As promised, here's part 2 of our Icelandic adventure! We were still cold and still wet, but the views were still magnificent.
Glacial Lagoon & Svartifoss
Jumping just to keep warm and because there's ICE in the ocean.
The glacial lagoon behind me with floating pieces of iceberg.
One of the highlights of the trip was taking an amphibious boat tour around the glacial lagoon. Once again, I don't remember another time when I was so cold but we tried to concentrate on the majesty of the experience instead of the numbness of our fingers. At one point two guys on a zodiak boat brought us this big piece of ice and claimed it was more than 1000 years old. I'm not sure if I believe that but it was definitely cool getting a small chopped-off piece and being able to suck on it. The water is so good here!
The great Svartifoss! Can you even believe those basalt columns? We had to hike 45 minutes to get to this one but it was one of those moments where you come up a hill, see the waterfall for the first time from a distance, and find that you've lost your breath. This place was incredible! It was slightly less cold (maybe that was because we'd been hiking) but when we arrived it was just us and the falls. I couldn't believe we were there! All I could think was that I wanted to bottle up those moments and somehow share them with my loved ones. I wanted them to see it! I wanted them to experience what I was experiencing! #lehi'sdream
Finished the day off with a beautiful sunset (around midnight).
Churches, Waterfalls & Reynisfjara Beach
A beautiful view of Reykjavik from the top of Hallgrimskirkja church.
I feel like I've been to a lot of churches during my travels with my family and friends but the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran church in the heart of Reykjavik was really something special. When we walked in we found the church's choir practicing for their services later that day and so we found a few minutes to sit in a pew and listen. I don't think I'll ever forget those few minutes and the Spirit I felt there. It was so special.
Straight after that, we drove to Selfoss and found the small LDS branch there. Situated on the second floor of an unassuming white building, we walked in and found just a dozen members of that small branch. Immediately we were approached by most of them and welcomed in the sweetest way. What a joy it was to sit there and enjoy that Sacrament meeting. I loved hearing the hymns and talks in Icelandic and listening to the Sacrament prayers. It never ceases to amaze me how you can go anywhere in this world and find members of the church. Even more, the Spirit was so strong! Oh how I love being a member of this church.
The rain stopped just long enough for a few beautiful minutes as we approached Seljalandsfoss. This was probably my favorite of the big, well-known Icelandic waterfalls because of the trail behind the falls on which we could walk.
I mean, come on.
Behind the falls.
Okay so I know this one looks really similar to Seljalandsfoss but if I had to choose, this would probably be my #1 favorite moment of the entire trip. The branch members had told us about a hidden waterfall close to Seljalandsfoss so after searching a little nearby, we happened upon a slot canyon and then found THIS! We had to step across several stones in the river but then found ourselves literally surrounded by walls and a long, tall waterfall falling right in front of us. We got majorly wet but standing on that large rock right in front of the falls was an exhilarating moment that I will never forget.
Dunking our heads in the river to drink the water.
Skogafoss! Iceland's most recognizable waterfall!
At the top of Skogafoss.
Reynisfjara Beach & Basalt Columns- I remember when some friends went to Iceland a couple years ago and took a picture on the basalt columns like those pictured above. I remember thinking "That place looks so cool, I need to get there someday" and that was really the propellant for choosing Iceland. Let me tell you, this place was wild. The waves were humongous, the fog and rain created a really mysterious ambiance, and we just felt like we were on a different planet. I could not have planned a more dramatic finish to our trip.
And finally, our last morning was spent at the Blue Lagoon. Although a major tourist attraction, I'm not mad about the money we spent doing this. We donned our swimsuits and sat in these steaming hot hot springs with a couple hundred other tourists, and you know what? It was pretty darn fun. We wandered around the place, rubbed our faces with silica mud, tried the sauna rooms (I lasted less than 30 seconds) and then, slowly, got dressed and made our way to the airport, extremely tired but also, for the first time in five days, warm.
Since getting back many people have asked me how my trip was. I respond by saying that it was fantastic or amazing. What I can't put into words is how it really was. Iceland was magical! It was so much more than just fantastic or amazing. We saw moss-covered lava fields, gigantic waterfalls, snow-capped volcanos and mountains, and so much more, and I wish there were words to really describe it. More than anything, I wish I could take all my loved ones there to actually show you. I wish I could hike with you to Svartifoss or stand underneath Seljalandsfoss with you. I wish you could see the green of the moss on the lava fields or experience the purity of the water in the streams. I wish I could bottle up the amazing moments and share them with you. That is the thing about traveling, it is best to do it with people you enjoy so that you can have someone there to share in those glorious moments.
So even though I didn't have all my loved ones with me, here's a shout-out to my three amazing travel companions- Whitney, Kathryn, and Eric. There wasn't a moment of frustration or confusion. We worked as a team and enjoyed nothing but easy-goingness. I could not have asked for three more fun companions. We laughed until we cried more times than I can count, enjoyed deep and thoughtful conversation, and got to share this amazing trip together! So thank you.
And that's it! One more vacation come and gone and one more stamp in my passport. If anyone wants tips or tricks for traveling around Iceland I'd love to talk to you. Till then, I'll be planning my vacation somewhere in the world and eating lots of Skyr in the meantime!