Bom Bidi Bom Jesus

Our Porto hotel has by far been our favorite. It was very nice, excellent customer service and we LOVED the location. I mean, in reality it was Chris and his research into the hotels that allowed us to have such great stays. We had a patio off our room, robes, a great bathroom – it was just grand. And to top it off, breakfast was the best we had so far!

After we indulged our stomachs with some excellent breakfast food – we headed off to the pharmacy down the street so we could get our Covid tests and not have to worry about getting the results too late before our flights on Sunday. We made our appointment for noon and headed out to check out our sites for the day.

First stop – the Stock Exchange, or what used to be the stock exchange. The stock exchange in Porto started before the one in Lisbon by a few years, but more recently it has been shut down in Porto and is strictly in Lisbon now. Anyway, one of the rooms is where Gustave Eiffel worked! This town also has a bridge by him and one of his students! The building is still used for commerce things, but also weddings and fancy shin digs. it has some amazing wood working but also FAKE wood, one room looked like all wood but it was in fact plaster from the shoulder height up. We had to take a tour with a guide as it is an active business building.

After our visit to the stock exchange we headed to the Capela das Almas – a church covered in the Portuguese blue and white tiles. It was about a mile away, up hill to get to. The church it is on is a shopping street – and that district has hung some aerial art – which sadly now impedes thee view of the church in its entirety.

From there Chris was kind enough to go with me to the Ponte Luis I bridge. We had crossed the bottom yesterday to go Port tasting, but since it was such a high point of the city I wanted to get on the top portion. It has a walking path and tram paths. The view was so pretty. This bridge was designed by Eiffel’s student. It is still used to this day. I love bridges and enjoyed getting to experience both levels of the bridge. It also allowed us to check out two more bridges, Eiffel’s and the vehicle bridge in between.

We had to head back to the hotel and check out at that point. Once we were packed, the front desk held our bags and we headed off to get swabbed for the Covid test. The upstairs of the pharmacy was a little pharmacy museum. These stupid swabs are not fun, but this one was better than I had in the states as the swab was thinner.

Now, its time to shop! I got some Port wine for my cousin (Mike, if you read this, your birthday present is coming early) and Chris was able to get some other gifts for his list. He likes to do his Christmas shopping on our trips, I had shopping and lugging around so I try to avoid it. I like pictures better.

Once we had what we wanted, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our luggage and off we went to pick up our car at the garage. It is very silly. If you pay in the machine a 24 hour period is $37 – if you pay the guy working in the office is $23. So thankful I read google when we found the garage.

Chris was lucky enough to drive back out of the city and onto Braga. In reality the only thing we went to see there was Bom Jesus, a pilgrimage site that the Portuguese has built in the 16 and 1700s. It became larger and larger over time. We parked above the church and walked through a park to get there. Then we climbed down the stairs and back up. Its a lot of stairs, but the landings for sure help it not feel so horrible.

I drove us away from Brage to Guimares. Here we are staying in an old monastery. It is basically 15 minutes from the nearest town by foot – but has beautiful gardens, a pool and a restaurant. We decided to hang by the pool once we got here. It was a nice relaxing end of the day. We even decided to eat dinner at the hotel so we didnt have to get back in the car. It was much fancier than yesterday (when I dressed up!) and of course I did not dress up tonight.

The food was great, and the service was the best we have had so far.

Tomorrow is our last day in Portugal and then it is back to real life. This is something I am most definitely not looking forward to. It has been so nice to be around people who know that wearing a mask means that we can keep living our lives safely. They are being selfless here and I have appreciated every last person doing their part to open the world back up.

More bones, duh!

We got up earlier than breakfast today so we could walk around town since we didnt get here until basically it was closed for the night yesterday. On our way out we asked to move breakfast to 10 so we could stop at the bone church (wooohoo) BEFORE we ate. They had an opening, so we moved it and set off to explore the waking city.

We didnt have much in mind to check out, just meandered around and witnessed the city come to life. Shop owners setting up for the day, cafes setting out tables and pastries. It was a wonderful way to start the day, along with the rest of the city.

We got to the church at opening, we beat the crowds (maybe there is a crowd?) and hit the church first (the bone chapel is next door). The church was pretty bland. I was actually very disappointed because it looked very cheap. Like the outside had PAINTED grout lines on it (it was stucco made to look like blocks) and the inside was the same way!! It was just shocking, so cheap looking!

Anyway, after the blasé church we headed to the bone chapel. This chapel even had two mummies! It is said that the mummies had been found hanging in the corner and stayed that way for a while. It was much more recently (like within the last 10 years or so) that they have been removed from their hanging position and placed in glass boxes. Their origin is unknown. The chapel was created by some nuns to show the fragility and temporariness of human life (kind of ironic in today’s world). Anyway, as always the bone churches are a site to see and really do speak to the temporariness of humanity.

After the bone church we headed back towards our hotel and the church behind it was finally open. We also decided to check this one out. This one had a tower you could go up to, so of course, we must climb! Turns out, it wasnt a tower, it was the ROOF! It was cool to walk around the whole roof of the church. Wasnt much more than that to see there, but the views were great and it was a nice site to see before we left!

We went back to our hotel to eat breakfast and to grab our things and hit the road! We had super lucked out with our parking spot last night, so it was a nice easy walk to our car with our bags. Getting out of our spot was another story. I had to park against the block wall on the drivers side, which meant I had to climb over the passenger seat to get into the driver seat. Since this car is diesel, the gears are a bit different in automatic. You arent “held” in place on a hill like a gas automatic. You still need to wait for the gear shift to happen. That being said, the spot was tight and made for a long process to get out. I kept panicking I was hitting the van in front of me, because of course I was left with very little room to navigate out of the spot. Chris so kindly got out to ensure that I wasnt hitting the cars or the wall.

Once we were on the road I realized we would need fuel again before we got to Porto, so about an hour and a half in I pulled over at a station and got some diesel. Diesel is so dirty that they provide GLOVES for you when fueling up. It is just so kind! This little Benz is getting great gas mileage – it was only our second fill up, and it wasnt even on empty – it just wasnt going to make it all the way there.

We hit the road again and in another hour or so we switched drivers. Chris drove the rest of the way and into Porto. Porto is a CRAZY city for driving. random turns, one way streets, things Google thinks are streets, but Americans think otherwise (still dont know if it was a street, but it wasnt worth it to figure it out). We turned down this street and I said “We should really find parking” and BOOM, 100 meters behind us was parking, we just passed it when I said it. Thankfully no one was behind us so Chris backed up and we got in line. The garage was full and so until vehicles leave the gate wont open. It is great that the system is so smart, but annoying when you want to park.

We were the third car, but all of a sudden 3 cars came out and we were able to get in. The spots are tighter than the ones in San Francisco, CA! We found the last spot in the garage and parked for the night. The hotel was about 500 meters from the garage, we couldnt have had better luck!

We got to our hotel room and Chris had to take a work call (stupid work getting in the way of life!). I went outside to read for a bit and enjoy the outdoors (its much cooler here and provides much a more comfortable experience). His work call was postponed until tomorrow, so he called the front desk to get us reservations at a Port tasting room and dinner reservations.

The Port tasting room was a 30 minute walk, it wasnt far, its just downhill to the river, then back up hill on the other side. Needless to say, I climbed more than 50 sets of stairs today according to my watch! Anyway, I learned a whole lot about Port wine, and that it actually isnt horrible (I thought it was a bitter wine, its much more fruit and smooth than regular wine). I took a sip of both red and white and then gave them to Chris. We ordered some olives, because SO GOOD!

After our Port tasting we had a hustle back to the hotel so we wouldnt be too late for dinner. Tonight was our “nice” dinner. For me that meant a button down and jeans. For Chris is meant the same….just nicer haha! He ironed my shirt so I wouldnt look like a hoodlum. We then headed back down to the river for dinner.

This place was super cool. We ate right on the water and enjoyed wonderful food, beautiful views, perfect weather and excellent company! We have been enjoying the snacks menu at dinner. Tonight we got bread and olive oil, sheep cheese and olives. All were very good! My meal was a “calzone,” a salad and potatoes. What it was, was a veggie omelet wrapped in a tortilla, shoe string fries (like the ones that come in a canister at the store) and a salad. It was good though. Chris got veal, a salad and au gratin potatoes (his really was all that).

After dinner we were heading for gelato and everything was already closing. It was only 9pm (I know REALLY late for me, but Im doing “Europe”) and so we knew there had to be something open with gelato. We walked past our hotel and found a place. This one had the best gelato yet. I got oreo and nutella. Chris got chocolate chip cookie crunch. It was excellent!

We did some souvenir shopping after that and headed back to bed! What another amazing day in Portugal!

From Lisbon to Faro

Today we left Lisbon, but not before checking out the last two things on our to do list: the oldest bookshop in the world and the Cathedral (Se Cathedral).

We first headed to the bookstore that opened at 9am. Google told us it would take about 10 minutes, so we went walking. Of course, its up on a hill and that required some steep hill climbing to get there, but it was worth it. The bookstore is from like the 1790s or something and has been in operation the whole time. It has been updated, but the location and idea stayed the same. They had a small English section, but I didnt find anything I wanted/needed so I ended up empty handed.

After the bookstore we walked back down towards our hotel, and headed up the other hill in town to the Cathedral. That opened at 10am, and we were a little early so we just sat and tried to take pictures from the outside. A construction crew decided to park their van right in front of the cathedral and not move it the WHOLE time that we were out there.

Once it was open we entered. This cathedral was like the life blood of the city. The money from taxes on the spices from Africa paid for so many of the religious buildings in the city, this being the main one. It has stood for hundreds of years and basically survived the earthquake from the 1770s. Inside the church is actually pretty boring, not gaudy at all! (which I mean I appreciate). However our little tour for $4 took us upstairs to see some of the artifacts of the church, including robes and other Catholic things I dont know what they are?!

After we finished at the Cathedral, we headed back to our hotel to finish packing and head to the airport – time to pick up our ride! We learned that the taxis we both took probably ripped us off a bit (I paid $30, he paid $19 on the way into the city). To the airport it cost us all of $12, very different pricing!

He dropped us off at the rental car facility, however I learned the hard way that we to go TO the counters INSIDE the airport in order to start the process. Their desks in the rental car facility are pointless. And the guys were rude. So Chris stayed with the bags at their remote desk and I headed into the terminal to get in what I thought was going to be a very long line to check in and get the paperwork taken care of. Thankfully Sixt rental car (our company) had a short line!

I had a really nice guy help me and talked me into upgrading (I NEVER do this). His argument was that we would save more money on fuel and have a more comfortable car if we upgrade. So….I did. It should save us over $100 in the end AND we ended up with a BENZ! So win!

I drove us out of Lisbon and over the April 25th bridge. It looks EXTREMELY similar to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. It was built in the the 20th century by the San Francisco bridge company. They are the ones who built the Bay Bridge (originally). Anyway, it was a cool bridge to drive over, and just experience, mainly because of the twinning factor with the Golden Gate. That and I love bridges.

We had about a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us. I was really trying to hydrate after another hot day yesterday, so I was guzzling the water and Gatorade. After a bit I needed to stop for a bathroom break – a perfect time to get some snacks! Apparently every single person on the road decided it was a perfect time to stop as well, so the stop was PACKED. They have gas stations, restaurants, car washes and bathrooms all in one stop, like America would have a rest stop. There were so many cars there we had to circle the parking lot! After my bathroom break, we hit the road again, with a nice cold bottle of water and some snacks!

Chris navigated me to what we called the “heart shape.” He found it on Trip Advisor or something like that and it looked so cool! A natural rock formation that would line up to look like a heart at the right angle. So of course, we must go! (That and we didnt have much to see in Faro anyway) So the heart shape is near a beach and the roads were PACKED! We ended up parking in a lot that others had parked in. We started what we believed would be a short walk to the rock formation. I decided NOT to bring water, and lets just say that was the dumbest thing I have done in a long time! Our little hike became an adventure that was about twice as long as we expected.

It didnt help that we couldnt find a marked path, so we just meandered around and kept going to where we thought it was, long after Google had told us we were there. Me being, well me, decided to climb the rocks instead of attempt to find a path, so Chris and I scaled the wall of stone in flip flops on a mission to find the heart. We had some amazing views of the ocean, tons of kayakers and boaters out exploring, some cave like things, etc. However, we just kept striking out, until finally we found it. On our way to it, we realized we were on the wrong side of the warning signs….oops! Surprisingly we saw one other couple up where it was and that was it….but also it was EASILY 100* wit NO shade and we had no water.

After we got our pictures for the Gram (instagram that is) we decided to head back to the car cuz it was so darnnnnnn hot! This most definitely did not go as planned! I ended up getting so hot, having to pee AND starting to feel a bit nauseous. I felt heat stroke coming in. So Chris watched out for people while I jetted off to potty in the dust/clay and then we got on our way. However at this point I was really struggling. Chris was so kind and was making shade for me with his shirt above his head, making sure I was doing ok and pausing at every bit of shade we passed. He was going to get the car to meet me but was afraid I would just stop – he was probably right. Until I knew where we were it was probably best he didnt leave me, I think I would have sat down and struggled to get up. Once we knew where we were, he ran to get the car and I continued on the path. It was only about 5 minutes from the time he left to the time I got in the car, but I had never been so thankful for a car ride (lets be real, it was for the AC and water).

He kindly drove us to the Faro hotel (which I navigated us to the CENTER of Faro before realizing that wasnt the hotel – but hey I was out of it when I typed it in!). Its a little B&B that is almost more like a hostel, but we have our own private bathroom, and we are only here for the night. Once we checked in we cooled off in the AC since it was still well over 100*. Around 7pm we headed out for dinner at this place on the water thinking it would be cooler. It was NOT! But it was a nice restaurant. We got a cheese and meat platter, Chris got sangria and I got a Sprite. Chris got an omelet for dinner and I got the “cod and cream” which was really more like a cod cake – that was DIVINE! Apparently if you dont finish your cheese tray they dont think you are ready for dinner so we waited over 40 minutes for our dinner until we grabbed someone’s attention and they apologized because they didnt think we were done. All in all, very good restaurant though!

After dinner we walked through the old down, it was so quaint and pretty at night. We ended at a gelato place near the hotel, got our daily scoops and headed back to the hotel for the night.

It was a HOT and fun day. Note to self: ALWAYS BRING WATER.

Road to Hana

I set out to experience what I have heard AMAZING things about: The Road to Hana. I unfortunately had two work calls I had to take first so I didn’t leave the hotel until about 1030am. I was expecting traffic and that’s pretty much what I got.

I hit some traffic right at the beginning of Hana highway, but that was mostly just little town that caused people to drive slowly. Once out of the town, the speed limit dropped to 30 and basically stayed that way for the next 30 miles. Often times the speed limit would drop to 15 mph to take curves more carefully or stopping completely to allow traffic from the other direction proceed. Much of the drive is spent waiting for oncoming traffic to clear a bridge as they are all 1 lane.

The views were beautiful, lush and green vegetation made the 2 hour drive (each way) worth it. Many people dropped along the drive to get out and swim or hike – but there were so many people stopping there was no where to park so I just drove straight through on the way there. I holkeed up my gopro to the windshield inside then realized I was going slow enough I stopped and hooked it up outside on the side mirror.

I made it to Hana and turned around to head home. About 15 minutes before I made it to Hana I noticed a sign that said “lava tunnel .” I stopped at the lava tunnel on the way back – it was interesting, not what I thought at all, but interesting nonetheless.

I hit the road back to the hotel, stopped a few times to take pictures and enjoy the view. I arrived back at the hotel around 4pm. When I got back I went to meet up with Mike, Amy and the girls for dinner. We spent a little time on the beach but couldn’t decide on dinner so we parted ways and I went to read and order room service, while they went to their little restaurant on their property. The day ended amazing with some fancy macaroni and cheese along with onion soup and of course beautiful views from the balcony!!

What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest?

Stand up! Ok, ok, I cant take credit for that amazing joke – and Im sure our guide cant either – but it was hilarious and I loved it, so I had to share!

Lets get into today! Let me start by saying I slept like a rock – I dont know how or why, but my body clearly needed sleep. I even slept through Lauren’s alarm! It was our last Airbnb and last place with a kitchen so Lauren made herself some oatmeal and enjoyed her breakfast before we hit the road. We packed up and headed to this like Viking ship looking building. (we thought it was a church, but still dont know for sure). Snapped a picture this odd building and decided to head down to the little downtown area of Stykkisholmur. Turns out there isnt much there at all! We parked and attempted to find cute little stores, but they dont exist there! Its a fishing village looking place and not much else. Disappointed we headed out of town toward, YARNVILLE! (Alafoss)

Today was a day all about Lauren and her happy places. But first, we had to stop a water fall and cross under water in a tunnel – and that was like of course an awesome thing that I nerded out over. It was a 6km tunnel that was built to cut down on travel time from the north, used to be a toll road, but now its free!! (woohoo!!)

When we arrived at Alafoss Lauren was giddy. This place is like her heaven. The store is all things wool and yarn – and we saw everything! Lauren got her wool fix with some bundles (Im sure they have a name for them) to make a sweater, but not before looking at every color and style and texture. She was just lit up with joy!! After she bought enough to get the tax back we walked up the small little hill to check out the rest of the town (only like 50 people live there) but there wasnt much else to see.

After Alafoss we headed into Reykjavik. We are staying at a pretty nice hotel tonight and because I am an Orbitz VIP or whatever we got free drinks and entrance into the spa. Could this trip have ended any better?? We checked in and headed to the room to relax for about 30 minutes before heading off to the CityWalk tour. (I would recommend doing a walking tour in ANY city you can!) Our guide Nanna was a true Scandinavian girl – blonde hair and all! She was a great guide, was always loud enough and added plenty of humor. Remember that joke from the beginning, that was Nanna. We learned more history about Iceland that we didnt know and got a nice little tour of the city. After our walk we headed to dinner.

On our way to dinner, we ran into Lauren’s second happiest place – a Christmas shop! She likes ornaments for her Christmas tree. So we stopped in to get her one! And I got Bill an elf named Hugo! (by the by, I dont buy souvenirs for people!) But he asked about the elves so I got him one.

And finally we arrived at our dinner local. Lauren had done some research to find a vegan hot dog place. It should be noted that the Icelanders LOVE hot dogs. In fact most things close early (like 7, restaurants 10) but the hot dog stands stay open well into the night, closing at 1am. Anyway, back to the vegan hot dog. This place was like a cafeteria, but high end. We proceeded to order (2) vegan hot dogs (they come with cronions, mustard, ketchup, pickles, and some secret sauce thing), a side of smooshed potatoes and grilled sourdough bread with herbed butter. And it was DIVINE!! Like so good!! Who knew pickles would add so much and who knew a VEGAN hot dog could be so good!! I am NOT a vegan, but I dont eat red meat or pork – or anything, so hot dogs arent something Ive had in YEARS. But today I had one and it was just so lovely. Our waitress was from Colorado who had met her boyfriend while studying abroad in Prague and moved here to be with him. We learned a whole lot of random things about her and very much enjoyed hearing about life here.

After dinner we headed out to find some ice cream. I had heard it was good and they werent kidding. Lauren was even able to get vegan sorbet. I got white chocolate and toblerone – Lauren got passion fruit and strawberry. All were amazing and didnt disappoint. We took our ice cream and walked to the concert hall that Reykjavik finished in 2011. Its a pretty cool looking building sitting on the water front and was meant as a tour attraction for their new tourism push starting that same year.

We finished the night with (free) drinks in the top floor bar (woohoo for VIP). Lauren got the two free drinks and I got a Sprite. Basically like $50 worth of drinks for $4 (woohoo for VIP, again!). After our beverages we headed down to the room to change and hit the SPA!! It of course involved robes and slippers, a hot tub and sauna. We enjoyed our time, talked to some Americans who loved to embarrass their 15 year old son who wasnt even there.

Sad to say tomorrow is our last day in this beautiful country – but we are already planning our next trip for next May…where will we go next??

Will stop for snacks

Today was the longest of the road trip days, mainly because we had to rearrange our stays and places due to weather (apparently it changes every 5 minutes and that’s no lie). But first, lets review last night….

The Northern Lights website said last night was an active night for the lights and that there was a sliver of time around 3am to scope them out in Hofn. So of course we had to set the alarm and get up and go for a drive at 3am to see if we could see them. We could not. It was cold, dark (duh), icy, and LATE (or I guess early?) Our adventure took all of 30 minutes, but it was exhausting.

Lauren set the alarm for a mean 830am. And once it went off, reality struck that I would be driving for a very long time today. So we quickly got ready, packed up our tiny studio area and hit the road for Hvammstangi (say that three times fast). That was approximately 700km or about 9.5 hours of driving. We essentially started off in the Southeast and ended in the Northwest.

In order to not completely go crazy behind the wheel we made stops along the way (all the snacks) and a stop in the town of Akureyi because we had heard it was a cute little town.

Let me start off by saying Iceland terrain is ever changing and surprising. We felt like we were on Mars at times today, in the Rocky Mountains after a snow storm and most importantly in the middle of nowhere.

We honestly spent most of the day listening to Podcasts and some jams to pass the time. We chatted, laughed, stopped for snacks, laughed, stopped for gas, laughed, stopped for more snacks, tallied up our snacks (thats for a later post), laughed, had quiet time, went through three tunnels in mountains, stopped in Akureyi to adventure for a minute, then got gas and snacks and hit the road to the tiny house.

We saw mountains, snow, snow covered roads, a volcano, frozen lakes, hot springs too hot for humans, crazy rock formations, some trees (really not nearly as many as seemed appropriate for the land space), blue water, a fjord, the ocean, black sand, the sun, clouds, waterfalls, and not very many cars. It was during this extremely long stretch while my service was fading in and out that I found out I was upgraded on my flight home!! Woohoo!! That very long 9-11 hour (I dont remember which) flight will be much more enjoyable!

Yesterday the roads we were on had been closed, same with the day before. We realized today that was a smart decision not to attempt to even make it that far because there was nothing out there. We passed only a handful of towns in the 9.5 hours of driving, and filled up in almost every one of those, just to be on the safe side.

We did a short half mile walking tour in Akureyi to stretch our legs for the final 2.5 hour push to the tiny house. Not too much to see in 30 minutes, but they had cute little houses painted in weird colors and a little town square we were able to see as well. One thing that we keep noticing is the amount of new houses (or at least majorly updated) in all of the places we go. Most houses are now corrugated steal and concrete designs.

We hit the road to Hvammstangi around 530, hoping to make it to our tiny house before dark. And we got here right at 8pm, still daylight out. However, about 20 minutes later it was dark – we couldnt have planned that any better. Our little “cabin” in the woods, isnt really in the woods (Iceland doesnt seem to have many wooded areas) is hopefully going to provide us a spectacular place to see the Northern Lights! It is supposed to be an active night again tonight and the clouds are supposed to clear up by midnight (very soon). Wish us luck!!

We made dinner in the tiny little kitchenette and watched the Amy Schumer special on Netflix – and laughed even more. Our internet is extremely weak (I guess to be expected) so it made watching the special and writing my blog very time consuming tonight. I hope tomorrow we have good news to report with Northern Lights sighting, its basically the only thing left on the bucket list that isnt guaranteed.

The land of fire and ice

Woooowwwweeee!! First I should say that it is not in fact a 14 hour travel day to get to Iceland from SFO. It was about 11. First flight was Alaska Airlines SFO to SEA. I had what was supposed to be about a 15 minute layover in Seattle, but it turned out to be more like 45 minutes. Thankfully I had time to get some grub before my flight. 

I got Ramen….I would not recommend Ramen for a plane ride, when it comes in a biodegradable bowl. I didn’t want to rush eating the ramen so I was waiting until I got on the flight – what that meant was the heat and spiciness of the ramen was starting to break down the bowl, so by the time I got on the plane, it was leaking!! I had an emergency exit row so I had plenty of room to make a mess – the ramen splashed on my sweatshirt – so now I smell like spicy ramen. 

Once I had finished my ramen boarding was also complete – and guess what NO ONE IN THE MIDDLE SEAT!! Woohooo!! The guy on the aisle and I chatted a bit about how he had broken up with the girl that was supposed to be coming on the trip MONTHS ago and when he called to see if he could get any money back (he couldn’t) he decided not to cancel until the morning of the flight so the middle seat would be open – and bless his hipster heart for doing just that!! 

Our flight was a bit delayed, but who the heck cares, cuz no one was in the middle seat, I had my stomach full, a big ole pillow to rest my head on, and a quick 7.5 hour flight to ICELAND!!

Upon arriving in Iceland I expected the usual customs forms and check – but NO!! I just walked up to the passport agent and she asked how long I was in the EU for (apparently Iceland is part of the EU) and stamped my passport and I was on my way!! I met Lauren in the luggage reclaim area – she had been there about 2 hours. She, of course had made friends with a woman who was also waiting for someone on my same flight. Once my bag arrived we were on our way through customs – which again was nothing, there wasnt even a space for someone to pretend to be customs. Iceland is apparently very free.

Lauren grabbed a coffee while I read up on where to pick up our rental car and we headed out to find our shuttle to take us off site. Lauren was concerned about the weather and driving conditions and wanted to check into a 4×4 vehicle option. When we asked about it, the guy basically made us think we were crazy for wanting one and said it would be more than double the price to get one…..so off we went with our little Hyundai i20 (small little baby car). First stop BLUE LAGOON.

Lets just say that the Blue Lagoon is a total tourist trap – but WORTH IT!! We had reservations at 8am to beat the crowds and we did!! Lauren (the little researcher she is) got us the package that came with a robe and flips, free drink and an extra face mask. Once we were all checked in it was off to change into our suits. Before going into the lagoon you have to shower – naked – and then put your suit back on over a wet body. RUDE. That is so hard to do!! At least everyone was struggling the same. We decided to take our phones with us to snap some pictures. (it didnt last long).

The water was so warm and soothing. (didnt taste great, though Im sure they warn you about that too) We strolled in (the entrance is inside) and down the ramp and then finally through the door where the wind hit us something fierce. It was COLD!! But the water remained warm, so we dropped into the water and scooted out into the open lagoon for some pictures.

After about 10 minutes we were over holding our phones above the silica heavy water. So, the phones went back into the locker. We came back to the lagoon and headed over the face mask bar. We got Silica masks and you are supposed to leave that on for 10-15 minutes, but it is COLD!! Cold because of the wind blowing off over the ridge hits the mask and freezes your face. I could only handle it for like 2 minutes before I started taking it off. Lauren was a champ and made it the full 10 minutes. During that time I got more mask and put it on again. Made it a bit longer this time. We waded the water for a long while. We got some “pure Icelandic water” they had a little spigot of fresh water under one of the bridges. (Also ice old). We tried the steam room, it was pretty cold; and then off to the waterfall. The waterfall was like a massage for your shoulders, the weight of the water pelting your muscles was great. Lauren didnt care for it as much as I did. 

We got another mask, this time algae. Its supposed to make our skin look like Cindy Crawford’s. Im not sure it worked, but it felt nice!! After the mask we headed to our lunch reservation.

Originally we had just decided to go get the sparkling wine that was complementary with our ticket, but then we heard it was pretty good, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

While the lunch was roughly $60 it was a good experience and the food was worth it!! After lunch it was back into the lagoon for some last minute pictures (we needed to try out portrait mode) and then head on our way.

After Blue Lagoon we headed to COSTCO!! Mainly just to see what they had there and it was basically a regular Costco. They had some different candy and such, but mainly the usual. After Costco we hit a supermarket (Bonus!) and stocked up on some snacks for our ROAD TRIP!!

We checked into our hotel and then ventured off to the downtown area of Reykjavik. It was a cold 20 minute walk each way, but the town was cute and felt very European. 

We ate at a bar that was Big Lebowski themed bar (turns out I have no idea what that is). We got veggie burgers and then headed back to the hotel. 

On our way we stopped at another grocery store to see if there was any bath towels there (we are going to go to another thermal bath and they charge you like $5 to rent a towel – and if we keep that up we might as well buy our own!). There were no towels there, but Im pretty sure I found a package of Whale, which made me sad. 

Back in the hotel now and trying to warm up after the cold walk back. Planning tomorrow and looking forward to our continuing adventure!