Iceland Itinerary - Part 3

Iceland Itinerary - Part 3

March 2017

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For our last full day in Iceland we ventured out as far as we could for a day trip. We decided to book another tour because having not rented a car but wanting to see as much of the country as we could, we knew this was the way to go. From all of the research I had done, I knew I wanted to get to Jökulsárlón (the Glacier Lagoon) and Diamond Beach but didn't know if doing them in one day was possible until colleague who had just done a long weekend in Iceland a few months before mention this amazing Ice Cave tour she had gone on - and that made the decision easy for me. Within probably less than a day and having read a few Trip Advisor reviews, we booked the Ice Cave Express tour with Goecco Eco Tours. YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS TOUR!!! Just under a year later and I'm still thinking of the Icelandic music played on the tour bus and our awesome tour guide - that's not to mention the absolutely unbelievable things you will see and do.

We started the day meeting at 6:45 AM outside of the Hallgrímskirkja church to board our bus. The tour is pretty big (our bus was completely filled) but the guides still make it feel like a small group if you are looking for a more intimate experience. Our first stop was at a bakery outside of the city to pick up some breakfast (the next food stop was dinner so we stocked up on both breakfast and lunch). On our way again with snow coming down pretty hard at this point, we made our first stop at Skogafoss, a beautiful waterfall about 2 hours outside of Reykjavík.

The next stop as we made our way down the coast was Reynisfjara Beach with it's basalt formations and columns (pictured below). The other thing that makes this beach so unique and honestly pretty scary are the waves. The tides tend to change quickly here and the waves are really powerful and have caused a number of deaths! So we kept our distance..

By the time we were leaving Reynisfjara Beach and heading East we had basically seen everything we could in terms of weather in a three hour span of time. We had clouds, rain, snow, wind and finally - sun. We drove through Laki Lava Field and the black desert of Skeidarasandur which were completely awe inspiring (especially the moss covered lava) and the only thing I would change about this tour is not being able to stop to take a quick picture.

By the time we arrived at Diamond Beach it was mid afternoon. We had some time to see the big chunks of ice that give this beach it's name and then walked across the road to Jökulsárlón which most people know as the Glacier Lagoon.

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Both Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón are stunning but in very different ways which is weird since they are across the street from each other. Diamond Beach is just so unique with the black sand and rocks and chunks of ice floating in the water and laying on the sand but Jökulsárlón is truly inspiring! To see this huge lake with glaciers just floating in it was really an experience and completely worth the early wake up and 5 hour drive to get there. At this point the sun really made an appearance for us and we were so happy to get some pictures!

Next up was the Ice Cave tour. To be honest, we had booked the tour for pretty much everything but the Ice Cave part of it. Not that we weren't interested, but we were just more excited about everything else. But the Ice Cave didn't disappoint either. We transferred into these four wheel drive trucks (below) made for off road driving and drove over what seemed like another planet to make it to the entrance of the ice cave. The drive in itself was such a fun experience. 

We got our helmets and ice picks on and entered the cave in Vatnajökull Glacier. It was so calm and serene inside and everyone kind of just walked around as if wondering where they were. It really felt like we were on another planet during this entire day.

After the ice cave we started our long journey home. In addition to a quick dinner stop, we also had a night stop at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall which was really cool to see in the dark. We had a little hiccup here where our bus broke down... but luckily after an hour of our driver and tour guide transforming into mechanics, our bus was up and running and the delay actually gave the auroras time to make an appearance! So it all worked out for the best for us. The aurora borealis or Northern Lights wasn't strong the night we saw them but for a first timer, we were just happy to have gotten a glimpse. And I guess that means we'll have to make it back somewhere North in hopes for a stronger showing someday.

I can't say enough what an incredible place Iceland is. I will definitely be back someday and I'm really counting down until the time I book another trip. Whether you only have a long weekend or a week, it's a place that it totally worth the trip and somewhere that will probably continue to get more popular among tourists as word gets out.

If you want to catch Parts 1 or 2 of my Iceland Itinerary you can check them out here and here.

Iceland Itinerary - Part 2

Iceland Itinerary - Part 2

March 2017

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Part 2 of our Iceland trip led us a bit outside of Reykjavík where most would consider more of a tourist loop. While it's perfect for a first time trip to Iceland, when I make it back someday, I would probably skip over most of our day's itinerary because there are so many other beautiful places and things to visit in Iceland that are further from the city.

We started the day touring the Golden Circle. This is a great beginner's tour because the drive isn't far from the city and you can easily do all of the standard sites in one day. We hopped on a tour with Iceland Horizon and would definitely recommend the company if the Golden Circle is what you are looking to do. The tour size was small and the mini bus was comfortable. Our guide also stopped along the road to meet a few Icelandic horses which is definitely a must do. By the way, why are these horses such a fad? Well, they are actually really cute!! And wild! And ok with you petting them! They're smaller than horses we're used to, more like a pony size and bred in Iceland so they're a bit of a novelty as well. 

A few of the highlights on the tour included Geysir, the bubbling hot springs and spouting geyser (they have a few restaurants here and the traditional lamb soup at Geysir Center is also a must try!) as well as Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. Unfortunately the weather during the day wasn't great and the clouds at Geysir moved toward a total rain/snow/hail storm at Gullfoss. But we still enjoyed it before running for cover!

We got back to the hotel around 4PM and after a quick change we were off again to the Blue Lagoon. As touristy as it is we really loved this experience. We splurged on the premium package so we got to enjoy a free drink and two face masks (the silica and algea) in the lagoon.

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Since our time slot was on the later side at 6PM, we decided to stay for dinner at the LAVA Restaurant (the premium package also comes with a glass of sparkling wine at the restaurant). I wasn't expecting much because I always think at these touristy places that the food doesn't make up for the hype but I was completely wrong about this one. Our food and wine was so delicious.

Somehow our jet lag faded because it was a long day - I think it was just about midnight before we arrived home but completely worth it. It made sense to combine the Golden Circle tour with the Blue Lagoon to make the most out of the day and would recommend this combination to anyone looking for an easy first day of touring after arriving!

Check out what we did on our final full day (and my favorite by far) on the Iceland Itinerary - Part 3.

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Iceland Itinerary - Part 1

Iceland Itinerary - Part 1

March 2017

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I'm so excited to finally start sharing posts on our amazing trip to Iceland. While we only went for a long weekend, we felt like the entire experience was incredible and it's by far one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. For us, it was a girls weekend for me and one other friend. We had travelled together before (to a much warmer place) but knew we were good traveling buddies and we would have a fun long weekend in store.

We tried our luck with WOW Air, a budget airline that has made it's name as a result of it's low fare flights to and from a few different US and European cities to Reykjavík. We flew from Newark on a 6:35 PM red eye flight that arrived at 4:40 AM. I've done my share of red eyes to Europe but this was like no other. 4:40 AM felt like 12:40 AM, just in time for bed at home and a new day in Iceland. We took a bus from the airport to our hotel and got really lucky with a room ready by about 8:30 in the morning. We dozed in the cozy hotel lobby while we waited and I made a quick trip to the most amazing bakery, Sandholdt for a delicious pastry that gave me energy for about 30 more minutes.

I'm not usually one to do this but we took about a two hour nap and woke up at 11AM like new people - ready to explore the city. Our first stop was for coffee at a little coffee place called Reykjavík Roasters that had the most delicious and much needed coffee.

From there we were a short to Hallgrímskirkja church which is probably the most famous building in Reykjavík with it's beautiful views of the city. The architecture of the building is really wild especially considering when it was built - it's so modern for that time period! The view is definitely the best of the city so it's worth it to take the trip up.

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The weather really took a turn for the worst after Hallgrímskirkja which is kind of expected in Iceland (more on that in my tips post!) We tried to dodge the rain going in and out of stores on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street. A few of our favorites was this cute little Christmas shop, Litla Jólabúðin, where I got an Icelandic horse Christmas ornament (one of my favorite things to do on trips is buy ornaments everywhere we go if possible!), Vínberið, a tasty sweet shop, and Myconceptstore, a really unique home goods store.

Our sweet breakfast wearing off at this point, and being a little wetter than we would have preferred, we had a late lunch at Messinn. This was one of my favorite meals in Iceland. The food is so authentic and tasty - I could have eaten every meal here!

After lunch and a glass of wine we wandered around a bit more in the city and wound up at Micro Bar for some tasty beer tastings. A few local beers but and all delicious. The bar is a bit outside of the main part of town surrounding Laugavegur Street, but nothing is too far so it was easy to walk home. We made one last stop for a drink in town off the main street and ended up back home at a respectable hour stuffed from our late lunch and very ready for a good night sleep. Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 of our Icelandic adventure!

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2017 In Review

2017 IN REVIEW

2017 started and ended busy! Among other things, we got married, moved to our first home, finished a real estate rental project in the Poconos Mountains and traveled to six countries across three continents. We managed to "go" somewhere just about every month whether it was a long weekend driving distance from New York City or across the world. As I'm thinking about how to share more of our travel experience and stories, I thought first it would be good to show you a little of what we've been up to for the past year..

JANUARY - FEBRUARY

Spent most of the earlier part of the year cozied up in the mountain at the "chalet" (up for rent now on Airbnb)

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MARCH

Girls trip to Iceland! We saw colorful homes, icebergs, moss covered lava fields, and even a glimpse of the Northern Lights. It was such a memorable four days - I would recommend it to anyone

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APRIL

Spent my bachelorette weekend in the quaint Newport, Rhode Island. Such a fun place to visit in the Spring - it helped that the weather turned out to be beautiful and it was so nice to wander around with not so many crowds! April is a great time to go if you want to really enjoy the quiet side of this little vacation town.

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MAY

Our wedding day! We celebrated on a very rainy mid-50 degree day in May - what luck!! But thanks to our incredible photographer, it's hard to remember the day full of rain - instead it's all big smiles.

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JUNE

For our honeymoon we chose to do New Zealand and Bora Bora. We aren't fully committed beach people so we wanted to add an element of the "sightseeing" aspect and settled on NZ as a good accompaniment to Bora Bora. We loved every second of our few weeks away.

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AUGUST

Similar to last year, this August, we headed to New York state this summer to spend some time in the Hudson Valley and then in Saratoga Springs to catch a day at the racetrack. We also spent a day on Lake George with a rented boat and rosé. Can't get much better than that.

SEPTEMBER

I couldn't get enough of travel after our honeymoon so we found ourselves back in the air again at the end of September to Greece. Neither of us had been before so we chose the standard first-timer isles: Mykonos and Santorini.

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In Santorini, we stayed in Imerovigli on the island of Santorini and found the area to be so wonderful. The town itself was much more peaceful than the more well known caldera town Oia but we thought there was plenty to do - especially the thirty minute walk to Fira along the cliffs.

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October

October was finally the first month the Poconos Chalet was completed. We went up for some early fall foliage and thanks to these puffy white clouds captured some peaceful lake shots

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November

Our last trip of the year before a quiet December. We headed to California originally intending on a long weekend in Napa/Sonoma but because of the wildfires made a last minute change of plans and drove down to Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. We loved the area, the beaches and the wine rooms and also enjoyed a quick 36 hours in San Francisco.

We can't wait for 2018 and all of the fun and memories that it has in store. More to come as I work on re-starting and re-branding the website but will hopefully be seeing a lot more content in the coming months! Happy New Year!