Month: April 2014

Iceland Part I: Waterfalls and a Glacier

Hello!

Jeremy and I are in Kent, about an hour southeast of London, housesitting for a family with three dogs, four cats, five chickens and two ducks (more on that later). I hope to catch up on everything we’ve been doing lately, and I am excited to finally share our pictures from Iceland.

In short, Iceland was the most magical place we have ever been. We knew it was going to be beautiful, but we were blown away. What added to the experience was the cabin we rented on Homeaway; we could not have chosen a better spot. Coming from NYC, we were looking forward to having an entirely opposite experience, and we got that and more. AND we saw the Northern Lights on our third night there. I bought a tripod specifically for that reason, and luckily it was worth lugging it around for (and now I’m going to send it home I think).

We flew out of JFK in New York and the flight to Keflavik Airport in Iceland was only about four fours and forty-five minutes (about the same distance from NYC to LA, who knew). We touched down around 7am (2am New York time), and it was a pretty surreal day going forward since we hadn’t slept at all.

Our first impressions of Iceland were at the airport, specifically, the bathrooms. Each spotless bathroom had its own private room, with a sensor-operated sink that was a hand-dryer as well. They were very impressive. The airport was also really nice in general, especially considering it was pretty small. We were starving since we didn’t have dinner, so I got an egg sandwich and Jeremy got a smoked lamb sandwich, and we ate in the airport cafeteria among all the other travelers, 90% of them drinking alcohol even though it was so early in the morning.

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Early morning in the Keflavik Airport.

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Jeremy and his smoked lamb sandwich.

It’s pretty imperative to rent a car in Iceland, unless you want to take a bus from Keflavik to the capital, Reykjavik, and then take tour buses from there, but renting a car is far more convenient (especially when you’re going to a cabin in the middle of nowhere like we were, obviously). I got a really good deal on a rental car, even though we were getting worried because all the cheaper rentals were manual, and we can only drive automatic (we realized that should really change soon). The company also upgraded us to a nice 4×4, which we were really happy about after seeing the state of the roads we had to drive on to get to our cabin. The car also came with a free GPS system, but it didn’t work so we relied on maps instead.

Exhausted and deliriously happy!

Exhausted and deliriously happy!

The drive to the cabin was supposed to be a few hours, and seeing that it was only 7am when we landed and we couldn’t check in until 4pm, we were kind of at a loss of what to do. If we stopped the car at all, we would just fall asleep, so we kept driving and seeing where we could pass some time.

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We finally got to a town called Selfoss, about 35 minutes away from the cabin, and decided to find some internet to buy to email the house owner and ask if we could check in early. Luckily she emailed back pretty soon and said yes, and we were so happy. It was the best 200 Icelandic Krona we spent! While we were on one of the backroads almost to the house, a group of Icelandic ponies were in the road… aka a dream come true for me. They surrounded our car and I got out to take some pictures.

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When we finally reached our little cabin, we only managed to stay awake for about an hour before passing out at 3pm. We woke up around 9pm, made dinner, then went back to sleep at midnight until the next morning, and we weren’t jetlagged at all after that. It was pretty great.

Our first picture together in Iceland, in front of our little home.

Our first picture together in Iceland, in front of our little home.

When we got up the next day, we were pleasantly surprised to see a dusting of snow on the ground and a shining sun, which made for some nice pictures. I got my tripod out again and took some of the house and a few more of us.

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Seljalandsfoss

The next morning, we embarked on a day-long adventure from the cabin along the Ring Road, stopping at two waterfalls and a glacier before heading to the ocean to see the dramatic coastline. Our first stop was Seljalandsfoss, and it was a huge waterfall that you could walk behind. It was pretty icy so we almost slipped a few dozen times, but it was really neat and there were lots of areas to explore.

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One of the many crazy tour buses we saw in Iceland.

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Seljalandsfoss in the background.

Skógarfoss

Our next stop was the waterfall Skógarfoss, where we happened to see a perfect rainbow in front of it. We climbed many stairs to get to the top of the waterfall, where you could then climb over a little fence and explore the miles and miles of trails through the hills. There were no other people on the trails and even though we didn’t walk too far, I couldn’t help but think about running around there and how great it would be.

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Sólheimajokull

Jeremy and I were on a strict budget in Iceland, so we didn’t spend any money on tours or anything, but if we ever go back I think it would be fun to go on a glacier walk with a tour guide. We wanted to make sure we actually saw a glacier, so we drove a bit out of the way on rocky roads to look at the base of one.

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Jeremy conquering the glacier.

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Sitting on a boulder with the glacier in the background.

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After the glacier, we drove toward Vik since we heard there were really beautiful cliffs, black beaches, and rock formations on the coast. The drive was beautiful, and this turned out to be Jeremy’s favorite part of the day (and maybe the whole trip).

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DSC_2728And of course, on the way home I had to stop and take a picture of some horses.

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Hopefully I’ll have part two of our Iceland adventure tomorrow!

 

 

New York: Part II

Hi! I finally have a few minutes to write a post! Our Airbnb in Manhattan didn’t have wifi even though I mistakenly thought it did when booking it, so I didn’t get to do a post while I was there. Not to mention Jeremy and I fit so much stuff into four days, I probably wouldn’t have had time anyway. And then our house in Iceland had limited wifi, so if we used too much (which we did immediately by accident), it would cut off and the owner of the house would have to re-up it. I feel a little overwhelmed now, since I have so many pictures from Iceland now too (we were there for a few days until Monday morning, it was the most amazing place I’ve ever been), but I want to post about our three days in Manhattan. Basically, it was filled with lots and lots of carbs and walking. We probably averaged 10 miles a day of walking, trying to see as many sights as possible. This is also how we justified eating so many bagels and falafel sandwiches. We ate bagels every day, and I couldn’t get enough. The ones we got in Brooklyn were my favorite:

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but Jeremy’s favorite was from Ess-a-bagel:

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Speaking of food, since we’re on a pretty strict budget so that we can stay traveling as long as possible, we didn’t really splurge on any nice dinners or anything. Next time we visit NYC, I hope that we can experience some of the amazing restaurants the city has to offer, but in the meantime we thoroughly enjoyed our street food and snacks. We stopped into a place on the Lower East Side to get a knish without even knowing what it was. It was basically a ball of mashed potatoes with veggies inside and dough on the outside. Needless to say, it was tasty.

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A delish knish.

A delish knish.

We wanted to go get some smoked salmon or other treats in here, but the amount of people crammed inside was a little too overwhelming.

We wanted to go get some smoked salmon or other treats in here, but the amount of people crammed inside was a little too overwhelming.

We got some pho in Chinatown one night, and it was inexpensive and delicious:

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Watching people make pasta in Eataly made me really hungry.

Watching people make pasta in Eataly made me really hungry.

Salted peanut and lemon poppyseed donuts from Donut Plant in LES.

Salted peanut and lemon poppyseed donuts from Donut Plant in LES.

 

I made sure my last meal in America was tacos with lots of guacamole (we got them from Brooklyn Tacos in the Essex Market in the LES).

I made sure my last meal in America was tacos with lots of guacamole (we got them from Brooklyn Tacos in the Essex Market in the LES). The one on the right was kale and potato.

Sightseeing 

I’ve been to NYC a good amount of times (I was born there, fun fact), but it was Jeremy’s first time, so we wanted to see some of the main attractions. Like I said, we walked a lot. We much prefer to walk six miles somewhere than take public transportation (if we have no time constraints) so that we can see everything along the way. We walked from the Lower East Side to Central Park because we wanted to see the apartment my parents lived in when they were my age. It was fun to imagine them in it in the 70s, doing all the cool stuff I know they did.

My parents' apartment building in the 70s.

My parents’ apartment building in the 70s.

Of course, we had to take a picture in Times Square (before we promptly got the hell out of there):

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Flatiron Building.

A cold Central Park.

A cold Central Park.

Jeremy had to pry my face away from this store's window.

Jeremy had to pry my face away from this store’s window.

Coolest Apple store ever.

Coolest Apple store ever.

I love Greenwich Village.

I love Greenwich Village.

Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center.

Me with a very tiny Lady of Liberty behind.

Me with a very tiny Lady Liberty behind.

Empire State Building.

Empire State Building.

We did splurge on a show at the Comedy Cellar, where Louis CK is seen telling jokes in the opening credits of his show. All of the comedians were hilarious, and we didn’t regret spending the money at all.

We had a really good time in NYC overall, despite the freezing weather/wind (I didn’t even have a coat so I had to run into an H&M and buy a jacket), but we looked forward to getting to our cabin in the middle of nowhere in Iceland (the complete opposite of New York City). I can’t wait to share pictures from there!