with great food. Later we found Grindavík Lighthouse. Wow, that is orange. And we wrapped up our tour of East Iceland at Laugar I Saelingsdal hot spring for a night of camping and cards.

May 12, 2016

Iceland: Dog Sleeding

We spent a night in a Reykjavik Airbnb between a week in South Iceland and the upcoming week in East Iceland. We needed a real bed, hot showers with clean towels, wifi and a place to defrost. And then this life of Airbnb "luxury " led to another night so we took a day trip and went dog sledding. This was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity because I have done it once and I don't need to do it again. I feel bad saying this but it is true. It is a very expensive hour of figure-eights in a snowfield while learning Icelandic dog sledding commands and driving over dog poop. Yup, the dogs poop on the go and the sled (with us on the sled) runs right over it. Anyone who has been dog sledding before, can probably relate to our initial shock when we found this out. However, there is nothing like a navy blue one piece snowsuit and learning about each dogs style of poop to make the day memorable! By the end of the ride we knew what dog had pooped by just looking at it. FYI. 

May 11, 2016

Iceland: Golden Circle

After exploring South Iceland on our own for a week the Golden Circle was like "Oh, this is where all the tourists are." With that being said, you have to THANK Iceland for not having an entrance fee to see any of the Golden Circle tourist attractions. Nowadays, it is amazing that you can still visit something this touristy for free.

The highlight of the Golden Circle was meeting an Icelandic stag do. My curiosity led me to a group photo and trying to bargain for their handmade by grandma sweater. I failed at bargaining for the sweater but I did come away with a viking hat and a group photo. So maybe I didn't fail at all? 

May 9, 2016

South Iceland: Westman Islands but really Heimaey Island

Heimaey Island, the largest island of the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), was spectacular. It was almost like we were in a movie. There were young local families walking the neighborhood, people working on their homes or gardening, and others moving in. Everyone seemed happy. We drank the Kool-Aid, as they say. We definitely should have stayed the night. We couldn't believe how amazing it was. Were we really on an island that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption?

The ferry over to the island was easy and organized, classic Iceland. We left the car for the day and walked on the ferry. Heimaey Island is small so it was easy to get around. While there, we hiked the red volcanic mountain, visited the Eldheimar Interactive Exhibition (most well done museum, ever. Ever.) and hiked Herjólfsdalur behind the music festival venue. Of course, the views were stunning. Can I move in?

{ Herjólfsdal and the the very steep zigzag hill }

May 8, 2016

South Iceland: Skaftafelli, Hof, Jökulsárlón & Hofn

We camped for three nights at Skaftafell under the Northern Lights. One of those nights I woke up to a frozen tent - ice fell off the sides as I unzipped the front door. It is safe to say Iceland is very cold in May. Thank god for down sleeping bags, down jackets, wools socks, wool hats and heated bathrooms.

From the Skaftafell campsite, during the day, we were able to hike up the ridge along the glacier. I can't get enough of the views - in one direction there are mountains and the other is the ocean! 

Luckily my Iceland viking gang had set up a work project that required us to all pile into a eight seater plane and take to the skies. For the next hour we flew around one of the highest mountains in Iceland and above a melting glacier while shooting GoPro and taking photos. The plane widows were open the entire time so I now know what early hypothermia feels like. It took so much energy for me to move my fingers to take off the lens cap but it was totally worth it :). 

{ lobster sandwiches at Hafnarbudin }

{ Jokularlon Lagoon }
We eventually needed more groceries so we drove past Hof and Jokularlon Lagoon to Hofn for lobster sandwiches at Hafnarbudin and a Bonus Grocery Store haul. The drive was long so we stopped along the way to explore. We arrived at Jokularlon right before sunset. The silence of the icebergs with the sun setting in the background was perfect. 

May 4, 2016

South Iceland: The Road to Vik

Our wifi connection in Iceland was few and far between since we were camping. As much as we loved being disconnected sometimes you just need to post a few Instagram photos. To our surprise the coffee shop at Solheimajokull Glacier had the fastest wifi (and decent sized lattes). Also, this was our first glacier sighting of the trip and it was awesome - these photos don't do it justice. We never ended up going on a glacier walk but we need to leave something for next time. Right?

The DC-3 Plane Wreckage doesn't seem to be in the Lonely Planet (yet) but thanks to Instagram's location map we were able to figure out that the plane crash was on our way to Vik. After missing the turnoff first we looped back to park with all the other cars randomly pulled off on the side of the road. We started the 45 minute walk to the ocean in the rain and it just so happen when we arrived we were the only group there.

Vik is the most Southern village in Iceland and a major refueling point before continuing east. After lunch at the gas station we scrambled up the hillside for epic views and then walked the black sand beach before pilling back into our 4x4 and driving on.