Home from Iceland

I cannot wait to:

Do laundry
Wash AND blowdry AND comb my hair
Watch something on netflix
Watch something on hulu
Eat reasonably priced food
Not wear a base layer
Brush with my Crest with Scope toothpaste
Eat vegetables. Blend something
Not live out of a backpack
Shave
Go to SF Monday night

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Some state on the east coast. New Jersey?

Iceland: the food edition

I am close to going back to the US. It has been so long since I seriously thought about work, other than the “haha I will check my email but only respond to fun friend ones and ignore all work related ones!” that I’m not sure how I will be able to readjust.

We got back into Reykjavik last night. It turns out Culture Night is this weekend, when supposedly 1/3 of Iceland’s population will make it out to the capital center.

Well this explains why it was impossible for Caroline and I to find hostels hotels or airbnb.

After significantly upping our price range we found a very expensive airbnb option. A lot more stress and back and forth emails was involved but I will skip over this in the blog as I hope to wash this from my memory.

I am now fairly confident that I have thoroughly explored Reykjavik. It isn’t large at all. We have seen puffins, done a multi day hike, driven around ring road, and gone in a geothermal pool. I have had two delicious and awesome cafe experiences today. I now consider this trip to be completed in full.

The best thing I’ve eaten here was a sandwich for bfast this morning involving preserved meats like salami, some sort of delicious cheese and perfect bread. The next best was mac and cheese one night on the hike that was a perfect dish from home. Then … my greatest joy was probably the swiss mocha and belgian waffle (w rhubarb jam and whipped cream) from the cafe I’m in right now.

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There is essentially just one very long street to walk around on here. The houses are not cute so I don’t need to go house exploring here. I have 11000 krona aka less than $110 to blow off before leaving the city. I wish my stomach could store so much more.

It is only 5pm but I’m exhausted. But we must use up this day to the max! Since this is Caroline and myself, “living life to the max” involves sitting in a cafe quietly playing on our phones while waiting for our stomachs to be ready for the next dessert.

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Harpa the concert hall

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Love the hot dogs here. We had a terrible dinner yesterday where we all agreed it was our worst meal of the trip, including freeze dried foods and gas station hot dogs.

Iceland: close to home

I don’t know why I just started a post now… we are in a tiny town called vik. It’s overcast foggy and drizzling right now which is unfortunate because today we wanted to try and see puffins.

Yesterday we went back to jokulsarlon which was amazing still the second time. The day before was clear blue skies and yesterday was colder and white rain cloud skies (not quite grey rain clouds). The landscape looked as amazingly different yet just as beautiful.

We then went to skaftafell national park which I thought was no big whoop. I did eat a delicious ham and cheese croissant though. Iceland does those very well.

We are back in Reykjavik tonight.  I am concerned because we have nowhere to stay friday night. The shitty thing is this wouldn’t have been an issue with my original flight hahhaa it’s weird – it seems close to being in america but still so much to do. I’m close to being back in SF but not quite. I’m close to being in LA but not home.

Miss a lot of things back in US.

But not work!

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Iceland: glaciers!

The hostel here typically charges people for internet!  How terrible is that! Well he gave Caroline a password for free but it only works on one ip address. So I went to ask for another and he gave me one too:

Me thanks! We are so poor in Iceland
Him hahaha yes everything is expensive here
Me thanks for this! Actually… I have a third friend though…

I really need veggies and fruit. Toooo muchhhh carbsssss

The kayak trip was NOT good. Sea kayaking near Seattle has been my favorite so far. Our guide was described as a robert redford type, a very apt description. He pretty much left tanya and I behind and just stayed at the front talking to this one person. I didn’t learn anything on this tour! I usually don’t care to but I like the choice of rejecting knowledge!

We drove towards jokulsarlon a lagoon of glaciers and stayed in hofn. It is getting more and more difficult to book places to stay now. friday and Saturday are very iffy…

The lagoon was amazing. And I found out I can do panoramic pictures, amazing!

I attempted to sort out all my travels yesterday. It ended up on half made car reservations, changing hotel reservations twice and booking a flight to LA the same time as my flight back from Iceland. Clearly I suck at this “travel” thing.

Even though the internet sucks ass here I am still reluctant to leave it. It works best in the kitchen so I’m gearing up to leave and return to the spotty wifI room.

What else… I think that is all!

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Glaciers… and ice on a black sand beach. Amazing!

Iceland: seydisfjdour aka east Iceland

We are at a town known for sea kayaking … at least that is what all our lonely planet guides said. So we drove here and upon further investigation,  realized there is truly only one person who does the sea kayaking tours and his name is Hlynur Oddesson.

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We are scheduled for our tour at 10am aka thirty minutes.  The meeting place is a two minute walk, max.

I walked around the town yesterday … there is one grocery store, one restaurant (part of a hotel) and one bar. I walked toward the houses straight to the top of the hill as in my experience these are the nicer homes. It was a pleasant walk and to my surprise the hostel was right down the street.

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It has taken me some time to adjust to the small population of Iceland. The scenery is gorgeous but it is weird for me to not eat out all the time while traveling. I would like to think that I’ll return to America fitter,  healthier and thinner. But the endless cookies, peanut butter and dessert indulgences indicate that this will not be the case.

I loved the city of Akuyeri which is right on the water. We ate our first nice meal out – chicken sandwiches for Caroline and Tanya, a salted fish sandwich for me. Supposedly a local dish but I am pretty sure it is essentially a large scaled McDonalds fish fillet.

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We may have indulged that night, with our full meal, followed by garlic naan for post dinner snacking, then mocha and brownie for dessert. But sometimes we just need a little luxury!

There are cute shops but we always arrive after close and leave before they open so I may never be able to purchase my traditional lantern!

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We are driving around the ring road, making stops and staying in hostels. I think except for the last two nights in Reykjavik, we are essentially focused on outdoorsy stuff so I will need to adjust my appetite accordingly – oatmeal, pb sandwiches and pasta galore!

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Yesterday we went to see dettifoss, supposedly Europe’s most powerful waterfall. The drive there was incredibly bumpy and gravelly. We ate lunch overlooking the canyon and the mist rising from the fall.

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The town we are in is nestled below a bunch of mountains. Beautiful! And lucky for us I think the weather will be good. Sea kayaking then full day hike!

Before leaving Akuyeri we went to a bakery,  toted as one of the best bakeries in Iceland. Well, per the hostel receptionist so I’m not sure how biased she is. But based on their cheese ham croissant and the low number of establishments in this country, I would not be surprised.

Hilariously we are staying two nights in this quiet town.

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Sometimes I’ll think about all the things I need to do back home, job stuff, life stuff, travel stuff, and get a little anxious. But there’s only so much you can do w a smartphone so …

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Iceland: quick recap through today

Ok blogging is way less important to me when I already instagram, email and kakao call people.  Plus doing it on a smartphone makes it hard. Plus some of the better pics are on my camera. So sorry about short and sporadic posts!

We finished the four day hike. The third and fourth day, I seriously thought I had permanently damaged my feet. Luckily now my feet feel normal. And there is a muscle behind my knee that feels really worn out but I am choosing to ignore it.

The hike we did is called Laugavegur and starts in landmannalaugar and ends in thorsmork. You’ll see volcano lava fields,  glaciers, lakes, rivers, incredible greenery, mountains… half the time I had no idea what I was looking at. What I thought were clouds were actually glaciers. I couldn’t believe I was seeing such expansive glaciers right before me. Amazing.

My favorite days were probably the second (hike to alftavatni) the first (hike to hrafntinnusker) the fourth (hike to thorsmork) and lastly the third day (hike to emstrur). We booked huts w feroafelg islands. The tourbooks all say to book well in advance and I think we did it… a week or two before. HA I would not recommend waiting so long if you do not want to be waiting on the edge of your seat everyday to see how they will respond to your requested dates.

The huts were really nice and came w bunks or mattresses (you need to bring your own sleeping bag) and gas stoves. I luxuriously took a shower on all possible nights (2nd 3rd and 4th nights) and it probably cost me $13 in total. I decided I may not be able to afford too much in life but I should be able to afford a daily shower.

There was a large tour group but we always left and arrived earlier than them. There were also groups of travelers we slowly became acquainted with because you would see them day after day. There was Hank and Hannah, two siblings from texas basically on Hannah’s college graduation gift from their parents. There was a Belgian family, the mom was the only other person I noticed who also took as many showers as I did. There was a solo traveler from reunion island, originally from France. She moved very quickly and independently. There were two ladies who did the trek in two days; their husbands drove their gear from place to place. One of them actually overheard that I was from Arcadia and told me she had been born in Pasadena and lives in Arcadia. How crazy is that! She would call out “hello there miss arcadia!” When she passed me on the trail.

We ate mac and cheese,  freeze dried spaghetti, chicken teriyaki, chicken soup, and fajita mix. A ton of pb sandwiches and oatmeal. Trader joes granola and power bars.

My takeaways are : camelbaks are AMAZING.  I love my hiking boots which Robyn forced me buy. I did not ever wear my waterproof jacket. Crossing rivers of glacial water is a terrible thing and I don’t think I gained any life experience from it. But the landscape was gorgeous.

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I can’t do the hike justice w my words or even pictures. We luckily had sunshine the first day, overcast the second day, light rain the third and light rain and wind the fourth. The fourth day felt the longest just because of the wind but I think we could have had much worse weather and got off easy.

Total length 54km aka 33mi. 12, 12, 15 and 15km each day.

I had never carried a pack before so that was the main challenge for me. Now it’s just a pleasant memory!

We took the bus from thorsmork back to Reykjavik around 8am. Got back around noon and got our rental car. The first meal post hike was … Subway. LOL. I usually feel like I experience culture via food but not in Iceland.  It is just too expensive. I think a couple of splurges here and there will do the trick.

We then drove up through trollaskagi peninsula, meant to be a beautiful drive reminiscent of the westfjords which we unfortunately don’t have time for. But fog rolled in and we saw nothing. There was a brief moment when the fog let up and I looked over to my right and exclaimed “omg there’s a mountain right next to us!”

We stayed in a very quiet town called siglufjorour. Cute but not much going on. I was convinced a serial killer would come after us but here I am still alive.

Today we drove onto lake mvyatn. To be honest … it’s just a lake. I’m getting too spoiled but lava fields are losing their appeal.

We did watch a daddy duck fish and bring food to its two ducklings hiding under the wing of the mother duck. SO adorable!

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We did baths along the road… the most famous one is blue lagoon in Reykjavik but this one is far less touristy. I wouldn’t mind not going to blue lagoon now that I’ve been to this one. The backdrop includes mountains, a lake and a volcano so pretty freaking amazing.

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When I walked into the pool I went “whoa too hot!” And tried to step back. Unfortunately I was on an algae covered path and ended up slipping and just falling into the peaceful pool. Caroline said it was pretty much a perfect fall.

Now we are in the town of Akuyeri which is considered a city. We walked through all two blocks of the city center.  I actually do love it. There is an adorable cafe we caved and purchased desserts to sit and relax. Swiss mocha for me, brownie for Caroline. This was more proof that my main road to happiness is a cute cafe.

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I cannot believe I just wrote all that via smartphone. The things you can accomplish if you set your mind to it…

Iceland Day 3: snae…peninsula

Listening to: don diablo – starlight

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We are all ready to go for the four day hike that we are leaving for tomorrow at 630am. I think that is the most stressful part since we have a rental car for the rest (and as long as we have a car I feel safe!) And now that we have everything packed, I’m far more relieved.

Today we went out to … snaefellesberg peninsula. I really don’t know how to spell it but it is essentially west Iceland.  The guidebook seems to hype up this little town called … snaefellesnegur … but totally not worth it. Well, decent stopover but the real reason to drive out the 2.5 hours is for hellnar.

Hellnar is an old volcano that erupted and it is gorgeous there!  I actually had no idea it was already erupted and kept thinking, these rocks are curious…

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Beginning of the hike

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This is one of those hikes where you think things couldn’t possibly get more beautiful and then it does! I was constantly turning off and on my camera.

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I can’t think of enough words to go w the pictures. It was a 3km walk each way but obviously the first half took way long because we couldn’t stop taking pics!

I keep trying to take snapchat videos but by the time I get to a place w wifi it disappears!

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For dinner Caroline and Tanya ate mac and cheese but I craved fruits and veggies and yesterday I had spotted a juice bar so I went there… and paid $8usd for a tiny glass! Well it felt healthy and I don’t regret it. It was also super cute, called Lemon!

Part of me just really wants to comb through the city for good eats but the logical side knows that the point of Iceland is outdoor adventuring not eats! Also the local food seems… wrong to eat … like … whale steaks.

Fuck I just snapchatted people and forgot most people’s reaction is to text me… I hope I’m not getting charged but I’m pretty sure I am. I have no idea how to temporarily block texts.

Well those were my best pics on the phone.  The majority is on my handheld camera.

Tomorrow we leave for a 4day hike. Four days wo internet! Last time I had to do this was for machu picchu…

Not tired but should sleep

Iceland day two: Golden Circle

Listening to: Angus and Julia Stone – Big Jet Plane

I made it into Iceland! The airport (KEF) is beautiful. Nicest airport bathroom I’ve ever been in by far. I pretty much wanted to set up my sleeping bag and call it my own personal hostel room. I was too embarrassed to actually take a picture of it though … so maybe I will on the way back.

There was no customs process at all. I just walked out and got a ticket via Flybus that took me into Reykjavik’s bus station terminal. The bus station terminal is not the strange, urine-smelling homeless people gathering spots that Americans are used to. This one was nice and comfortable. Caroline and Tanya came by to pick me up not long after, and we immediately set off for the Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle is what I imagine to be an Icelandic version of Yellowstone … major tourist spot. Three main things to see which I believe are: Geysir (geyser), Gulfoss (waterfall) and Thingvellir (park?). It was nice to just randomly stop and pull over and walk around and randomly discover trails.

First up: I don’t even know the name of this. We literally just pulled over to take a few pictures and then I walked over to these two older ladies and realized they were looking at this huge … rift of land. We walked down and it was a very well maintained trail that lead to a cute waterfall.

We walked between the two rock walls
We walked between the two rock walls

Everyone in Iceland dresses similarly, ie. hiking boots, comfortable pants, and either a fleece or waterproof jacket. A LOT of red waterproof jackets. I love it. Classy and sensible! What else … everyone seems very nice. Iceland seems very geared toward tourism.

 

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The small falls we reached

Well now Caroline and Tanya are sleeping. It is 11pm and still a little light outside. I should probably sleep soon too 😦

Let’s see … this is where my disinterest in learning the names of places I visited fails me. We walked around … the lake … which was gorgeous. I went on a quest for a bathroom. The first required a service fee. The second was a church bathroom in the midst of a wedding. I walked past the bride and groom’s family and went straight for the bathroom. SO. AWKWARD. Someone important in the wedding party was clearly getting ready in the next room. A little Icelandic boy tried to open to door and I grabbed the handle to indicate someone was in there. Then I got bathroom nervousness so just left … and walked back to Caroline and Tanya shamefaced as I walked past all these well dressed wedding people.

Walk around the park
Walk around the park
Warning: lots of annoying bugs in Iceland
Warning: lots of annoying bugs in Iceland

Next … geysir which was decently cool

Geysir
Geysir

But my favorite … Gulfoss an amazing waterfall.

 

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Ok. So much to do. Need to write in my little journal. Maybe write e-mail (unlikely). Tomorrow is the Snoofolofogus Peninsula. That’s not what it’s really called. Names here are too hard. Snaefellsjoekull National Park. In Snaefellsbaer.

It’s only 4pm in CA!

 

Iceland day one: in transit

I actually don’t know if this counts as day one. I’m on a flybus from the airport to the Reykjavik bus terminal. It cost 1, 900ikr which is god knows what in usd. I never remember the exchange rate and I figure I won’t look into it until after I’ve spent all my savings.

I already see some brightly colored houses. I didn’t realize the flight from nyc to Iceland is shorter than the flight from sfo to nyc. To be honest I’m not even sure Iceland is on the map in relation to Taiwan or Europe.

Upon closer examination those brightly colored houses were just the equivalent of boring airport hotels.

The airport here is nice. I felt too pervy to take a picture but it was the nicest airport bathroom I’ve ever been in and possibly the cleanest, newest looking public one. Part of me just wanted to unload my stuff and use it as a hotel room.

It is just as overcast here as it is in Seattle which means I am already liking what I see.

Thank god for free wifi in the airport and this bus.

Nothing eventful. I haven’t had such painful flights in my memory. Maybe I’m just getting old and my body can’t handle it.

Maybe I should be admiring the view rather than just using my phone but I also think what I see is the equivalent of what I see on the 5.

The most exciting thing to date was eating shake shack at JFK. Greasy. Did not love the fries but burger was worth the hype.

My head hurts. I’m getting excited!!! Can’t wait to meet up w Caroline and Tanya.

Mendocino

I’m on my way to Iceland! And for some reason I felt the appropriate thing to do is to write a post about my trip to Mendocino as I wait to board. More on Iceland later… when photos can be included.

Now I understand why some people are so averse to international traveling.  Such a headache and sometimes I’ll think, well I have so much fun in sf! And I am due for a trip back to socal. And MAINE. I still haven’t been to Maine!

But I’m sure I also was apprehensive about Peru and in the end it was a completely smooth trip.

Ok. Mendocino! Went up Friday night came back Sunday night. I had been to Mendocino once before on my drive down from Seattle w my mom but it was more of a stop whereas this was a weekend getaway.

At first I wanted to drive back on the pch which adds another 1.5 hrs to the trip but the 128 is actually beautiful and passes through a super cute little town called Boonville which was worth the second drive through.

Something tastes awful and stale at the bottom of my yogurt parfait but I paid 5.50 for it and I’m in flight for six hours so I’m continuing with it!

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First stop was Sol which is practically mandatory any time I drive through san rafael. During this time I know Robyn mentioned a place she had read about that serves three twins ice cream affogatos (the original store is in san rafael and I LOVE this brand) but I think her words were “this store along the way sells three twins affogatos”

We continued on and night fell and we were driving through winding roads and at some point I asked to pull over when I saw some lights along the road because I desperately needed to pee. Completely by coincidence Robyn pulls right in front of a suppperrrr cute bougie store and I go “WOW this is cute!” And she stares at the sign and goes “I think this is that affogato place…”

Seriously in a 162mi stretch we randomly stop here! It was an insanely cute store but too small for me to take pics and I was too embarrassed (but there is still the one up there!)

Thennnn arrival at the house that overlooked the cliffs.

This fucking app. Why does an upload button masquerade as a save button. Well I need to board my flight now but this will prob be my in flight activity. Blogging via phone.

HA airport plugging ports. The only reason strangers would sit next to each other.

Saturday … we walked around downtown and the headlands. Had burgers for brunch…

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Love the coastal fog.

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Thennn we went toooooo pacific star winery which was hands down prettiest winery I’ve ever been to! It has the advantage of being literally sea side

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Thennnn dinner at little river inn in the town little river. Delicious! And beautiful.

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Although it gave Robyn food poisioning I thought it was delicious! Meatloaf for me, one of my favorite white people foods.

How are there SO many different boarding groups at delta!?

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Next day point cabrillo lighthouse.  A brewery. Drive back down. More paysanne. Need to board !!!!!!

I guess I’ll just nap on the flight then.

Two weeks Iceland. Straight down from sfo to socal. Straight up to sf for work for four days. Then flight to Seattle for my annual trip/bumbleshoot.

🙂