TRAVELLING IN ICELAND- Part 3

I’m sad to say this is the last post about our travels in Iceland. As much as I want to re-live every single moment we were there, I realize I have four more countries to share about! Oh how this vacation was a dream come true! Anyway, if you missed parts 1 and 2 of Iceland, you can check them out here and here.

On our last full day in Iceland we still had the car rented so we decided to see the Golden Circle. This is a popular tourist route that many tour companies offer tours of. We figured it would be more enjoyable to be able to see all of the sites of the Golden Circle at our own pace and I’m very glad we made this decision. Our first stop was Pingvellir National Park, specifically the rift valley. This is the same area where we went snorkeling in the 2 degrees water, however, when we were on that tour we didn’t have time to see anything except the crack we were snorkeling in. As you can see it was very beautiful and completely strange to me. I’ve never seen the earth pulling apart like it is in this area.

Pingvellir Park

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones this scenery might look familiar; apparently they filmed some of it here.

Pingvellir Park 1

Next on our self guided Golden Circle tour was Gulfoss. A massively gorgeous and powerful waterfall. Notice the tiny specs of people in the background, THAT’s how big Gulfoss is!!!

Gullfoss

Below is what Gulfoss looked like when we followed the path down to see the waterfall up close and personal. See the specs of people in the top right hand corner? That’s where we were standing when we took the picture above.

Gullfloss 1

Kerio, a volcanic crater, was next. My favourite thing about this crater was how peaceful it felt to be there. The quietness and stillness were remarkable.

Crater

Apparently Kerio is 3000 years old, which is only half as old as the other craters in the area. It is believed that Kerio was formed when a cone volcano erupted and emptied it’s magma. The cone then collapsed inward after the magma was depleted. Of course we just had to climb down to sit by the majestic water.  The hike was way steeper than we thought. I may or may not have slipped when I was almost to the bottom!

Inside Crater

Last on our exploration of the Golden Circle was the Geysers (sprouting hot springs). One Geyser in this area, Strokkur, actually sprouts every 4-5 minutes! Here it is in mid-sprout:

Geysir

And yes, this area had a distinct sulfur smell, but since it was our sixth day in Iceland we were more than used to the sulfur smell. The tap water tasted like expensive bottled water, but it smelled like there was a boiled egg stuck somewhere in the pipes.

Believe it or not we saw all of the aforementioned sites before 2pm. We planned our day this way so we could spend the afternoon and evening of our last day in Iceland at the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon

It was a perfect decision. We floated in the geothermal spa all afternoon and even got massages while in the water. Heaven, absolute heaven.

Floating in Blue Lagoon

There was silica available and it was recommended that you apply it to your skin and leave it for 15 minutes before washing it off. Here I am with my silica mask on:

Silica Mask Blue Lagoon

I didn’t know it at the time but it seems that every minute I was in the water my hair was drying out. I wish I was exaggerating, but my hair felt like straw even after I washed it out with the special shampoo and conditioner offered at the Blue Lagoon. Now, don’t get me wrong, this was completely my doing. Blue Lagoon warned that this would happen and suggested wearing a bathing cap. Silly me didn’t see anyone else wearing a bathing cap and figured my hair would be fine. Luckily after 3 days of soaking my hair in oil for an hour each night, it finally started to feel normal again. Crazy eh? I definitely learned my lesson!

But lets be honest, dried out hair and all, our afternoon at the Blue Lagoon was 100% worth it. Most relaxing afternoon I’ve ever had. It was pure bliss. Here I am leaving the Blue Lagoon 😦

Last Evening in Iceland

Stayed tuned, next travel post will be about Norway 🙂

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TRAVELLING IN ICELAND- Part 2

When I posted part 1 of travelling in Iceland I figured one more post would do it for our Iceland adventure. Boy, was I ever wrong. After looking through photos for this post I realized we saw and did way more than I thought. So today I’m sharing our first day of road tripping when we drove along the south of the island. Our first three days in Iceland were filled with guided tours and adventures, so we thought it would be fun to rent a car and explore on our own for our last three days. I’m very grateful that we did because we didn’t have to follow any schedule. We saw what we wanted to see, when we wanted to see it. On our first day we were up by 6am, on the road by 7am and didn’t get back home until just after midnight. Yeah, it was a long day but a long vacation day is never a bad thing, at least in my books!

Our first stop of the day was at Seljalandsfoss, which is a breath taking waterfall:

At Seljalandsfoss

This waterfall was extra special because you could go behind it:

Behind Sejalandsfoss

Next stop was another waterfall: Skogafoss

Base of Skogafoss

We got soaked, and I mean SOAKED, visiting this waterfall. We noticed that no one was trying to get close to the base of the waterfall, so of course we had to see how close we could get. We got closer than this picture shows, but because there was so much mist we had to put our camera away so it wouldn’t get ruined. At Skogafoss there were stairs to the top of the waterfall, 425 stairs to be exact.

Stairs up Skogafoss

Half way up the stairs we noticed a dirt path that led to a small ledge. We followed the path and found this cool rock that kind of looked like a  face looking at the waterfall.

Skogafoss

We did end up at the top of the waterfall and hiked around that area for a while. There were lots of people who actually camp near the base of the waterfall and probably hike all around during the day. Definitely something I want to do, should I be so lucky to go back! Next we found a lovely black sand beach with lots of interesting rock formations to climb all over. We climbed to the top of a big one and found a little friend looking up at us from the water below. I think I squealed with delight for a good two minutes straight.

Sea Lion

Just around the corner from where we spotted our friend from, we found an amazing view of the beach. I just loved how foggy and mysterious it looked. Some people find lush greenery beautiful, but I prefer scenery with a mysterious allure.

Black Sand Beach

And you guessed it, we climbed down and got our feet in that cold, cold water!

Testing the Water

Then we drove to Jokulsarlon, a glacier lake in southeast Iceland.  We suited up in life jackets and took an amphibious boat into the lake. It was incredibly foggy when we were there, so we could only see what was right in front of us…which was glaciers, so it was an amazing experience!

Glacier Lake

You can’t tell from the photo above, but the water was perfectly clear and turquoise. It was the most beautiful (and clean) water I’ve ever seen in my life. I so badly wanted to jump in, but my memory of the 2 degrees water at Silfra kept my impulse under control

Glacier Ice

During the tour our tour guide took a small piece of glacier ice out of the water and passed it around for everyone to hold. I know, I know, who wants to hold ice? We did because now I’ve had the experience of holding 1000 year old glacier ice. Cool, eh?

1000 Yr Old Glacier Ice

Then the tour guide cut it up and let us eat it! And yes, I was SUPER excited to eat 1000 year old glacier ice 🙂

Eating Glacier Ice

After we experienced Jokulsarlon we found another glacier lake nearby. Forgive me, I forget the name of it, but it was gorgeous. There wasn’t really any fog at this glacier lake so we could actually see a lot from a distance.

Second Glacier Lake

And then we hiked down so we could put our hands in the glacier water. This was definitely a theme of our trip. If there was water, we wanted to touch it. The hike down to the lake didn’t look as steep as it actually was and there wasn’t really a clean path down either. This is one of the things I really loved about Iceland. There were very few sights that had been disrupted to make it easier for tourists to see. If you wanted to see it, you had to work for it.

Glacier Lake Water

Driving back from the second glacier lake we came across Laufskalavaroa, which is an area full of memorial stone figures. Passerby’s are supposed to bring a rock with them and add it to the area. Unfortunately we didn’t know about and had no rock to contribute to this beautiful site.

Laufskalavaroa

Laufskalavaroa Continued

Then we came across Velkomin ad Kirkjugolfi; a natural rock formation that doesn’t look like it’s natural at all!

On The Stones

And last, but definitely not least, we ended up at the black sand beach in Vik. It was breathtaking. I remember when we were driving there it was around 9pm and we were about 2 hours way from home.  The drive to the beach was out of the way and very unassuming so we began questioning if we should even bother trying to find the beach. We quickly decided that discovery was more important than sleep and we ventured on. As soon as we stepped onto the beach we both loudly exclaimed “WOW” and were ever so grateful that we decided to find this hidden gem. Words cannot describe my love for this beach.

Black Sand Beach in Vik

Vik Rock Formation

Rock Formation in Vik

Vik

I was left speechless. And I’m still speechless today.

xoxo Erin

TRAVELLING IN ICELAND- Part 1

I have the travel bug and I have it bad. Ever since I got back from vacation all I’ve been thinking about is where to travel to next. If only it were so simple, right? Things like money and work make packing my bags and taking off a bit more complicated. And I feel sort of grateful for this. Don’t get me wrong, it would be fantastic to be able to travel whenever I wanted to where ever I wanted…but I can’t help but wonder if I was able to do this, would I still value it the same? Would travelling still be such a magical thing? Or would I start to take it for granted?

Who knows, when I win the lottery I’ll let you know 🙂

Okay, back to vacation talk…sweet, sweet vacation talk! My partner and I were in Iceland for 6 marvelous days. On our first day we walked around the beautiful city of Reykjavik and drank more coffee than advisable. Our flight was overnight and we weren’t able to fall asleep on the plane so coffee and adrenaline were the only things keeping us awake. We also went whale watching on our first day. Here I am looking for the whales:

Whale Watching

Can you see them?

Whale

Yeah, me neither. We got a lot of really great photos of…water. We did see a bunch of whales though, we just weren’t very good at capturing what we saw!

On our second day in Iceland we went horse back riding on a lava field. I had never been horse back riding before so this was really neat for me. The lava fields were beautiful and like nothing I had seen before.

Lava Fields

How cute are the Icelandic horses?

Horse Back Riding

After horse back riding we went snorkeling in Silfra, which is a rift in the diverging North American and Eurasian tectonic plate boundary. Basically the two plates are pulling apart and we snorkeled in one of the big cracks. It was awesome. And cold. Really cold. Two degrees cold. Do you know how cold two degrees is? I didn’t realize how cold it was until I put my face in it…and my lips went immediately numb.

We obviously got suited up before we went in the water. We were provided “teddy suits”, which was basically a snow suit onesie. On top of that we wore a dry suit and then neoprene head cover and gloves. All of this made us very buoyant, comically buoyant. We were advised to keep our hands out of the water because of the water temperature. I didn’t listen to this advice since my dad had lent me his underwater camera:

Silfra Underwater

However, after taking one picture my fingers went numb and it was near impossible to take more- I couldn’t tell if I was pressing the button or not! Luckily I was and I got some photos. Here’s my partner floating along, face squished by mask 🙂

Silfra Swimming

After the snorkeling there was the opportunity to jump off a mini cliff into a deep part of Silfra. Jumping into unknown waters has never been my thing so I passed but here’s my partner mid-air:

Jump

Because our suits were so buoyant he had to jump as straight as possible to avoid accidentally punching himself in the face when he hit the water.

The next day we went on an intense cave tour through Buri Cave. It was terrifying, beautiful and challenging all at once. I’d never been in a cave before and didn’t know much about it until we got there- which is a good thing because had I known it was a 4 out of 5 in difficulty, I may have ran the other way. The first entrance to the cave was what I expected. Rather large and easy to climb down into:

Cave

Then there was a second entrance, which was much, much smaller than the first:

Entering Cave

Then there was a third entrance, which was impossible to take a picture of because it was so small and just looked like a crack. Probably because it was just a crack. We had to put our arms above our head and slither into the crack to get into the cave. Once we were in the cave though it had high ceilings, for the most part.

Inside Cave

The cave was created from lava flow, so the walls and ceiling of the cave were fascinating looking. I loved how the cave walls and ceilings dried in mid-drip.

Cave Wall

Unlike most caves created by lava flow, this cave only had one entrance/exit. At the end of the cave was a big 20 meter drop and that’s all. At one point the cave must have continued and exited to the surface, but where ever that happened has been closed off. The tour company we were with have gone down the drop and looked for more cave without avail.

Cave End

Here I am at the end of the cave, getting ready for the hike back to the entrance/exit. As you can see the last 300 meters of the cave looked kind of like a subway tunnel. It was basically flat ground and a very nice rest from the rest of the rocky climb.

Me Inside Cave

I will post about the rest of our days in Iceland in another post, but take a look at the photo below. It was taken at midnight. I LOVED being so far north that the sun never fully went down.

Midnight Sun

Beautiful. Absolutely perfect.

xoxo Erin