Friday, August 18, 2017

Ice Ice Baby

In November we started planning a "10 year wedding anniversary trip" to Hawaii. It seemed like the perfect idea since we met and fell in love there 14 years ago...why not bring our kids and celebrate where it all began?! Flights were outragesouly expensive and costs were adding up fast! On a whim I checked the world map of roundtrip flight fares and found some to Iceland for only $200 direct from LAX. I easily convinced Mason and we booked it a few days later. We added on a visit to London for the second half of the trip since I hadn't been before. We left Arthur home with Paula since his age is not ideal for constant "on-the-go" and we knew the trip would be adventurous!

Flight delay...tired girls at midnight!

We flew on WOW Airlines on the way over, which is a really cheap airline with no food or fancy entertainment. It was a red eye flight and the girls immediately fell asleep on the floor and slept the whole time. Being 20 weeks pregnant, I had a hard time getting comfortable, but I survived.
We went straight to the Blue Lagoon to soak our weary traveler bones!
We learned quickly that weather in Iceland is all over the place and completely unpredictable! It was blue skies when we arrived and 30 minutes later we were pelted with an ice/hail/wind storm and could hardly see each other...then back to normal. Ha!
The kids were very eager to do Silica masks!
The Blue Lagoon is not cheap...I think it was $90 per person (kids under 12 are free though). It's definitely a tourist destination, but I don't know how you could go to Iceland and miss it.

After the Blue Lagoon we drove down to the Selfoss area to the house we rented (this house). It was sooooo perfect! We loved having the hot tub to warm up after the cold days exploring and the convenience of having a kitchen.
I was pleasantly surprised that none of us had any jet lag! We slept amazing and set off to hit the sites along the Golden Circle on the first day.
First stop: Strokkur Geysir. 
Walking up to the geysir it was so cool seeing all the steam spewing from holes in the ground!
We were able to get really close to the geysir, which erupts every 8-10 minutes up to 100 feet.  

Gulfoss Waterfall was spectacular, too.

From Instagram: "10 years of marriage and too many adventures to quantify. Life is never boring with this man."

As I mentioned, Icelandic weather is all over the place. As such, we were so disappointed when our glacier ice cave tour was cancelled due to inclement weather. :( We were really looking forward to being able to explore the inside of Europe's largest glacier via ice cave!! We quickly improvised and decided to spend the day in Reykjavík CIty. It was fun to explore, but I honestly think other parts of Iceland are much more interesting. We visited Hallgrímskirkja, which is a modern cathedral with a tower that stretches 73 meters high. We went all the way to the top and saw great views of the city.

The next day we left our cute house in Selfoss and headed south towards Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. During the 5ish hour drive, we stopped almost every hour to explore an incredible waterfall along the Ring Road.


This waterfall was neat because we were able to hike up and walk under/behind the falls. It was really loud, wet and slippery!

At the same stop as Seljalandsfoss there is a secret waterfall I had read about that is overlooked called Gljúfrabúi. It's hidden behind the rocks and you have to walk through a freezing stream to access it. Most people don't walk all the way in because of improper footwear (or because they're lame, ha), but inside is INCREDIBLE!!!!

Skógafoss waterfall is one of the biggest in Iceland and is 50 feet wide and drops 200 feet. There is a zigzag stairway to the top which I didn't think myself or the girls had the stamina to climb. We sent Mason on a sprint up the stairs while we explored down below, but then Ruby took off after him so Claire and I followed. I couldn't believe the girls made it all the way to the top! I was pretty proud of myself, too!

We stayed at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon Hotel, which was a splurge, but it was the only accommodations near the lagoon that would let us stay for only one night!

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon was as amazing as everyone described it to me! As a result of many overcast days in a row and since many of the icebergs flipped the night before, the vibrant blue colors of the ice was insane. What a treat to be able to see it like that! After only 4 hours of sunlight, all those blue icebergs would be white!

We took the amphibian boat tour onto the lagoon so we could have a closer look. If our kids were old enough, we would have done the zodiac boat, but it was perfect.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a new glacier lake which was formed due to the glacier receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It is 814 feet deep and has quadrupulded in size since 1970. Still don't believe in climate change?!?!

Across the highway from the lagoon is Diamond Beach, which had thousands of ice chunks littered all over the black sand beach.

On our trip back up north we stopped at another beautiful glacier, which I can no longer remember the name of.

We stopped at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach near Vik and it was a miracle that the sun came out!! This beach in particular can be extremely dangerous in bad weather and the violent waves have even taken lives. We were so happy the weather was perfect because it was definitely a highlight of the trip.
The beach and basalt columns are all made from lava. It's pretty insane Mother Nature formed all those perfect columns and powdered black sand beach! Spectacular!

Slightly different from playing at the beach in California. :)

Icelandic horses can be found all along the Ring Road, but most of them are not friendly and won't come near you. I think owners get annoyed of tourists trying to get to their horses, too. Luckily we found the friendliest horses!

We did a lot of driving and whenever we stopped for gas or to use the restroom our girls picked out a kinder egg. They were so funny in the back seat filming themselves opening the surprise eggs and playing with their little toys.

Iceland was such a unique country with draw dropping scenery and endless adventure. It's unlike anywhere I've been before and I'm so happy flights just so happened to be on sale that day because I don't know if I would have ever thought to go there! :)

Here is a video I made from our trip!

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