Iceland: The Highlight Reel (pt.1)

Why did you go to Iceland??? Besides the fact that it is one of the most gorgeous countries ever, that is a GREAT question! At the end of July, there was a group of photographers from Fresno that were all planning a trip over there, and organizing some elopements and styled shoots. They were looking to see if any other creatives wanted to be a part. I saw what the prices of round-trip plane tickets were ($380!!!) and COULD NOT resist! I talked to my husband, and we decided it was definitely a once in a lifetime adventure. I still wasn't completely sure, though, because I was missing one thing... traveling buddies. My sister and friend are both spontaneous and love a great trip, so they were sold! Although, none of us knew exactly what we were about to get ourselves in to.

5 weeks later we were packing our bag (yes 1 bag), and then getting ready to land in Reykjavik!! I still I so impressed with the fact that we fit all 3 of our stuff, my stuff to do bridal hair, and then 8 meals (since food there is apparently pricey) into one suitcase. We weren't even allowed to take any carry-ons. More on that in my following tips & tricks Iceland post.

Oh wait, annndddd, even more incredible, we were packing for cold weather!

Okay back to the trip...

We were there for 4 days and a morning, and it was the perfect amount of time, at least for us.

Day 1:

The flight there would have been a dream, except there was a band made up of drunk 60-year-old's trying to relive their childhood dreams sitting behind us. They thought it would be fun to keep the entire plane up. Although we were running on 3 hours of sleep, we wanted to make the most of everyday so it was helpful that we landed in the morning. Once we finally got Krona (Icelandic money) figured out, we got our rental car. I was definitely rusty on my manual driving skills so that made the first day an adventure in and of itself, not to mention trying to figure out all the signs that were written in a different language. And then parallel parking! Good grief!!!!!

The first day we spent downtown, starting with hotdogs!!!! Apparently hotdogs in Iceland are a big deal and are made out of lamb. Also, speaking of lamb, there are so many sheep over there and they are the cutest things because they are this huge puff of thick wool, with tiny little stick legs. And sheep butts are just the funniest thing everrrrrr.

We also went into all the fun little touristy shops right on the harbor. First of all, the architecture and outside of every building is so unique and ADORABLE. But then, when you walk inside, it is just mind blowing how much better it gets!!! Let me tell you, Iceland is so ahead of the times! Literally EVERYTHING there is so trendy, it's just plain inspiring!

The Hostel: We stayed at a hostel to save money. It was a very weird experience in the beginning, but once you got used to walking around barefoot with all the strangers coming and going all hours of the day and sharing rooms with them, it actually became one of my favorite parts of the trip. We got to meet so many cool people from cool places with cool stories everyday! Plus how could you not enjoy staying at a place this cute?!

Day 2:

The second day was probably my favorite day of our whole trip!!! It was our Golden Circle Day and was spent road tripping and then exploring. The great thing about Iceland is that it's for adventurers of any level. You can take crazy hikes and go backpacking for miles, but if you're like me and that's not your thing, but you still want to see pretty things, they've got you covered. Iceland built their highways along all the main points of interest. Can you say BRILLIANT??!! So... we had time to make lots of stops :)

First thing was first, we stopped for "breakfast" at, Mosfellsbakari (I love how they spell Bakery!). We became frequent customers here, because my cute sissy, who is allergic to gluten, dairy, and red meat, quickly learned that Europe doesn't process their food the same way so she could eat all the goodies she wanted there.

Then, Thingvellir (Iceland's National Park) was next, and it was absolutely breathtaking! Even the view from the bathroom was gorgeous lol!

The coolest part about Thingvellir are the huge crevasses in the earth cause by the tectonic plates shifting. You just have to see it!!!

Oxarafoss was our next stop, it was still within the National Park, and doesn't look like much in these photos, but it was pretty big. It's so crazy that the land is flat with a river running peacefully and then all of a sudden drops off a giant cliff.

We got to see so many different waterfalls in Iceland and each one it totally different from the others.

At this point in our trip, obviously some yummy ice cream was a good idea!

So, as we continued along the Golden Circle, we stopped at a little farm called Efstidalur II. They mostly had cows, which we soon learned, Erika can not deal with the smell. They used the milk from the cows to make cream and ice cream... right there in front of you. And they made their own waffle cones. Although, the ladies making them were not a fan of us watching.

And you get to eat your freshly made ice cream right next to the cows! How fun!!!! Also, that sweatshirt I am wearing, everyone should buy it stat! It was $12.88 from the Walmart boys section and is the softest thing ever. Alyssa and I both got one.

The next stop was The Geysir. Geysers, we now know are also very stinky. They smell kinda like hard-boiled eggs but worse. There are tons of small geysers and hot springs all around Iceland, but this is the largest geyser. I find it such a picture of God's provision that in a country where it gets so cold and can be a difficult, depressing place to live, He put hot springs. Most of them are the perfect Jacuzzi temperature and had to have been such a relief to people hundreds of years ago.

We also stopped at another farm along the drive. This time to visit and feed the horses. The horses there are so different than the ones we have here. Most of them are much larger, and they all have a beautiful thick, fuzzy coat. The owner came out while we were there and we got to chat all about Icelandic living and livestock. Sorry guys, but a lot of the horses end up being food. So sad! One of the Americans who was at Bru at the same time we stopped, was absolutely mortified.

Our last stop of the day was Gullfoss, and man was it a great end to the day!!! Foss means falls and this was probably my favorite waterfall of the whole trip! You got to walk up onto this waterfall, which was pretty incredible, and it was huge!!

I guess that wasn't technically our last stop, we ended the night with the best burgers according to Alyssa (since she hasn't gotten to eat one in 3 years). I will say, though, they were pretty darn good! When I asked for ranch to dip my fries in, the guy laughed at me and handed me the best dipping sauce I've ever tried. It beat ranch by a long shot!

Whew!!! That was a long day!

I think I'm going to have to split this into 2 posts, so check out part 2 for the rest of the goodness!