Bless Iceland

The Icelandic word for goodbye is bless. I just love it. Our trip to Iceland was enriching and indeed a blessing. Traveling and simply time away for our daily rituals and stress is usually rewarding, but this trip seemed to be so much more. Whether it was perfect timing or perhaps it was just Iceland, in its pure beauty and extreme nature, the trip turned on a light switch, ignited a fire or whatever other colloquialism there is for, “caused a startling change”.

So we said “bless, bless” to Iceland but Iceland has become an accomplice to whatever comes next for us. It’s a root and a foundation and so it doesn’t feel quite right to say goodbye.

Here is where we went:

COVERED GROUND
COVERED GROUND

This is what we did:

The Ice Elf Palance & Northern Lights

The morning drive out of Grundarfjordur was pretty dreamy. The morning light shining through the clouds created a kind of magic with the reflection of the water that seemed like a cool toned watercolor. Hues of pale blue and pink along with silvery water made a calming contrast against the steadfast mountains and shoreline as we drove east out town.

We took a new road out, heading into the highlands of central Iceland and toward our first and only booked tour. We had previously thought that we would do a guided glacier trek or some ice climbing but due to the weather in southern Iceland our schedule got put off. Traveler true, traveling in Iceland means go with the flow, in this case the lava flow, badum cha! (obviously a Matt sentence).

MORNING AT KIRKJUFELL
MORNING AT KIRKJUFELL

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Hunting Hot Springs and Northern Lights in Iceland

The morning after our night in Akranes was foggy, a night after too much wine foggy. Despite the late night, we decided to get an early-ish start to our trip to the Snaefellsnes Penisula, which is in the western part of Iceland.

We grabbed some coffee and pastries from a café in the main square of town. Side note, from our experience coffee is served in teacup like quantities in Iceland. Makes you wonder what our American deal is with needing venti and trenta size coffees. So in preparation for the effects of a caffeine addiction we stopped at the regional grocery store, Bonus (which has a pink piggy bank for the “O”), for some caffeine of the “gives you wings” variety.

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FROZEN CASCADE

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Icelandic Winter Wonderland

I love this part of trips, and by part I mean all of it except the return home. The prior day in Iceland had been plain BEAUTIFUL, yet we still had tracks to leave in the snow.

We started the day with a final trip out to Skogafoss (next to our hotel in case you forgot) before we headed out of Southern Iceland and onto what is known as the Golden Circle, consisting of the countries core tourist attractions.

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Skogafoss
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Skogar

A large part of Matthew and my relationship has been betting and competition. In case you didn’t know Matthew is super competitive, but I am better at it than he is. We’ve made bets about animal genus classifications, fitness, and races to get ready in the morning (Matthew and his hair!). This particular morning’s bet was how long Matthew needed to scale to the top of the Skogafoss foot path.

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Sliding through Southern Iceland

When there is real work to do it seems we pray for snow days even as adults. In this case, the morning sun was a happy signal that it was time to play. We were free. We threw on our full gear knowing we could shed layers and then packed up for the day. Matthew having traveled in many cold climates had made my packing list and we were nearly identical as we headed out. Thermal underbar, ski pants, flannel jacket, down vest, raincoat, boot liners, ski socks, hiking boots, neck warmer, hat and gloves. We also had purchased some walking level crampons, which came to be an absolute essential on the icy pathways and frozen cliff sides.

MORNING CHI

Traveler True: Yaktrax Walkers for winter travel. We had been advised by REI staff to use a more heavy duty version but due to the price we decided to go with a basic pair and were in no way disappointed. We knew that if we were gonna take on any extreme hiking we would be able to rent mountaineering crampons.

http://www.rei.com/product/760280/yaktrax-walkers-unisex

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An Icelandic Welcome

The sleepy drive to our first and only planned destination, Skogafoss, was filled with blue skies, which would become rare, and wind which would not.

In the light of day and just beginning our trip it was hard to pick where “not” to stop. Outside of Reykjavik the landscape seemed unearthly. High winds picked up snow on the way side, floating it across the road like a frothy fast moving river we were ever crossing. Spouts of steam from the thermal activity that blesses Iceland appeared unexpectedly at first and then expectantly as they are everywhere in this area.

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OOOH, WHO’S THAT CUTE PHOTOGRAPHER?

Our first pull off was an overlook just outside of Hveragerdi, and as you can see there is a huge advantage to having a photographer for a boyfriend. In the midst of taking pictures a crew of Icelandic boys, most likely younger than 20, empty out of a small caravan and descend into the windy landscape to film a low production, actual foot stomping, fists on chest, Read more