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We left Reykjavík bright and early and began our journey to South Iceland. The most amazing thing about Iceland is that all the different regions have very different terrains and our drive from Reykjavík to Vík went from green to black, literally. Seljalandsfoss was our first stop. Part of the river Seljalandsá, Seljalandsfoss has its origins underneath the glacier Eyjafjallajökull and has a drop of 60 metres (200 ft). The most unique feature of this fall, however, is the pathway that stretches all the way around it. The cliffs behind the falls have a wide cavern, and rocks and paths allow visitors to fully encircle it. Note that you will get wet! But it's totally worth it! We decided to walk along the path to dry off a bit and stumbled upon a hidden gem known as Gljúfrabúi. It is a waterfall inside a canyon and you can access it by traversing over water. It is so so so cool because water plummets into a small pool from above. Haha so much for drying off!

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Next up... Skógafoss! This is one of my favorite falls in Iceland because it is quite majestic. It's wide (over 80 ft) and you can get up close to it, not to mention one of my favorite photos of me in Iceland is one taken at Skógafoss. The white of the fall against the black of the rocks, with a rainbow. Like seriously?!!! There are also stairs where you can hike up and admire the fall and the view from above.

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We passed by Sólheimasandur (the infamous plane wreck site) on our way down to Vík but decided skip it because the walk to the actual plane wreck takes two hours and we wanted to make it down to Reynisfjara (black sand beach) to see the basalt columns before high tide. I did tons of research prior traveling to Iceland, I wanted to make sure everything is planned accordingly so that we don't waste any time. I also made notes of anything that I need to be aware of, one of which is the sneaker wave at Reynisfjara. These waves are extremely dangerous and there have been many fatal incidents in the past. If you want to be able to reach the basalt columns, then the best and safest time to go is at low tide.

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When we arrived, we made sure that the waves were far away and that we were safe. Then we enjoyed this natural wonder... Wow I have never seen anything like this in my life. How is this real? How do these columns even form? Omg Game of Thrones was filmed here! Omg dragon glass! This cave! This sand! I was in awe. We sat on the beach til it got dark as Reynisdrangar and Dyrhólaey slowly faded away in the background.

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Iceland Day 2: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, and Vík (Reynisfjara, Reynisdrangar, Dyrhólaey)

July 18, 2019

01iceland-vik-seljalandsfoss-waterfall-travel

We left Reykjavík bright and early and began our journey to South Iceland. The most amazing thing about Iceland is that all the different regions have very different terrains and our drive from Reykjavík to Vík went from green to black, literally. Seljalandsfoss was our first stop. Part of the river Seljalandsá, Seljalandsfoss has its origins underneath the glacier Eyjafjallajökull and has a drop of 60 metres (200 ft). The most unique feature of this fall, however, is the pathway that stretches all the way around it. The cliffs behind the falls have a wide cavern, and rocks and paths allow visitors to fully encircle it. Note that you will get wet! But it's totally worth it! We decided to walk along the path to dry off a bit and stumbled upon a hidden gem known as Gljúfrabúi. It is a waterfall inside a canyon and you can access it by traversing over water. It is so so so cool because water plummets into a small pool from above. Haha so much for drying off!

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Next up... Skógafoss! This is one of my favorite falls in Iceland because it is quite majestic. It's wide (over 80 ft) and you can get up close to it, not to mention one of my favorite photos of me in Iceland is one taken at Skógafoss. The white of the fall against the black of the rocks, with a rainbow. Like seriously?!!! There are also stairs where you can hike up and admire the fall and the view from above.

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08iceland-vik-skogafoss-waterfall-rainbow-travel-style
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We passed by Sólheimasandur (the infamous plane wreck site) on our way down to Vík but decided skip it because the walk to the actual plane wreck takes two hours and we wanted to make it down to Reynisfjara (black sand beach) to see the basalt columns before high tide. I did tons of research prior traveling to Iceland, I wanted to make sure everything is planned accordingly so that we don't waste any time. I also made notes of anything that I need to be aware of, one of which is the sneaker wave at Reynisfjara. These waves are extremely dangerous and there have been many fatal incidents in the past. If you want to be able to reach the basalt columns, then the best and safest time to go is at low tide.

14iceland-vik-reynisfjara-blacksandbeach-basaltcolumns-travel-style

When we arrived, we made sure that the waves were far away and that we were safe. Then we enjoyed this natural wonder... Wow I have never seen anything like this in my life. How is this real? How do these columns even form? Omg Game of Thrones was filmed here! Omg dragon glass! This cave! This sand! I was in awe. We sat on the beach til it got dark as Reynisdrangar and Dyrhólaey slowly faded away in the background.

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01bluelagoon-iceland-geothermal-geospa-travel

After a full day of traveling and no sleep, we headed straight to the Blue Lagoon right after we got off the plane! Conveniently located just 20 minutes from Keflavík Airport, Blue Lagoon is the infamous geothermal spa with milky blue water (due to its high silica content). The water is also rich in salts and algae and its temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37-39 °C. We grabbed a couple of smoothies, relaxed, and recharged at the lagoon before heading out to spend the rest of the day exploring Golden Circle.

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Golden Circle is a popular route just an hour outside of Reykjavík. One can easily do the entire loop in one day (which is what we did). The three primary stops on the route are Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss, and a geothermal area in Haukadalur where Geysir and Strokkur are located. Though Geysir has been mostly dormant for many years, Strokkur continues to erupt every 5-10 minutes.

01iceland-thingvellir-nationalpark-goldencircle-travel

Let's start with Thingvellir, shall we? It became a national park as a result of legislation passed in 1928 to protect the remains of the parliament site, thus creating the first national park in Iceland. The park was decreed "a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged." Thingvellir is situated on the northern shore of Thingvallavatn which is the largest natural lake of Iceland. The river Öxará traverses the national park and forms a waterfall at the Almannagjá, called Öxarárfoss. On the lake's northern shore lies Silfra which is the world's most desirable diving and snorkeling spot! Not only does it have the world's clearest water, it is the only place on earth where you can swim between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plate! We went back to Silfra on our last day and snorkeled! You can read all about that here.

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From Thingvellir, we continued on the route and reached Geysir and watched Strokkur erupt a few times! Water there was so hot that there were signs everywhere telling you not to touch them or else you'd get burnt! Last but not least, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset (and rainbow) over at the massive Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall). It was so so so beautiful. We drove back to Reykjavík, had dinner at Fiskfélagið (Fish Company), and spent the night at Radisson Blu Saga Hotel (blog post here). We couldn't believe that it was only Day 1 and we had already seen so many amazing things!

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Iceland Day 1: Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle (Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, Gullfoss)

June 19, 2019

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After a full day of traveling and no sleep, we headed straight to the Blue Lagoon right after we got off the plane! Conveniently located just 20 minutes from Keflavík Airport, Blue Lagoon is the infamous geothermal spa with milky blue water (due to its high silica content). The water is also rich in salts and algae and its temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37-39 °C. We grabbed a couple of smoothies, relaxed, and recharged at the lagoon before heading out to spend the rest of the day exploring Golden Circle.

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Golden Circle is a popular route just an hour outside of Reykjavík. One can easily do the entire loop in one day (which is what we did). The three primary stops on the route are Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss, and a geothermal area in Haukadalur where Geysir and Strokkur are located. Though Geysir has been mostly dormant for many years, Strokkur continues to erupt every 5-10 minutes.

01iceland-thingvellir-nationalpark-goldencircle-travel

Let's start with Thingvellir, shall we? It became a national park as a result of legislation passed in 1928 to protect the remains of the parliament site, thus creating the first national park in Iceland. The park was decreed "a protected national shrine for all Icelanders, the perpetual property of the Icelandic nation under the preservation of parliament, never to be sold or mortgaged." Thingvellir is situated on the northern shore of Thingvallavatn which is the largest natural lake of Iceland. The river Öxará traverses the national park and forms a waterfall at the Almannagjá, called Öxarárfoss. On the lake's northern shore lies Silfra which is the world's most desirable diving and snorkeling spot! Not only does it have the world's clearest water, it is the only place on earth where you can swim between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plate! We went back to Silfra on our last day and snorkeled! You can read all about that here.

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From Thingvellir, we continued on the route and reached Geysir and watched Strokkur erupt a few times! Water there was so hot that there were signs everywhere telling you not to touch them or else you'd get burnt! Last but not least, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset (and rainbow) over at the massive Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall). It was so so so beautiful. We drove back to Reykjavík, had dinner at Fiskfélagið (Fish Company), and spent the night at Radisson Blu Saga Hotel (blog post here). We couldn't believe that it was only Day 1 and we had already seen so many amazing things!

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01iceland-hofn-humarhofnin-restaurant-food-travel

I am a big fan of prawns and lobsters, so of course I would love langoustines! What are langoustines? They are essentially small lobsters but skinnier and lighter in shade. Langoustines were first found off the coast of Norway, the majority of the ones caught today come from the cold waters of the northern Atlantic and the North Sea, particularly off the west coast of Scotland in the Moray Firth and toward Iceland. It's no surprise that Humarhöfnin in Höfn, an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of Iceland, specializes in langoustines. Mark and I had the honor of tasting their new summer menu prior to its launch and wow, what a treat!

For starters, we had Smoked Dried Mutton (from Skaftafell National Park) with feta and basil pesto and Beetroot Gravadlax (a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill) with pickled cauliflowers and rye crumbs. The mutton reminded me of this smoked venison I had in Norway long long time ago so the taste was pleasantly nostalgic. I love how it was paired with fresh greens and ingredients. As for the Gravadlax, the fish tasted light but fresh and the pickled cauliflowers were tasty. The rye crumbs, on the other hand, were good on their own but the pairing seemed a bit off since they were overly crunchy and dry next to the super soft salmon.

Next up... Entrée! We had the infamous Arctic Char (infamous because everyone told me to eat some Arctic Char when I go to Iceland) with Icelandic barley, quinoa, lovage skyr foam, and asparagus. Seriously, every single Arctic Char dish I had in Iceland was sooo fresh! Last but not least, langoustines of course! Whole langoustine and tails with roasted parsnip, pistachio sautéed kale, and curry beurre noisette. I was surprised at how much the curry flavor brought out the sweetness of the langoustine! So so so flavorful!

After having all these delectable dishes paired with white wine, it was rather soothing to enjoy this warm rhubarb compote dessert with hazelnut crumble and citrus skyr. It was so warm and gooey and delicious! Mark loved it so much that he kept looking for something similar the rest of our trip! Thank you Humarhöfnin for welcoming us to your beautiful restaurant and sharing your summer menu with us!

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Humarhöfnin, Höfn, Iceland

May 21, 2019

01iceland-hofn-humarhofnin-restaurant-food-travel

I am a big fan of prawns and lobsters, so of course I would love langoustines! What are langoustines? They are essentially small lobsters but skinnier and lighter in shade. Langoustines were first found off the coast of Norway, the majority of the ones caught today come from the cold waters of the northern Atlantic and the North Sea, particularly off the west coast of Scotland in the Moray Firth and toward Iceland. It's no surprise that Humarhöfnin in Höfn, an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of Iceland, specializes in langoustines. Mark and I had the honor of tasting their new summer menu prior to its launch and wow, what a treat!

For starters, we had Smoked Dried Mutton (from Skaftafell National Park) with feta and basil pesto and Beetroot Gravadlax (a Nordic dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill) with pickled cauliflowers and rye crumbs. The mutton reminded me of this smoked venison I had in Norway long long time ago so the taste was pleasantly nostalgic. I love how it was paired with fresh greens and ingredients. As for the Gravadlax, the fish tasted light but fresh and the pickled cauliflowers were tasty. The rye crumbs, on the other hand, were good on their own but the pairing seemed a bit off since they were overly crunchy and dry next to the super soft salmon.

Next up... Entrée! We had the infamous Arctic Char (infamous because everyone told me to eat some Arctic Char when I go to Iceland) with Icelandic barley, quinoa, lovage skyr foam, and asparagus. Seriously, every single Arctic Char dish I had in Iceland was sooo fresh! Last but not least, langoustines of course! Whole langoustine and tails with roasted parsnip, pistachio sautéed kale, and curry beurre noisette. I was surprised at how much the curry flavor brought out the sweetness of the langoustine! So so so flavorful!

After having all these delectable dishes paired with white wine, it was rather soothing to enjoy this warm rhubarb compote dessert with hazelnut crumble and citrus skyr. It was so warm and gooey and delicious! Mark loved it so much that he kept looking for something similar the rest of our trip! Thank you Humarhöfnin for welcoming us to your beautiful restaurant and sharing your summer menu with us!

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