My favorite town that we came across in Iceland was Saydisfjordur. Most towns in Iceland are super small. The population of the whole country is only 330,000ish, and Seydisfjordur’s population is around 700. We heard the town was a must see though and since we didn’t think we’d be able to access the hike we really wanted to do due to ice (can’t even remember what it was- maybe Glymur Falls- which we later found out WAS accessible), we opted for the safe bet.
We headed into Seydisfjordur from the south and came across some amazing waterfalls along the way, not far outside of the town.
There are so many waterfalls all over the place in Iceland. You can catch a glimpse in that image directly above of how many little streams run down the sides of the mountains. I’m sure the streams were plentiful as the snowmelt in the highlands was pouring down to the coast while we were there, but it was just so different to be in a country like Iceland.
We found a random parking lot in the town and again, second guessed whether or not we could park there or not. But as we noted everywhere, you can really just park anywhere and nobody seems to mind.
We were greeted by these kayaks. They seemed so perfect sitting there with the buildings and mountains in the background.
Seydisfjordur was super quirky. We also walked into somebody’s house accidentally. It was on the backside of a shop and I swore it was the front door of the shop, but it was really the back door of the house. The people acted like we should have known but there were no signs.
Laura and I walked by two guys trying to take very posed pictures in these chairs. We stopped and chatted with them (they were from Wisconsin- holla!) and took like, 50 photos for them to get the picture perfect for them. It was so funny because Laura and I always feel so bad asking people to take our picture and these guys had no shame in asking us to take a million to get the perfect shot. We didn’t mind at all though and then they offered to take some of us. We let them take two and then we were done. My, how times have changed! My old vacation photos are like, 95% selfies and tripod pictures and now they’re 95% scenery.
This next picture I saw on Instagram plenty of times (I plan trips off of Instagram now- it’s the best for finding hidden gems). I actually had no idea it was in Seydisfjordur because Laura and I completely slacked on planning, so when we turned the corner and I saw the colorful street leading up to the church, I was completely surprised. It was so picturesque!
We only spent a half day in Seydisfjordur and really, that was all we needed. The town is small and quaint and offered us some nice down time for a bit. We also ate at an amazing restaurant where I took one super blurry picture of my food. It was the Nordic Restaurant at Hotel Aldan. Laura and I shared the sauteed kale and spinach and both got fish (I believe I got the cod with the buerre blanc sauce) and it was excellent. Also, take note of those prices. Food in Iceland is ridiculous. I’ll discuss the cost of things in Iceland in a later post!
Alrighty, well, I’ve talked about some of my other favorite places in Iceland so far, but Gjain was another one that topped the list for me!
I read about Gjain long before we got to Iceland and we weren’t sure it would be doable. A few places we really wanted to go were still snowed it when we went in May and we heard it may be hard to get to Gjain, especially with out tiny little car that was definitely not a 4WD (and by 4WD, they mean like, big Jeep cars, not just any 4WD).
Since Laura and I like to be adventurous and test our limits, we decided to head out to Gjain anyway. It took us awhile to figure out where we needed to be and I wish I could provide some insight, but I have no clue anymore how we got there. I do know that there are two sides to enter Gjain from (which we didn’t realize), and I have no clue if one is better than the other, nor do I know which side we entered from anymore.
When we arrived to the “parking,” we saw one other car there and a big, long dirt road. We spent a long time contemplating if we should drive down the road or walk the couple miles there, or if we were really even allowed to park where we stopped our car. (“Allowed” is relative in Iceland- people kind of just do whatever since it’s so desolate in most places.) Eventually, we decided not to risk our car and just walk to Gjain.
The walk was long and lonely. One car passed us on the way and we secretly hoped he was going to offer us a ride because we would have been all about hitchhiking at that time. I wish I remembered how long this hike was exactly, but I want to say it was about 2 miles. That’s a short hike, but it felt pretty long in the middle of nowhere, especially because we weren’t actually even sure if we were going to the right place or not.
After a long walk, we arrived to a “parking lot” and saw 2 or 3 cars and figured we must be close. We also took note of the other small cars that managed to drive the road just fine. We kept walking and saw this view:
FOUND IT! It was so amazing to walk down such barren land and then come to this magical green area in the middle of nowhere. Iceland never ceased to amaze me! We had to walk down a pretty steep set of natural stairs to get down into the valley.
It actually ended up feeling pretty warm down in the valley once we were protected from all the wind. We had a little picnic and relaxed for awhile, but only stayed about 1.5 hours since we had to walk back (uphill) and still continue exploring everything Iceland had to offer.
The deep blue glacial water is so pretty. I loved it when we caught glimpses of the deep blues.
In the photo below, take note of the photographer to the left of Laura. It looks like a small stream running by Laura, but it was much larger than it looks and she was actually standing at the top of a little waterfall that he was photographing.
We were hoping to catch a ride with a photographer who was there, but after chatting for awhile, he didn’t offer us a ride and Laura and I were too shy to ask if he could take us back. He passed us halfway through our walk back. Laura and I decided it was karma for passing up a hitchhiker in northern Iceland.
One of the things I LOVE about Iceland is that everywhere you look, it is beautiful. I have been to a lot of awesome countries and seen amazing coastlines and countrysides and cute cities, but Iceland was something else. I could spend months getting lost in that country.
On one of our many driving days, Laura and I stumbled upon Borgarvirki. It didn’t look that impressive and I honestly almost stayed in the car for it because I was feeling all kinds of lazy, but I gathered up my energy and got out of the car.
Borgarvirki is an example of things that don’t look that cool, but end up being really awesome. This fortress is made out of basalt strata and has been used by the military for centuries, apparently. It appeared to be much smaller than it seemed once you climb up.
The picture above is what we saw when we drove up, hence the reason I was kind of like, I could skip this.
Once we got up into the fortress though, I realized it was HUGE! This is the front ledge from the top picture that you can see (the lower part- not the top part). It was pretty tricky to get up there, but getting down was way harder. Laura essentially had to catch me when I jumped down off that ledge. The pictures can’t even begin to depict what it was in real life.
The ledge on the right is where I was standing in the picture above, looking in. The grassy area in the bottom left is the “interior” of the fortress.
From atop the walls of the fortress. The walls looked pretty thin from the parking lot, but they were massive and intertwined with the landscape.
The view on the other side of the fortress. The road pictured is the road we drove on leading into Borgarvirki.
A gigantic cairn.
Laura and I probably spent a full hour there and could have stayed longer. That was how our whole trip was though- the land there is breathtaking and I could have spent hours in every location.
I plan to continue with shorter posts about Iceland because with how much that I have going on, it’s hard to get huge posts done and honestly, I forgot a lot of details about Iceland and have no clue what the names of most of these places are. I had a picture of the sign at Borgarvirki to remind me, but didn’t do that in most places.
Two of my absolute favorite places in Iceland were Fosslaug (a hot pot) and Bruarfoss (a waterfall). They were definitely both less touristy and both were hard to find, but maybe that was why I liked them so much. I’ll continue with Iceland updates soon sporadically, since it takes a lot of time to find the info again of what we did!
The only information that Laura and I had to go on about Fosslaug was from this website. It didn’t take very long to get there off of Hwy 1, which is the Ring Rd, or the main road that goes around Iceland. It looked like a totally straight shot, actually! We entered the GPS coordinates and turned off of Hwy 1 down 752. Once we got down 752 where the grid coordinates were, we could see the steam, but there wasn’t a real parking area and there were no cars. We were pretty confused since we saw some people walking around out by the hotpot, but there was a cattle gate that said “No Driving.” A lot of the hot pots are on private property but the land owners allow people to enjoy the natural hot springs. We weren’t sure if we could just park by the gate, but we decided to give it a go. We ended up opening the gate and walking to the steam and realizing that there was an entire river between us and the hot pot! We couldn’t see anybody at that point, but we did see the hot pot itself and clothes were by the hot pot. We decided to go back to the car and look at our maps.
We realized we could cross the river by going north again on 752 and turning down 753. At the 753 intersection, there was a paintballing sign right there too. Once you cross over the river on 753, you take an immediate right and you have to park on somebody’s private farm, but other cars were there, thankfully. We also tried to walk in with the horses but realized we were in the wrong area. Finally we actually found a sign that said Fosslaug back by the parking area. Along the walk, you see Reykjafoss which was huge and beautiful! Most waterfalls there that we found that were that big had other people there, and we were the only ones enjoying it. It was so impressive and awesome.
We finally got to the hot pot and we were the only people there! It was a little creepy sitting in a natural hot spring, but it was also really awesome. The scenery was so pretty and it was so relaxing. It may not have been the most amazing view on the whole trip, but there is something about being in a hot pot without other tourists and just taking it all in. And Reykjafoss along the way was so impressive. Laura and I were so glad we stuck it out to make it there!
Bruarfoss was one of the other adventures that Laura and I went on! We knew we wanted to go there on our Golden Circle adventure, but it was much harder than either of us imagined it could be.
If you put in “Bruarfoss” into Google, a location of it will come up so you can easily get to the general area. I believe we took Hwy 37 to Brekkuskógur. The road had all of these private signs on it and we weren’t sure we should be there. The road was also in terrible condition and looked like it was some sort of summer camp. We decided to stick it out and keep on driving in, despite all the random people looking at us. I believe there was a sign about walking, but the road got so bad that we thought we had to be in the wrong area and we turned around.
On our map, it looked like you could access Bruarfoss from the north side by taking the road Midhusaskógur and taking a left onto an unnamed road. Turns out, it was super hard to find back there. We actually stopped the only car that we saw on that road and asked the woman if she knew about it. She was clearly a local but had no clue what we were talking about. We kept driving and we ended up driving into a convent and having to open the gates to the convent to turn around. Oops.
We went back to the summer camp area where we started and decided to just drive back into the area where it had said something about walking. The road was still bad, but we did find an area to park where it seemed like it led to a walking trail. We could hear the water once we got out of the car too, so we figured it might be close.
It was super muddy to get out there since it never stops raining, but the walk itself was short.
One other person was there taking photographs with his tripod. But the waterfall was so awesome! It was so blue from the glacial water and it was so serene because again, we weren’t surrounded by tourists. We got there around 9pm, so I’m sure it’d be busier during the day, but it was a perfect time to go. (We went in May, so 24/7 daylight.) I absolutely loved this waterfall!
I promise, I will get to cool trip recaps soon, but this experience has to be remembered!
One of the days that Laura and I were in Iceland, I was getting in the car and felt something get in my eye. It hurt really bad, but then it went away completely and I never saw anything when I looked in the mirror.
Two days later (the day before we left), I was doing my make up (literally one of the only days I put on makeup there) and noticed that I had something embedded in the white part of my eye. It hadn’t really bothered me too bad, but I did feel like something was in there.
Of course, over the course of the evening, the pain got much worse. My eye was swollen and painful and it had gone from nothing to really bad in just a few hours. I decided to call the eye doctor in the US to see what they recommended and they basically said if anything was embedded in my eye, they would get it looked at before getting on the plane where the pressure changes. We went back and forth for awhile like, “Should we really waste our last night for this?” Of course, Google told me I was losing my eye and how it was an emergency.
In the end, we decided just to go to an urgent care. I bought traveler’s insurance before I left (which ended up being useless) so I felt like it was no big deal.
The urgent care seemed pretty decent. Everything moved fast. An elderly guy took us back to the room, which still had a dirty paper covering the table when he asked me to climb up.
Let me preface this by saying that I hate eyes! I cannot stand eye injuries at work. It makes me so squeamish. I hate people touching my eyes! I can’t even put eyedrops in my eyes (I do wear contacts sometimes, but that’s totally different). I get super nervous anytime anybody tries to do anything with me eye.
So he had my climb onto the table and he numbed up my eye and I was already pulling away and blinking. Then he took tweezers to get it out and I was super nervous. I kept asking him for just a second so I could recollect myself but he would just keep digging in my eye. I finally got to a point where I figured if I covered my other eye and looked away, I couldn’t see his tweezers and it helped. He said he got the big chunk out but that there was still some left. Then he came at me with this sharp tool and I got super nervous. Laura was kind of making jokes to try to lighten to the mood for me and I was nervous laughing.
The doctor got kind of offended and reminded me that he’s a doctor and he knows what he’s doing and if I didn’t like it, I could leave. I was like, “I know! I’m just really nervous. Eye injuries really freak me out. But I’ll let you do it.” I was already crying, so Laura was like, “Can we just have a minute to go to the bathroom so she can calm down?” and I was like, “No! That’s okay!” because clearly, this guy didn’t have patience for that and also, that wouldn’t have helped me.
So as I’m finally about to lay down, the doctor is like, “You’re in here laughing and screaming and kicking your feet! I’m a doctor and I know what I’m doing! If you don’t like it, get out!!!” I was so shocked that he totally just yelled at me, like, legitimately yelled at me, that I just left without saying anything other than maybe “I’m not staying here to deal with this.”
I cried for like, the next hour. It was totally dramatic, but I was so upset because I was so anxious about going there because of how nervous eyes make me and then to get yelled at?! It’s not like I’m a child! I was so furious.
In the end, I chalked it up to cultural differences. My guess is that Icelandic women are probably more stoic than American women and because care there is assigned, there is no competition for doctors. They don’t get paid the same and they don’t need to earn their business. So they can be complete dicks and it doesn’t matter. In the US, we’re all about patient ratings and making the patient happy. I’m sure he thought we were making real jokes about the situation and so he was offended, but still, I was totally put off by the experience.
I don’t know that I’d ever want to seek out medical care in another country after that!
By the way, when I got home, I had to drive from Atlanta to Charleston and could barely see. My eye was so swollen and goopy and painful. The next day, I went to an eye doctor here and had to wait for an hour and a half with Jackson, but the experience was much better! They were totally understanding and calm and it took 30 seconds for them to get the rest of the object out of my eye.
On Saturday morning, Gina and I left Philly in the mid-morning after finishing our breakfast. It was about a six hour drive from Philly to our campsite, which we didn’t actually have booked yet. We actually had to find our campsite the morning we left on our phones (way harder than we were expecting), but we managed to find one that had availability. Our destination ended up being Half Moon Pond State Park near Lake Bomoseen.
We got to the park around 6pm, just in time to check-in. We really lucked out with our site. We didn’t get a spot on the water, but we could see it from our site and we were right next to the bathroom.
Gina and I set up the tent and built our fire for the night. We actually built some really good fires while we were camping. I was super impressed.
The first day in Vermont, we decided to head out to Burlington since we wanted to hike the second day and go to Montreal on the third day. We stopped for breakfast in Shelburne at Rustic Roots but it didn’t really meet our expectations. It had come up on a bunch of Google searches for brunch in Burlington and we decided to stop early to avoid the Sunday church crowd, but meh. Not necessarily somewhere I’d go again.
It was actually pretty chilly in the morning, but it was much needed after such a hot day in Philly! We mostly just walked around and explored. I bought a necklace that’s made out of the shells from bullets in the Cambodian killing grounds. I love it. Also, the guy at the store was talking to me for so long and when he walked away, I turned around and Gina was cracking up. I was so confused, but she had put her hat on top of my hat (that I was wearing) to try on necklaces, and the whole time I was talking to the guy, I was wearing two hats.
Gina really wanted to go to a brewery in the afternoon, so we decided to go to Citizen Cider. I had a Cider House Mules (similar to a Moscow Mule) and it was so good! Gina got a flight of ciders and I really liked all of them, so I’d definitely recommend Citizen Cider!
We decided to get back to our campsite since it was over an hour away and we still had to build our fire.
On Monday, we had planned on doing a bigger hike, but the weather wasn’t looking great. Gina really wanted to check out Woodstock, so we headed out there for breakfast at Mon Vert Café. I have no idea why, but I was expecting a bagel sandwich and instead, I got a regular sandwich. But the menu totally did not say that it was a bagel sandwich so it was my fault that I was kind of disappointed in my sandwich. It was still really good though. And my latte was delicious.
We explored Woodstock a little bit and then headed to Sugarbush Farm. We had planned on doing a short hike in the afternoon, but I had a pretty bad headache and the weather was still a little iffy. The farm was pretty cute and it was interesting to learn all about maple syrup. Fun fact about me: I love maple syrup. I drink it in my coffee every day. We got to taste the different types of syrup and we did a little cheese tasting too. It was fun to try the cheddar that had been aged for different lengths of time.
By the time we left, my headache was really bad. I’d been having headaches all week and I thought it was from doing something to my neck at the gym earlier that week, but Sunday was the first day that Motrin wasn’t even touching it. We decided to just go back to the campsite, where I fell asleep for a little while. I can’t remember if we did anything else that evening or not, but if we did, I didn’t take any pictures because I wasn’t feeling well and now I can’t remember. Oops!
I didn’t sleep at all Sunday night. I was nauseous from my headache and the pain was miserable. As soon as Gina woke up on Monday morning, I told her I wanted to go to the ER. I felt so ridiculous, but I didn’t want my migraine to ruin our trip and I’d had it for over 24 hours. I knew I could get some quick meds and feel better, so despite knowing that it would be an expensive fix, I still went. We went to Rutland Medical Center and their ER was great! It was pretty quick and we had a wonderful nurse and an awesome doctor.
Gina and I were hungry after leaving so we went to Speakeasy Café for bagels. The bagels were too dense for my liking, but the flavor was good (I got rosemary) and that was probably the best latte I got in Vermont. It was super good.
Since I was basically in my pajamas still, we headed back to the campsite to get ready for the day. We ended up hanging out at the campsite for a while, reading our books and napping. It was so nice to just sit and relax for the afternoon. We ended up going out to Manchester for the evening to get some dinner at Ponce Bistro. Our salads and sandwiches there were so good! It was such a nice evening to sit outside and eat too. Gina wanted some drinks, so we went to Gringo Jack’s and sat outside on the porch. The food there looked so good.
We both woke up before our alarm clock and packed up our campsite on Monday morning. We did it surprisingly fast and even got the tent to fit back in the bag! We were so impressed with ourselves!
Our original plan was to drive to Charlotteseville, VA, but we decided to go to Richmond instead since we didn’t want to go out of the way to make a stop for the night. We booked our AirBnB on the road again. Then of course, we had to stop in New York for bagels! We went to Lox of Bagels and Moor and holy moly, do they use a ton of cream cheese! Even too much for me and cream cheese is probably one of my favorite foods!
The drive was uneventful and we arrived to Richmond in the early evening! Stay tuned for Richmond, as I think this post is long enough!
Happy August, y’all! Today is my parent’s 36th wedding anniversary. I just counted that like, 10 times to be sure, but it is. Thirty-six years is a long time!
Jon and I had a long weekend together since he had elbow surgery on Thursday. I had actually planned on dropping him off and getting some stuff done in the morning before his surgery, but he was a little nervous and he never gets nervous, so I decided to stay with him. I ended up getting a ton of work done at the surgery center since I had about six hours there. Thankfully, everything went well and we headed home in the late afternoon. The rest of our Thursday was pretty low-key, other than some errand running since Jon was out of commission all day and he was tired from the anesthesia.
Jackson went to his sitter on Friday, so I had the whole day to myself for the first time in awhile! Unfortunately, after going to the gym, I had to clean our bathrooms and do some other adulting.
Since Jon was off work because of his surgery, we decided to take advantage of our freedom and go out and get some lunch. He had been waiting on his coworker to come by the house to pick some stuff up so we got a later start than we had planned on, but we still had plenty of time to go grab lunch downtown at Fleet Landing. Jon is still mostly keto and I’m eating grain-free for now (and hopefully forever), so we went with a seafood place. I ended up getting the meal of the day, which was fish tacos. They were only $10 and they were actually pretty good! I resisted dessert because, well, 21 Day Challenge. I need some abs or something to show for this, and I’m not going to get them from dessert.
We spent Friday night hanging around the house, as usual.
On Saturday morning, I headed out to the gym with Jackson since Jon can’t really care for him solo with his cast on. We didn’t get out of the house until later on since we were just relaxing at home in the morning, so by the time we got home, Jackson was ready for his nap. I completed my at-home workout and got ready for the day.
Jackson took a super long nap on Saturday! It was fantastic! I drank some coffee and did work on my new health & wellness business after getting ready until he woke up.
Once Jackson was up, the family headed to the Children’s Museum downtown since we hadn’t been in awhile. It was super packed there but Jackson had tons of fun going down the slide 10,000 times.
Our Saturday night was low-key again because that’s just how life is with a kid who goes to bed at 7pm. I’ve been Googling “questions for your spouse” and Jon and I have been reading them and answering them together, so we did that. It’s kind of fun to do something different, instead of just watching Netflix together.
I typically love my Sunday morning gym time because nobody goes to the gym on Sunday morning and I have it all to myself, but they don’t have childcare on Sundays so I was stuck at home with the boys. I took my workout to the garage and did a 45 minute speed session. Jon and Jackson played outside while I got my sweat on. After finishing my workout, I got ready, had lunch, and did more work during nap time.
After Jackson woke up, we decided to go to the Fire Museum in North Charleston. We weren’t sure what to expect with a toddler there, but it was only $6 for each adult so we didn’t have too much to lose. Jackson actually loved it though. He ran around and looked at the fire trucks and had fun pressing all the buttons on the displays. They even have a simulator of driving a fire truck, so we took him in that so he could drive. It was kind of loud and bumpy, so he wasn’t a big fan but it was still cute!
After bedtime, Jon and I watched What the Health to see what the hubbub over that movie is all about. I actually thought I had watched the documentary, but turns out, I just read the description and then watched a different documentary. It wasn’t until I saw a clip of the video on Facebook that I realized I had never seen it. I think this article gives a good rundown of why I thought the documentary was total BS. I do agree with it being backwards that large foundations are backed by the food industry and wish that wasn’t the case (down with big pharma and Monsanto!), but that’s just how we roll in the US. Maybe one day, money won’t run everything, but our country is just not there yet. Other than that though, the movie was just crazy talk and did a good job at creating fear in those who never research anything else about nutrition.
Jon had a light day Monday for work, so we hung out around the house a bit on Monday morning before Jackson and I headed out to the gym. Our mornings look the same most of the time. Jackson has breakfast, I have breakfast, I clean up, I get Jackson ready, I get myself ready, we go to thy gym, I give Jackson a snack, he goes down for a nap, I eat lunch, I get ready, and I do work until he wakes up. We did throw in a little walk outside since it was nice out before his nap. This dude loves being outside!
Since it was magically beautiful out in Charleston yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the weather! I took Jackson to the park in the afternoon and he found a 9 year-old boy that was obsessed with playing with him. We did a quick dinner and bath when we got home and relaxed for the evening together.
After Jackson went to bed, Jon and I had our third marriage counseling session. We talked about my love of travel most of the time (Jon thinks I travel too much and I think I don’t travel enough). We’re still in those early counseling stages, so I’m not sure if it’s made a difference, especially because we’ve spent a ton of time apart since we started going. But I still think it’ll end up being a good thing for us in the long run! We mostly decided to start doing marriage counseling just to work on our communication, but that also makes counseling hard because we don’t really have any major issue to overcome. So I think it’ll take more time to pinpoint how to make improvements, but I just like that we’re working on our marriage together and have a sounding board to tell us if we’re both just crazy.
Jackson went back to this sitter this morning so this if my first real free day in awhile! Since I’ve spent a lot of my summer traveling, I’ve been using all of our days at the sitter for when I’m out of town, or for things like Jon having surgery. School starts in 8 days (WAHHH!), so I decided to get in a few days with the sitter so I could do some major relaxing beforehand! I ended up heading to the beach this morning. Although I’m still doing my “This Is Me: Love Yourself Naked” 21 day challenge, I decided to take today as a total rest day. I’ve been continuing with my own heavier lifting workouts in addition to my at-home workouts, so there is no way I can do 21 days without a rest day. I feel like my body needs it today, so I decided to make today my rest day, which meant that I got an earlier start at the beach. It was so incredibly windy on the water and I kept getting covered in sand, but it was beautiful out! Loved every second of being out in the fresh air, as always. I swear, I was made for the ocean.
I got some iced coffee after the beach and headed to Whole Foods to pick a few things up before coming home to do more work on my business. I am so pumped to be doing this health & wellness business. I love talking fitness and nutrition and am so excited to help other people feel comfortable with their bodies. And because I work out and am strong AF these days (I wish I could make the laughing face emoji here so you guys know I’m being sarcastic), I carried our brand new ottoman up the stairs today! It was awkward because my arms were too short to reach around the box, but I did it. Jon didn’t want to order this until his cast is off since he didn’t think I’d be able to get it up the stairs. Bish, I work out!
And that’s my whole looooong recap! Thanks for sticking with me, guys!