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Iceland Day One

I spent hours researching our trip to the land of fire and ice, one of my highest priorities was taking phenomenal photos. I signed up for a photography class and educated myself about my Nikon camera settings and lenses. I bought a new zoom lens but I needed something that would allow me a wider angle for close up shots. The problem was a $2,500 lens was not in my budget. I was so stoked to find out that Samy’s Camera rents Nikon lenses! I was able to try out different lenses for $25 bucks a day. I fell in love with a wide angle lens and bought a tripod because every person who has traveled to Iceland assured me I would need it to take photos of the Northern Lights. However the lens was large and heavy and along with two other lenses, the tripod, extra batteries, accessories and an external flash (that we never used) there was no way everything would fit into our camera bag. Antz somehow squeezed everything into his suitcase. I had to repack like ten times because my heavy boots didn’t fit and I kept going over the 44 lb weight maximum.

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This was just one of the ten outfits I packed. I bought thermal leggings from Amazon and wore layers everyday because even on windy rainy days, I was sweating from all the hiking. I had the hardest time finding the right coat to wear in Iceland. I did not want a puffy coat because they don’t look so great on me and they only come in boring colors. I ended up finding a fantastic white wool coat from Asos on sale for like $73! It was so warm and I was the brightest person in Reykjavik.

img_2977img_2583Making it rain in Icelandic Kronas! I found the best currency exchange place located in our new bank in Glendale.

The first day of our trip went surprisingly seamless. I may sound like a broken record but I strongly recommend flying with Wow Airlines. I will say, their gate at LAX was kinda lame and it felt like we walked for miles to get there. However they are a fairly new airline to LAX, so they don’t have a lounge area to wait in yet. Since we arrived so early and didn’t want to stand or sit on the floor for an hour, we waited in the nearby Virgin Atlantic area. Luckily, we saw the Wow crew walking by so we knew it was almost time to board. Other than that, everything was great. We had the sweetest flight attendants (ours looked like Margot Robbie) and the pilots invited Liv into the cockpit when we landed. The plane was clean and the seats had more room in coach than other airlines I’ve flown. There are only two seats for the window row so Antz had to sit across from us in the middle. All flights from Los Angeles arrive in Reykjavik at 4 am so that is something you need to plan for if you are checking into a hotel. We had a full day planned so it worked to our advantage.

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Our Uber driver was a little crazy, he followed the weirdest route to LAX which took us on a journey through the back alleys of downtown but we made it on time! LAX is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. The TSA line is always miserable but there has been improvements on the design of the international terminal.

Once we made it through the lines of agony, we did some pre-flight shopping at Fred Segal. Then we picked up a light breakfast of pastries.

Can someone please buy these for my next trip??!!

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Most folks seem to have a problem when it comes to traveling with young kids but honestly, Liv has been our lucky rabbits foot. We get to board the plane first, the flight attendants absolutely love her which gets us perks and she’s a pleasure to travel with. It’s true, the earlier you travel with your kids, the more open-minded and exposed they become.

Fortunately no one sat next to Antz so he had plenty of room to spread out.

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I love that we can give our daughter the gift of travel and a proclivity for adventure. As we were flying over Canada, I felt so grateful that we could afford to take this trip instead of putting it off for “one day“.

dsc_1926Liv ate an entire box of rice crispy treats and a bag of trail mix. Don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks and water, nothing on this flight is free!

I waited my whole life to see the incredible Northern Lights. The week before we arrived in Iceland, they had the most vivid and clear Northern Lights in recent history. The government shut down all the lights in Reykjavik so people could view them better. I tracked the weather and the nightly skies on this website everyday until our trip. I slept during most of the flight but I did wake up and happened to look out the window. That sad green smear you see above is the Northern Lights. I tried and failed to take a photo with my rented lens because it was impossible to take a shot while we were moving and the glass from the window wasn’t allowing my camera to auto focus. When I took the photography class I specifically asked about taking photos at night and the key is to use a slow shutter speed, which means using a tripod. Every shot I have seen of the northern lights look like this…

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That early morning was the only Northern Lights we were able to see because clouds came in with our flight and obscured the sky for the whole week. The Liz curse strikes again!

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You wanna hear another great story? I booked our car rental back in July. I went ahead and splurged on an SUV with a snow package and all the extra insurance I could buy just in case. My friend Christina recommended getting a portable WiFi box so we will have coverage. I also got a navigation system even though the last time I rented a car in London, it didn’t work. So, I was pretty covered for our rental which totaled close to $800 for the week. I was promised to get a BMW X3 SUV or similar. This is what I got and believe me when I say, I acted like a disgusting, entitled American and threw a tantrum when I saw this Opal whatever it is. The chick at the rental place was like, “Bitch…you can walk.” So, here’s my Icelandic $800 pimped out ride. Well, at least it had a heated steering wheel.

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The only place to eat that was open at 6am was disappointing Subway. Yet, after a long flight, we were starving so it was good to have something familiar. I got the “Cool American” flavor Doritos. It was insane that the sun doesn’t rise until 9 am. It was pitch black at 8 in the morning.

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Guess those snow tires I paid for came in handy. They chilled in the trunk for the whole week. I think I could have been happier with the car if it was white. What color is this, depressing beige?

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It was freezing by the time we arrived at the Blue Lagoon. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the visit because of how cold it was outside.
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The Blue Lagoon was breath-taking. It was cold but once you’re in the water, it’s lovely. Now I was glad I paid for all of our extra luggage because I brought our aqua sock water shoes. Bare feet in public spaces is my phobia! There is an indoor entrance in the water so you don’t have to walk outside in the cold. Kids under 8 are required to wear floaties but the water level was shallow enough for Liv to stand on her tippy toes.

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Really, best day ever!! You must bring a GoPro to the lagoon. iPhones won’t cut it.

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So surreal, it was so warm and beautiful. And we only had been in Iceland for five hours.

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After a quick shower, we were back on the road, headed to our hotel for the first night. I booked the iconic Ion Luxury Hotel for our first night in Iceland because it is located in the middle of nowhere. Like, so much so that they don’t even have an traditional address. Of course, our rental’s navigation system took us an hour out of the way to get there. We were the only car driving on an endless stretch of road so I was pretty nervous we would get lost. Luckily, Iceland has awesome maps on the side of the roads for us clueless tourists. They are so thoughtful. I first read about the impressive hotel when it was featured in Afar magazine. It is known for being one of the best hotels for viewing the Northern Lights. Since it has the word luxury in the name, you know it’s expensive and also sold out even six months in advance. I must have called to make reservations every damn day until finally three weeks before our trip, they found a room for me. I was elated because this meant we could go to their beautiful Northern Lights bar and sit by the floor to ceiling windows to see the Northern Lights. It never occurred to me there would be a week of cloudy skies but we enjoyed our night at the hotel anyway.

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This river was boiling hot. Iceland, you so crazy! There is steam coming from power plants all over Iceland. People who live there never have to pay to heat their water. Energy is also dirt cheap because they power mostly everything from steam.

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Let me say, this hotel is unique and off the beaten track. It definitely had a James Bond sexy vibe to it. We were told that helicopter belonged to one of the guests, fancy! The Silfra restaurant is so reknown that tourists are bussed in from Reykjavik. We didn’t think to make a reservation since we were staying at the hotel and they almost couldn’t accommodate us.

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A cool thing about the water in Iceland, it’s 100% from the natural springs. Iceland has the purest water on the planet so you can actually drink from the shower, the faucets or even the ground. We went to a store and tried to buy bottled water and the woman was like “No, you go to the hotel and fill up your water bottle from the tap!” Honestly, the best water I have ever tasted. It felt nice to take a long hot shower and not feel guilty about a drought.

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We arrived at the hotel about noon but our room wasn’t ready yet so we hung out in the lobby. Our jet lag set in and we ended up falling asleep. I know I was snoring! When our room was ready, we had just enough time to change our clothes for our horseback riding tour. We booked a private tour through the hotel so a nice girl named Hannah picked us up and drove us to her family’s farm.

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dsc_0330The two hours was over in an instant. It rained lightly but the sun peeked out. The horses were incredible, I was Snapchatting and taking photos most of the time so my horse was like “Ok, lady I guess I’ll control myself.”

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When we got back to the hotel, we were starving. Silfra restaurant was packed. The hotel only has 24 rooms but they were fully booked for dinner. Iceland’s specialty is seafood and lamb but we had amazing sushi too. I used my charm to get us a table even though they require reservations. This was our most expensive meal during the trip.

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OMG! This langoustine was heaven. Antz loved his seafood soup. Liv’s burger was meh.

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After a quick FaceTime with my BFF, Aimee we went straight to bed. I’m actually relieved the Northern Lights weren’t out that night because it felt like we were awake for 24 hours straight so off to bed we went. It was incredibly hard to wake up early for our next long day.

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2 thoughts on “Iceland Day One

  1. Loved this!! You are hilarious. the car.. haha i would have totally thrown an american hissy fit. I am dying to go now. too bad about the northern lights though.

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