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!! 🙂  

   

SCUBA Honduras, Day Six

30 June 2014

Today was fantastic. It was my first day of fun dives and I got to do it with my favorite guys, Andrew, Kevin, Pascal, Tyler, Magellan, Ed, and a few other great people. I’m officially SCUBA Open Water certified! Woohoo… Now I can cruise above and below the surface of our beautiful seas. Stoked. We saw a Moray Eel today too, which was incredible. And when we got back to UDC there was a baby octopus that was living on a small rock on the confined water tarp that I snorkeled around it with Chad.

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We all relaxed in the afternoon and readied ourselves for a long (and my last) night. There was a booze cruise around the bay from one of the other dive centers. I went with guys and two other girls from UDC, Brooke and Bea. It was packed! One of my favorite photos from the trip was taken on that little boat ride but isn’t funny how the world works… It accidentally got deleted off my camera later that night. It’s better to have the memory then the proof I guess, huh?

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After the booze cruise, the group of us went for Mexican for dinner and Larson, one of the boat captains joined us. He is such a lively person; such great company. There was a huge beach party tonight so we stopped at UDC for a drink with Mary, one of the instructors (who couldn’t be sweeter). The guys didn’t join at UDC – my main guys, Andrew, Kevin, and Pascal – they wanted a little nap before the beach party. On my walk back to the apartment from the dive shop, I made new friends. Now, to give you a bit of perspective, when walking to our little apartment hut you pass a few other homes, essentially walking up and down their driveways and “yards” to weave to ours. Our neighbors toward the front of that walk happened to be outside on my way back. So, naturally while the guys napped, I hung out with those friendly neighbors/locals. They introduced themselves: Mayo, Mason, and the ass hole. Their choice of name, not my dub! And there were a few other nice men there.

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Look at these beautiful faces of the guys I live with:

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The beach party was such a good time. I introduced myself to a wonderful Canadian that I’d seen the whole week beginning at the Houston airport, but never spoken to. The night never ended – I didn’t go to sleep, rather went directly to the early ferry (with a quick stop to grab my bags from the apartment and to say goodbye to the guys) and had the most delightful company and conversation with Magellan the whole way. We parted ways and I made my way to the second ferry and eventually to the aero puerto.

I made so many amazing friends and have more memories than I could imagine from such a short stay on this eclectic paradise island.

Off to Mississippi to spend a week and a half with my dear friend, Stephanie!

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Get out there, world!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Five

27 June 2014

What a day. Last night was a long night. Lots of wonderful new friends on this island & lots of memories constantly being made! Another bar challenge took place last night; another four shots but no running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The night came to an end with an Irish man singing Gaelic folk songs. Typical.

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This morning – though exhausted – was great! I went out with my fellow open water course buddies and we did our dives 3 & 4 on the North side of the island, which has tons of beautiful scuba spots! {side note: our neighbor DJ just started blasting Backstreet Boys as I lay in bed typing this. Excellent. Almost as excellent as Spice Girls in karaoke last night! Ha.} Anywho, so we saw some neat little fish today including a massive tarpon! We thought it might be a shark when we first saw it from a distance. It wasn’t 😦 but still so cool!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty mellow. Has a cerveza and homemade donut (in competition for our MINOWS secret pizza donut cafe homemade donuts) on the top dock. Perfection!

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Andrew and I had dinner at what is apparently the best restaurant on the island – a Chinese/Thai style food. It was worth the 45+ minute wait (not for a table, for the actual food after ordering).

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Just kidding. We got more than white rice. It was sooo good (I say that as a relative term)!

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So wiped & diving early tomorrow for my two fun dives! Can’t wait. Hoping to see a whale shark. Or at least a sea turtle. Well, long day tomorrow too being that it’s my last day! Sad to go but I know tomorrow will be great. Good night!

SCUBA Honduras, Day Four

26 June 2014

It’s amazing. You set an alarm for 6 am and you wake up at 5 am because of the sunshine and music. Our power went out last night (happens a lot) so we woke up to no power or water or anything. Thank goodness for our breeze!

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Kevin and I walked over to UDC around 6:45 to get ready to go for our dive. He led a bit of our open water group. Diving in the OW was sooo much more exciting! I didn’t bring my camera out for the first dive but we saw a spotted eagle ray, a lobster, a trumpet fish, an octopus, Sargent Majors, and so many more fun things! We came back to the boat to switch tanks etc and then went out for a second dive, during which we practiced a lot more drills. We saw a squid on the second drive! Amongst other neat little sea creatures. Just, awesome.

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I took a little siesta in the afternoon and the guys were just hanging while Andrew was diving… When all of a sudden I awoke to the word fresh cookies! The little shop at the end of our side “rode” to our house had fresh out of the oven dulce de leche cookies with a heavenly filling. Mom – we must imitate this recipe! Yum.

(PHOTO – quote & sign)

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The Mango Inn has a sweet little restaurant owned by a man named Brad. He’s from Minneapolis and bought the Mango in March, fixed it up a bunch, and created a wonderful spot with good food, good music, and great people! I highly recommend if you come to Utila.

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That’s Brad. And this is a disco cat wanderer.

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Time for karaoke at UDC. And another T-Shirt challenge. And an incredible night with tons of new friends.

Good night!

Good night, friends!