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Mama goes to Iceland

A few months ago on a Tuesday (obviously), we were hiking and got into a conversation about our bucket lists. There are a zillion places I want to see in my lifetime, so I went on and on about my dreams of Chile, Thailand, Australia, New Orleans, Stowe, Malta, Norway… There is so much that I haven’t seen. My friend Danni has seen a lot of the world, so her list is shorter. Much shorter! Pretty much the only place left on her list was Iceland. Danni’s from Australia, so we decided she’d never live any closer to Iceland than now. Therefore, now was the time to see Iceland! So, our plan was hatched. We were off to Iceland.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Iceland is sooooooo in right now. Eye roll. I know, I know. Evvvvvvvryone is going to Iceland. Yawn. Well, just stop. It’s Iceland, for goodness sake. ICELAND! Who wouldn’t want to go? I don’t care how “over” Iceland people are. I’ll never be over it. It’s spectacular.

Let me start by saying that the girls I went with are three of the best women I’ve ever met. Michelle is a fellow American, who married a Swiss guy, and has been living here for years. She emits a positive energy every single day of her life. I aspire to have half the positive energy she carries with her daily. She is a good listener and you feel like she really sees your soul when you’re talking with her. Danni is an Aussie and she’s just a hilarious, honest, crazy ball of energy who lights up the room. She is always cracking the best jokes but she’s also really thoughtful and kind. Marjon is Dutch and she is graceful and quiet and feminine and is the type of person who makes you feel welcome and comfortable from the first moment you meet her. All three are brilliant and strong. And fit! Sheesh, are they FIT! I was definitely the lazy skip-the-gym-too-often one of the group. Anyway…

We stayed in a little budget hotel near Reykjavík, which is the capital and largest city in Iceland. We were able to walk into Reykjavik for coffee and the fabulous restaurants, but we were also close to public transportation. Our first day, we set off to Þingvellir (pronounced in English as more like “Thingvellir”) National Park. Situated on the northern shore of lake Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is really important in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD.  930 AD!!!!!

 

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Hello, Iceland!
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View from the Hallgrimskirkja Church, over Reykjavik.

Tops on our list was snorkeling at Silfra in Þingvellir. This was a very special experience. The Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet and are drift apart. Silfra is the only place where you can dive or snorkel directly in the crack between two continental plates. The underwater visibility in Silfra is over 100 meters, which creates an underwater experience that will rarely, if ever, be surpassed. The reasons for this astounding water clarity are twofold: the water is cold (2°C – 4°C year round ) because it’s glacial water from the nearby Langjökull. This water is filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years until it reaches the north end of Þingvellir lake, seeping out from underground wells. The Silfra water is as pristine as water can get and you can drink it at anytime during your dive or snorkel. Needless to say, this experience was INCREDIBLE.

 

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Gearing up to snorkel at Silfra
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Really gearing up to snorkel at Silfra
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Our group setting out. The visibility here was incredible. Someday, this is where Iceland will break apart.
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We made it!

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We also visited the Blue Lagoon. Eeeeeeeee!! This was pretty fantastic. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa in the middle of a lava field in Grindavik on the Reykjanes Penninsula in southwestern Iceland. The naturally superheated water (70% sea water, 30% fresh water, at a perfect 38°C) is rich in blue-green algae, mineral salts and fine silica mud. The water is hot, and super relaxing. There is also a swim-up bar, which is pretty sweet. You come out of there feeling suuuuuuper relaxed, a bit sleepy and oh-so-soft.

 

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On the road to the Blue Lagoon. Yes, Iceland really looks like this.
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Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon.
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Coffee at another cool cafe!

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We also spent some time at Haukadalur, a geothermal area where two famous geysers live called Geysir and Strokkur. The actual term “geysir” was named after this very one in Iceland! Strokkur erupted like clockwork, every five or ten minutes. This place was a hissing, steaming area that reminded me of Game of Thrones. Just what you’d imagine Iceland to look like!

The rest of our time was spent admiring waterfalls and lava fields, sipping coffee in hipster cafes, and dining on delicious fresh seafood. It was a very special trip, one I will never forget. Iceland is a dream. Sharing it with these women was such a gift.

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Thar she blows!

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Gearing up to go hunt for the Northern Lights!
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They danced for us! We were so excited!

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Fish and chips and seafood chowder
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Lucky girl

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