Iceland

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I thought it we were going to have an early spring? Like starting now. The weather in the DC area was so beautiful and warm last week. I was so ready to start pulling out my cute summer dresses and light jackets. Then it all turned over the weekend. I try my best not to complain in my personal life, but this is not good for many reasons. First of all, you’re messin’ with the flowers! The beautiful saucer magnolias blooms that I photographed last week, waiting for the peak, are all gone now. I’m pretty sure this cold weather will have a bad effect on the cherry blossoms as well but I hope not. Secondly, I think my body is confused. First it’s hot, then it’s cold then its hot again. I’m starting to feel the effects of the temperature change in my throat and head. Not fun.

So instead of going outside, I decided to sit in front of the computer and find an image that depicts how I feel. This one from Iceland describes it perfectly. It was along the main (and only) road from our drive in Reykjavík to Höfn. Along one of our million and one stops for horses, I came across this scene. The horses were the things that first attracted me to this image but then my favorite part is the huge cloud behind them. The road signs adds to my confusion of the weather but either way, I’m not liking the snow. Something so clean and neat perfectly shows what it’s really like on a road trip in Iceland.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m not a big fan of being cold. Being in Iceland is different because it’s what’s expected, but not this see-saw rollercoaster of temperatures. End complaint. For now, mother nature.

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Every time I think about these horses, I smile. They were every where in Iceland! So short and so hairy. They’re just so cute.

This one was taken on our first day out. It was probably the worst day we had weather-wise. When we landed the pilot over the speaker said we were experiencing 50 mph winds. You could literally feel the plane shaking while we were de-boarding. Add that to all the rain and it was kinda miserable being outside. Luckily the wind didn’t last all day, but the rain sure did. It was raining off and on but mostly on.

So what do you do on a rainy day in Reykjavik? Drive the golden circle! We saw these horses everywhere but all the roads on the island are fenced off. I think it’s so the horses don’t run into the middle of the street, but they could be there for other reasons other than that. I just don’t know. But the whole time we were driving, my friend Mel and I were on a hunt to find horses that were close enough to the fences so we could photograph them but also possibly pet some of them. After pulling over about 5 gagillion times, we finally ran into a group of them that were right next to the fence. Mel suggested I change my lens from my 16-35mm to my 70-200mm so we could stand far enough away from them that we could still get good pics but not scare them away. So I changed my lens and ran out the car.

We slowly started walking towards these horses. Then we realized, the closer we got to them, the more they would come to the fences. They’re super friendly! I immediately ran back to the car to change my lens back to the 16-35mm wide angle and got super close. This was taken at about my hip. I wasn’t looking, I just kept on clicking, hoping for a good shot. Obviously, the horses did not mind all the rain and wind. I’m pretty sure these guys thought my camera was food. Which it is definietly not.

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A couple of blog posts ago, I talked about my favorite place in Iceland, Höfn. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, click here) It’s located about 5 to 6 hours away from Reykjavik so there were a lot of stops along the way. One of the best “road side attractions” was Jökulsálón lagoon. The only reason why I called it a “road side attraction” was because it’s right off the main road and you can’t miss it! It’s this humungous lake at the edge of Vatnajökul National park where pieces of Vatnajökul glacier break off. If you look at a world map and see Iceland, you’ll see how theres one huge glacier on the south east side of the island. That’s Vatnajökul glacier.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so cool. Literally. As soon as we parked the car, I hopped out with my camera ready. I was so mesmerized by these glaciers that I didn’t want to waste a second. Just the whole experience made it seem like you were on a different planet. I mean you can see the top of the icebergs, but I can’t even imagine whats underneath. How big these icebergs really are and how long they’ve been in this water. And if the icebergs were so big, how freakin’ big is that glacier? Man, I can’t even imagine.

Right across the street you go to Diamond beach and a lot of these icebergs have washed up to land and they are gigantic. So many of them were taller than me. I had a lot of fun climbing on them, running my hands (with gloves on) on them, and just taking note of all the beautiful blues I was seeing. It was so tempting to say “Icebergs right ahead”. I tried my best not to say it but I think it slipped out once.

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If you plan on visiting Iceland, you gotta do a road trip. Reykjavik is cool and all but the best part of Iceland is the country side and being at one with nature. So if you’re really into the outdoors than you gotta go. We rented our car from Lagoon Car Rental and they were amazing. They picked you up from the airport and everything was so easy-peasy.

This is a basic break down of how we spent our 4 days in south Iceland:
Slept on plane so we could hit the ground running.
Day 1: Fly into Keflavik International Airport at 5a. Drive the golden circle. Stopped at Laugarvatn Fontana for a quick geothermal bath dip and then ended at Gullfoss, this AMAZING waterfall.
Day 2: Drive to Höfn but make an exceptionally long stop in Vik for the black sand beach and waterfalls along the way.
Day 3: Spent the morning in Höfn and Jökulsárlón then drove to spend the night in Vik.
Day 4: Early to rise so we could drive back to Keflavik but made one last stop at the waterfall, Skógafoss

But if I had to do it all over again, I’d spend a couple more days in each of these cities and made sure I:
-preordered tickets to the Blue Lagoon (they book up at least 3 months in advance)
-researched more of the hidden/off-the-beaten path waterfalls
-checked out the abandoned DC plane on Sólheimasandur
-cleared the cloudy/rainy skies so I could see some of the northern lights
-cleared the weather so we could finally go on an ice tunnel tour
-maybe see what’s in the northern part of Iceland?

Obviously, I have no regrets from this trip. It was one of the best trips ever. But I know there is just so much more to see. I can already feel the itch.

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Shout out to my friend, Sam who told me about Höfn beach while we were planning our trip to Iceland. This little town was definietly a highlight of the whole trip. It’s about 5 hours east from Reykjavik but worth every minute of the drive. I say that because the drive was actually pretty scary. We ended up staying in Vik all afternoon and by the time we were ready to leave to go to Höfn, it was already dark, raining and snowing. The roads are paved and there are little reflectors on the side but its still kind of difficult to see. Especially since there are so many one way bridges. It was hard to gage whether or not the person on the other side of the bridge was coming towards you or stopping to let you go. So if you do go to Höfn, it’s probably best to go while theres still some sun out. Especially since there were so many fantastic views that we missed out on. We had no idea we passed the glacier lagoon until the next day we were driving in the daylight.

So we spent the night in Höfn not really being able to see what was around us but the next day was amazing! We spent the morning at the beach and it was absolutely perfect and beautiful. It was also the only day that it didn’t rain while we were in Iceland. The best part was that the sunrise lasted for sooo long. I’d say we were able to enjoy the sunrise for about an hour, if not more. Of course the colors and the sky changed during the hour, but it really allowed me to go to different parts of the beach and try different angles. I wish all sunrises and sunsets were like this all around the world.

This is also the little town that we saw the horses from my blog post the other day. I would love to spend more time here on my next trip to Iceland.

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Our flight into Keflavik landed at 5am. Luckily I had the whole aisle to myself and was able to lay down and sleep the whole 5 hours to Iceland. Don’t you just love it when that happens? Anyways, so when we got to the hotel I was ready to drop off our stuff and start exploring. My friend, Mel and I discovered these geothermal baths and steam saunas at Laugarvatn Fontana. It was the first stop we were going to make along the Golden Circle drive in southern Iceland so we were pumped to relax for a bit after all that travel.

The baths were so nice. I’m a big fan of soaking in a hot tub so this was perfect. Even though it was raining off and on while we were there, it didn’t stop us from enjoying our little excursion. So behind the baths was this big lake. It was beautiful but definietly cold. I could see a layer of ice on top of the water. But the craziest part was that people were actually jumping into that lake! I don’t know. I don’t get it. So the whole time Mel and I were watching in amazement from a window in the baths as these people timed themselves to see how long they could stay in there. Then it was hilarious watching them run back to the baths and jump in. This little girl who must of been about 8 years old did it at least 3 times. More power to her.

After about 2 hours of soaking, we finally got up and explored the rest of the golden circle. On our way back to the hotel we had to make a stop back to Laugarvatn Fontana because it was the only place we knew of that had wifi. It was worth it though because the sun was setting and we got this amazing reflection of the mountains in the lake.