We spent most of the morning driving to Akureyri, a large-ish town in northern Iceland. It’s quite a charming place and we spent some time just walking around town.
There was a nice little botanical garden and we took a walk through it. We were really surprised to see so much green plants and flowers in the garden in Iceland in September, but the climate is actually really mild in Akureyri for being so far up north.
Around sunset, we drove out to the nearby Goðafoss, Waterfall of the Gods. It was one of the most majestic waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Add the golden glow of the setting sun to the mix and you get this amazing view:
For dinner, we went to Rub23, a seafood/sushi restaurant in Akureyri. We ordered a salad, a sushi platter, and dessert. Who would have thought that one of the best sushi we would have would be in Iceland?
The next morning, we got up early and drove to Husavik for a whale watching tour.
I had never had to put on so many layers in my life! The huge overall they gave us on the boat were so thick that it was hard to even move around. Here we are all bundled up over the near-arctic waters:
Unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales that day, one of the very few disappointments of this trip. (New goal in life: see a whale in the wild.) But we still got a nice boat ride out of it, and we visited the whale museum in town afterwards.
We left Husavik and drove on to Hverfjall, a ring volcano.
We hiked up to the rim of the crater! It was so windy up there.
After that, we drove to Lake Mývatn and took a short hike around the area.
Then we went to Grjótagjá, a lava cave near Mývatn with a thermal spring inside. It used to be a popular bathing site until a couple of eruptions made the water too hot. We still dipped our feet in the water for a bit though.
We left the area and drove on eastward to Seyðisfjörður, a quaint little town on a fjord.
It was starting to get dark by this point, so we left and drove to our resting point for the night, Fljótsdalshérað. We stayed at the coolest Airbnb ever – a tiny little cottage on a horse farm. It was super cute and cozy!
We hadn’t come across anywhere to eat that night, but have no fear – we brought cup noodles! Our fancy dinner that night:
Here’s a better picture of our cottage taken the next morning. Is it not the most charming thing?
I guess nail polish has become the gift to get me :P My friend Mychi from school got me 2 bottles of Essie nail polish as a belated birthday present! Tried out the first one last week – Bahama Mama.
It’s a deep eggplant/plum color and so gorgeous for fall and winter! A bit on the sheer side though – it took 3 coats to achieve the opacity seen here.
What a beautiful color! Thanks Mychi!
This was from a couple of weeks ago, but I absolutely love this color! I got it as a part of my Secret Santa gift from Kathleen over Christmas. I love the name of this polis too – I Shop Mintage from Nicole by O.P.I.
It’s a bit sheer and takes 3 coats to get complete coverage.
It’s the perfect color for spring but I couldn’t wait to try it out. Will definitely be wearing it more often when the weather gets warmer. It was pretty long lasting too, so an all-around winner!
On the morning of day 3, our rental car was dropped off at the Airbnb we were staying at and we were on our way! After we were out of the city, we were soon greeted with views like this:
Our first stop was Deildartunguhver, a large hot spring that actually supplies energy to nearby areas. Lots of steam and bubbles!
We then drove to Snæfellsjökull National Park. Unfortunately it was very cloudy the whole day and we couldn’t actually see the Snæfellsjökull volcano. Luckily, there were still plenty of gorgeous sites to be seen in the park! Like these majestic rock formations on a black sand beach:
And these happy sheep:
The sun did peak through for a bit:
We stayed the night at the town of Stykkishólmur and got up early the next morning to head to the Westfjords. I miss driving in Iceland because the roads look like this:
We stopped the car so many times when driving because right next to the road are things like this (Ugh, having intense nostalgia while writing this post):
Breiðavík beach in Westfjords:
Finally we reach Látrabjarg, a majestic cliff at the westernmost point of Europe. How cool is that?
In those last couple of days we drove on some pretty rough roads, and together with the intermittent rain, our car was looking just a tad muddy.
That’s when you know you’re on a real adventure.
Next up: going north!
So I’ve been putting off blogging about our epic Iceland trip for a while now. This is due to a couple of reasons. First, I just haven’t had the time, Second, I’ve been reluctant to do it because I feel like writing about the trip and sharing it with the world would somehow cheapen the amazing experience that it was. But I’ve since decided that that was a stupid idea and that I would love the chance to re-live this journey through blogging.
It was hands-down the best trip I’ve ever been on and I don’t know if anything will ever top it. We basically spent 8 days driving almost 1700 miles around the whole island. We saw waterfalls, glaciers, craters, geysers, hot springs, the northern lights. An abandoned ship, an abandoned plane, an abandoned natural hot water pool. Sand of black and ice of blue. And lots and lots of sheep. And miles and miles of desolate, unspoiled beauty. Some days we ate like kings, while others we had to resort to nothing but granola bars and cup noodles for meals. Everyday we had to stop ourselves from stopping the car every 5 minutes because there is such breathtaking views at every turn. Everything about the trip just felt so authentic, like this was what traveling should be about. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.
So let me start recapping it with our first 2 days, which we spent in the capital city of Reykjavik.
We took a redeye flight from SF, with a layover in Boston, and we arrived in the morning in Reykjavik. We had to wait in the airport for a couple of hours to take a bus to our first destination – Blue Lagoon. Our first photo in Iceland!
I was so glad we decided to stop by Blue Lagoon right after our flight. It was on the way to the city and it was the perfect way to relax after a long flight. The color of the water was the most unreal opaque light blue.
We were there when it just opened so it wasn’t too crowded yet.
After relaxing for a couple of hours and grabbing a quick lunch at the cafe, we were on our way to Reykjavik! We stayed at an Airbnb and it was in a pretty accessible location. We bought 2 Reykjavik Welcome Cards at the visitor center, which gave us bus access for 2 days and some discounts at museums and restaurants. It was a really good deal and we actually ended up using the bus quite a lot for the 2 days. After settling down a bit at our Airbnb, we headed out to check out some art museums. Unfortunately the first one we went to didn’t have any exhibits at the time, so we went to the next one on our list, the Ásmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum. It was a small museum but had some really interesting stuff in it, and a nice sculpture garden outside.
After that we took a bus to The Pearl, a mall with a dome and a 360-degree observation deck at the top.
It offered some great views of the city and surrounding areas. We also sat in a cafe and enjoyed some hot chocolate. The glass dome looked pretty cool from the inside!
Afterwards, we headed downtown for our dinner reservation at Grillmarket. We knew that we might not eat too well for the rest of the trip so we splurged on our 2 dinners in Reykjavik. We got bread with the fluffiest butter and smoked salt, a couple of appetizers, and for entrees Yufei got the Meat Gourmet, which was a trio of 3 different meats with sides, and I got the Fish Gourmet, with 3 different types of fish and sides.
AND we had ice creams and sorbets for dessert. It was such a good meal. After a well-deserved good night sleep, we got up the next morning and went to Hallgrímskirkja, a really cool-looking church not too far from our Airbnb.
We paid to go up to the tower, which had some nice views of the city. I love all these colorful houses!
We then went to the National Museum of Iceland, which we got free admission to with our Welcome Cards. It had some really interesting exhibits on the history of Iceland. Then we grabbed a quick lunch at Bæjarins beztu pylsur, a famous hotdog stand. I love the crispy onions that’s in all the hotdogs in Iceland.
Then we went to the Kolaportið Flea Market. There were lots of vendors selling food, vintage clothing, books, antiques, and other knickknacks.
We also bought a slice of meringue cake that I was seeing everywhere. It was light and delicious and now I kind of regret not having more of it when we were in Iceland!
Our next stop was the Reykjavik Art Museum – Hafnarhus. It was another small museum but I quite enjoyed the sculptures, paintings, and interactive art there.
Next up, we took a bus to the unique Icelandic Phallological Museum.
I’m a fan of all kinds of weird museums and being someone in the medical field, I was quite intrigued when I found out about this place. It was again pretty small (I think you’re starting to see the trend here…), but there were preserved specimens of phalluses from all different animals as well as humorous poems, newspaper clippings, and art throughout the museum. A pretty interesting place to spend half an hour.
After that, we took another bus to Harpa, a concert hall and conference center with a cool design along the water. There were lots of couches and chairs around for us to relax and admire the honeycomb-like walls and ceilings of the building.
Finally, it was time for dinner! This time we decided to eat at Fish Company, where we got a 10% discount with the Welcome Card. We both chose the 4-course Around Iceland menu, with each course featuring ingredients found in different regions of Iceland. This was the lamb course.
Everything was delicious and beautifully presented. Thus ended our stay in Reykjavik. The next day we start our epic journey around the island!
Let’s start the new year with a Mani Monday! This week I’m wearing the color Mermaid for Each Other from JustFab’s nail polish line, PaintFab. It’s one of 2 colors I got using my reward points, since I’ve gathered quite a few of them from all the boots I bought over the years from JustFab.
The color is a very pretty true teal color with a pearl finish. The consistency is on the thinner side but 2 coats achieved a completely opaque finish. So far it’s been wearing pretty well too, so I think this one is a winner!
The next day we went to Universal Studios! Got the front of line pass, which was totally worth it because we had limited time there. As someone who doesn’t like roller coasters (or any ride that turns you upside down), I really enjoyed all the rides at Universal!
Venice beach in the afternoon.
Yet another sunset on the beach. This never gets old.
For our journey back to SF, we took Amtrak.
The view was quite scenic for several stretches of the ride.
There’s always something magical and oldschool about train travel, don’t you think?