As we started our initial descent into the Keflavík International Airport, I was elated to get off the plane. I started to get anxious about my first impression of this new place. This was my first time visiting Iceland and my dad’s first time ever having a family member join him in this part of the world.
After going through Customs, we were greeted by one of my dad’s friends, Haffstein. He thoughtfully booked us a rental car for the two days we had before getting on the cruise ship.
We grabbed our bags and loaded up into our rental.
We drove in a daze through thousands of acres of lava rock. It was the strangest landscape because it wasn’t just lava rock; there was a thick layer of sage-colored moss covering almost every bit of it. It looked like a wasteland after some kind of apocalypse.
We got to our hotel which was next to the famous Blue Lagoon. Before doing anything, we hopped into our beds and each took a nap/coma to catch up on sleep that was lost while traveling.
The craziest part was that throughout the apocalyptic lava rock, there were endless fields of Alaskan Lupine. It was amazing to see such a monochromatic landscape be disrupted by patches of bright purple flowers.
History Lesson: The Alaskan Lupine was brought over in a suitcase in 1945 to help save the quickly eroding topsoil that the land is slow to create.
When the original Viking’s settled over 1,100 years ago, 2/3 of Iceland was covered in greenery and one mammal, the Arctic Fox. The settlers quickly destroyed the land by over-grazing it to feed their livestock and cutting down the native birch trees to build homes and stay warm.
It wasn’t until 1908 that locals realized the damage their ancestors had done. That’s when the National Forest Service was formed in hopes of reversing the destruction their ancestors had caused. That’s when they decided to fly to Alaska to gather seeds of plants they thought would grow well on their homeland.
Today, these beautiful flowers are considered a nuisance to many and a savior to others. With the lupine saving their topsoil, it’s safe to say that the island would’ve definitely looked more like a wasteland than it does now. Full article here.
Back To My Story
On the drive to the hotel, we had to stop at a gigantic patch of these beautiful flowers growing on a volcano.
Later, we got back to the hotel and changed into our bathing suits to experience the Blue Lagoon.
We meandered our way down a path through more lava rocks towards a pool of bright blue water. It was an eery thing to see a thick layer of white mud below the surface of this cloudy water. It looked like the water should be deadly, but there were birds paddling around in it. Is this what we’re going to swim in?
We checked in at the counter of the Blue Lagoon, got these nifty security bracelets, and directions to the locker rooms. We were to shower and leave conditioner in our hair before entering the water.
We came out of the building upon an even larger lagoon of the same cloudy water. I tentatively entered and was pleasantly surprised by the toasty warmness. We walked through the waist-deep pool towards the bar that was built within the water! We grabbed our complimentary drinks and found a nice place to soak in the evening sun, warm water, the relief to be off a plane, and simply enjoying each other’s company.
With our Lagoon Package, we also received a free mask of the mud I was skeptically examining on our way into the building. Turns out, the stuff is amazing! I had the softest face after I showered.
After, we grabbed a meal at the hotel and then I did some computer work on a cozy leather couch until close to midnight. I was going to have to get used to the 24/7 sunshine…
Day 2: Reykjavík Horseback Riding
Prior to our arrival into Iceland, we were waiting for our connecting flight in MSP and started looking for things to do in the area. My dad and I used to ride our two horses together during my childhood, so when I stumbled across horse riding tours, we both knew that’s what we were going to do.
The day of, we woke up early to have a European breakfast of fresh breads, charcuterie spread, fruits and veggies before hitting the road.
When our group all arrived at the barn, we headed outside to be paired with their horses. I heard that Iceland is extremely protective of their horses and not letting in airborne disease. I was not allowed to wear my leather boots since they had been in contact with my horses that were not from the island. The leather could carry diseases and infect, even kill their entire horse population since theirs are so pure and don’t even need vaccines.
My dad and I were paired with some of their advanced horses. I rode Lipsurí, which means Magic in Icelandic and my dad rode a horse whose name translated to Beer. He was bummed it wasn’t translated to a drink he enjoyed like scotch or whiskey.
After our ride, we said goodbye to our new furry friends and made our way towards the port. But first, we had to stop and say hello to a herd of horses along the road. 🙂
That night aboard the ship, Scott was introduced as the surprise artist for the group of Art Collectors that Park West invited on the trip.
I snuck into the Auction Room before to see how the crowd was. It was a noticeably energetic group of people that were passionate and excited about art. Once Scott was introduced, he went on stage with Jason, the auctioneer and talked about his career and his recent motorcycle accident that changed his life forever.
If you aren’t aware of the accident, read about it here.
Day 3: Akureryi, Iceland
Since we were so far North, the sun doesn’t really set. It touches the horizon around 1AM and sweeps back up for the next day. I remember waking up in my cabin with light peeking out below the blackout curtains and wondering if it was really morning. I had already woken up at 01:30 that night thinking it was morning so I was hesitant to get up.
I laid in bed and asked myself if there was anything pretty to see outside. I opened my curtains and said aloud, “uhh YES” while running to grab my camera.
We floated through a channel surrounded by gorgeous mountains and waterfalls that fell into the ocean. My dad and I grabbed breakfast at the back of the ship to enjoy the view in the crisp morning air.
My dad got off the ship on a mission; to have me try the Reindeer Sliders he had been raving about for the past six months.
We beelined it to the restaurant only to be told by their waitress that they no longer had Reindeer Sliders!
Que Sad Scott. 🙁
After he finished wiping his tears, we made our way to his favorite coffee shop to relax and people/city watch.
After we finished our coffee, we made our way towards their Main Street to buy a few Icelandic Made gifts for our loved ones.
We headed back to Strikid, the reindeer slider-less restaurant, to try other items on their menu. We sat on their rooftop patio, soaked in the sun and indulged in a juicy burger with a garlic aioli Sriracha sauce. Yum!
Later that night, we got back onboard to get dressed up for dinner with some Park West crew. The food and cocktails were delicious and the walk back to the ship was nice and warm…
Day 4: Akureryi, Iceland
We had spent the night at the same port so my dad’s new mission was to find the Motorcycle Museum he and Simon had failed to find last year. Three miles farther down the road was the Museum! We found it!
When we got inside, we were a little underwhelmed with the collection, but we had walked pretty far in the wind to find it so we were going to make the best of it!
Most of their collection were pretty common motorcycles, but there were definitely some beauties too.
I personally enjoyed the random patina’d motorcycles that I’d never heard of.
Don’t get me wrong, there were several amazing motorcycles in perfect condition. I was drooling over the Flathead and Triumph.
On the windy walk back to town, we took a different route to check out more of the area. We came upon some adorable houses and beautiful flowers.
I channeled my inner Scott Jacobs to gather photo material for painting ideas for him.
This is the end of Part 1 of the Iceland/Ireland trip. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the trip while we venture into Ireland!
PS. I will be releasing editions of my photography, so if you like any that are shown in this blog, let me know!
Thank you for reading,