Ég hafði mest ótrúlega frí með stúlkunum mínum. Af hverju spyrðu Ísland?
Haha – kidding.
I’m not going to even attempt to write this blog in Icelandic. I’ll have all I can do to get the actual names of the key sites we saw spelled correctly. Here is the thing with the Icelandic language – they combine several words into one, which is why most of their words have so many letters. They also have several characters we don’t – so attempting to learn while over there was….. difficult.
So, right off the bat – I’ve had lots and lots of people ask two main questions:
#1: What’s with all the International travel all of a sudden? The short answer is: Why not? We’ve never traveled outside of our safe and comfortable destinations (Florida, Mexico, Vegas, etc.). The reasons were pretty simple: We were familiar and comfortable with the well-known. Traveling to the unfamiliar could carry a little bit of hesitation with it, but with the internet and research, we’ve been able to travel all over Ireland and Iceland seamlessly. And as far as the cost? I can tell you that a long weekend in Minneapolis is comparable to many International destinations. I dare you to stop reading this and check it out. Well, maybe read this first and then go check it out, but you will be surprised at how affordable traveling outside of the U.S. can be. My biggest takeaway? How beautiful other cultures and landscapes are. Welcoming, kind, clean, and fun. I’m addicted and can envision a lot more travel outside of the USA in my future.
#2: Why Iceland? When the girls left for college, we began to have the conversation of a mother/daughter vacation to celebrate their adulthood when Hannah turned 21. With her birthday happening in January, Missy (23), Hannah (21) and myself started discussing where we would go. To be perfectly frank, I honestly thought they would pick a ‘spring break’ type location, so when they tossed out Reykjavík, Iceland I was at a bit of a loss. Knowing virtually nothing about this country, I started doing some research and was immediately intrigued with the beauty of the landscape and the Scandinavian design/culture of the city. In contrast to our trip to Dublin last month – this was NOT a cheap trip. Since the entire island country sits atop of a volcano and the bulk of the vegetation there is moss – everything is imported or grown with great effort. Having now experienced Iceland, I will tell anyone who will listen: Save your pennies and put this on your bucket list. Wow. Breathtaking. Beautiful. I can’t come up with enough words to describe the experience.
Day 1: Since this is an overnight flight, we knew our main task for the day was staying awake until at least 8pm Iceland time (+5 to Central Time Zone) and just get a good night’s rest. We booked a day at the Blue Lagoon retreat and found a tour company that transports you there from the airport and then to your hotel when you are done. Given the airport is 45 minutes away from the city, this was a great option. The hot water set with a backdrop of snow-crest mountains is amazing. The minerals in the pools will make your skin luxurious for days and days. Once we left here, we headed to our hotel and then set out to explore the city. The town is very Scandinavian in feel and everyone we encountered was friendly.
Day 2: We set out on a bus tour to visit the Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation centre, Geysir, Gullfoss (Golden Circle Waterfall) and Thingvellir National Park. Despite it pouring rain (and I mean soaking rain, non-stop all day), we had a blast. It helps to be prepared with the right outdoor gear to be in the elements. Once back in the city, we had a wonderful dinner and took in the city sights.
Day 3: This was a bigger day for us with lots and lots of amazing stops. Thankfully under sunny skies and warmer temps we set out on a bus tour to see the gorgeous Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, the Sólheimajökull glacier, and the Reynisfjara black sand beach, with the Reynisdrangar rock formations and basalt columns. Mid-day, we stopped in Vík for lunch. If you are a Game of Thrones fan – some of these locations are used in the series.
Peppered between the beautiful site-seeing excursions, we did a lot of walking around, taking in the food and general sites of the city. The food offerings in the city ranged from fancy (foodies, you will be in heaven), along with tons of street-food options. Believe it or not, hot dogs are a specialty and we had some at a pop-up stand that has been visited by lots of famous people. Even in the cold and rain, there was a lineup of people waiting.
There is so much more I could say about this trip, but I’ll let my photos tell the rest of the story. Be warned, there are a LOT of them (much to the dismay of my girls, but seriously, did they think I wasn’t going to take a zillion?) – and posted in chronological order. All were taken on an iPhone by either myself or the girls. As beautiful as Iceland is, my best memories of this trip come from experiencing it with my beautiful daughters, who are getting ready to set off on their own path. Amazing trip, memories to last a lifetime.