Five days in Iceland

IMG_0669

I don’t even know where to begin…..so i thought i would just start at the beginning. 

When i first even thought about possibly going to Iceland….it was about a year ago…..i had come across a photo 

on Pinterest that had spiked my curiosity……never have really even given it a blink of a thought whatsoever.

Then the more i started researching it…….the more i was falling in love.

lust

love

lust

love

Then as Bryan and i were chatting about my upcoming turning 4o……asking if maybe i would want to

go somewhere…..i brought up Iceland and Bryan just laughed.

Seriously…..laughed.…..

but then i told him if we could afford the plane tickets over then i would work extra shifts at my job

in order to pay for the entire time there.

shut the front door……he was in.

We booked our tickets for October……i knew i wanted to see the Aurora Borealis {northern lights}

I know i didn’t want to be there in the dead of winter

I knew the weather there is totally unpredictable…..lots of rain, it’s cold but not Chicago cold,

the summers have 24 hours of daylight…..the middle of Winter they have almost 24 hours of darkness.

The Northern lights are supposed to start up the end of September and go thru March or April…..

so i got online and found the least expensive fare i could find which wasn’t bad considering we were flying 

from Kauai. The tickets were booked…..and because Bryan could only take about a week of work off….

we were only going to be able to have just 5 days/4 night in actual Iceland.

Because of the logistics…….we also had an overnight in Seattle on the flight out

and an overnight in Edmonton, Canada on the way back which actually worked out well because of the 

sheer amount of travel involved.

14 hours of fly time……..and a 10 hour time difference between Kauai and Iceland is not for the faint of heart.

We did it though….and lived to experience one of the best places we’ve ever been.

Now i write about it.

…………………………………………………………………..

::Day One::

IMG_0712

The Kex Hostel

I’ve never stayed in a hostel before but damn it…..we were going to stay in the coolest one i’ve ever

come across. I want to point out too that over the last four months i’ve spent more time online researching

every

single

thing

about

anything

Iceland

so of course i did a lot of my research on Trip Advisor and read all the reviews.

The Kex had very mixed reviews……..people either loved it or hated it.

I knew we wanted to experience it…..the Hostel experience but not necessarily the shared bunk bed sleeping rooms.

The Kex offers Private rooms with shared baths and that is what sold us.

If you go in with an open mind about it….you won’t be disappointed. 

The decor was AMAZING

hands down

one of the most beautiful places i’ve been in. It used to be a biscuit factory….Kex Biscuits….

the owners have filled every single room with the best vintage furniture.

They offer Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and the food is wonderful.  The package we opted for

were 2 nights in a private room with shared bath, breakfast one morning and a one way

transfer from the airport to Kex via flybus.

photo

There were about 4-5 bathrooms per floor on each floor which was ample but you can choose to have your own

bathroom……but you are paying more……

and because it is a hostel….and not a hotel

in which a person could somewhat be confused but i don’t know how they could…..

but it is a hostel.

A HOSTEL

NOT A HOTEL

The Kex does on occasion have live music that plays on the first floor…..

and the metal room doors are loud every time someone opens them….

but we knew this going in……

and we would stay here again in a heart beat. We Loved our experience.

{free advice~ take your showers in the morning….hot water goes fast….and if you can secure the 

4th floor than you are golden…..but if not…..they have free earplugs by the dozens by the front desk}

IMG_2125

this is what jet lag looks like……

we had just arrived to drop off our luggage IMG_2127

IMG_2128 IMG_0811 IMG_0809 IMG_0686 IMG_0696

 Most of the flights coming into Iceland land first thing in the morning….and because check in at any hotel

isn’t till at least 2……we knew we had time to explore.

After i had booked our trip i found Audur’s blog….. I heart Reykjavik

her blog was a wealth of information and she also offers a 2 hour walking tour of Reykjavik

which we were part of.

I’m not going to lie……that first morning was cold

COLD

we had arrived in Iceland and my very first thought was…..

sheet

but i had to remember that we were coming from weather that was 88 degrees and very humid…..

my body was going to have to get used to being cold again.

It was a little windy……but the sun was out.

amen to that because from i know……it rains A LOT…..it’s overcast A LOT……..the weather can change

4 times in a single hour. 

1959444_879791888700112_5505300699162830342_n

The walking tour met at the Hallgrimskirkja Church…… 

IMG_0869

we actually got there a few minutes early so were able

to take the elevator to the top of the church and

you can see all of Reykjavik and its colorful beauty.

IMG_0669 IMG_0710 IMG_0942 IMG_0703 IMG_0708

I was able to pull out my only pair of boots that i brought to Kauai with me….

i was very very happy. IMG_0662

IMG_0691

After the walking tour there were 2 places i wanted to hit.

*Kolaportid Flea Market

&

*The Red Cross thrift shop

both are wonderful places to shop vintage……but there are other amazing shops all around town…..

what i think i loved most was around 4pm the shops start putting wine and cheese out….

so of course we partook in a little tasting at each shop we stopped at.

Side note: most shops open late and close early…….something like 12-5

so if you wanted to spend time shopping after dinner…..you are out of luck….only a few touristy 

places are open late.

…………………………………………..

::Day Two::

IMG_2132I found Ymir via my new best friend Trip Advisor…….

i’ve learned most people just read the first few pages …..but i’ve learned to continue on reading

and reading

and reading

and that is where I found our new friend Ymir.

IMG_2148

He offers private tours…….and because we were not renting a car except for one day …..and there were

a few places i really wanted to see but weren’t offered on group tours…….. Ymir totally rocked our Day Two.

Iceland orgasm i tell you.

Ymir picked us up at 9 in the morning at the Kex……and we headed straight to the place that was the photo 

inspiration i had seen on Pinterest that made me dream non stop about Iceland for 6 months.

IMG_2135

we parked the car and hiked about a mile up following the river

IMG_2136

IMG_0751

Seljavallaulaug Pool

The pool is nestled in a narrow valley below the infamous Eyjafjallajokull  {try pronouncing that…}

and it’s the oldest swimming pool

in Iceland that is still standing. It was built in 1923 by some visionaries who wanted to provide locals with  

a place where they could learn to swim.

IMG_2141

the pool was very warm when we arrived…….there was a pipe filtering in piping hot water out of the 

side of the mountain right into the water.

The pool was also filled with lots of algae at the bottom…..which would be all gross anywhere else

but we were in Iceland and we were getting in and swimming in the pool if it was the last thing we did.

image image

while we were swimming around… Ymir served us some champagne …..some yummy little sandwiches 

and my favorite were little lobster bites.

This was just the beginning.  IMG_2149

Next up on our adventure was seeing Skógafoss 

IMG_2154

At first i thought i wouldn’t be impressed because we have many waterfalls here on Kauai

but i was wrong.

There were waterfalls everywhere……because of the amount of ice higher up in the mountains……

these waterfalls run full force all year long.

IMG_2156 IMG_2162

Our third stop was another one of my choices…….

i had seen numerous photos of this abandoned wreckage of a  US NAVAL airplane 

and i wanted to see and photograph it myself.

After a few wrong turns and a call to Ymir’s friend……we found the right spot just off the road

and drove a few miles down black sand till we pulled up to it.

IMG_2164

I had this vision before we left that i wanted to photograph the abandoned ……..

the pool a good start and now the plane..

….but should i ever go back…..what i would love to do is cover the entire county…….

we passed by many farms and homes in the countryside that would love to have their walls 

photographed……i just know they would.

IMG_2178

In 1973, a United States Navy airplane crashed on the black sand beaches of 

Sólheimasandur. Apparently the crew survived but the wreckage is still there and over time this

is what remains. 

photo copy

Fourth place on our list was Sólheimajökull Glacier

{ outlet of Myrdalsjokull glacier}

IMG_2189

There were many people up and around on tours that would let you hike a glacier…..

and while that seemed all great and fun……we arrived only to hike up and walk on one.

We didn’t even have to fall down or get cold.

Scrap that……it was a little cold.

IMG_2197

It is not safe to hike up without a guide……so don’t try it.

we only made it to the base just to look at the glacier but because of the rapid rise of melting going on

{global warming……what a mind blowing experience to see the effects in person…. at the rate it’s 

melting now these glaciers will be completely gone in the next 100-200 years} there are holes 

and caves below the ice that can swallow you up faster than you can yell SHEEPSKIN.

IMG_0800

the blue color is out of this world…….

IMG_0860

After we saw the glacier……..Ymir took us to another famous waterfall…..

Seljalandsfoss

they say it’s Icelands most famous waterfall…..

IMG_2205 IMG_0798

you can even walk behind it……

and it was beyond gorgeous my friends……..

IMG_0806

At the end of our day with Ymir……

we stopped at the Eyjafjallajökull visitor center and watched a short video on the 2010 eruption

that halted air traffic for 2 weeks from Europe because of the ash.

While we were watching the video……Ymir was outside setting up a little picnic for us.

IMG_0837

Iceland is know for their sheep…….

they are everywhere…….and just like most americans love their beef……Icelanders love their lamb.

Ymir grilled up lamb filet for us……and i swear it was the best thing we’ve ever eaten.

He even made us try fermented shark…….i have to say….not a fan.

And of course he filled us up with wine and local beer and his wife made us the most delicious 

desserts in what else…….little jars!

IMG_2202 IMG_0938

::Day Three::

IMG_2234

We woke up on day 3 thinking it can’t possibly be sunny again…..at least one of these days its

going to show us what Iceland weather really is.

Nope….looked outside and it was sunny. Amen Amen Amen

I don’t really remember when i had come across Salteldhus cooking class…..

but when i did i knew it was something i wanted us to take.

We’ve never taken a cooking class…..but damn it……if we were going to …..it was going to 

be an Icelenadic cooking class.

I conveniently booked the class on day three knowing we would need a reprieve from the last 2 days 

of constantly being on the go.

The class was from 11-3…….we were going to make a 3 course lunch and then eat…..

sounded great to me.

We showed up right at 11…….walked in and found out that it was going to just be a private class

that day.

shut the front door 

a private class……………just us. We pinched ourselves.

Just like the the girl that orchestrated the Walking tour…..our instructor was also name Audur.

IMG_2258

This was Audur’s studio…….and it was beautiful.

We started off by making Arctic Char sous vide with a pressed dill potato salad 

IMG_2236 IMG_2240

image IMG_2241

the Main lunch course we made pan seared lamb filet over mashed rutabaga and

topped with sautéed beets. IMG_2248 IMG_2254

for dessert we made Skyr {which is icelandic yogurt but more cheese like} cheesecake

with wild blueberries and thyme that Audur had just picked up in the Western Fjords 

a few days beforehand…..and some granola sprinkle on top.

Amen to the Icelandic food gods…….they treated us well. IMG_2257

IMG_2259

after the cooking class we checked out of the Kex Hostel {we had actually checked out

earlier but they were storing our bags for us} and walked a few blocks over 

to the cutest home of Olaf and Birna.

I found it via Airbnb…..{check it out here}

Because our days were so full…..and we didn’t want to pay much for a place to sleep…..

but we still wanted to experience staying with an Icelandic family…..this place fit our search.

On our last morning with Olaf and Birna……they woke up early and made us a traditional

Icelandic breakfast before we headed out. We sat down with Olaf and chatted politics…

eruptions and the extreme rise of tourism happening there right now.

IMG_0941

anyhoo……back to day 3…..since it’s still long from over.

After we were settled in at Olaf and Birna’s home……we relaxed a bit and then got changed up

and ready for the night because we were heading out at 5pm for a midnight hike and bath.

Like clockwork…..right at 5 our guide Wolfie picked us up out front.

Wolfie and his father Andréss own the small family company that run intimate hiking and biking tours….

Iceland Activities

They offer the small and intimate experience…..don’t take more that 8 in a group…

some of the other companies have as many as 30 people in a group.

no thanks

…..and that’s exactly what we got……small and intimate.

Wolfie picked us up and guess what…….

once again…..it was just us on the tour.

After he picked us up we headed to their headquarters and they layered us up……

because we didn’t have hiking boot {we weren’t about to purchase hiking boots just for our trip}

and we were missing some serious warm weather gear……

Wolfie and his dad geared us up so that we looked like extremely warm oompa loompas.

Iceland Activities

Wolfie drove us to a secret spot and we hiked a few miles down into a valley where there were

hot springs and geothermal water rising from holes in the ground.

IMG_0857

Wolfie brought along his camera

{Thank you Wolfie!!!!}

because i had left mine behind……and he took all the photos of us that evening.

we boiled eggs in the hot springs…..for our dinner.

Iceland Activities

then Wolfie found us a really warm spot in the river and we soaked……

and soaked

then we soaked some more.

{and yes….we had suits on…..it just doesn’t look like it;-) }

Iceland Activities

After soaking for at least an hour…..we were just watching the sky and all of the sudden

the northern lights appeared…..and started dancing for us.

I had been watching the Aurora Borealis forecast {Iceland has an actual forecast so you can

play your week around possibly seeing the lights} and the forecast was looking low each night

but we learned that even with a low reading…..if you are out of the city lights and up in the dark 

mountains like we were……the chances were good. Not always….but they were that night.

Happy Night!

We got out of the hot springs and dressed …..hiked back up the mountain and Wolfie

drove us higher into the mountain till we found a perfect viewpoint.

We lounged on the frozen soft moss and watched the light show dance around us……

Iceland Activities

i might have cried that night

the beauty was unreal.

Iceland………….I love you.

Iceland Activities

::Day Four::

IMG_2269

On day four……we rented a car.

It was the only day where we didn’t have a schedule and i really wanted to see and expierence

the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on our own. We rented a car with GPS {a must}…..

and actually found driving around iceland really easy. 

It took us about 2.5 hours to get to Snaefellsnes………but along the way we saw wild Icelandic horses

roaming the countryside……i fell in love all over again.

{if you haven’t realized it yet…..love is a strong word on the blog today}

IMG_0901

IMG_0871 IMG_2274

The sole purpose of the road trip was to see the oldest church still standing…..in Búdir

IMG_2285 IMG_2297

and then have lunch at the Hotel Búdir.

There was nothing else around……these two places sit by themselves and it’s breathtaking.

photo 3

Bryan of course…….typical man……

couldn’t believe we drove all this way just to see the church and have lunch.

He didn’t realize this was all that was on the plan for the day.

Can you believe there was no television in the bar and no football on?

Yup…….neither did he.

photo 2

What he did enjoy was us finding a mineral spring on someones farm where we 

filled up all of our bottles with Happy Water.

100% natural spring water from the ground…….

in the middle of nowhere …….

Happy water.

IMG_2310 IMG_0900

For me on the other hand……it was so nice to experience another side of Iceland……

IMG_2299

we didn’t end up making it up to the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull

The mountain is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, primarily due to the novel

 Journey to the center of the Earth by Jules Verne.

{which you can see in the photo below….covered in ice and snow}

I was happy enough seeing it from down below….where the scenery was out of this world.

IMG_2304 IMG_2305 ::Day Five::

our last day……..after our lovely breakfast with Olaf and Birna……we returned our rental car to the

station which was conveniently located right next to the Fly Bus in which we were taking to

our day at the Famous Blue Lagoon before our late afternoon flight back home.

IMG_0936

Bryan was excited to have made their memories site…..

a little hawaiian shaka from Kauai

photo

IMG_0931 IMG_0912 14 hours of flying: 10 hour time difference: Five days: Four nights

Kauai to Iceland

Every single day was amazing……the weather is what made our time in Iceland unbelievable

Iceland has a part of our hearts now…….it was truly a trip of a lifetime and maybe one day we

will come back…..there is still so much more to see and experience…..but for now

we have memories to last us forever.

Iceland……..i love you.

Comments

  1. Hung on every word and seriously stalked your feed every day. That rainbow in the falls!!! The Northern lights!!! I have to say seeing those would be a dream. What an amazing journey. Reminded me of the movie The Adventures of Walter Mitty”:) So glad you were blessed with great weather and seemed to have favor in all your excursions. Yay!!

  2. Jen (Arriving) says:

    I love, love, love this post. Your trip posts are some of my all time favorites. You make a great travel writer.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I was intrigued by Iceland when I saw one of your photos on Instagram. I showed my husband and he was instantly hooked. As in we began researching and planning a trip for next year. So thank you! Thanks for opening up my eyes to a place that had never been on my travel list 🙂

  4. Sounds wonderful, felt like I was there with you.

  5. Mary Hill says:

    What a wonderful trip for just the two of you. You will be my go to travel guide. It was truely beautiful and oh so inspiring. I felt like I was on the trip with you. So happy for you and Bryan to have that memory. Love love. Aunt Mary

  6. This is so, so beautiful….might have shed a tear or two….thank you for sharing, for writing, for you….I admire you tremendously, the way you live your life is an inspiration…

  7. Gorgeous trip review! Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. what an experience. the photographs really do tell the story. not only are you an adventurer but would make a wonderful trip planner/advisor. happy 40th year!

  9. Loved reading every bit of this! Truly and adventure! Your trip planning skills are outstanding! And of course your photography….captivates me every time I check out your blog.

  10. Simply amazing Kasey. What a trip! Hugs 🙂

  11. Amazing, you must have put a lot work into that research! and you did some fantastic things. Would love to go!

  12. Kelly Perozo says:

    Kasey, loved reading about your Icelandic adventure. Beautiful pictures and great job planning.
    -kelly P

  13. Oh myyyyyy!!! There are so many things I was blown away by from this trip… First and foremost is the favor of God that you had getting the different one-on-one opportunities…I know He TOTALLY wanted to shower you all with those special moments…especially the Northern Lights! Your pictures are amazing… I’m so impressed with your mad research skills… You need to be a photojournalist for a travel magazine… This post is stellar! So happy you all got to do this!!! Now I want to go!!

  14. So glad you did a blog post on this! I follow you on IG but the photo’s are so much easier to see on here:) What an incredible experience that must have been!!! It looks beautiful, definitely nothing like we have here in the U.S. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Ann from Bordeaux says:

    Loved your post. Never thought of visiting really want to visit now – thanks.

  16. absolutely amazing. never even considered a trip to Iceland until seeing your images on instagram and now reading your post. so happy you had a wonderful trip – a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday. thank you for sharing it.

    ps – i got teary eyed just seeing your pictures of the northern lights! can’t even imagine how moving it must have been in person.

  17. Hey Kasey,
    Truly never.ever. crossed my mind to visit Iceland, but you have planted a seed in my head with this post. Love that blue colour in the ice and the Northen Lights, amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your trip. Keep enjoying life your way, it really suits you well.
    Maureen xx

  18. LOVE this post! I too am celebrating my 40th birthday in Iceland with 4 girlfriends, in just 31 days from now! (Yikes!) Your photos are amazing. You were very lucky to have such wonderful clear skies. I hope I am as lucky. Thank you for a great recap of the trip, after ready I am even more excited to fall in love with Iceland myself!

  19. Beautiful! Loved your story and great pictures. Thank you!

  20. Janet Miciunas says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Iceland. I would have never thought of Iceland as a vacation spot, but you proved otherwise. Your pictures were absolutely perfect as were your words. Your vacation appeared to be a dream come true.

  21. Hi Kasey! Next time you must come to Azores, I’ll be glad to host you and your family. Just four hours from Logan airport. http://www.visitazores.com/pt-pt

  22. thanks for sharing!! I’ve been trying to convince my husband we need to go here. How did you search for flights??

    • We found our flights the most inexpensive on Orbitz. We had a connection in Seattle and Edmonton, Canada, but it was least expensive then a straight connection through Seattle {Iceland Air flies direct from Seattle}. We paid $1000 per ticket which we thought was a score considering we were flying all the way from Kauai.

  23. Brandi McGee says:

    Beautiful! I’m adding it to my travel bucket list for sure!!

  24. Laura In Sacto says:

    Oh, Kasey…what an amazing trip for you both. I am so happy for you. I loved every single picture and thank you for sharing your amazing trip!

  25. Adrienne Irby says:

    I found out today that I get to travel to Iceland for business….in 43 days! My two questions are a) what did you do about your phone/talking to your kids, internet, texting and b) what electrical adapter did you buy to plug in your phone/tablet/computer? Beautiful photos! I’m so excited I’m jumping out of my skin, but I’m terrified to be away from my baby (5.5 years old) for EIGHT days!

    • We used the same adapter that Europe uses {2 prong}….we borrowed a few of them from a friend. As for the texting/talking question….Bryan turned off his Cellular data and data roaming on his iPhone while there….i on the other hand bought an international data plan for a week {which included 50 texts} so that we could stay in touch with the kids.

  26. tracey connolly says:

    for sure makes me want to go…….glad you are back!

  27. I was just reading slimpaley’
    s blog and she went there during Yoko Ono’s huge peace event…did you see that? Just thought it was amazing that 2 of my favorite bloggers did Iceland in a month…

  28. Wow, this is one of the best blog posts I’ve seen on a trip to Iceland! Looks like you had an awesome adventure and I’m glad you had fun. As a fellow blogger, I’m glad I found yours for some good-old-fashioned inspiration 🙂

  29. I have been dreaming of a trip to Iceland and fell in love with your blog. I just was wondering your tour with Ymir was that the one he offers or can you also tell him the places you want to see and he will take you there. It was hard for me to figure it out on his website and I would really like to see those places you visited thanks.

    • I told him the few places i wanted to go and he arranged it. Just reach out to him and you can arrange anything with him, he’s amazing. xx

  30. We’ve been considering Iceland for a while now – I stumbled across this post on Pinterest and within 40 mins of reading it I’ve booked me and my fiancé on a 5 day trip, and we’re staying at Kex. Excellent post and thanks for the tip on the hostel, bargain. Happy travels 🙂

  31. Hi i will traveling to iceland In october! How can I contact the guide that you used? Thank you!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: