Iceland Day Six

1 April 2015 

Happy April Fools, ya fools! :)

Today was by far the most incredible scenic span of road we’ve driven thus far on this trip. We left our little Laekjarkot home in the mountains just outside of Borganes and headed toward Stykkishólmur. The drive was about two and a half hours but along the way there were a few fjords to check out, amongst beautiful black sand beaches. We took the long road that follows the coast line of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula because it was meant to be a beautiful drive. Well, it would have been if we were able to see the road! I was at the wheel for this leg and we had TOTAL white out conditions. Remember how I mentioned that Iceland and Florida have weather condition (despite temperature) similarities? Yeah, proof once again. The snow and winds were so intense that we couldn’t see five feet in front of us – we could barely see the car on our tail. Sorry buddy, I wasn’t in a rush to drive where I couldn’t see. Anywho, check it out… 

   

Once we got in to the mountains the wind calmed down a bit. Our next challenge was the curvy unplowed (seldom, at least) road that stretched the middle of nowhere.  

   

We came across these neat little pockets of river playing peek-a-boo through the snow. 

   

    

Until we finally saw water once again.  

 

When we got to the shore line we discovered the most magical black sand beaches. I’ve read of these beaches in Hawai’i but never had the chance to see them. Wow!

   

   

   

     

Every stretch along the way from here to our little town for the night was jaw dropping; the churches, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the fjords. 




      

  

     

These views don’t get old. We were so excited to see our first fjord! I mean, can you beat this gorgeous piece of Mother Nature goodness?!

   

We arrived to Stykkishólmur a bit earlier than our check in time at the hostel so we explored what the town had to offer. Now, this is a big town here in Iceland. Many told us not to miss it so we intentionally stayed the night here. Fifteen minutes after arrival we had seen it all! Ha. It’s yet another beautiful spot, don’t get me wrong! Probably one of our favorites. 

   

  

See that little red dot in the top right corner of the picture above? That’s a light house – remember that for later in this post. 

 

I found the famous rye bread in a little bakari (bakery) they make here. The woman in the shop told me they cook the bread for twenty four hours and in empty milk cartons. So neat! Mom, I will try to bring home an authentic recipe. SO good. 

  

We got a recommendation for a yummy restaurant for dinner and it just so happened to be about 8 steps from our hostel’s back door (size perspective of town). Of course the entire menu was seafood based. Do you know me? If you do, you know I don’t eat seafood. I put on my big girl pants and tried the fish burger made with a fresh cod they caught locally. Alex had a bunch of mussels and then spoon fed her self the sauce. She loved her meal; I did not. But that’s okay! I tried it, and I am beyond sure that anyone with an appreciative palate for seafood would have loved it! 

 

 

We can’t figure out if eating at 7:30 pm is equivalent to the early bird special (sunset isn’t till ~9 pm right now) or if there just aren’t enough people around to make a restaurant look full. Great spot though! And primo local brews! :) 

    

Once we finished dinner and dessert, we literally ran (I mean it – literally!) out the door and through the docks, across the harbor, and up a big hill to catch the last moment of the sun’s flirting colors as they submerged below in to the oceans blue. Remember that red light house a few photos ago? Yeah, that’s what we RAN up to after stuffing our faces. Wise decision? Maybe not. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. 

 

  

  

  

  

Still not regretting being somewhere warm x

Iceland Day Five; We Meant To Do That

31 March 2015

“That” being sleep an hour and a half past our alarm then drive an additional eight hours than intended (kind of) today. 

Let’s start with how last night ended – frozen hair in the hot tub and discussing the Northen Lights with our new friends from London. We saw one while we were all getting to know each other, though it’s probably debatable as it also may have just been a cloud. It was another beautiful night regardless. The man at the desk told us all he would give us a wake up call if the lights danced in the sky through the night but we never got that call. 

So as I mentioned we got moving a little late, we hit the road by 7:45. Our planned direction this morning initially was supposed to bring us back up a bit North of Reykavik but multiple people told us that making that extra stretch east along the southern coast toward Jökulsarlon to see the Glaciers was worth it sk that’s what we did. The driving was insane at points along the road – super strong winds and covered in ice. Alex maneuvered the speaker system and set up our iPhones with Bluetooth so we could jam out…to Christmas music. Ha. Anywho, check out this drive – we saw some glaciers along the way too: 

   

 

Baby volcano.

   

Glaciers we are going to be climbing Saturday.         

My new friend with four legs. 

This view from our guesthouse tonight is beautiful. Like everything else. Even if we did drive past the street three times. 

           

Iceland Day Four; Not Lost in Iceland

30 March 2015

The alarm went off and we hit snooze. 6:30 felt too early, so we decided 7:30 would feel better. It did. After breakfast we said goodbye to Ingi, our Igdlo host who was beyond hospitable. The car rental facility picked us up and we got our wheels for the week.

 

 I’m very purple today. Bye, Reykavik!

  

We hit the road toward PING PARK and got lost in the frozen tundra… but not really. It was breath taking – reminded me of a road trip I took out in the Western US with my grandfather and his older brother when I was in high school. Alex and I were warned about the winds on Golden Circle road but only realized just what everyone meant when we made our first stop. 

     

The map nearly flew out the window. We drove in a bit further and found a beautiful lake. Of course, my immediate reaction was how I wanted to jump in. Then I got out of the car. Brr!!!

   

         

 

As we continued down the road through the park to the town of Geysir to see one of the largest natural geysers in the world, we had the parking karma gods in our favor (this a very busy site), we rushed out of the car to catch a glimpse. Wow! How neat. Alex has seen geysers before and being that she is a earth science teacher, she taught me about the pressure build up under the very thin crust. A handy travel companion in a place like this :) 

   

      

I have some awesome photos on my camera of this, but since I’m doing this blog 100% from my phone you’ll have to know me to see those back home. You need to see this. All of you! You must see Iceland. 

We followed the one main road and a whole bunch of roundabouts to a small town called Hella where we are staying for the night – we splurged, $40 each for a hotel instead of a hostel. Man oh man was this worth it! Stracta Hotel is insanely fresh. That’s a good thing. It opened last summer so everything still feels new and smells of fresh wood (again, it’s a good thing). We ate a quick snack of cheese and crackers then headed in to their hot tub and sauna for the evening. 

   

        

Check out our view from this place, just a few volcanoes. One ready to erupt any day now. No big deal. 

   

  

Oh, and our room number matched my swim cap I packed. Meant to be. 

 

Alex had a yummy fish soup for dinner (her second fish of the day) made with fish caught across the street. I had a bar and a gerber sweet  potato squeeze. Well balanced meals, ha. The wonderful woman who works here gave us a little treat sampler. Wish we knew her name but when Alex asked she said its a typical Icelandic name that’s too hard to pronounce. 

 

Hot tub again now, then bed. Early up to explore the icebergs! :) 

Iceland Day Three

29 March 2015

Happy Birthday to one of my very best friends! Alexa, I hope you had the most wonderful day x

We slept so well last night! I don’t think we budged an inch till the second the alarm went off…ten and a half hours later. Our intention this morning after breakfast was to meet in the city to go off on our glacier climbing adventure! But it didn’t work out that way. Alex booked the tour for us last week back in NY but slightly misread the transportation situation so we didn’t have the means of getting to the glacier, ha. Fret not, my friends! Today worked out for the better. We came back to the hostel, showered, rearranged our weeks schedule, then booked and made our plans for the rest of the week – which still include glacier climbing, amongst Rift Valley snorkeling between the tectonic plates (!!!), lava cave tube climbing, and fjord exploring. Yup, be jealous. Iceland is pretty neat & I’m still glad I’m here rather than Miami (sorry, ekk).

  

Did I mention we woke up to fresh snow? Iceland is a lot Ike Florida. Okay, that sounds bizarre. What I mean by that is that we woke up to snow, then walked for a while and put on sun glasses and took off our rain coats, then at one point we walked in to a store and it started raining, then we walked out of said store to hail. Then the sun shone once again. And then it hailed with the sunshine, for three minutes. It’s basically the same as Florida…except cold. 

We walked all over downtown Reykavik and booked a few more nights at a backpackers hostel and the popular Kex hostel (where DM told me Mumford & Sons has played!). Check out this view near the Cathedral:  

 and the Cathedral:  

  

  

  

 

Mom, I thought of you when I saw this bar stool. How neat is this!  

 We stumbled upon some live local (religious?) music in the flea market.  

 And found an Irish pub down the road from some graffiti.   

  

  

Alex found a great new outfit & I found a great way to prioritize time. ;) (I did NOT purchase this, to be clear.)

  

 The views along the water are incredible. 

   

We stopped at the hostel to drop our stuff and change before heading out for dinner and drinks. We settled on Indian food – cannot believe Alex has never had Indian before, so what better place than in Iceland to try it (I had my favorite Indian food ever in Luxembourg) – then walked around till we came across a great little Irish pub. Side note: why is it so hard to find people in Reykjavik when the population is 208,752?! Our New friend pointed out it was a Sunday. Oops. We listened to Irish Folk music and sipped our Icelandic Einstök white ale until the third Einar we met decided there was no better topic than American Politics to discuss with us. Learned a lot about sensorship and the figure head that is the Icelandic president. Interesting is an understatement. This bar was pretty cool though, it was a whiskey bar. Alex and I had the feeling it was definitely the type of place our swim friend Ed R. would have loved. 

    (Einstök: Thinking you you, Brian!)

     

 

Alex had the yummiest alcoholic ginger beer with lime. Need this is the US!

  

The Indian restaurant had the best poster in their bathroom: 

 

And how great is this miserable statue near the city center?!

 

 

Love the street art. 

  

Driving to a geyser tomorrow. Woohoo!  By the way, have I mentioned how I won’t miss the smell of sulfur in the water? Bleh. Night!

  

Iceland Day Two

28 March 2015

I’m not really sure if this is a post about a new day or if I should consider it just a continuation of yesterday since we haven’t really slept at all yet. The flight was good but relatively short so we only slept about an hour maybe max. When we landed around 7 am local time, we scarfed down a plethora of cruciferous yummies… Anyone who knows me knows I love my veg, so I had packed a bag of lettuce, roasted asparagus & broccoli, and raw beets chopped and ready to nibble. Alex had a few apples with her. Usually you’re not allowed to bring produce in to a country but apparently Iceland isn’t too strict with their customs clearance. We didn’t want to waste the veg so we stood at baggage inside customs and ate all of it (breakfast…3 am NY time, ha). After finishing up, we proceeded to walk through customs which consisted of no line and not much of a check. Man, that would have been good later in the day. 

We hopped the bus from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, as the BL is sort of on the way or at least closer to the airport so we figured we’d knock out or first day there. Once we checked in and got our baggage we realized that was one of the greatest 35€ ever spent. The Blue Lagoon is incredible. It was so soothing and cleansing and relaxing – nothing could have been better after flying. There was a natural steam room and sauna, and the most magical silica mud to rub all over your face and body. We came out pruned all over but feeling like a million bucks! 

 

 

   

  

        

   

  

 Four hours later of well spent time in the sauna, steam room, showers, and lagoon baths we packed up and headed to Reykjavik. Alex and I both passed out of the bus in to the city. Very necessary. We checked in to our guesthouse room (hotel/hostel ish, very neat and super friendly), unpacked a little, made some plans for the next few days, then headed to the store to grab some groceries for dinner. I’m starting to get very vague in my descriptions now as our day came to an end because we are so tired. Can’t. Keep. Eyes. Open. Made an awesome dinner, chatted with the owner, booked a hostel for Monday night, and now we must sleep! Tomorrow is ice climbing and glacier hiking! Stoked. 

  

   

Oh, by the way we saw a little bit of the Northern Lights on our flight. It was incredible! We happened to be sitting next to an air pollution / ecosystem scientist for Cornell who was a really neat person with whom to share the experience. Okay, bed time! 

When A Normal Person Travels To Miami…

27 March 2015

I travel to Iceland! My friend Alex and I are off on an adventure to the chilly island of glaciers, Northern Lights, and hot springs. After a terribly cold and slightly U enjoyable winter in New York most would not set their sights on a trip somewhere else cold in March. The little Nordic island in the North Atlantic was an easy choice for Alex and I to set our sights on though, being that we both love adventure and exploration. This trip came to be exponentially fast, as we literally were talking about places that neither of us had been and decided spur of the moment to just book it and go (over English drinks with correctional officers…you know, your typical good decisions kind of night). Kidding, kind of.

 

 

Anywho, here we are. I had such a sense of nostalgia upon walking in to the airport this evening. The colorful signs, beeping sounds of intercom announcements, even the smells brought me back to my happy place. It hasn’t been that long – okay – but it’s my sense of home. Does that make sense? I have always been an in-betweener from Florida to New York, and as I’ve gotten older (another year last Sunday to be exact!) I find that travel is my stability in life. I know that probably sounds strange to most of you, though if you know me I think you’ll understand. 

   

 

Our flight was delayed an hour in departure due to inclement weather, yadah yadah. We made friends with an older woman, a retired teacher, who shared stories of her numerous adventures she’s found her self in with her best friend; off roading in backcountry on one of the smaller Hawai’ian islands was my favorite. Then made friends with a little girl wearing a bumble bee backpack. Ah, the places you go and the people you meet. On the flight, we both snagged exit row seats (long leg problems solved!!) and cozied in making new friends with the people around us. 

 

   

This trip came at a good time for me, a time when I feel I really needed to reground myself through a lack of confinement. I am looking forward to the next week of doing my favorite thing with one of my favorite people. 

  

Off we go!! :)  

   

An Unfortunate Goodbye

Saturday, 15 November 2014

I think I’ve always had this sort of semi-acceptance of death. I don’t tend to be the crier in the room, as long as I can see each situation as a passing after a well lived life. Mind you, I’ve only ever been to three funerals/wakes in my life that I can remember.

The first was when a childhood friend’s father passed away when I was maybe seven years old. I vaguely recollect walking in to the room and seeing the casket, but I don’t believe I knew or fully comprehended death at that time. Now growing up I had many pets which equates to many pet funerals – those I remember, so I must have had at least a basic understanding.

My grandfather passed away when I was nine, but he lived in NY and I was in Florida. This death I understood and was surely impactful, yet still I believe I rode the fine line of not fully understanding/not fully knowing to what extent sadness should exist or longer.

Then my grandmother passed away when I was twenty-two years old. Between those years, I only experienced animal passings. This loss was greater to me because I saw and experienced and felt the process of death. As I sat by my grandmothers bedside with my dad and many aunts and uncles, I accepted that it was her time to move on. I saw in that very room the beauty she had created and the blessings she was leaving behind. It was time for her to join Rafa because like he said, “finally, it is a matter of love.” I loved my grandmother and wouldn’t have wished for an end, yet I found my acceptance in knowing that her life was incredibly well lived.

One month later, my great grandmother (on the other side of the family) passed away. Vovo was something else, at 102 years old she would have me bring my laptop over to show her photos of what I’ve been up to. She knew more about what was going on with everyone than anyone else in the family – and I say this with emphasis on the everyone because she created an empire. I cherish the fond memories I have in Vovo’s apartment growing up with all my many aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and all those other distant lineage paths that I can’t quite definite yet I know I’m related to. Though I unfortunately was unable to attend this funeral, this loss too was something I felt more able to accept because I knew her life was incredible; I knew she lived.

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The third funeral/wake I attended was for the friend of my high school best friend’s mother. I went to support those I cared deeply for, and I watched people around me with tear filled eyes.

It’s a funny emotion that most experience after a loss – that empty sadness that really does not ultimately do anything physically to make a situation better. Tears offer comfort but they cannot change the outcome. I don’t know how or why I developed a slightly detached perspective on death… Maybe it is because I have experienced so few in my life, and because those few were substantially lived lives. Who knows.

One thing I do know is that never in my life have I felt so devastated as to the loss I experienced today. Today one of my best friends passed away. She was a friend, a sister, a mentor, a source of encouragement, a role model, an absolutely all around amazing person both inside and out. Heidi left a mark on me, among many others, that will remain forever. Twenty nine years old with dreams and ambitions and dedication and heart and passion and drive. She was incredible.

I remember the first time I met Heidi. I was new to rock climbing and had seen her the few times I’d gone. She was hard to miss as her passion for everything was so blatant and her grace on the walls was something to admire. I’m not sure if she offered pointers as she saw me struggle on a climb, or if we simply exchanged hellos as we climbed near one another but it was her genuine personality that I instantly clung to and we became friends instantly. Heidi was a phenomenal climber and had been for years and years beginning in her hometown of Patagonia. Despite my new basic level abilities, she would always offer to climb together – granted she would do tough routes I still am unable to complete, she never made me feel insecure she would just give me tips or cheer me on.

Looking back on these past few short years of knowing Heidi, I will forever cherish our memories because each moment spent with her was valuable, productive, and truly unforgettable. I could go on and on with my stories and memories, and for that I am grateful. I am so grateful to have had her in my life and so lucky to have been a part of hers.

To leave this world at such a young age and with such incredible potential for a long, successful life is an honest tragedy. In my few experiences, I can’t say that I’ve ever been as emotional over death as I am in this moment. But Heidi lived. She loved travel and education and family and friends and laughing and helping people and exploring and daring. She accomplished great things and strived to do so much more.

Tears to me seem silly sometimes. I am only seldom a crier, yet for Heidi I can’t seem to stop. I know I share this emotion with an amazing amount of people because I know she touched a lot of lives beyond my own. Today was a breathtakingly beautiful late fall day and Heidi went climbing like she does nearly every single weekend, but today Heidi didn’t come home. She left us all doing what she loved most.

Heidi, a part of me is gone with you. I will forever cherish the bond we shared, the stories we told, the unproductive climb time gabbing we did, the photos we exchanged, and the friendship and sisterhood you gave to me with that big smile on your face. I love you and miss you tons already, but I know you’ll always be smiling down. RIP Heidi <3

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