France and clean underpants

Tuesday, August 13th

Today I got up and headed over to Saint Michel square where I was meeting my free walking tour. I got there about 20 minutes early and there was no one there – the guides showed up about 15 minutes before the start and all of a sudden there were warms of people!! It was crazy! They ended up having 4 tours – 2 in Spanish and 2 in English.

My guide was Harry from the UK. He confirmed he was not part of the royal blood (he had red hair, so people must believe he is or something). We started our tour learning how much of the city had been demolished in the 19th century by Napoleon III and much of what we know as Parisian architecture is “new.”

The tour used to cross the bridge to the front of Notre Dame, but yesterday the city blocked the bridge to begin lead abatement from the fire. It’s pretty controversial in the city because people who live on the island are allowed home but the schools have been closed and now this specific part of the island.

We continued our walk to Saint Chapell, an old prison, a square, and a finally the Louvre.

It wasn’t a long walk but our guide did a great job of skeaping and teaching me things I hadnt heard on other tours.

After the tour everyone else went to the café he was going to be sitting at – but I paid him and left. I was actually getting chilly so I headed back to the hotel for my rain jacket. The market across the street was open so before I went up to the room I grabbed some rolls, cheese, water, blood orange juice, and of course Nutella.

I decided to lunch in my room and then go back to Notre Dame to get a closer look. On my way to Notre Dame, I decided to check out an original Banksy. He is an anonymous street artist who has been brought to fame through his political and controversial art. I brought my phones and my Kindle and headed out to Notre Dame. My hotel is only like a 15 minute walk over there. The Banksy was on the way, so I snapped a picture and continued on.

On the south side of the cathedral you can get a bit closer, but on the east side you can basically walk within 20 feet of the structure. Construction continues – today they were using cranes to build another crane. They have installed protection over all the windows and wooden support for portions of the structure. I stood in awe for a while – took some pictures and realized my phone’s camera was acting up.

I reached out to Google for assistance and was troubleshooting with them right next to the cathedral. With the amount of lead they say is around there Im sure Ill end up with lead posioning – but I did make sure not to lick my fingers.

After my troubleshooting I went to read in the park behind Note Dame. I spent some time there before my work phone started to ring – and the work didn’t stop so I decided to head back to the hotel to eal with work. I worked until about 8pm and decided to go get food – I actually used Google maps to find some good food and settled on a French place one street over.

I ended up with the most amazing onion soup, some cheesy pasta (duh) and a crème brule. I wanted a 7up but they only had Limonade – which ended up being a more lemony 7up – it was good.

After dinner I headed back to the hotel to do laudnry. I only packed enough clothes for 5 days so it was time to wash some clothes (and by some I mean all).

I headed to the laundry room, fully expecting to pay $5 for a load, but it was free!! They even had soap – but I had brought mine from home – including Bounce sheets!. It took just shy of two hours to get it done, but it is nice to have clean clothes for the middle part of the trip.

Ice Ice Baby…

Our fancy hotel last night came with a free breakfast – and it was just perfect. We basically got exactly what we wanted. In true “European” fashion we got museli, granola, yogurt, juice, bread, etc. Lauren even had Oat Milk!! Iceland is for sure winning for people with food allergies or food restrictions!

After our great breakfast we packed up the car (surprisingly enough that was still in one piece and NOT covered in feet of snow) and hit the road. Our goal today was to get to Hofn for our Airbnb stay – and of course stop at all the fabulous things along the way.

First stop? Wool factory! Turns out there wasnt much to see, but we did get a view from above it and got to see how the mass produce sweaters and socks.

The grocery store was right next to the wool factory so we grabbed a few more things before we hit the road. In the 45 minutes or so we were in the store and factory it had started to snow again. Apparently Lauren had advised me that this was going to happen (I do not recall this). The snow was coming down at a nice pace and it was kind of windy. But we had to stop at the black sand beach. So, even in the snow and cold and wind we hit the beach!

After collecting some black sand to take home (because, free and why not) we hit the road for the “long” two hour drive to the next stop: Glacier lagoon. Our drive was pretty intense for the first hour or two – lots of snow and wind and then BOOM, it was all clear again. A drive in Iceland is not without waterfalls and beautiful scenery so we stopped quite a bit to take it all in! (and of course some side-of-the-road modeling action)

We seriously enjoyed our drive today – lots of driving (about 4 hours of actual driving and about 4 hours of stopping and exploring). We saw the largest glacier in Europe (apparently Iceland is considered Europe) and it was huge. Our drive included parts of the glacier for over 2 hours! It’s bright blue color was always catching our eyes and we couldnt help but stop and stare. However, the most magical part of the day came at the Glacial Lagoon. It was just so beautiful we took lots of pictures and had lots of time to stop and stare at its beauty. This does not get enough attention – I hadnt heard about it until two days ago!

The Glacial Lagoon was about halfway for the driving today. However there wasnt much to see from the Glacial Lagoon to Hofn. So we drove about an hour and found our Airbnb. Since we couldnt make it last night due to weather our host had switched our location and we won that deal. We ended up with a “studio” instead of a shared house. We have our own cute little kitchen, bedroom, bath, and living room. And the owners did it all themselves, even the heated concrete floors!! (this by the way is a must here).

We hit the town (downtown proper) of Hofn, scoped out the tiny little town and then headed to, what else? Geothermal spa!! Because we have decided that is the right thing to do in Iceland. And this spa had GLACIAL VIEWS!! After the spa was dinner – and lemme tell ya, YUMMY!! I had lobster (teeny tiny little lobsters here). Lobster tempura, baked lobster; Lauren had a veggie burger – VEGAN style!! And it was all soooo good!! Tomorrow is still up in the air, whether we get to go North or South on the island – hopefully North so we can see the rest of the Island.