Akureyri to Myvatn Day Four

Posted on September 11, 2015

IMG_2263IMG_1108We stocked up on groceries at the big Bónus in Akureyri. I was excited to explore the sleepy fishing village that is actually the second biggest city in Iceland. We headed to the church first, the one that is the sister church to Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, and has some similar unique architecture.  Afterward, we walked around a little on a little rocky outcropping by the fjord and admired the colors of the city, but were soon deterred by wind. We got on the road sooner than planned and headed for Myvatn.IMG_1134

According to our Iceland book that I read aloud to Ted as we drove, “Myvatn is the undisputed gem of Iceland’s northeast,” because there is so much to see in a relatively small area. By the time we got to our first stop,  I was feeling cranky about eating yet another meal of bread and cheese off my lap in the car while Julian climbed around and spilled everything. Also overwhelmed by how much there was to see and not wanting to rush through it just to check it off our list.

IMG_2321 IMG_2324Our first stop, Hofdi, was an island where we could hike around and get a good view of Lake Myvatn. Ted insisted on setting up our tripod for a family picture on a little precipice and it blew right over the side and started tumbling down the cliff to the rocky lake. Luckily, it caught on some grass and I was able to reach down and grab it.IMG_1153 IMG_0470 IMG_1170 IMG_2360 IMG_2348

Iceland has some santa claus-like figures called the yule lads.There are thirteen of them and they have names like “bowl-licker” and “doorway sniffer” and “sausage-swiper” and “stubby” and are rumored to live at our next stop-Dimmuborgir. It is lava field full of amazing formations that almost look like ruins from some ancient city. Near the entrance there was a cave that looked pretty cool and we started hiking up to it until I saw some clothes strewn about and got freaked out that there was a bum living in the cave. Ted started cracking up because he realized that it was a scene set up to look like one of the yule lads was camping out in the cave. They fooled me good. We decided that Julian should be called sausage-swiper from here on out. The hike was a loop around the lava field and on the way back we decided to take the “challenging” route. It took us through underground archways and was all around really cool. IMG_1441

Next we drove down the road that goes around Lake Myvatn a little bit farther and hiked to two caves. The first one had a treacherous entrance and was full of toxic water so we just peeked in and continued on to the next cave, Grjotagja. This one was way cool. You scramble down something that looks like a rockslide into this cave opening and the bottom is all full of hot water and rocks to jump around on. I dipped my toes in the hot springs that was just a little too much for comfortable bathing while Ted explored the dark corners.IMG_2265

(^^with Thjis, our northern lights buddy from the night before^^)

That night we stayed at a farm in a remote valley north of Myvatn with a really nice big farming family. We had spaghetti for dinner, but this time we had broccoli which was like gold after having nothing green for three days. Julian was so happy to wander around with the farm dogs. We got to bed early that night after our tiring day.

Iceland Northwest Day Three

Posted on September 9, 2015

IMG_2104IMG_1885After offending our British housemates at least three times (begging them to stop cooking right outside our room at 2am, accidentally speaking in my terrible fake english accent, ted asking me a question about them not realizing they were still in the room…cringe), we started off the day bright and early getting the car stuck in the mud. Luckily our airbnb host/troll writer guy was able to tow us out in like five minutes, but for about three of those minutes things were looking bleak. Mud up to our doors, imagining not being able to get any farther on our road trip and having to replace a rental car. We took a walk around the property and saw all the troll statues and learned a little about the troll lore of that area.


In the nearest town, Borgarsnes, there is a museum about the settlement of Iceland and one of the sagas of early Iceland that Ted’s cousin had recommended to us. Although we weren’t really planning to have a museum type trip, I’m so glad we stopped by. Ted and I are now fascinated by Egil’s saga-a story about an Icelandic farmer and viking, Egil, who frequently went berserk and had lots of crazy adventures.

IMG_1941 IMG_1931 IMG_1980

Next we took another detour to see a hot springs waterfall called Hraunfossar. I got out of the car not knowing what to expect and was completely blown away. It made me giddy how beautiful it all was there-the water was so blue it looked fake, water was spurting out of the hillside all along the river, and we hiked around the paths for a while taking it all in.IMG_0380 IMG_1077 IMG_0379

IMG_0413We had a long drive ahead of us. I drove for a while until my eyes kept closing then Ted took over, bringing us through a beautiful mountain pass to our house for the night. This one had been recommended by one of Ted’s med school friends and it was definitely…unique. The only way I can describe it is…like there was a group of hippies and a group of the old-fashioned-est-doily-and-porcelain-figurine-loving grandmas in the world and they had to decorate this place together. But it doesn’t even matter. This place will always be one of our favorites because it was where we saw the northern lights.

IMG_0417 IMG_2143

Our quirky host Eyglo and her Dutch foreign exchange volunteer were eating dinner and watching Friends with Icelandic subtitles when we arrived, which was fun and made me feel right at home. Dinner for us was ramen noodles and hard boiled eggs. After Julian went to bed, we stayed up talking to Thjis, who was living with Eyglo and her husband to help them with their farm and the guests who stayed with them through airbnb. Around 11pm we started checking the skies every few minutes and there was nothing at first, but by 11:15 we started to see white lights dimly flickering around the horizon. It was like magic. For the next hour we watched (and Ted photographed) as the show continued to get better and better. It is hard to do it justice by writing about it, but it was a night that I hope to never forget.

Hike It Baby

Posted on September 9, 2015

IMG_1854 IMG_2021

Interrupting normal broadcasting (ha…or radio silence?) to write about something that has been so so good for Julian and I and has honestly kept me from going crazy here in Spokane. Through somebody at church, I found out about a group called Hike It Baby. I went to a walk/workout the next day and have been hooked ever since.

Almost every day of the week all year long, moms meet with their kids to go for walks and hikes around here. It still almost seems too good to be true. We have been all over Spokane now-to trails, mountains, parks and orchards-and met lots of friendly people. I didn’t even realize how badly I missed park meet-ups and playdates and girls nights since leaving all our friends behind in Rochester.  It’s hard only being here for one year, but hike it baby is helping out a lot.


Golden Circle Day Two

Posted on July 28, 2015

First order of business for our second day in Iceland was finding a lopapeysa. Lopapeysa are traditional Icelandic wool sweaters made from these handsome fellas…


…and they are pricey but so so pretty and I really wanted one. I was also counting on it for warmth as we were going to be spending quite a bit of time exposed to the elements. Once we left Reykjavik, I knew that stores would be few and far between and prices would reflect that scarcity. So…after much deliberation I did some research and found Thorvaldsen’s Bazar, an 111 year old shop run by the oldest women’s society in Iceland. The shopkeeper was so friendly and helped me find just the right one.IMG_1951


The day was so sunny and clear and not all that windy. We weren’t expecting to get so lucky. After my little shopping excursion, we began driving to Þingvellir, or as I like to call it, tectonic rift-y park. Along the way, we saw a large snowy field on the side of the road with a beautiful view and just had to hop out of the car to hike around a little, we were that excited to be in the nature of Iceland we had dreamed about for so many months. It was fun to watch Julian figure out how to walk in his puffy snow suit-he actually did really well.

IMG_1729IMG_1754IMG_1844 IMG_1799

We saw Þingvellir, then Gullfoss-the first major waterfall of our trip, then the field of geysers and geothermal pools at Geysir. It was all very beautiful but after that we went to Secret Lagoon and it was totally the best part of the day. Splashing around with your baby in a natural hot springs pool in the middle of farm country with black pebble bottom and perfect temperature water; what more could you ask for? We got back in the car and stopped at Cafe Mika where they sell fancy chocolates, and they let me buy some even though they had closed a few minutes earlier. So many of the people we met there were so generous and went out of their way to help us if they could.

IMG_3092 IMG_3058 IMG_3051 IMG_1862IMG_1866

The chocolates were delightful to snack on as we drove to Kerið, a volcanic crater surrounded by colorful, almost fake looking scenery. Julian was sleeping by that point so we took turns hiking around. Ted even FaceTime’d his parents from the top! Good son! Then we had two hours of driving to our place for the night in Fossatun outside Borgarsnes. I felt so giddy when we got there. It was a little valley tucked away from any kind of city with a small river running through and waterfalls all around.


The proprietor had asked us to call him when we arrived so he could come meet us with the key, but Ted’s phone was almost dead and he was having trouble figuring out how to make international calls. There was a small moment of panic, but somehow we got in contact with him and he showed us to the airbnb house just a little down the road from the main guesthouse area. We talked to him for a bit about the area, his side job writing books about trolls (!) and the northern lights. He said there was about a fifty fifty chance to see them that night and suggested watching from the hot tub close to the main building. If only! But we didn’t feel good about leaving Julian in a strange shared house. The house itself was really cool-had kind of a hunting lodge vibe going on but unfortunately there was a little fly problem. We made some spaghetti for dinner, got sweet Julian (who had been such a good sport all day without much of a nap) settled and went out to watch for northern lights and stargaze with no luck because it kept getting more and more cloudy.

Reykjavik Day One

Posted on July 26, 2015

IMG_0137 IMG_0852IMG_0154Travel days with Julian are tough, exhausting hard work. But there were a couple delightful things about this particular trip. We started our trip by driving to Toronto and he slept the whole time. Then while we were at the airport he was having such a good time wandering around and interacting with people. Out of nowhere he went up to a little girl and held his arms wide for a hug then he hugged her! Nobody taught him to do that. And then he did it again to another little toddler girl. All the adults in this situation were cracking up. On the airplane, he loves looking out the window at the luggage being loaded and all the vehicles driving around. Like, he was in the middle of a meltdown when we showed him out the window and he sat there transfixed for the next 20 minutes until we had taken off. After some vigorous rocking, Julian fell asleep about an hour into the flight, but it was really fitful sleep. He kept waking and shrieking and squirming into uncomfortable looking positions. Then finally he face planted into my lap and didn’t move for the next two hours. My leg was completely dead by the time we arrived but it was completely worth it! And then a guy let us skip to the front of a very long customs line because we had Julian. Anyway, it wasn’t easy but every once in a while, he does something that makes everything so great.

IMG_0159 IMG_0177 IMG_0185 IMG_0871

We arrived at 2:00 am Rochester time, 6:00 am in Reykjavik. I barely dozed on the plane, but felt weirdly awake maybe because the sun was up or maybe because we were finally in Iceland. We picked up our rental car and were given the rundown of all the things that could go wrong. For instance-never leave a car door open, even for a second, because the wind might blow it off. The drive to Reykjavik was otherworldly-the ground is all black and mossy and we kept glimpsing a huge plateau in the background. We made it to our dormitory style rental house in a truly perfect location in Reykjavik and wanted nothing more than to crash onto the bed and not move for the next few hours. But Julian was having none of that. Everyone else living in the house was getting breakfast in the kitchen right next to our room. When I literally couldn’t stay on my feet any more, I mumbled to Ted to just let Julian roam around and fell asleep immediately. Ted, who luckily didn’t listen to me, finally got Julian to fall asleep and we all had a brief but very necessary nap. We woke up groggy but ready to see the city and get prepared for our road trip.

IMG_0868 IMG_0870 IMG_0204We headed out to find some groceries at the neighborhood Bonus and stumbled into the cool part of downtown while we tried to figure out the foreign street signs and how to drive stick on hills simultaneously. There were some close calls. We had a great walk around downtown that made me wish we had more time in the capital. The air was brisk, there were delicious smells coming from all over, people were friendly, and there were stylish cozy looking shops all around. The wool shop I was excited about was closed before we made it there, but we found a record store and a couple book stores to duck into out of the rain. We enjoyed dinner at veg friendly restaurant Glo, then went back to the house for bedtime at 9:30 which turned into crying from 10-midnight while I rocked him and finally around 12:30, we all got to sleep.

Iceland? With a Baby???

Posted on July 1, 2015

IMG_0696 Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 9.21.28 PM

When we first started planning our trip to Iceland, almost every single person we told about our trip asked “Why Iceland?” The connotation was clear; why on earth would someone want to go somewhere even colder than Rochester in April and drag their poor baby along. And it’s not like they didn’t have a point. The few days before we left I was going crazy with nerves. There were so many things that could go wrong-snow storms making the mountain roads impassable, Julian being miserable the whole time we were in the car, one of our Airbnb rooms being a disaster, wind storms damaging our rental car, rain keeping us inside the car the whole trip. So yeah, I could see where people were coming from when they sounded skeptical.

But Iceland is an amazing country and that makes all the risks and inconvenience worth it. There is a reason that three months later we’re still talking about the trip and dying to go back. If you, like me back in January, are desperately scouring the internet for validation that you can survive a trip to Iceland with your toddler-the answer is you should absolutely go for it.  And you don’t just need to stay in Reykjavik the whole time either.

On that note, here is our


Day 1: ROC–>Reykjavik

stay at Perfectly Located Historical House

Day 2: Reykjavik–>Golden Circle–>Borgarsnes

some of the most popular sights in Iceland, stay at Fossatun Guesthouse 

Day 3: Borgarsnes–>Akureyri

Lots of trolls, geothermal activity, settlement museum, and a beautiful drive, stay at Paradise North of Akureyri

Day 4: Akureyri–>Myvatn

second biggest city in Iceland, Lake Myvatn and surrounding areas, stay at Nice Night at a Farm

Day 5: Myvatn–>Egilsstadir

Geothermal soak, snowy hike, and our longest driving day, stay at Cottage With a View

Day 6: Egilsstadir–>Kirkubaejarklauster

Glacier Lagoon, mossy landscape,, stay at Icelandair Hotel Klauster

Day 7: Kirkubaejarklauster–>Vik

 Skaftafell park and black sand beaches, stay at Grand Guesthouse Gardakot

Day 8: Vik i Myrdal

Waterfalls, more black sand beaches, stay at Grand Guesthouse Gardakot again

Day 9: Vik–>Selfoss

Backtracking to a canyon we missed, waterfalls, Blue Lagoon, then staying close to Reykjavik at Luxury Rooms with spa Access

Day 10: Reykjavik–>Roc


Iceland is an expensive country, as most islands are, so we saved where we could. We found most of our accommodations through Airbnb where we could rent a room in someone’s house. This ended up being one of the coolest parts because we got to spend time with Icelandic people who were all so friendly and kind. For food, we survived on peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, and the occasional orange. We went out to eat twice along the drive, and they were both chain sandwich shops (and both times it was surprisingly delicious.)  Spring turned out to be an awesome time for us to be in Iceland because weather was fine, prices were lower than during the high season, and we got to see the northern lights. But if we go back again (and I’m already planning it out in my mind) I want to go sometime when we can backpack through the highlands and see the Westfjords (one of the families we stayed with told us they were by far the most beautiful part of the island) and when everything is all green. We didn’t get to explore the Snaefellsnes peninsula and would love to do that someday. I can also see spending a week just around the black sand beach area in the south being amazing.   It’s a small country, but clearly it contains multitudes.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers