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Iceland

Ok, this one might be a long one! So, this trip was unexpected and completely awesome! Our family totally loves exploring new countries. And sometimes, you happen to look at your airline miles account and realize, “oh my gosh – we totally have miles to go somewhere”.  Fast forward a few months and our family of four is off to Iceland! The land of fire and ice – volcanos, glaciers, geothermal everything, puffins, whales, cool people, incredible geography. The list goes on and on. They have a lot of things going right there and we loved learning all about it. I literally love going somewhere new – whether near or far – and learning how other people live. It’s so interesting to me. Iceland did not disappoint.

Side note – our system now is solid. We totally travel by carry on backpack only. Bag on our back and small activity/camera bag! Keep it simple. I wasn’t sure we could do it this time with winter wear. But truly – at the end I would have been fine with even LESS than I took. I mean, long underwear every day, fleece top, fleece pants….jacket/hats/gloves/boots on my feet – that was really all I needed!

These two – epic travelers. Better and better every time. I love them!

First stop Reykjavik. Three days here in an apartment right on the main drag. It was ideal.

You guys – AirBnb – do it – you won’t regret it. Grocery store, cooking in for a few meals, washer/dryer, quiet place to retreat to, usually allows you live more like a local. The BEST!

Blue Lagoon. SUPER fun even if people say its touristy. One of the natural wonders of the world and so fascinating!

Basically this entire country is incredibly interesting. Geothermal, only country in the world to power/heat their country using nearly all renewable resources (half is geothermal energy), there is no army (police offers don’t even carry guns), 99% of the country is literate, simplicity of living, family values, it was snow covered when we arrived and it felt like we were on the moon….the list goes on and on and on. You drive and drive and see vast mountains, lava fields and two lane road cut into the middle. No homes, no buildings….just nature.

Now, let’s talk for a second about the food. First, thankfully Nate found Icelandic Cheerios – the boy loves his go-to snack anywhere in the world 🙂  And can I just say going to foreign grocery stores IS. MY. FAVORITE!!!!!!! Apparently it’s Nate favorite too! Are you wondering why yet? Well, because its a great place to interview locals about their favorite Icelandic candy (insert a million laughing face emojis).  “Audrey, where’s your brother? He’s over there talking to some locals”!

 

THE BAKERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Holes in the wall and SO good. FYI – you will pay $6 US dollars for a hardy loaf of homemade bread. Along with another $5-6 for your coffee and about $25 per plate at dinner/lunch. Yikes. You learn VERY quickly to hit the cafes, and SHARE meals!!!!! It’s no biggie – you figure it out! You just have to be mindful and prepared!

We had a blast exploring. Just hop in the car and go. Don’t worry about the weather. As the locals will tell you, “you don’t like the weather? just wait 5 minutes”. We cruised up to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. TOTALLY beautiful.

 

And the Icelandic Horses. They could really be a post of their own. Jon Bon Jovi has NOTHING on these manes! A few cool facts……

  • The Icelandic horses have five gaits; walk, trot, canter, tölt (tolt) and skeið (flying pace). …
  • Icelandic horses originally came to Iceland on Viking ships. …
  • Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported in the country. …
  • 1000 years of no cross breeding means that the Icelandic Horse is the purest breed in the world.

After 4 days in the Reykjavik area, we hopped in the car and drove about 2 hours east to Reyhkolt – part of the Golden Circle. We rented this adorable cabin (AirBnb that Audrey awesomely found and we quickly booked – thanks A) and settled in for 4 days of good, solid exploring! The kids got right to playing!

We also stumbled upon the BEST TOMATO SOUP OF OUR LIVES! They also reportedly have the best bloody mary of all life – but we didn’t sample that one. Fridheimar – Google it and if you are ever in Iceland – you must stop at this super rad greenhouse/tomato haven/restaurant.

Day #2 at the cabin had us bunkering down for the hurricane force winds that were forecasted to come through in the morning. And then your family decides to go out and experience them! Crazies.

We read books, played cards and snacked! By early afternoon the winds passed and we found ourselves down the road hanging out at the local hot springs and steam baths (that were literally built over steaming geothermal hot spots in the earth!) Before I forget. Applesins. Nate & Audrey’s signature drink of the trip! Requested everywhere we went!

Now, this could very well have been the craziest and coolest thing I’ve ever done. Silfra is a crack formed in the tectonic plates between the North American and Eurasian plates and is located in the Þingvallavatn Lake in Iceland (the crack grows about an inch per year).  This rift/fissure is filled with glacier water! We all snorkeled the fissure while it snowed. It was literally like putting your head under and entering another world. Clearest water ever and you can see deeper than ever! At one skinny point you can be touching Europe/Asia and North America at the same time. My kids were so BRAVE !!! I mean seriously BRAVE! I would have understood if either of them had bailed at any moment.  💙💙💙 But they didn’t. They faced forward and DID IT! 

This was Nate’s face for the first 15 minutes. He was SOOOOO cold!

He had two chances to bail on our 40 minute snorkle. At his last “out” option I told him I’d go out with him – that it didn’t matter either way. He stared at me thinking quietly to himself…….then he decided…..he’s finishing…..he didn’t bail you guys. I almost started crying right there in the water. Meanwhile, behind me – Audrey was happy and grabbing my fin and totally in AWE of everything she was seeing. It was crazy amazing!

If you are still hanging in there with me on this post – THANKS! I realize it’s a long one.

Ok – post snorkel – we hit up Geysir & Gulfoss. Both must sees and only about 10 minutes from each other. Ah, mother earth – thanks for the fun. Also – thanks for the blowing wind, snowstorm and sparkling sun all within 10 minutes!

Our last days of exploration took us to the south part of the Island. It was WINDY. I mean the kind of wind whipping off the North Atlantic Ocean, bouncing off the mountain/glacier then rattling our car. And I’m married to the guy who in the middle of moments like these says, “You know, I heard it can get so windy on some of these roads it can flip a car”. Thanks Todd – thanks for that!

But along the way guys – the waterfalls……ay yi yi!!!!!!

Every day we took a different route. Even back to the airport. We took the road along the south coast. WOW! The snow had melted off and revealed the moss that I’ve heard so much about. The moss that if you walk on and destroy it takes 100 years to grow back. Not kidding! But truly – the mountains – then the lava fields COVERED in this thick moss. It’s unreal. And this all butts right up to the icy coast of the crashing Atlantic Ocean. It’s a site to see!

In summary, we just saw a small part of this super intriguing country, but we TOTALLY loved it.

Such kind people, beautiful earth, interesting history, simplicity. I loved it.

Thanks Iceland!

xoxo

-Stacy

 

April 17, 2018

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