Iceland: South + Central Region (The Giant)

Hello again, friends!

As we left off in the last post, Kevin and I knew there wasn’t any point in showering the night in Vik because day nine was going to be quite a dirty one. And along with that, it was a very, very wet one, too.

Let’s continue.

Day Nine

Skogafoss

We climbed the stairs to the right of the waterfall first to get away from the crowds. I recommend walking a bit as the scenery is gorgeous and it gets a lot more quiet the further you go along. This is the start to Fimmvörðuháls, a day hike that takes you through Iceland’s sweet scenery.  I think I’m definitely adding this hike to our list for next time we visit!

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Of course we couldn’t pass up witnessing Skogafoss from down below. I guess I underestimated all the other travel blog’s warnings that you end up walking away soaked if you get too close. We ended up soaked. But it was all so worth it.

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Oh, and the reality that no matter what all Iceland photos will show- sometimes, often, there really are other people trying to get their shot!

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Seljavallalaug Pool

The obscure, hidden oasis within the landscape’s crevices. I was very excited about visiting this less touristic spot along the route. Photos had me entirely convinced that it would be tranquil and, well, perfect. This is the thing about the things we find online: they are not always how we picture them.

I was most shocked about the upkeep at this pool. Once used for bathing and maintained by the locals, the “amenities” have become a dumping ground for discarded clothes piled in what were supposed to be changing rooms. It’s heartbreaking that something someone trusted to the public for free use has been treated so poorly. Still, as long as you don’t go into those rooms, the surrounding scenery is magnificent. The water itself was lukewarm, but still a fun experience swimming around the algae.

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Seljalandsfoss

Last on our list of water activities for the day was also the last waterfall on our list. By this point our hearts were entirely destroyed, beaten down below the force of rapidly flowing water along the rock. I really recommend for any day involving waterfalls where you might- will- get soaked…wear waterproof clothing. Kevin’s blue jeans were so saturated that I couldn’t help but laugh! This was certainly one of the most crowded Iceland spots that we encountered on our road-trip around the country (besides Jökulsárlón). Still, why would we pass up any Iceland highlight if we didn’t need to?
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Reykjavik

And, just like that, we were back in the Capital city.

We arrived to our AirBNB ready to quickly shower, redress, and hit the ground running. However, the apartment had other plans for us. We, unfortunately, had a couple of big problems with the apartment- one being that the shower would not drain (or rather took hours to drain). We called the owner and they called the house keeper and told us to wait an hour or two until she could get there. Well, we waited and waited and finallyyyy she showed up, “fixed” the shower, and left. By the time we could wash off from the past couple days, it was so late into the day that we couldn’t help but be bummed out about it. But that didn’t last long either way as we had an early start time for one of Iceland’s biggest hot-spots.

Day Ten

 

Blue Lagoon

Yeah, you already know all about this famous geothermal spa. What I didn’t know about it until I started researching prices and reservation bookings (don’t forget to book yours in advance!) was that this isn’t at all like all of Iceland’s natural hot springs. It’s actually man made; the water is runoff from the geothermal plant next door. So, if you want a natural phenomenon experience, you might want to try searching other natural hot springs, however, I still found it extremely worth visiting. The land is huge and spacious. I was worried it would be completely crowded, and sure, by the bars and mud mask areas it was congested, however, Kevin and I waded towards the very end of the pool and we had it all to ourselves. Certain spots are definitely hotter than others so we took our time finding a comfy spot that suited us both.

Then we just, enjoyed. The weather was not ideal as it was drizzling sideways in the way it feels like you’re being stuck by hundreds of little needles. Though that just added to the overall sentiment of the day: the last bits of beauty in a land that is both so rough and delicate all at the same time. The water soothed my aching muscles after 10 days of road-tripping, hiking, sleeping in our car, and for me, falling on my butt a couple times. I closed my eyes, laid my head on a lava rock, and welcomed the “pit, pat” of light rainfall onto my face. I pictured my life. Reflected, envisioned, manifested beauty as I simultaneously, wholeheartedly, felt entirely blissful.

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54a0805f-a528-44f5-85db-ecd65c3b3719So a couple more things to note. For me, the Blue Lagoon might be a once in a lifetime experience. Unless we visit again with others that truly wish to visit. When it comes down the the geothermal pools we visited during our road-trip, I still prefer Myvatn Nature Baths (around $38) to the Blue Lagoon ($60 for Comfort) just because it was a little less touristic and overall more simple with the same hot water experience. The mud masks at the Blue Lagoon are a nice touch, however. Either way, I did make sure to condition my hair a lot before and after both pools and I didn’t notice my hair becoming damaged at all.

One last thing. I noticed that so many people were distracted by their cellphones. One guy was even risking his huge DSLR the entire time trying to get the “right” shot or video. I know it’s to each their own, but I just wanted to say that it’s perfectly understandable to take photos while in the Lagoon. I mean, of course we want to! I just recommend going back into the changing rooms and putting the phone away for awhile. Kevin and I had his phone for 5 minutes top for these photos at the very beginning and that was it. The rest we spent together, free from distractions in a truly remarkable place.

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Free Walking Tour With City Walk

I can’t get over how much I love free walking tours! I always get a little hesitant before just because I’m unsure about big groups or worried it might not be worth the time, but I’m always proven so immensely wrong! I actually loved learning about Reykjavik from local grad student Thomas. I would highly recommend taking this tour instead of just following a map on your own as there is so much more history and information I would have just never known if it wasn’t for the tour!

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By this point on our last day in Iceland I pretty much put the camera away and stopped taking photos so that I could give fully appreciate our last remaining time and live in the moment.

For the rest of the late afternoon we souvenir shopped, stopped by some vintage shops (my favorite), and just strolled along the city on this rainy day before we had to be at the Harpa for our last activity planned.

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So, I actually think this was one of my favorite activities from this entire trip. It was a pretty spur of the moment decision to purchase tickets ($84.82) but we really wanted to see a show at the Harpa. This hour lesson taught Kevin and I so much about the history, culture, and jokingly, what it takes to be a true Icelandic. Most importantly, it taught us about þetta reddast meaning, “it will all work out okay.” This simple statement is a beautiful one and a motto that Kevin and I still tell each other when we feel life getting a little too hectic for comfort. It will all work out okay. This was the perfect ending to a perfect trip. Hearing the performer say these word and chanting it along with the crowd of people from all over the world made my heart soar and tears build up in my eyes. It was as if the trip tied itself closed in a perfect little bow just for us.

Day Eleven 😦

Morning of day eleven was a heartbreaking one. I haven’t been this heartbroken about leaving a place in quite a while. Maybe since studying abroad in Caen back in university. It was the overwhelming, heavy, heartbreaking feeling that comes with saying goodbye to such a beautiful experience that you just aren’t ready to let go of. And maybe that’s why it has taken me so long to write these posts and fill them with photos. It still kind of hurts to go through these experiences. Kevin still can’t go through photos and I haven’t seen any of our videos since we left Iceland. If you’ve ever loved a place so much, you’ll know what I mean.

But alas, this is the end. Honestly, I don’t feel as if I did our trip justice. To any other pair of eyes it will be another random blog with tons of photos that someone might go, “eh!” or “oh!” to. Even to myself, if I went back and ready the earlier posts I might just…accept it. Because, how…how could I ever have been expected to explain this trip in terms of what it made me feel? There are no words for that! I will never be able to truly describe the serenity, the hope, the blissfullness, the courageousness, the wholehearted, raw, beyond belief gratefulness that Iceland took us through and left us with.

I will never be able to show you guys that.

But I did my best.

I hope it was enough.

Love always,

Mary Anna

P.S: There actually will be another blog post after this outlining a complete itinerary from our 10 day road-trip, including where we stayed, some things we want to do next time, and some tips. The usual stuff. For now, however, I’m way too emotional to jump into it. So, I’ll see you again, friends.

And Iceland, I know we’ll see you again someday, too- soon.

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