In September of 2015, my hubby and I took a once in a lifetime kind of trip to the country of Iceland where we got to explore around the entire island and where this photographer got some of the most amazing photos I still can’t believe I had the chance to take. And I feel this trip was too special to lump together in just one giant blog post so this will be broken down into parts.
First part, I feel, deserves a proper back story. So here we go.
I’ve been wanting to go to Iceland since about 2011. I remember starting to stumble across super talented videographers and photographers alike who went to places like Iceland to capture the Northern Lights. When one thing led to another I became completely captivated by the idea of having an adventure through Iceland of my very own and wanted to discover and see with my own eyes the mystical beauty Iceland seemed to have. Then, as fate would have it, the movie Secret Life of Walter Mitty came out and almost the entire movie was shot in Iceland. When I learned this and saw the rich beauty that little country holds, it became my biggest goal to make that adventure happen through Iceland.
It took the hubby and I a couple of years to figure out finances enough to be able to afford to go. Iceland is a very expensive place to travel around and get to. With us having just bought our first house in 2013 and all the expected (and unexpected) expenses home ownership involves it pushed back my ability to go. But the dream for me never dimmed in importance.
I remember there being a couple days in 2015 where I would stare at the map on my wall and my eyes filled up with tears feeling as though my dream would never become a reality to have my much needed adventure through Iceland. My hubby caught me in one of these instances and even though I quickly tried to wipe away my tears and hide it, he realized how important the whole thing was to me and just a few short weeks later, he surprised me when I came home from work with 2 plane tickets booked to Iceland and needless to say, this girl was speechless. I actually took photos one day to celebrate and capture my extatic feelings because what else do you do when you’re a photographer?!
He booked the tickets about a month and a half in advance from the dates in September we picked out. And let me tell you, he was really smart and managed HUGE savings on tickets because of his searching, pricing, and booking when he did. Here’s why:
Flying out of Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and even Louisville (which are all the closest cities with airports to where we live) all tickets getting to Iceland were about $2000/person. And that’s just the flight there. That wouldn’t include any car rental, hotels, food, and everything else that comes along with traveling. But he looked into what the flight costs were from Toronto in Canada (which is about 8 hour drive from where we live in Cincinnati, OH) and he found a direct flight from Toronto International Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland for $650/person. That made this dream a lot more plausible. And that’s why he was able to surprise book the most expensive part of the entire trip for us! And the fact we could share it together was even better.
So fast forward a few weeks and we’re about 2 weeks away from the trip happening. And we get some amazing news.
I was pregnant with our first.
I remember feeling so blessed about it happening but also, I became a little fearful since the biggest trip of my entire life was happening so soon. And it wasn’t going to be anything luxurious either. I quickly realized I would be going through morning sickness and the worst stage of pregnancy while on a road trip through an unknown country with unknown food, water, and even places to stay. We talked to my doctor and they acknowledged and reassured that travel on a plane and out and about will be totally fine. But it would just be really unpleasant for me.
But me being me, I never let the elements of sickness, fatigue, or life in general get in the way of what I want to experience. Especially when a huge dream of mine was on the horizon of being realized. And so, me, the hubby, and our growing little nugget packed our bags, hit the road, and headed for Toronto.
We drove up to Toronto the day before our flight took off and we stayed in a hotel airport which conveniently gave us free parking for our car for our entire 2 week trip we’d be in Iceland for. It couldn’t have worked out any better.
Our plane took off at 2:30pm from Toronto so we got to watch the sunset during our flight, which happened pretty fast since we were moving forward in time. Iceland is in the same time zone as England so we’d be experiencing +5 hours from EST.
We finally landed in Iceland around 11:30pm local time. It took over an hour to get through security but the funny thing was, immigration took seconds as the kid working just stamped our passports and didn’t even ask questions lol. The easiest immigration experience ever.
Then our car rental company – SADCars.com – was there to pick us and a few others up to take us to their location where we could get our car that we’d be using for the next 10 days. And yes, as you can imagine, a car coming from SADCars.com was really sad. It was an old, beat up, manual transmission Suzuki with over 120,000 miles on it, cracked sidings, worn out dashboard, and windshield wipers that squeaked louder than we could talk. Not to mention a front license plate that didn’t even make it and stay on through the first day we had it. It didn’t feel like it then, but thinking back on it now it was the funniest thing to be welcomed into a new country with.
We barely made it to our first hotel which was just minutes from the SAD CARS location due to it being pitch black outside, a car with a gear box that took a lot of getting used to, rain pouring, wind pushing, and my morning sickness really starting to settle in mixed with jet lag. Needless to say, when we got to our tiny little hotel room, it didn’t even matter what it looked like. We had crackers for dinner, passed out, and I slept so hard that I actually slept through all my jet lag which I’ve never actually done before. So thanks for that, pregnancy 🙂
We hit the road as soon as we woke up, stopped at the nearest gas station to get some fuel and hopefully some food (which we did). I was able to take a minute and go through the glove box and found a road map of the entire island which we desperately needed since my phone wasn’t getting any reception yet. Needless to say, it was a much needed comfort.
On that first day of driving, we went to our hotel for the night to dump all our stuff before heading out to explore a little bit. Our hotel was just outside of Reykjavik called Hotel Laxness and I remember that little room having a great view. I was having a really hard time conquering my morning sickness though in the beginning and it stopped me from taking photos of all these little things. Sometimes though, that’s the best way to remember for yourself.
After a little R&R, we hit the road to head to Þingvellir National Park where we would see Gullfoss Waterfall and some real geysers. Despite the rain and unfortunate bad weather we were experiencing, driving across the plains that divided the Eurasian plate and North American plate was kind of surreal. It’s the only place on land you’re able to do so and their division was only a few miles from each other making Iceland the youngest land mass on this planet. If you love geology, science, or just in general the environment, Iceland is a place you’ve got to visit.
I remember finishing that day by stopping by a little local restaurant on the way back to our hotel, having the most expensive hamburgers I’ve ever eaten – which ironically weren’t very good lol – and sitting at a little table together with an incredible view of Þingvellir’s hills. The added atmosphere of fog made it feel like I was sitting in a diner in the middle of the smokey mountains. I wish I got a picture of this moment. But again, it’ll be one for the record books ❤
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this trip will be in multiple parts! So stay tuned for the next part which includes our travels through the south of Iceland! 🙂