Before I say anything about the trip, I want to preface it all with this fact:
This was officially one of the top three best vacations I have ever been on. (Sorry, JAB Florida Trip of 2007, you’ve been bumped to fourth.)
If you ever have the opportunity to go, you definitely, definitely should. You won’t regret it.
Now, let’s back it up.
There are two responses you get from people when you tell them that you are going to Iceland.
Response #1: *Confused look* What? Why?
Response #2: *Amazed look* That’s awesome! Why?
See the common denominator? Obviously, Iceland isn’t exactly a typical vacation spot. BUT IT SHOULD BE. Seriously, this place is gorgeous, and there is a lot to do for tourists. Plus, the locals are a lot friendlier than many other European countries, and everyone speaks English. (Along with about four other languages. Americans are idiots. Anyway…)
But the point is, things are fairly affordable and you will never get bored. Pretty much everything on the trip exceeded our expectations.
Speaking of exceeded expectations, can we just talk about the food for a second?
No one talks about Iceland’s cuisine. Well, except to mention the putrefied shark. (Which we didn’t try, but only because we never found a place that sold it.) But in general, all you hear about is how the local delicacies are basically rotten food because that’s what vikings ate.
Well, well, well. If that’s all you hear about, then they are leaving out the best part. We honestly didn’t have any food that wasn’t great.
My favorite restaurant was 3 Frakkar, where we ate smoked puffin, horse, and an assortment of seafood including whale.
Let me give you a second to digest that. (Pun intended!)
Yes, we ate horse and whale. When in Rome, ya know?
And, you guys. It was so good. Before you freak out, it was a minke whale, not Shamu, and they are not endangered. The horses are really more like ponies, and you see fields of them around Iceland like you see cows in Texas. Both of them taste like really tender steak. (The whale is more like filet mignon.) And seriously, folks. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
As you would probably expect, most of the local cuisine is seafood, so we ate a lot of that. (Including the famed lobster soup. Though, total disclosure, we’re pretty sure the pieces floating on top were prawns, not lobster.)
The alcohol was less impressive. The only local beer we liked was Gull (the others are just not very good), and they have a local scnapps called Brennivin that apparently tastes like death. The local vodka, Reyka, was pretty good though.
Okay, so now for what we actually did.
We got into Iceland around 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning. We couldn’t check into our hotel until 2:00 p.m., so we had decided in advance to rent a van (there were seven in our group) and head out for The Golden Circle (part of their national park) to see the famous Geysir and what was supposed to be a pretty spectacular waterfall.
Here’s where we encountered our first roadblock. Apparently nothing in Iceland opens before eleven in the morning. Nothing. After chasing down a few cafes we found on our GPS only to be met with locked doors, we finally gave up and ate paninis at a gas station. They were actually pretty good. (See the “exceeded expectations” food paragraphs above.)
After that, we were off to the tundra! (Sort of…)
I have a few friends who have visited Iceland recently, and whenever I stalked franticallylooked over their photos, I was always surprised how the landscapes always looked like frozen wastelands. I assumed it must have been the angle. Or the weather that day.
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t the angle.
A lot of Iceland is a frozen wasteland. Or at least, looks like one during the winter/after a snowfall.
A lot of the country also just kind of feels like a different planet. The ground will look like a desert covered in snow. Or just a bunch of green rocks. The water will be bright blue, or bursting steaming out of the ground. You have to stop yourself to take it all in and be like, “Look where you are! Look at what you’re doing!”
In the national park, we saw geysers and the Dettifoss waterfall. And it’s really not enough to tell you that it was beautiful. Even the pictures really can’t do the whole justice. But you’ll just have to trust me that is was beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Saturday was Glacier hike day. The bus picked us up in the morning and we headed south, stopping at more freezing waterfalls:
And finally the main glacier.
Again, the pictures can’t really express what it was like to be there, but…amazing.
That night we hit the Reykjavik Runtur, which is basically one long street of clubs and bars. As you know, I’m not exactly a club person, but it was still fun.
People over there get crazy. Within a block, we saw a girl getting loaded into an ambulance and another getting arrested. Which, in Iceland, is saying something. You’re legally allowed to drink in public and eat whale. She may have killed someone to get arrested. Anyway.
The next we shopped, got coffee, had dinner, and pretty much recovered from our days of non-activity.
And finally, it was Monday. Blue Lagoon day!
If the rest of the country felt like another planet, the Blue Lagoon is another universe. Cerulean water, pillars of steam, lava rocks…I’m going to stop myself from using the word “amazing” again, but it was. Joey and I had in-water massages, and between that and the water, we were all pretty darn relaxed when it was time to get on the plane.
And that was the whole trip! It was a short vacation, but we did so much. It really was incredible.
Has anyone else ever been? Or have I convinced any of you that you need to go?
The title of this post should surprise no one who has read this blog for at least the last six months. (And if you’re newer than that, my name is Justine, and I’m incredibly Type A. Welcome.)
So as you know, I embark for Iceland in less than 48 hours. (Pause for girlish squeal…squeeee! Moving on.) Naturally, I still have a few things I need to accomplish before then. And to help keep my own brain straight, I’m going to document them here.
Welcome to my brain.
List of Everything I Will Accomplish Before Thursday Afternoon:
1. Go to the drug store for allergy medicine, batteries, face lotion, and a few other essentials. (Doing this over my lunch break today.)
2. Go to the gym. (After work.)
3. Pack. (Doing this tonight).
4. Go to the gym again. (Tomorrow morning.)
5. Get my nails did. (Yes, again. My nails grow really fast. DON’T JUDGE ME.)
6. Clean the entire apartment. Including putting away the laundry Joey is picking up tonight, straightening the living room and dining room, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, and giving every surface a once over for that ever-multiplying dust. (After the nails.)
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I hate coming home from a trip to a messy apartment. I mean, you’re already bummed to be coming home (and in the case of international travel, it may have not been the smoothest trip). The last thing you (I) want is to do is stumble through the door to be met with a stressful, cluttered space. (Hmm? I’m the only one stressed out by clutter? What?)
So anyway. Six things. That’s not so bad. Plus I’ll have half a day after I pack to think of things I may have forgotten.
Hmm…I should probably make a list of things I need to pack, too, huh?
Susan: Well, I guess today we’re discussing whether or not you can hide the murder weapon
Me: Can you?
Susan: Oh, no you shouldn’t take the gun.
Me: I should hide it?
Susan: I mean, you should. But I can’t tell you how to hide it.
Me: Oh, ok.
Susan: And I can’t hide it for you.
Me: Fair enough.
Susan: BUT. If you hide the gun and tell me where you hid it, I can go find it and wipe it down. As long as i tell law enforcement where I found it.
Me: Bahaha. I love the laws of our country.
Aaaaand THAT’S why I love having best friends in law school.
For those of you concerned with the status of my health: The head cold has evolved to more of a chest cold.
Pros: Less nasal congestion, easier to breathe, not so much of that “out of it” feeling.
Cons: The coughing has begun — and it sounds revolting. (You’re welcome, co-workers.)
Plus, I got these tissues that have lotion AND Vicks in them, and if I ever start feeling really congested, I just hold one up to my nose for a while and breathe real deep. It’s magical. And doesn’t make me look insane at all.
I think we’re going to pull through, folks.
For those of you not concerned with my bodily functions (humph…suit yourself), I GO TO ICELAND IN THREE DAYS.
Obviously, I am mildly jazzed.
For those of you not concerned with my life at all (in which case, what are you doing here?), it’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t celebrate it, but if you do, here’s hoping you haven’t already screwed it up. Or, at the very least, that you can still rustle up a $10 bouquet at the grocery store. (Hint: Get there early.)
Ok, can we go back to the Iceland thing for a second? (Listen, if you’re not concerned with my life at all, you should probably move along. It’s not you, it’s me.)(Literally.)
Because next thing you know, it’s March, which means it’s time to go to the hockey game that I bought Joey tickets for last fall. And then it’s time to FINALLY see The Hunger Games.
And then it’s just about May, which means it’s time for our friends’ Bryan and Brittany’s wedding, and then oops, it’s summer. Surprise. Which means I’m officially 25. BAM.
I mean, I’m sure other stuff will happen in between there. I’m sure it won’t literally be like a quick blink and then suddenly it’s 90 degrees out. But I’m also sure it is going to go pretty quickly. And…I don’t know. I guess it’s weird when life starts to pick up so much. And honestly, I’m not even that weirded out about getting older. It’s just that 25 has always felt like such an adult age. You are officially, for real a grown-up.
I know that shouldn’t weird me out. I’m married. I have had a grown-up job for a few years now. But it’s still…weird. Am I ever going to actually feel like a grown-up?
This post has rapidly spiraled out of control. (Almost like my year! Full circle!)(?)
Oh well. Hopefully in all that madness, at least a few of you will read this and be like, “Yup. THAT IS HOW IT FEELS.” If not…well…then I’m alone as well as insane.
And just to end this post on a suitably random (and positive!) note, I bought the J. Crew pants. They were on sale, plus I got an additional 3 percent cash back from Ebates. (You HAVE signed up for Ebates by now, right?)(If not, please use that link there — I get rewards for referrals, so we BOTH win.)
And thus ends the most random post EVER. My apologies.
I really hardly ever get sick. I just sifted through my archives, and the last time I came down with something (bad enough to be blogged about) was January of 2011. The time before that? October of 2010.
That’ll do, immune system. That’ll do.
So I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about the fact that my nasal region has turned into a cesspool of mucus production in the last couple of days.
But guess what? I’m going to complain. And you want to know why?
BECAUSE I’M GOING TO ICELAND ON THURSDAY AND I’LL BE DAMNED IF I LET A COLD KEEP ME DOWN.
Fortunately, a side effect to having a fairly robust immune system is that I’m generally not sick for very long. And I have enough vitamins coursing through my system to give even the toughest bacteria a run for its money, so here’s hoping the next three days are packed with good health.
My “get better” concoction consists of a B-complex and D vitamin daily, along with at least two Emergen-C (knock-off) packets and 3-4 Zycam (zinc) meltaways every day. Like I said, lots o’ vitamins.
Plus I slept about 12-13 hours Thursday night (stayed home from work on Friday), and about 10 hours on both Friday and Saturday nights. My body has no excuses for not beating this thing.
THURSDAY. I LEAVE ON THURSDAY.
In almost every other way, though, I’m very ready to go. I just need to pick up some boot socks today and pack on Wednesday. That’s it! Obviously, I’m super excited.
So if you need me, I’ll just be sitting here thinking healthy thoughts.
Anyone else have any cold-busting remedies to share?
I’m not a particularly indulgent person.
I mean, sure, I can treat yo self with the best of ’em. But in general, my Practical Polly ways win out.
Like any good rule, though, there are exceptions.
Can I just express how much I love doing really indulgent things on my lunch break? I mean, come on. You’re sitting at your desk all day, and while life may not be miserable, it’s certainly not (most likely) the time of your life. (And if it is…well, you’re probably a circus performer. And some of us are uneasy around clowns, so that career path isn’t a viable option.)
It’s nice to know that you can escape for a bit and do something for yourself.
Remember that time I got my hair washed and dried on my lunch break? Greatest decision ever.
And today, I got my nails done. Boom, instantly more relaxed. (Although the color turned out a bit more “Barbie” than I intended. C’est la vie, amiright?)(SEE HOW RELAXED AND CHILL I AM NOW?)
Anyway. If you’re having a rough day, I strongly encourage lunchtime pampering. Anyone else do this? (Or am I the only occasionally self-indulgent one out there?)