Fjords and Falls!

Mo made a startling discovery today…the shower in our adorable little cabin is perfectly visible from the on-site restaurant, and there was noooo screen whatsoever, and no blinds or window-frosting! I think it’s a diet tactic. They purposely put chubby North Americans in that cabin, so that the visual of them naked and soaping themselves up makes the Europeans in the restaurant think “on second thought, I’ll just have fruit and muesli, and skip the Nutella-laden waffle!”. Anyway, after I put people off their breakfast (Mo was smart and showered the night before when the restaurant was closed), we took off heading on a road tip through the gob-smackingly beautiful Fjords!

We found this random thing at the gas station where we filled up:


Of course I hit the “happy” button, not knowing what it was for, but hoping for good karma!

Sick of waterfalls yet? We aren’t! Found a few more lovely ones off to the side of the road:

Now, we’ve oddly started to get possessive of our little finds, which is ridiculous since most of them are visible from the road. But we’ll pull in, get out our cameras, be pleased with ourselves to have found a spot with no one else around, and then suddenly we see a car or two pull in, and we have to really restrain ourselves from screaming “get outta here! This one’s taken!”, as if there won’t be another one 2 seconds away. And don’t get me wrong, this country has sooooo many other tourists, especially this time of year, but nowhere has felt “crowded” yet. We can go long times without seeing anyone else…so good thing we’re still getting along! Although at the next waterfall, Mo scrambled up the rocks, and for a minute I thought she was about to hurl herself off, just to get away from me (…and to be fair, everyday she has said “I could die happy now”, but usually it’s after eating hot dogs):


We even built our own cairn…..and yes, it’s not impressive at all, but we were pleased with our efforts.


Snapped a few more random pictures:

….and continued on our way. Next up was a really pretty beach, again with the black sand.


And then….oh look! Another beautiful waterfall!


Mo has decided it’s her mission to catch and hold a baby sheep….it’s quite amusing to watch her in her attempts. The first time, she sauntered up with a nonchalant “hey buddies….”, and the sheep couldn’t run away fast enough. She’s now taken to ambushing them when they are in a gully, thinking it’s harder for them to get away….wrong! I’ve taken to calling her “Little Mo Peep”. Today was the closest she came….she sat on the ground and the mother sheep came warily towards her. I thought for sure she’d get head-butted, so I had the camera at the ready…(believing she’d be a shoo-in for that title of “Year’s Stupidest Tourist”), but lo and behold, the mother goat came close!


…took one sniff of Mo’s outstretched hand, and took a huge dump, and peed, before taking her 2 babies and sashaying off! Insult to injury….but amusing to me!

Oh look! ANOTHER waterfall! This one was my favourite. First there was a lovely random sign near the gate (and keep in mind, this was the middle of nowhere!):



I was less amused by the 2nd sign, which was clearly anti-selfie stick! And everyone knows how much I love my selfie-stick! Yup…gotta love the dramatic effect of stick people dancing with death using a selfie-stick!


It may have been more effective to my psyche than I’d like to admit, because I did leave my stick in the car, but still scampered out on the perilous rocks to get some amazing shots (…and you’re all welcome for that!)

Here’s a fun contrast we discovered….check out the local police station vs the local coast guard:

The police station looks alarmingly like a crack-shack, and the coast guard looks like a war ship!

Here’s some random Fjord shots….the drive through this area was a tad dicey and terrifying at times. The Icelanders seem to love playing Russian Roulette with their vehicles. There’s a lot of one-lane bridges around blind corners and up hills, and everytime I see this sign, i silently think “ok….this could be it”. lol

If you look closely, that’s 2 vehicles speeding up hills towards each other at 70km/hr, on an s-curve of sorts. Good times! lol

anyway, some say this is the most beautiful part of Iceland, and although it’s only the 2nd region we’ve seen, I can well believe it!



Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls….(unless you want to, then do it)

Well today was pretty great, although not super entertaining, so it’ll probably be mostly pictures!

We started out at Skaftafell, described as the “jewel in the crown of Vatnajökull National Park”, which has a breathtaking collection of peaks and glaciers. The hike up to Svartifoss (aka “Black Falls) definitely took my breath away. It says it’s an “easy” hike, but I suppose that’s only accurate for true hikers, because by the time I reached it, I sounded like an asthmatic Clydesdale. But it was worth the effort!

The camera doesn’t quite capture how green the scenery was, and how it offset the black basalt columns all around. Mo has said she was staying at the bottom of the trail, but ended up meeting me there, which was awesome! And the trek down had more lovely scenery and another little waterfall:

And of course we had to pose with the ruins of an old farmstead:

And of course we found more strict bathroom rules! Seems like every destination has its own unique set of bathroom issues it feels the need to correct:


I’d kinda like to know whose head would even fit in that tiny hand-dryer, and how many people are drying their clothing in it. Also, who on earth doesn’t know that used toilet paper goes in the toilet?!!? I suppose we should be grateful that Iceland public toilets are keeping bathroom users in line, since most nights we are sharing 1 bathroom amongst 8-12 strangers, which makes for some awkward breakfast table eye contact avoidance.

anyway….after the National Park, it was off to eat lunch (lobster soup for me! And a hot dog for Mo), and then some iceberg exploring! Mo decided to try licking one (the guidebooks say that it’s a normal thing to do here. lol)

Whereas I chose a more zen and relaxing approach….


Reluctantly we dragged ourselves away from the ice, and set off to our accommodation for the night….but first we had to stop and make some friends.

Now we are tucked in an adorable little cabin in a cute town called Höfn, while we strategize tomorrow!


Oh, apparently Iceland has a yearly competition of “stupidest tourist”. We are working reallllly hard to not win that title! Wish us luck!

Goin’ With The Floe…

Woken up this morning by the soft neighing and snorting of the adorable ponies outside our window. Not a bad way to be woken!

Headed out to our first stop which was to  Skógafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in all of Iceland (yes, I know it’s a tiny country, but saying “in all of Iceland” makes it more dramatic). Well, all along our route was dozens of waterfalls, and some of them right in people’s backyards, which is kind of crazy to imagine. I was starting to worry we’d be waterfalled out by the time we got to Skógafoss, but nope!


It was pretty awesome! I even trekked up the side of the mountain to get to the top, which was like doing the Grouse Grind, and got some good photos! but also learned a hard lesson! Mo and I both learned important lessons today, and this was mine…so, I do the 30min uphill ascent, hoping to get a great shot of the top of the waterfall looking down:

….and the rainbow that’s commonly seen in its mist. I saw it, and I took a pic….but I didn’t double check my photo before I started the hike back down. What did I end up with? Well, I got the rainbow, but I also got my stupid fat finger (don’t ask me how) in the shot!


The good news is that I did get a decent fingerless shot on my actual camera, but none of you will see it till I make and bore you with my scrapbook! But anyway, the lesson I learned was this: if you hike up a mountain to get a photo (…and keep in mind that my air intake was choked with the over-cologned Europeans passing me in the other direction…), ALWAYS double check that you got a good picture before starting the descent to the bottom!!

Next up we went to the little town of Vik, which has some rock formations and amazing beaches. Yes, I who hate beaches used the word “amazing” to describe it,  but it turns out I love beaches when they have black sand, the North Atlantic Ocean waves angrily crashing against the rocks, and chilly grey weather!

Mo took things up a notch and actually took off her shoes and socks and stood in the surf. She said “it’s not that cold”…but since her teeth were chattering and she kept telling me to “hurry up and take the damn picture!”, I assume she was lying. I think the picture of her shocked/open mouth speaks for itself:


Next up was a strange but interesting place called Laufskalavarda where travelers stop and build a cairn, as good luck for the rest of their travels. We couldn’t find many stones that hadn’t already been used, but we found a few loose pebbles we could stack up into an unimpressive pile…..we even added Mo’s head to an already-built cairn for a photo op. Look how happy she looks!


Now, this was an important moment. Note how she’s smiling and looking like a traveller having a good time with someone’s else’s karma cairn. Now look at the photo she took of me:


Yup! My eyes were closed in all 3 photos she took! She looks happy and wide-eyed in her photo, and I look like Helen Keller failing a geology class! And we didn’t even discover this until we were 10min away, which takes me back to my first lesson: always double check that you got a good photo, before moving on! She suggested I just tell you all that the place is spiritual and you’re supposed to close your eyes and think of loved ones while placing the stones….but I couldn’t lie, and decided to call her out on this blog instead, cuz that’s the kind of person I am….and that’s the important lesson Mo learned today!

I will say that she did better the rest of the day, like when we found a random mini-waterfall stream in the middle of nowhere:

Mo filled up her water bottle in that stream, and it’s pretty amazing that you can just pull over literally anywhere and fill up a water bottle, with not only clean, safe-to-drink water, but also the best water you’ve ever tasted. The exception being outhouses…they felt a need to put signs in all of them saying “not for drinking or cooking”. I’d really like to know who’s standing beside a crystal-clear glacial stream and saying “I’ll just zip into that public outhouse in the middle of nowhere that clearly isn’t maintained and get me some drinkin’ water!”. Baffles the mind!

Our last stop was Jökulsárlón lagoon. This was kind of mind-blowing, because we’d been driving along flat country roads with lush green hillsides, and lovely waterfalls, and suddenly we start seeing glaciers in amongst the greenery:


And then we turned a corner and BAM! A gorgeous ice-blue lagoon full of floating gorgeous icebergs just appears!

We had booked a glacier zodiac tour, and it was one of the best experiences ever!!! Now, I got a lot of messages from disappointed people that we didn’t have photos of the hideous drysuits to show you all, well I hope these sexy suits make up for it:

The man who took the photo told us we looked like “astronauts”….I think he just meant that we look really intelligent. lol. Anyway, it was the best experience we’ve had so far!! And I can’t wait to develop the photos from my actual camera:

And that was it for today! Oh, there was also an amusing sign:


First of all, the ice is not on shore, one would have to swim thru -3 degree seal-infested water to reach it (it really is -3 degrees….it just doesn’t freeze because of the salt in it), and if you did that, I say you should be doing a victory dance on it, if only to keep hypothermia at bay. But if it didn’t say “walk” on the sign, and I was just judging the forbidden action by the picture, I’d think it was telling everyone not to prancercise on the ice. And we all know that no one should prancercise EVER, let alone on an unpredictable floating piece of ice!


Great Geysers and Gullfoss, Batman!

Started the day by picking up our rental car, which is a Kia and super fun to drive!


The gps has been interesting…the voice is British, so the pronunciations of the streets are extra hilarious, and she’s extremely bossy and annoying. If we go against where she tells us to, she gives us the silent treatment for a good 10min before she’ll finally talk to us again. Although, she’ll also angrily beep at us if we go so much as 1km over the speed limit. I suppose we should be appreciative of that, since the fine for speeding here is 1,000€!!

Our first stop was making friends with some of the Icelandic ponies….sooo cute!!

We’re still in the phase where every piece of scenery is so majestic that we have to pull over and take multiple pictures, as if each lake and mountain are the last we’ll see on this trip…and then we laugh at how ridiculous that is, get back in the car….and then do it again 2min later. We’re sure by the end of this trip we’ll be like “oh god, not another mountain/lake!”.

Finally we made our way to explore   Þingvellir National Park (yes…it IS as hard to pronounce as it looks!). We started with the Geysers (apparently pronounced “Jeezers” by our gps….). I didn’t find them particularly exciting, but Mo said she thought they were pretty interesting. Basically a giant burst of boiling water thrusts itself up out of the ground every 5-10min. The signs all around gave a list of the dangers of touching the scalding water in point form, and the last point was “the nearest hospital is 65km away”, probably a good motivation to resist the urge to stick your hand in any of the water, but I suppose there’s always one daredevil (I kinda wish we’d seen someone try….is that wrong? lol)


We did both however enjoy the random sign on the bathroom door there:


I’m not sure how many people had to get it wrong that it required these signs to be on every single stall, but I’m sorta grateful that it was, since it was a hilarious photo op! Maybe they thought the toilet was powered by the Geysers, and expecting to be lifted off the seat by a great velocity of boiling water? We’ll never know….

Next up was Gullfoss the great waterfall! Super pretty!

We actually went twice….the first time was around 2pm and it was packed with tourists, and too bright to take good photos of ourselves that didn’t include squinting, so we went back at 9pm and pretty much had the place to ourselves! The nice thing about this 24hr sunlight is that it’s perfect for us night owls! We can get a lot more done when we’re not stuck behind huge busloads of tourists, and it’s not as hot….although the flies/mosquitos are pretty awful. I got bit on the cheek by a black fly of some kind, and I have a huge bump….feels like I have a Siamese twin trying to escape from my face!

Oh! And of course we found another troll to pose with…although this one looks more Jesus-like than Troll-like:


Our last stop was our snorkelling trip, which we were extremely excited for! Unfortunately, our booking lady didn’t know the pickup spot had changed, and had told us to meet the driver at the “service centre”, which caused great confusion as people were directing us to the “visitor centre”, and by the time we finally got to the service centre, we learned they no longer do pickups there and had to make our way to a totally different spot, which made us 45min late and we’d missed our tour. The upside is that our tour guy Ron was incredibly nice (and also really good-looking!) and gave us a private tour. Luckily there’s no photos of us in our drysuits, because they are possibly the least flattering thing ever worn….first you have your long underwear (hideous in its own right), then they bundle you into a snowsuit, and if that wasn’t enough, they stuff you into a super tight neoprene suit over that, and to pull it on, they had to literally yank it and lift me off the ground (picture the movement of someone giving someone else a very aggressive wedgie, and you’ll get the idea). I couldn’t move my arms at all, they just stayed sticking straight out, and if we’d been pushed over, we wouldn’t have been able to get up. Then we had to waddle about 150 meters to the starting point, which was hilariously awkward….but the snorkel itself, once we got in the water was unbelievable! Everything was crystal clear, and gorgeous! We tried to take photos with underwater cameras, but the gloves we had on weren’t conducive to operating them. Ron took a few of/for us, and I’m sure they’ll be a horrible surprise when we get them developed! Anyway, the write up online said “this narrow channel of blue water meandering through a giant lava field does not look like much on the surface. But below, supernatural shades of blue, perfect visibility and incredible rock formations make up a magical sub-aquatic paradise”, certainly was accurate. Apparently the tectonic plates between America and Eurasia are separating at an alarming rate, and we got to go underwater and explore the giant fissure. It was definitely a really cool experience!

Now we’re tucked in at our cute little guesthouse in Flúðir, which is on a working horse farm. Off to bed, but excited for tomorrow’s adventures!

“There’s No Bad Weather in Iceland….Just Bad Clothing and Bad Attitudes”

We made it! Arrived at 6:30am, and it took over an hour and 15min to get thru the Customs booth. If anyone is ever catching a connecting flight from Keflavik airport, make sure you have at least 3hrs between flights! All the international flights arrive at the same time, and they corral you like cattle in an atrium, and then it’s like the Hunger Games to get up the single staircase to get to the 4 booths of waiting Customs officers!

Got to our adorable hotel by 9am, completely exhausted, but couldn’t check in till 2pm, so we went exploring! Saw the famous Hallgrímskirkja church, with good ol’Leif Erikson standing guard:


We walked along the harbour, which was really pretty:



Navigating has been a bit of a challenge…not only is every road/street 18 syllables long, and virtually impossible to pronounce, but the maps use shorthand, and seem to just leave out some streets altogether! Luckily people are pretty nice, and there seems to be a tourist info booth every 2nd block.

After a $32 breakfast of 1 coffee, 1 tea, 1 croissant, and 1 museli, we joined a walking tour with the most hilarious guide, who gave us all the insight into Iceland’s socially progressive ways. There’s no homelessness, free education (even university), & free medical. There’s virtually no violent street crime, and the only thing the police have to do is track white collar criminals, and update their cutesy Instagram account (which apparently includes sharing cooking recipes, and pictures of officers holding puppies). We saw the parliament buildings, and the Prime Minister’s office, and there’s absolutely zero security. The only building in Iceland that has security is the American embassy….go figure.

We were somewhat amused that Icelanders are so pleased with themselves that they don’t have a Starbucks or McDonalds….yet they have Dunkin’ Donuts, and even a patriotic donut:


We didn’t try the donuts, but we did try the oldest and most famous hot dogs, which were delicious! 80% lamb and 12% beef….we didn’t ask  what the remaining 8% consisted of:

(No…we didn’t eat all 4 hot dogs….the people next to us had theirs on the same holder thingy….don’t judge!). Apparently this hot dog establishment has been in the same spot since the 30’s, and is 4th generation-run. Everyone from Bill Clinton to the Kartrashians have eaten here, and it didn’t disappoint!

We made friends with some “locals”:

…and took in some panoramic views:

…and now we’re just taking a brief siesta, since we’ve been up so long! Tomorrow we pick up the rental car, and head out to start our journey! Pretty excited for the snorkelling! (I know this post was lame….but I’m tired! I promise they will get better! lol).