Browsing Tag:

Iceland

Why Did We Honeymoon in Iceland?

on December 17, 2016

Before, during, and after our Icelandic honeymoon, I was asked this question over and over. This along with questions like

You’re already planning a wedding, why would you want to plan an entire trip on top of that? Why don’t you just do what everyone else does and just go to an all-inclusive resort? Hiking on your honeymoon? Are you crazy? You’re supposed to be relaxing on your honeymoon! Iceland? Isn’t it cold there? Why don’t you go lay out at the beach instead?

And I would always have to go into my typical spiel where I would justify our choice. It got old really fast.

So why did we honeymoon in Iceland?

We are not “beachy” people.

I love the ocean. I love the beach. I live on an island and work to preserve our coastlines after all. But we are not the types to sit on a beach all day. This isn’t fun or relaxing to us, which brings me to the next point…

Hiking is our idea of relaxation.

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When I think of a fun vacation, the first thing that comes to my mind is the opportunity to hike. And we certainly did a lot of hiking on this trip! 70 miles and over 500 floors of elevation according to my Fitbit. It was exhausting, but in the best way. At the end of the trip I felt so refreshed. It was exactly what I needed after the wedding stress.

But you can still get some spa time!

Iceland is a geothermal heaven. There are hot springs (natural and man made) all over the country! We took advantage by having a soak and calming our tired bodies after all the hiking we did, and it was amazing! One night we stayed in a private log cabin on the Golden Circle, and the owner had a hot tub that was completely powered by geothermal and hot water from drilling down into the ground under the house!

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Cheap airfare.

We flew from Houston to Boston to Reykjavik for about $500. It was the cheapest destination that fit what we wanted our of our honeymoon. Every other location would have run us at least $1000.

Iceland is BEAUTIFUL.

Seriously, need I say more on this point? The country is one of the most amazing places I’ve been in my life. Literally everywhere we turned we were faced with jaw dropping beauty. Waterfalls everywhere. Rainbows. Black sand beaches. Rolling hills. Blue rivers. Fabulous Icelandic horses. Amazing geologic formations. The list goes on.

There are so many amazing, new experiences to be had!

Stand between two continents. Or snorkel between them! Bask in the midnight sun. Hike on the largest glacier in Europe. Step into a volcano. See the Northern lights. Sail around an iceberg lagoon. These experiences are all so amazing, and in my opinion they beat sitting on a beach for a week.

Iceland is also very romantic!

unnamedThere were a lot of days when we were alone in nature, just the two of us. And I really cherish that time we got to spend together. It was nice to have time to ourselves where we got to be independent and explore with each other.

The truth is, there are so many reasons why we chose to honeymoon in Iceland. And a lot of them are subjective.

Everyone is different and has different ideas of the “perfect honeymoon.”

I’m glad we went to Iceland, and I would 100% do it all over again. But when it comes to planning your honeymoon, follow your arrow and don’t allow anyone’s opinions of what is/is not a “real” honeymoon destination to sway you.

5 Tips for Eating Cheap in Iceland

on October 26, 2016

Even before we actually made it to Iceland it was obviously true to us that it’s cheap to get to Iceland, but not so cheap to be in Iceland. Accommodations were pretty pricey, so we opted to Airbnb. Souvenirs could get pretty expensive, but those are avoidable and not always necessary. But eating? That’s a must. We soon discovered that this sustenance thing we’re supposed to do three times a day had the possibility to push us over our budget in Iceland. So here’s what we did to make sure that didn’t happen.


1. BYOB (Water bottle, that is)

13164298_10153444636885899_5264505515719467727_nI can usually be spotted with a reusable water bottle everywhere I go (case in point: the picture to the right of this text). Whether at home, work, or adventuring abroad. I have recently switched to stainless steel water bottles in an effort to eliminate [some] plastic products from my daily life, but that’s a story for another time.

In the words of my good friend, Snæþór…

“Paying for water in Iceland is a scam.” 

Seriously. Just dip your water into pretty much any river, waterfall, or glacial flow and you can get some nice, cold refreshment.

Or if that’s not your jam, find a public water fountain and fill up. But seriously, don’t pay for single use water bottles. In Iceland or at home. Ok, I’m about to get preachy, so I’ll move on.

2. [Don’t] get your drink on

Alcohol is ridiculously expensive in Iceland. The only alcoholic beverage we had the entire time we were there was a can of Gull beer, and that was just to say we had tried it. (It was actually pretty terrible and we didn’t have more than one sip each… oops)

You can expect to pay $8+ for a pint, or $10+ for a glass of wine, and spirits tend to range on the high side as well.

Iceland is definitely not the place for alcohol tourism, that’s for sure.

3. Hot dogs for every meal!

13174170_10153441241265899_3623363698088114080_nYes, hot dogs. In the states I would never be caught eating one, but Iceland does them differently. And they’re delicious! For a little perspective: allow me to provide you with some analogies.

Hot dogs are to Iceland, as tacos are to Austin. As deep dish pizza is to Chicago. As cheese steaks are to Philly. As waffles are to Liège. (Stopping here because this is actually just making me really hungry)

Back to hot dogs. You can find them (and trust them) in every gas station for approximately $3! When we were roadtripping around the Ring Road, there were a lot of times when the hot dogs were the only thing that was really in our price range to eat. And we were ok with that! But I am still kind of surprised we didn’t just turn into giant hot dogs before our return to the U.S.

4. Share a pizza

We also ate quite a bit of pizza while we were in Iceland. We figured if we bought one pizza for $20, that’s about $10 per person with some potential for leftovers. Not bad! My favorite pizza place was Eldsmiðjan in Reykjavik. If you go, try the Primavera! It is topped with cheese, bacon, maple syrup, pizza sauce (marinara), spinach, apple, and cheddar cheese. I know it sounds funky, but just trust me. It’s the best pizza I’ve eaten in my entire life.

5. Cook for yourself

I fell in love with a few Icelandic products from our time there. We tried to shop at the local markets for most of our meals and snacks. Bónus was my favorite little store, just look for the drunk piggy bank logo. The food staples of my grocery runs to Bónus included Skyr (amazing Icelandic yoghurt), Kókómjólk (delicious chocolate milk), Kinder Eggs (because I hate that they’re illegal in U.S. and I was overly excited about eating my first one in the 9 years since I moved to the states from Europe), and other non-perishables. We were all over the country and didn’t stay in one place for more than a night, so we couldn’t refrigerate much, so the non-perishable part was important.


Happy [budget] wanderlusting, friends!

30 Photos to Inspire Your Icelandic Wanderlust

on September 19, 2016

When Matt and I decided to book a honeymoon trip to Iceland we heard got a lot of responses from our family and friends that were along the lines of “Why?” and “What is there to even see there?”

Recently, Iceland has become a very popular travel destination for millennials, and it’s actually really easy to see why! So, sit back and let the photos do the talking. Here are 25 of them to inspire your Icelandic wanderlust.


Explore Reykjavik in the midnight sun.

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Check out the street art scene.

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Explore the largest glacier in Europe.

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Hang out in Harpa.

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Look out from the edge of Iceland and see all the way to Scotland (not really but you can use your imagination).

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Say “góðan daginn” to Leif Erikson.

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Then climb to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja to get the best view of the colorful houses of Reykjavik.

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Hang out in a crater lake.

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Make friends with the famed Icelandic horses.

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Chase some waterfalls.

13166020_10153442846155899_8856888215720954406_nimg_1410img_1632img_1860img_1807Stand between two continents in Þingvellir.

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Or dip your feet in the water that sits in the rift between these two continental plates.

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Admire the local flora.

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Visit the black sand beaches and basalt columns.

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Climb up the basalt columns.

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Observe the native wildlife…

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…while hanging out with some icebergs.

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Explore the abandoned.

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If you’re still wanting more inspiration, you can view all of my [uploaded] Iceland photos here.
Happy Wanderlusting, friends!

Itinerary: 8 Days in Iceland

on September 8, 2016

So first off, I won’t bombard you with photos in this post because I know you’re most likely here because you honestly just want itinerary ideas. I’ll keep photos to a minimum, just a few to highlight the itinerary items, but for those of you wanting to peruse my 500ish Iceland photos, be my guest. Here’s the link.



Day 1 – Arrive in Iceland at the Keflavik International Airport, pick up rental car from Sixt, drive to Reykjavik, explore the city.

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My “must see” spots in the city include

  • Hallgrímskirkja
  • Þjóðminjasafn Íslands (National Museum of Iceland)
  • Laugavegur
  • Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
  • Sólfar (Sun Voyager)

We didn’t want to overcommit ourselves on the first day since we knew we would most likely be combination of sleep deprived and jet lagged, so we dedicated this day to exploring Iceland’s capital city.


Day 2: Leave Reykjavik to drive half the Golden Circle, stop overnight at a private cabin in Bragabót.

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Main stops for this day:

  • Kerið Crater
  • Skálholt Cathedral
  • Gullfoss
  • Geysir

We decided to break the Golden Circle up into two days so we could enjoy more stops that were off the beaten path of this famed drive. We stopped halfway and stayed in the most amazing little Airbnb. It was a private cabin on a chicken farm that had the most amazing views, during the winter I’m sure the Northern lights would look amazing from their geothermal powered hot tub. If y’all are interested in this cabin, let me know and I can link you to it!


Day 3 – Second half of the Golden Circle to the Reykjavik harbor, stop overnight.

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  • Þingvellir National Park
  • Reykjavik Harbor

We spent a good part of the morning talking with the owners of the farm and learning about life in Iceland. I loved learning more about local living. When we decided to book all of our accommodations through Airbnb, this was exactly the experience we were hoping to have. We got back on the road and headed out to finish the Golden Circle, which at this point really just consisted of Þingvellir National Park. We were told that we would spend about 2 hours at the park, but we ended up spending more like 7 hours hiking and exploring. When we were done and our feet were sore, we hopped in the car and headed back into Reykjavik. For this night, we decided to stay in a different part of Reykjavik (the Harbor)  and experience some new sights. I loved this area of the city, there was a lot of choice for local seafood and decently priced eats. Also, lots of museums! We didn’t get a chance to visit any of them because we got in past their closing times. Sad day.


Day 4 – Leave Reykjavik to drive along the southern coast, stop overnight in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

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We began our trip along the coast by hitting the major stops:

  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Eyjafjallajökull Erupts
  • Skógafoss
  • Skógasafn (Skogar Museum)
  • Dyrhólaey
  • Reynisfjara Beach

The place we stayed overnight was pretty far out of the way, but amazing. I would recommend finding accommodations that are closer to the main highway though.


Day 5 – Leave Kirkjubæjarklaustur to drive along the southern coast, stop overnight in Höfn.

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  • Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
  • Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
  • Höfn

The Glacial Lagoon was definitely one of my most anticipated stops on this trip and it did not disappoint! Höfn was our last stop of the day, and our turnaround point in the great Icelandic roadtrip. It was a charming little town with majestic views of the sea and mountains.


Day 6 – Depart Höfn, drive back west to Reykjavik.

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  • Skaftafell
  • DC-3 Crash at Sólheimasandur

This day was mostly dedicated to driving (all the way from Höfn back to Reykjavik!) but we scheduled two big stops along the way. One was a glacier hike in Skaftafell, which was probably the coolest thing we did during the entire trip. You can read more about it here. The other was the Sólheimasandur DC 3 Plane Wreck, which I honestly wouldn’t recommend (you can read why here).


Day 7 – Explore Reykjavik.

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  • Reykjavik CityWalk

This was the day we were originally planning to hike to Glymur, but we were so exhausted from all the previous hiking and adventuring we had been doing. Instead we opted to partake in the Reykjavik CityWalk tour, which was amazing! I recommend this to everyone, but I will say it’s more of a first day activity rather than second to last day. Oops! We also went and poked around Harpa which, we found out, is a nice place to sunbathe and take a nice little nap.


Day 8: Depart Reykjavik, visit the Blue Lagoon, return rental car, and depart from Keflavik International Airport.

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  • Blue Lagoon

On our way to the airport we decided to stop by the Blue Lagoon, which worked out great. I’m glad we didn’t dedicate an entire day to it, since we got bored of it pretty fast. Neither of us are the “lounge at the beach all day” type. We both like to be hiking, and quite literally adventuring around instead, so a spa day at the Lagoon isn’t too appealing to us. We spent about 45 minutes soaking and exploring the waters before we decided to head on to the airport. It was nice and relaxing, and we were so refreshed as we embarked on to Boston for the next leg of our honeymoon.

What to Wear in Iceland

on August 24, 2016

I’ve been a bit surprised that one of the questions I’m most commonly asked regarding my Iceland trip is “What did you pack?” So I guess it’s time to let y’all in what went in our suitcase!


First, for the ladies:
Icelandic Packing List (Hers)
  • Jacket: I brought my Columbia Mighty Lite II, it was just the right amount of insulation to protect against the windchill, but if you’re going in the winter I would recommend a heavier jacket. Perhaps one made with down feathers.
  • Rain jacket: I used my North Face rain jacket because it doesn’t have any insulation of its own. All it did was keep me dry and protect me from the wind. I had enough insulation from my Columbia jacket, I didn’t want to overheat when I was layering the two.
  • Pullover: I wore this more when we were exploring the city on warmer days. I say “warmer” but it was still like 60 degrees…
  • Long sleeve t-shirts, athletic shirts, athletic pullover: These can be packed in differing amounts according to the length of your trip. I brought three t-shirts, two athletic shirts, and one athletic pullover for a 7 day trip.
  • Jeans: I brought one pair. Wore them in the city.
  • Fleece lined leggings: So important! I usually layered two of these things. The fleece lining is amazing. My personal favorites are from Target, but they don’t carry them year round.
  • Rain pants/waterproof hiking pants: Self explanatory. No one wants wet pants.
  • Hiking boots: For all that hiking you’ll be doing. Make sure they’re broken in before your trip!
  • Waterproof boots: I didn’t bring any and that is my biggest packing regret. If I could do it over, I would’ve brought my Bean boots. I guess hiking boots could double for these, but if you have the space do it.
  • Athletic shoes: For walking around the city.
  • Swimsuit: You’ll need this for the Blue Lagoon and the hot springs scattered across the country.
  • Gloves, earwarmers/beanie, scarf, wool hiking socks: To further protect yourselves against the cold wind!
  • Daypack: For storing your gear while hiking and exploring.
  • Purse: For more urban adventures when your daypack is too bulky.

And now for the gentlemen, basically everything above applies. Subtract the purse. Swap the swimsuit for swim trunks. Forget the waterproof boots, my husband was perfectly fine just wearing his hiking boots for that purpose. But men, invest in base layers! Wear them under your jeans and hiking pants!

Icelandic Packing List (His)
  • Jacket: If you’re going in the winter I would recommend a heavier jacket. Perhaps one made with down feathers.
  • Rain jacket
  • Pullover: Another possible layer. Nice and versatile.
  • Long sleeve t-shirts, athletic shirts, athletic pullover: These can be packed in differing amounts according to the length of your trip, and preference for type of shirt.
  • Jeans: You’ll probably need two pairs, depending on the length of your trip of course.
  • BASE LAYERS: To wear under jeans and hiking pants. My husband learned the hard way that one layer is not enough on bottom.
  • Rain pants/waterproof hiking pants:  Again, no one wants wet pants.
  • Hiking boots
  • Athletic shoes: For walking around the city/general wear when you’re not hiking.
  • Swim trunks
  • Gloves, earwarmers/beanie, scarf, wool hiking socks: To further protect yourselves against the cold wind!
  • Daypack

And some other goods that you should definitely remember to pack.
Misc. Packings
  • Camera tripodPreferably one that’s lightweight. This will come in handy if you plan on taking amazing photos of the Icelandic landscapes.
  • Large capacity memory card for camera: I would recommend investing in one of these instead of bringing your laptop. It just ensures that you don’t need to upload photos as you go through your trip in fear of running out of memory. A 64GB card starts at $15 on newegg.com, and will hold tens of thousands of photos!
  • Selfie StickI know people make fun of it all the time, but I am serious advocate of the selfie stick. I mean, have you ever just wanted to take a photo of you and your adventure buddy, but there’s no one around to ask? Or maybe you’re like me and you have a fear of asking someone to take a picture of you two together. Not because you’re awkward, but it seriously could happen that the person runs of with your phone! The selfie stick is amazing. It solves all those problems. Get one. A sturdy one. Mine is from Amazon, it’s super sturdy, high quality, and waaaay cheaper than the dinky ones they sell at the mall.
  • Head and Chest Mounts for GoPro: Because we live in the age of “pics or it didn’t happen” and it’s not always the best idea to whip your DSLR or iPhone out to snap a photo in the Blue Lagoon or while hiking a glacier…
  • DSLR camera: Because Iceland is amazing and beautiful and you should take photos that will do it justice.
  • Waterproof iPhone caseDropping my iPhone in water is one of my biggest fears (oh the life of a millennial), so this eliminates that fear! And you can snap some Insta pics in the hot springs…
  • Plug adaptersIceland uses the same plugs as the rest of Europe FYI.
  • Reusable water bottleYou can seriously just walk up to the rivers and fill your bottle. Don’t pay for water in Iceland. It’s a gimmick, y’all.
  • Chapstick: My lips got so chapped while I was in Iceland. I’m allergic to most chapsticks so I can only use Carmex (which they didn’t sell in Iceland booooo), but go ahead and take your own personal brand.
  • External phone chargerBecause it never hurts to have one on hand.
  • Sleep mask: It’s hard to fall asleep in the land of the midnight sun!
  • Fast drying towelSelf explanatory, you’ll probably do more swimming than you’d expect in Iceland.

Hope this helps y’all in your preparations for your Icelandic adventures! If you need specific product recommendations, message me. And as always, feel free to ask me any more questions or let me know your thoughts and feedback.

Happy Wanderlusting!

The 3 “Meh” Things I Experienced in Iceland

on May 26, 2016

I won’t say I outright hated, or even disliked these parts of my trip to Iceland. But I have to be honest with y’all, and let share the 3 things that were “meh” about Iceland. They fell short of our expectations/slightly disappointed us/annoyed us, but were they bad? No! They were just “meh.” Technical term there. So here we go, in no particular order:

1. Sólheimasandur DC 3 Plane Wreck

When we were doing research for our trip, this plane was so hyped up. The pictures looked so cool, and we thought we wanted to go see it.

First of all, this place is not even marked on the map. There is no sign on the side of the road. You can’t even see it from the road, but you can see a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road and people walking out into the horizon. So in case you don’t look up the coordinates beforehand, if you happen to pass a bunch of cars on the side of the road halfway between Vik and Skógar, you found it.

So once you maneuver your way off the road and into the gravel/rocky parking lot, you steel yourself to step out into the windy plains to hike to the plane. You know you can’t see it from the road, but just how far is it? About 2.5 miles. One way. But you really don’t know how far it is until you’ve been walking for half an hour and still don’t see it, and that point you know you’ve invested too much time to give up and turn back. It took us around 50 minutes to reach the plane. Did I mention how windy it was? I felt like I was about to get blown onto my butt. And when you’re walking, there is absolutely nothing to look at. Just rocky fields of nothing as far as the eye can see. It was not a pleasant experience.

The plane was cool (once we reached it) for a whole 5 minutes. We took a few photos. Climbed inside. Then looked around and thought “is this really it?”

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The look says it all.

So then we turned around and started the 2.5 mile, 50 minute long walk back to car.

I would strongly recommend you pass on this “attraction.”

3.  Eating in Iceland

People don’t tell you about Iceland is how expensive everything is. Meals that we are used to paying $10-15 for in the U.S. can easily run you about $30-40 in Iceland. It’s worst in Reykjavik. They legitimately prey on tourists to indulge in their expensive food. But it’s not entirely the fault of tourism. If you think about how much Iceland has to import when it comes to food, it makes sense why the prices are so high.

So, your best bet for budget eating is A) buying food at the local grocery store, B) sharing a pizza with your adventure buddy ($25-30 for one pizza, so split between two people it’s decent), or C) eating hot dogs at the local gas station.

3. Blue Lagoon

GASP. I know it’s almost blasphemous to put down the most popular attraction in the whole country of Iceland, but it’s true.

Iceland is a hot bed of geothermal activity. There are free hot spring pools on the side of the road. So why do we pay $30+ to go stew in a man-made one?

Yeah, the water is that beautiful, almost creepy radioactive, milky turquoise color. And you get to use the silica mud masks.

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But to me that didn’t outweigh the busloads of loud tourists and the entrance fee.

It is one of the places you feel obligated to visit when you’re in Iceland. I don’t regret going, but I probably won’t visit again. I also wouldn’t recommend planning a full day here. It’s a decent activity to do after you fly in or before you fly out. We went before catching our flight back to the U.S. and it was nice because we were relaxed and refreshed before spending the rest of the day in the airport.

Budget Breakdown: 7 Days in Iceland

on May 26, 2016

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I’ve had a few friends request this subject for a post. So here it is, y’all. Full disclosure about how much we really spent on our honeymoon.

Airfare: $559 per person

  • $155 for Houston to Boston (this includes one checked bag)
  • $404 for Boston to Iceland (this includes one checked bag, plus seat selection)

Lodging: $603 for 7 nights

  • All lodging was done through Airbnb

Car Rental: $256 for 7 days

  • We rented a Chevy Spark through Sixt at Keflavik Airport
  • We paid an extra daily fee for unlimited mileage (otherwise you’re limited to 600km in the rental, we put 2000km on the car), it was roughly $9/day

Gas: $130

  • We used two full tanks of gas during our trip, it was about $65 to fill a full tank/$6 per gallon (thankfully our Chevy Spark got about 52 MPG!)

Food:

This one widely varies according to your “food philosophy,” what people don’t tell you about Iceland is how expensive everything is. Meals that we are used to paying $10-15 for in the U.S. can easily run you about $30-40 in Iceland. So your best bet for budget eating is:

  • Buying food at the local grocery store (Bónus was our favorite store, look for the drunken piggy bank logo, you’ll know it when you see it)
  • Sharing a pizza with your adventure buddy ($25-30 for one pizza, so split between two people it’s decent)
  • Eating hot dogs ($3-4) at the local gas station diner (we ate a lot of hot dogs in Iceland and we’re ok with that)

Activities:

Luckily, entrance to all historical and natural sites, such as Þingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Reynisfjara, etc. is FREE! There were days when we didn’t spend any money on activities, and it was great. That being said, there are some great experiences and expeditions you can partake in that are paid activities. We did a few, and I highly recommend them.

Souvenirs:

We didn’t buy a lot in the way of souvenirs and trinkets since we were trying to be frugal, but we picked up a few goodies.

  • Postcards (I collect them) were about $1 each everywhere we shopped for them
  • Icelandic chocolate bars were $6-8, we got a few for ourselves and our family
  • Icelandic wool socks were $10+, Matt got a pair with horses on them
  • Lopapeysa (traditional Icelandic sweaters) were super pricey but I HAD to have one. If you are looking to buy one, do not even think about shopping for them in Reykjavik at the touristy shops. They run about $30-50 more expensive in the city. I found a little shop next to a gas station outside of Höfn that had the best prices. I bought an adorable lopapeysa sweater with sheep on it for about $140. I know that’s still not cheap, but when in Iceland… I adore wool sweaters and had been wanting an Icelandic one long before we even decided on this trip.

 

Hope this helps any of you who are trying to plan a trip to the Land of the Midnight Sun!

Review: My Experience with WOW Air

on May 25, 2016
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How could you say no to a pink plane?

When we started planning our honeymoon we were throwing around a few very different ideas. Strapping our mountain bikes to the back of the 4Runner and roadtripping out to Colorado and Utah. Taking advantage of the always cheap airfare to Mexico and going to Cancun/Tulum/Playa del Carmen, checking out the beach and some Mayan Ruins. Exploring Iceland’s national parks, waterfalls, canyons, and beaches.

We thought that Iceland was out of the question for a while. A $900 plane ticket, average hotel prices of $130+, rental car costs, gas, food, etc. It just wasn’t feasible with our budget.

Until we discovered WOW Air.

It was almost too good to be true. The price of a ticket from Boston to Keflavik was $318 for our honeymoon dates. We were so excited that Iceland was a real possibility for our trip, so we did more research.

WOW only flies from a select few airports in the U.S., but they’re adding more! We found a flight from Houston to Boston for around $130, and decided that $448 from Houston to Iceland was doable for us.

Booking: 1/5 stars

After weeks of monitoring the prices of WOW’s flights, they didn’t change at all so we decided to book our tickets for $318 from Boston to Keflavik. We sat down at our computers and booked separately because we were paying from our own respective bank accounts. We complete all the information, pick our seats (an extra $10, which I thought was ridiculous because it’s not like you’re choosing extra legroom, you’re just paying more hidden fees to be on the flight), purchased checked luggage (a whopping $50 for 44 lbs, we just decided to pack in one bag instead of purchasing two), and now we’re up an unexpected $140.

We are ready to confirm our purchase and ceremoniously click the final button at the same time.

Processing…
Processing…

Matt gets the confirmation screen. You’re going to Iceland, Matthew!

Me? Still processing. And then, ERROR.

WOW’s website boots me back to the homepage, where I now have to do the whole booking process all over again. But NOW, the prices for our dates (which we have been monitoring for weeks with no change) have been raised. The flight I had just attempted to book for $318 is now $338.

I was pissed. Apparently, WOW sees two people trying to book the same flight at the same time and decides to profit even more by kicking one off and making them book at a higher price. Cool.

I emailed customer service with my experience, and received this reply:

“Thank you for letting us know about this. What probably happened is that when you received the message “Payment Failed” someone bought up the seats on those prices at the same time. We usually sell X many seats on each plane on X price. If someone buys up all the seats on that price it can go up. Our prices follow the law of supply and demand. That is, if you buy the flight ticket well in advance you will get the cheapest seats on the flight, although usually the first seats sold are the best priced ones.”

B.S. Total B.S. My payment didn’t fail. I was unceremoniously booted back to the homepage so they could wring me for even more money.

Lesson here: If you’re planning on booking a flight through WOW with a friend/fiance/husband/sibling, go ahead and find a way to book together. If you don’t, one or more of you will probably end up paying more for your ticket. Which is just unfair.

Airport and Pre-Flight

So when we got to the airport, we realized that our carry on bags (personal backpacks holding our camera, some snacks, Kindle, nothing too large or heavy) were probably over the ridiculous weight limit WOW has for carry on bags. So we were sneaky and checked in separately, moving some stuff around in our backpacks so they were conveniently lighter when they were weighed. Sorry not sorry. We were not going to pay $40 if our backpacks were over 11 lbs. (which they probably weren’t, but better safe than sorry and out more money).

On the way back from Keflavik, they didn’t even bother to check carry on bags. It was a self service machine to check in. They’re probably more lax when you leave because they don’t want to deter people from spending money on trinkets and souvenirs in Iceland and bringing additional weight back with them to the U.S.

The terminal where you board for WOW in Boston is dinky. There was one option for food past security and a little snack/bookstore. Keflavik Airport definitely had the upper hand on this one, since the airport is so small it’s essentially one terminal. There were lots of stores, good eats, and duty free shopping.

Flight: 3.5/5 stars

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#nomakeup #nosleep

So now, the important part that most of you are curious about. How was the actual flight? I was super worried about this part in the weeks leading up to our trip. The possibility of delays and cancellations really concerned me.

We were delayed taking off, but that was 100% Boston Airport’s fault. We sat on the plane for an extra 45 minutes before taking off because they never sent a little tow truck out to reverse the plane out to the runway, and then something else happened with another plane being on our runway (I don’t exactly recall), but no big deal. Not WOW’s fault.

The plane’s legroom and comfort was comparable to an airline like United. There were no TVs on the plane, so it’s definitely BYOEntertainment. They did have power outlets under the seats, so that was nice.

They do not serve drinks of any kind or provide snacks, so it’s also BYOSnacks if you don’t think you can last 5+ hours without anything to nibble or drink.

I would also strongly recommend you bring a neck pillow and cushion for your tush, maybe something like those we use to sit on football games. My bottom was unpleasantly sore after our flights to and from Iceland.

So if you bring a book, some snacks, a bottle of water, and some comfort pieces, you should be A-OK.

Overall,

I would 100% book with WOW Air again. Either for another trip to Iceland, or as a cheap way to get to continental Europe (which, surprisingly, about 60% of our flight to Keflavik was doing). I definitely learned a few lessons from my first WOW experience that would make my next one more enjoyable. Learn from my mistakes and book tickets for your group together, bring more comfort items (neck pillow AND tush cush), stock up on snacks.

 

Happy travels my fellow wanderlusters!

The 10 Best Things I Did in Iceland

on May 24, 2016

13237864_1057565024318034_3531691923223776405_nMy  husband and I just spent a week in Iceland for our honeymoon. It was exhausting. Amazing, beautiful, fun, all that good stuff, but so exhausting (according to my Fitbit, we walked over 70 miles and climbed over 500 floors of elevation). Which is good because that’s what we wanted out of our honeymoon trip. We aren’t the type to sit at a beach for a week, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we chose Iceland as our destination.

I could write a nearly infinite amount of content on this country, but to start off as my first post, I’ll make it easy for any readers of mine who are planning a trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. Here are the 10 best things I did in Iceland (in no particular order). I hope they help y’all in your travel planning!

1. Finding the hidden Gljúfurárfoss

Seljalandsfoss is in all the top 10 lists when it comes to waterfalls, and while it’s accurate, it kind of stinks because it takes attention away from the other series of waterfalls that are right next to it. So, go look at Seljalandsfoss, take your pictures, go behind the waterfall, get soaked, get muddy, and walk down the trail next to the waterfall to see [what I think is] the coolest waterfall in Iceland. There are a few smaller ones you can see on the way, but once you get to Gljúfurárfoss you have one of two options to see it. You can go up or you go in. We went up first. It was a little perilous, and now that I look back on it, I can’t believe that we were allowed to climb up that hill and get the view we did. In the U.S. we would never be allowed to, it would be too much of a liability issue. There were no steps, just rocks and dirt clumps where you had to strategically place yourself and at one point a very sketchy edge you had to shimmy around with only a dinky chain to hold on to.

Adventure, folks.

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So once you get to the top, you can climb a sketchy ladder propped against the dirt wall, and kind of perch yourself to look over the edge and down the waterfall. I did not do this, but the hubs did and it was honestly pretty scary to watch him do it.

Once you make your way back down, you can now go in to see the waterfall. Gljúfurárfoss is hidden in a kind of cave-like structure. You have to strategically hop down some rocks in the river (hope you’re wearing hiking boots) to make your way in. Prepare to get soaked. IMG_1800

There’s an awesome boulder you can hop on for a photo op, and it feels like you are in the waterfall. You don’t get dumped on by the water, but the splash and the mist will have you soaked all the same.

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This was, without a doubt, my favorite waterfall in Iceland. Probably even in the world. It’s truly a hidden gem since most people just stop to see Seljalandsfoss and then move on. Don’t make that mistake!

2. Reykjavik CityWalk

We decided to do this walking tour on our last full day in Iceland, and I was blown away by the quality! The tour is two hours long, but the walk itself is only about 2km/1.25miles. The guides are native Icelandic history majors, so they are very knowledgeable in their field! You get the chance to learn about the history of Reykjavik and the culture of the people who live in the city. At the end of the tour, you can give them your email address and they will send you an awesome email of useful links to tips for traveling in Iceland, cool websites, fun news stories, and all kinds of additional reading.

The CityWalk tours are led twice a day (10 AM and 2PM), and are FREE! But you are encouraged to leave a donation (which we definitely did because these guys give a great tour). Check their website for more info.

3. Climbing to the top of Skogafoss

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I won’t lie, I did not enjoy this while I was doing it, but when I reached the top I was so glad that I quit my complaining and did it. It was a moderately steep, 20 minute walk up the stairs to the top of the waterfall. About halfway up there’s a cool little spot to stop at and take a few pictures.

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Now keep on climbin’ to the top! Once you get there, the views are breathtaking. You can see the river that spills out over the cliff to become the waterfall of Skogafoss and out over the farmland to the ocean. There are some lovely little fields where you can lay out, have a snack, listen to the sound of the waterfall, and soak it all in.

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4. Talking to locals about life in Iceland

We stayed in Airbnbs the whole trip because we wanted to “live like locals.” And it was cheaper than staying in hotels… But anyways. Some of my favorite memories of Iceland are just talking to our hosts about what it’s like to live in Iceland. We stayed in a private cabin at a chicken farm on the Golden Circle one night and the host was so friendly, we sat and talked to her for what seemed like hours. She answered all our questions, showed us all her farm animals, and gave us advice about our travels. Another host of ours, a Venezuelan girl living in Reykjavik, talked with us about the politics of our countries. These conversations were wonderful and enriching, just as much as any other activity we could have experienced in Iceland.

5. Chowing down at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

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We ate a lot of hot dogs in Iceland. And we’re ok with that. What people don’t tell you about Iceland is how expensive everything is. Meals that we are used to paying $10-15 for in the U.S. can easily run you about $30-40 in Iceland. So your best bet for budget eating is A) buying food at the local grocery store, B) sharing a pizza with your adventure buddy ($25-30 for one pizza, so split between two people it’s decent), or C) eating hot dogs at the local gas station.

But before you say “ew hot dogs, why?” Let me preface with a little analogy. Hot dogs (or “pylsur”) are to Iceland as tacos are to Austin, or as cheesesteaks are to Philly, as deep dish pizza is to Chicago. The hot dogs are no ordinary hot dogs. Icelandic gas stations and hot dog stands top them with crunchy fried onions, raw onions, and special mustard and remoulade sauces that are delicious. Even if you don’t like hot dogs, you need to give the pylsur a try!

6. Boating aroung the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

The glacier lagoon is free to visit, but the boat rides are about $30 per person and so worth it! You get the chance to taste glacial ice that is pure, delicious, and over 1000 years old.

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You get the coolest views of the icebergs that float around the lagoon, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of some adorable seals.

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This was one of the activities I was looking forward to the most, and it definitely did not disappoint.

7. Hiking in Þingvellir

We were told that a hike around Þingvellir to see all the main attractions would take 1-2 hours but somehow we managed to stretch them out to about 5 hours. Typical of us. We honestly could have spent an entire day here, just hiking around. You can see where the continental plates split between Eurasia and North America AKA where Game of Thrones filmed the path to the Eyrie.

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There’s Öxarárfoss, a waterfall where you can admire the beautiful, blue Icelandic water.

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Then you can continue down the path towards the Law Rock, the Þingvellir church, and the Silfra Fissure (which is a little off the beaten path, but worth seeing). If you are brave enough, and willing to spend the money, you can scuba dive in the Silfra’s refreshingly cool 35 degree water. We settled for climbing down the stairs, dipping our hands in, and taking a sip.

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8. Glacier hiking in Skaftafell

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It was a spur of the moment decision to do a glacier hike at Skaftafell, but it ended up being my favorite activity of the entire trip. We did a guided hike through Icelandic Mountain Guides, which was about $85 per person but included use of crampons, ice axe, shuttle, and of course, an experienced guide. Skaftafell was my fourth glacier hike, but it was so different from any other I’d ever seen. The glacial ice is streaked with volcanic ash, which gives it an otherworldly look. So otherworldly, that Interstellar was actually filmed on the glacier.

9. Wandering aimlessly around Reykjavik

My personal travel philosophy: the best way to experience a city is to get lost in it. My parents are the champions of this philosophy. We used to spend days wandering around cities like Venice and Prague, with no particular plans or destination. Those days are some of my fondest travel experiences. Reykjavik is no exception. Matt and I found our way down to the water’s edge to watch the sun setting at midnight on our first day if wandering. It was the best sight of the city. Get out there and wander, travelers!

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10. Renting our own car

Probably the best decision of this trip. We rented a car through Sixt, which had very mixed reviews but was by far the cheapest option. What we got was a brand new Chevy Spark, which was too small to fit our suitcase anywhere but the backseat, had no cruise control, approximately 2 horsepower, but got 50 MPG.

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I can’t express how great it was to just have the freedom to go wherever we pleased on our own schedule during this trip instead of having to book bus tours and expeditions. Plus I just love being in the car with hubs. We’ve done two roadtrips, coast to coast in the U.S. Roadtripping along the southern coast of Iceland was another awesome experience we loved.

If you have the means and are brave enough, rent a car for yourself in Iceland. You will not regret it.