Iceland: Black Sand Beaches

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Tuesday, we woke up a little later than originally planned because of campervan drunkenness. One of the challenges of Iceland in winter is limited daytime hours, so we had planned to be up and driving to the D3 plane crash while it was still dark, so that way we could arrive at the actual site right when the sun was coming up.

Well, instead we woke up when the sun came out at almost 11am. What was previously us and maybe one other party at our campsite at Skógafoss had turned into another tourist site along Route 1. We quickly changed, got everything packed up, and headed out.

People used to be able to drive right up to the plane crash once upon a time, but the surrounding land was too damaged from cars, so now you must park and “hike” to the plane. I say “hike” because it was a completely flat, one-hour trail to get out there. It was not difficult at all, and actually really refreshing. You have mountains to one side of you and the ocean in front, and the combo of the fresh mountain air and salty sea air just is so damn invigorating.

Seeing the plane crash over rolling hills of black sand beaches is unreal. So many of these photos with the plane I just can’t even believe are real. As we said numerous times on our trip, it was like we were on another planet. Alex, Jonny, and Angie stayed at the plane crash site and took lots of photos, but I heard the ocean and just couldn’t resist it, so Stephanie and I wandered down to the actual beach. I don’t think I’ve ever been completely alone on a beach before — let alone a black sand beach, in Iceland, at 2pm but with the sun just peeking over the horizon so you’d think it was 6 or 7 in the evening. I almost (almost!) cried from the beauty of it. It was definitely one of those moments where I was like, holy shit, I’m in freaking ICLEAND!

Click through for photos!

Continue reading Iceland: Black Sand Beaches

Iceland: Golden Circle

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We picked up our campervan from CampEasy Iceland and we were off!

  • Thingvellir National Park (website)
    Our first stop! We didn’t spend too much time here, which was a mistake on our part. We were just too excited to get started on the road trip, see everything else on the list, and had limited day-time hours to do it in. Here you can see Silfra, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, as well as the site of the first European parliament.
  • Geysir (website)
    Geysir is basically the original geyser. It goes off so frequently, we caught it at least 3 times and were there for less than an hour. It was crazy crowded when we went, I can’t imagine what it’d be like with summer crowds. The geysir explosions are ridiculous… the last one we caught exploded so high, I wish I had caught it on video!
  • Gullfoss (website)
    Gullfoss was the first of many waterfalls we saw during our trip to Iceland. The photos of it looking so lush and crazy and green are definitely a summer aspect of it, but seeing it all white and icy was really amazing. It was kind of scary walking down to one of the look-out points with ice covering everything, but totally worth it. And the waterfall wasn’t completely frozen over, so it was still gushing and roaring everywhere. My phone ended up dying from the cold (a problem we ran into pretty frequently) so most of the photos were actually taken with my camera!
  • Kerið Crater Lake (website)
    This is one of the off-shoots of the popular/traditional Golden Circle route (which is mainly Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss). My friend Angie had discovered this place. We got there right as the sun went down — around, like, 3 or 4pm — and had just enough light to go exploring all the way down into the crater and then walked up to check it out from high up. It was really awesome, cost about $4 USD to explore, but well worth it!
  • We camped for the night at the campgrounds at Skogafoss. We made a great dinner from what we had gotten while grocery shopping at Bonus, then proceeded to get really, really drunk in our campervan. Always a good time!

Click through for photos of our first “real” day in Iceland!

Continue reading Iceland: Golden Circle

#Maddie2017Challenge: Week 4

This first week back home from vacation has not been the greatest, but that’s to be expected after spending a week in the most amazing country on Earth. Continue reading #Maddie2017Challenge: Week 4

#Maddie2017Challenge: Week 3

I’m behind on this post, because the actual act of traveling can be exhausting! This past week was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I’ll do a more detailed write-up for my Iceland adventures, but when I left off last Monday, we had done the “Golden Circle” tourist route through Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss before settling into our campsite at Skógafoss for the night.

The next day, we went to the navy D3 plane crash out in Sólheimasandur. It was kind of a walk, but luckily it was flat and easy. We explored the place, and Stephanie and I wandered out to a black sand beach. Once we were done, we went to the small town of Vik to grab some lunch/dinner, and checked out Reynisfjara, another black sand beach with tons of interesting rock formations. Our campsite for Tuesday night was out in another national park called Vatnajökull, right next to mountains and a glacier.

The next morning was quite possibly the best day of our trip. We woke up early to drive to Jökulsárlón and went on an ice cave tour. We then hung around the glacier lagoon, and walked across (well technically underneath) the bridge and got to yet another black sand beach — this one had chunks of ice from the glacier strewn about, and was the most unreal site. Well, everything in Iceland was honestly unreal. We drove back to our original campsite at Skógafoss for the night.

Our final day in Iceland, we hiked up Skógafoss (yes, that’s right, UP a waterfall), and then went another waterfall called Seljalandfoss. Normally in the summer you are able to walk behind Seljalandfoss, but it was incredibly icy and dangerous while we were there. We drove into Reykjavík and went to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, which afforded amazing views of the tiny, most northerly capital of the world. We went to an amazing dinner at Ostabúðin (literally the best of my ENTIRE life, still dreaming of the cheese plate and Arctic char), and then hit up a couple bars for our final night.

Click through to view some photos from this week!

Continue reading #Maddie2017Challenge: Week 3

#Maddie2017Challenge: Week 2

So far, so good for 2017! I’ve been doing my best to keep up and post photos daily, even while on vacation. It’s been easy since I’ve been in service areas, but later this week we’ll be in more remote parts of Iceland, and I’m not quite sure if I’ll even have service out there. The camper van does have WiFi, so I’ve been able to keep up with posting a pic a day to Instagram at least.

I do have a few more photos pre-Iceland to show since my last update. Continue reading #Maddie2017Challenge: Week 2