Viking Tombs and Blue Lagoons – Iceland Part 3

Here we arrive at part 3, the final contribution to my Iceland saga! If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, check them out!

On the 7th day of our trip, we woke up in our favourite campsite, Kirkjubæjarklaustur to the sounds of sheep bleeting and children yelling to their parents about how high up they’ve climbed the mountain behind us. And the craziest thing happened. I listened for rain and I didn’t hear it. I felt for the howling wind pushing our van around and I didn’t feel it. For the first morning since we arrived, I opened the van door to shining sun! This made for a good morning as we ate our Skyr and granola and set out to find our free coffee at the gas station down to the road.

We were heading west this morning, on our way to The Blue Lagoon which we would be visiting later in the afternoon. We planned to stop at a few places on the way back, the first of which was Hjörleifshöfði, a supposedly haunted hill just east of Vik. The legend goes that the hill’s namesake, Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson was a Nordic viking who settled on the hill, building a farm, during the winter of 874 with his Irish slaves. Within a year, the slaves had killed the Viking. His brother, Ingólfur Arnarson, (who because of Hróðmarsson’s death became known as the first Nordic settler in Iceland), sought revenge on the slaves and killed them one by one. Ever since, this hill is said to be haunted, the tomb of Hjörleifur sitting at the very top, overlooking the Ocean.

After climbing the hill, visiting the tomb, signing the guestbook (weird…), and walking through some farm ruins (not the original farm…a more recent farm), we got in the van and drove towards Vik to fill up on gas and chocolate.

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Driving to Hjörleifshöfði
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Driving to Hjörleifshöfði
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Driving to Hjörleifshöfði
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So much time was spent in this van…
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This happened all the time…
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Starting the trek up the haunted hill.
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At the top of Hjörleifshöfði.
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The Viking tomb and guestbook.
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Hjörleifshöfði

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These are the graves of a family who built a farm on this hill a very long time ago.
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Together at the top.
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Overlooking the black sand beaches.
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On our way down.
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The remains of the stone farmhouse.
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nestled between hills.
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Hjörleifshöfði
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At the bottom of Hjörleifshöfði
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Jamie in the flowers

After surviving the insanity of a rare gas station on a lonely road on a Sunday afternoon, we drove to Reynisfjara Beach to check out the basalt columns (the black rock that looks like cubes stacked on top of each other), the big cave and of course, the black sand. This is the most famous of Iceland’s black sand beaches, and it’s got the tourists to prove it.This was a beautiful spot and the islands jutting out of the ocean are cool to see in person. If we had more time, I would have liked to hang out more here, but we had a plan! There’s a restaurant called Black Beach restaurant which we considered eating at, but instead decided we would hit up the Fish and Chips truck we saw earlier in the trip at Skogafoss.

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Reynisfjara Beach
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Reynisfjara Beach
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Reynisfjara Beach
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Reynisfjara Beach basalt columns
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Reynisfjara Beach basalt columns
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Cute church at Reynisfjara Beach
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Fish and Chips truck at Skogafoss
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Fish and Chips truck at Skogafoss

So back we drove to the Fish and Chips truck. Let me tell you, on a long, mostly desolate road, seeing this bright red, adorable Fish and Chips shack seems like a gift from the heavens. But in all honesty, although the owners were lovely and there was nothing really wrong with our meals, I was hoping to get a bit more out of this. Back home, chip trucks are where you get the most delicious, fresh french fries. These fries were very clearly frozen McCain or similar. The battered fish was yummy and filled us up. But for both of our baskets which each contained 1 small piece of fish and a handful of fries, the $40 didn’t seem worth it. I would recommend trying out the Skogafoss restaurant or the Black Beach restaurant instead.

Then it was my turn in the driver’s seat, taking us the rest of the way to The Blue Lagoon. This was by far the most recommended experience in Iceland – everyone asked if we were going, everyone wanted to make sure we had booked in advance (we booked a spot in the pool a week in advance but were too late to book massages – some people book 6 months in advance for this). I had a perception of this place before we went that it would be a very serene, spa like experience. And to a certain extent it was – there were luxurious change rooms to get into your bathing suits (with futuristic lockers that were hard to figure out), then you go through a door to the indoor co-ed hot tub entrance. Once you decide it’s time to venture outside, theres a half-underwater door that takes you through an “informational cave” that has a recording of the facts about the Blue Lagoon (it’s man made lagoon that’s full of natural mineral-rich water that comes from underground – the minerals in the water are said to have many health benefits). And then you just float around in the warm water! You’re also encouraged to get a free mud mask, so when you look around it’s just a sea of people with white goo on their faces. There’s a nice section that has a dry sauna, a wet sauna and a steam room like other spas I’ve been to. But unlike other spas I’ve been to, this one also had large groups of tourist children on school trips. Because although this is spa-like it’s also a very popular tour destination. So while I might have expected a quiet, float around the pool, I didn’t expect there to be several 15 year old Scottish boys on a field trip doing pull-up competitions on the wooden archs. I also didn’t expect there to be a swim up bar either, but that was more of a happy surprise. All in all, it was gorgeous and I loved it. Floating in warm water can do no wrong.

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At The Blue Lagoon…In the information cave
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At The Blue Lagoon…In the information cave
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Out in the foggy mist at The Blue Lagoon
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Jamie also thinks this is a romantic place.
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The hoards lining up for free face mud masks
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mud masks acquired.
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Mud monster in the mist…

That night, we had our one and only restaurant dinner in Iceland at Snaps Bistro. I had mussels and frites and a pistachio, goat cheese, honey concoction for dessert. It was delicious. Slightly better than hot dogs and Sidekicks, I will admit. The next morning was our last in Iceland and we spent it roaming around Reykjavik looking for souvenirs and taking in the city. It was so charming and there were so many lovely shops with lots of unique stuff.

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Delicious…and yes the French Onion Soup is 2.300 Icelandic Krona. Or $23 Canadian dollars… This is why we only ate out once.
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cheeyaws!
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Americans at the bar drinking $25 Long Island Iced Teas.
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Reykjavik
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Rooster in Reykjavik
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The Always Christmas store!
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Such nostalgia for childhood here
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Fancy stores selling fancy designer stuff
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lots of yummy smelling things
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Just the kind of random cute shops I love
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Love all the paintings on the wall
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The famous Hallgrímskirkja Church
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HOT BUNS
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Pretty red door
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Reykjavik street art
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More Reykjavik street art

We had breakfast at one of the most delightful cafes I’ve ever seen, called Stofan Cafe. If you’re in Iceland looking for Hipsters, go here. They’re all here drinking coffee out of adorable tea cups and eating pastries on varying, eclectic antique chairs. Jamie had a healthy granola and berries while I dampened my sadness at this being our last day by eating a piece of chocolate cake. We strolled around until we caught our bus to Kaflavik to catch our flight home.

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Stofan Cafe – best for Icelandic hipsters
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Love the eclectic feel of this place
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In love with the retro antiques
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Healthy breakfast for Jamie
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Chocolate Cake for me.

Ugly: In Iceland, we could only afford dinner at one restaurant, the Fish and Chips truck was too expensive, and I found myself craving hot dogs and sidekicks for months afterwards. I did this to myself.

Awesome: I loved that for the last couple days of our trip, the sun came out to put a positive spin on everything we did. It’s crazy how much the sun/ weather colours our memories in a certain way. I loved walking around the city with our coffee in the sun, the fresh breeze feeling like fall. I love that it’s my last memory of Iceland.

Well, that concludes the Iceland saga! I hope I’ve provided some info for those making the trek seeing as EVERYONE I KNOW seems to be travelling there. And I couldn’t be happier – if you have the opportunity, don’t miss it. And tell me all about it when you get back.

 

 

 

 

ART ATTACK!

HI ALL!

In accordance with official 100th blog post protocol (Section 5, paragraph 2) I took a little break from blogging. In that time, I had a Super Bowl party, attended an Anne of Green Gables marathon, spent Valentine’s Day with my friend, Kari, while our menfolk shot a commercial in Capetown, South Africa, went to the AGO, saw my new favourite band, Cousins, live in concert and on the same day, sprained my ankle giving my pal, Sandy, a hug.

I hope to post a few mini-posts in the next few days with fun pictures from all these random events – mainly because I now have an internal, personal obligation to post all of my memories to the inter webs where they will live forever and ever.

So, I’ll start with my visit to the AGO to see The Great Upheaval Exhibition. I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the exhibit, but I captured some of my other favourite parts of the AGO. I went with my friends, Adam and Leigh which proved to be lucky because Adam is basically a human art encyclopedia and provided a lovely, interactive, British audio guide as we toured the exhibit. Although, I bet the mechanical, plastic audio guide wouldn’t have stared blankly at me when I frequently stated “This one has too many colours”.

UGLY: Getting to the gym every single day with increasing motivation, only to sprain my ankle hugging someone and slipping on the ice. USELESS.

AWESOME: I bought a 1000 piece puzzle of The Lady of Shalott at the AGO and it will take me 7 years to finish.

8 Years and Lots of Wine

Last Weekend, Jamie and I celebrated our 8th Anniversary! It’s hard to believe it’s been so long. When people ask me how old we were when we met, I think about it in my head and then immediately discredit my memory, because clearly it’s not possible that we were THAT young when we met. But it’s true, it just surprises me every time. We met while we were both going to school for Film Production at York University in Toronto. Even though we had known OF each other since the first year of the program, we only really started talking in 3rd year. Which means that I was 19. This baffles me because I remember our relationship starting while we were mature, responsible adults, but that’s impossible if I was 19.

Jamie has been extremely busy lately so we thought the perfect getaway would be one with as little stress as possible. So, we made a simple plan which we could execute fairly close to home to reduce travel time. We found the perfect place in Niagara on the Lake called The Pillar and Post. It’s a very picturesque hotel and spa. It’s got a fantastic restaurant inside the hotel and a dreamy spa underground – it feels like you’re in a very fashionable cave.

When we arrived, the entire hotel was covered in Christmas decorations, all the fireplaces were lit, and it immediately stole my heart. The space is quaint and rustic but also kind of grand in a way. Our room was lovely and we had our own fireplace and every night, we found a new rose on our pillows.

On Saturday, we had a Charles Dickensian breakfast (I can’t explain this – it’s just how I felt about our breakfast), and I went to get a massage in the spa. The spa is all natural browns and beiges and dim lightening and tiny Christmas trees. It was heaven. I’ve also never drank so much free peppermint tea in my life. Jamie met me after my massage so we could go for a dip in the Hot Springs – it was this outdoor hot tub that’s made to look like a natural waterfall in a tropical paradise. It was probably my favourite part of the weekend. It was very private and serene and it was just so relaxing.

That afternoon, we took a trip to Megalomaniac Winery, did some tastings and then went across the street to our old favourites, Tawse Winery. Back on our 5th anniversary, we visited Tawse and I ended up loving the Tawse Riesling so much, we bought a case. This time, we did not get so carried away, but still left with some great wine. We went to dinner at The Cannery restaurant in the hotel that night – It wasn’t the 5 star food I was hoping for, but the atmosphere and service was great and I loved dressing up for a quick trip down the stairs.

Our last day there, we had another great breakfast, did a late check out, threw our bags in the car and went back in to spend another few hours lazing about the Hot Springs and the various pools and indoor hot tubs. This was nice because most people had checked out and left so we practically had the place to ourselves. On the way home, we drove through the largest full Rainbow I’ve ever seen.

UGLY: The Yorkshire pudding. This was my only complaint of the entire weekend. You can’t get a lady excited about Yorkshire pudding and then deliver a sub-par, gravy-skint hockey puck. Everything else was delicious – it will always be a mystery to me why the Yorkshire pudding was so bad.

AWESOME: Christmas festiveness, alone time with Jamie, relaxing, reading books, seeing a rainbow that obviously represents the power of our love.

Porch Envy.

Fall stuff all over my house! Fall stuff in the bathroom! Fall stuff on the porch! I want to roll around in ALL THE FALL STUFF.

So, I decorated my house for fall this week. I’ve been looking forward to it forever. However, I did NOT decorate for Halloween yet, guys. Even I have boundaries. Let the harvest have it’s moment. Then we’ll kick it into Halloween mode when it gets chillier.

Speaking of Halloween, I’m GOING TO VEGAS ON HALLOWEEN. With all the crazies! I’m so happy to be with my people! I’ll be sure to document the crap out of it, because there will be much to see, my friends. Maybe I’ll see a bunch of celebrities but I won’t even know because they’ll be in costumes. Speaking of which, costume wise, I think it’s illegal in Nevada to wear a costume that does not begin with word, “sexy”, so I’ve been trying to think of hilarious “sexy” costumes… Sexy Lobster. Sexy pumpkin. Sexy Vacuum. These things make me laugh. I think I’ll just go as the Long Island Medium.

So, on top of decorating my house this weekend, Jamie and I also dug up all our herbs and planted them in a big giant wooden bucket to be hauled inside by 7 large men for the winter time (It’s very heavy…). We also went over to Jamie’s family’s house for dinner only to find that Jamie’s mom had broken her OTHER arm and was at the ER with Jamie’s dad. That’s two arms in 1 year. Worst luck of all time. So we tried not to let her delicious meal and lovely decor go to waste and had a lovely, but bittersweet dinner. Get better soon, Nancy!

UGLY: All the arm breaking!

AWESOME: fuzzy sweaters, pumpkins, apple cider, nutmeg. red leaves, the smell of fireplace, pretty sunsets, re-using all my dollar store decorations because I’m thrifty.

CATS who read.

Happy real and actual autumn!

This weekend was so full, I didn’t even get to my treasured fall decorating. I didn’t even attempt to pull the box out of the closet.

Friday was planning an upcoming Vegas Trip with some lovely ladies. I’ve only ever been for work, so I’m pumped to go for fun. We drank wine and ate pizza and decided who our alter egos would be. I’m Olga, a Russian veterinarian who sells horse tranquilizers (don’t worry, they’re just Mentos). I’m excited to shed my nerd persona for a weekend, break out the old content lenses and buckle up my stilettos. It will be a strange and exciting change of pace.

Saturday, we celebrated my lovely friend, Cristina’s housewarming in Guelph. I ate too many chips and dip and little hotdogs wrapped in bacon. I love finger food. Her house is amazing and it makes me feel like people my age are becoming real adult people and it is terrifying. But it also makes me excited for future things like houses and spaceship washing machines and “Guest Bedrooms” (whodathunk).

Saturday night, I went to Jamie’s office (Aircastle headquarters) to watch a screening of the documentary they’ve been working on for the past couple years. I think it came out great and I’m so proud – it’s called Amin Amir and it’s screening on September 29th at the Edmonton Film Festival. If you live in Edmonton and love AWESOME STUFF, you should go see it.

Sunday was a chock full day of activities. First, brunch at Brownstone with Kari, then off to see CATS on it’s last day of performances (Did you know it’s based on a book of poetry by T.S. Eliot?!). I had never seen it before and Kari was melting with nostalgia so it was good fun had by all. Then we went on a bit of a walkabout and found ourselves accidentally in the middle of The Word on The Street festival. Last year at the festival, Kari was reading aloud from her amazing novel, Margaret And The Moth Tree. This year, we pretended to be Shakespearian characters and received free naughty novels from the Toronto Romance Writers (SAUCY).

So now I’m at home after a sweaty at-home TWERKout, about to enjoy some Football and Indian food with Jamie WHO IS ACTUALLY HOME BEFORE 2 IN THE MORNING OMG (It’s been a busy couple of weeks).

UGLY: My non-seasonally decorated home!!! 😦

AWESOME: I bought a pair of 10 lbs weights so my at-home workouts now consist of me becoming A BOSS.

Bushels & Bouquets

Hello there!

Leave it to me to ignore my blog for 6 months only to begin again with a fall-time post. It is my curse and my saviour. When it is fall time, I want to write about it and take pictures. It’s in my blood.

But since I’ve been on a blogging diet of wilted spinach and lemon juice, it would be irresponsible of me to jump back into things with a T-Bone steak and a side of mashed potatoes. So, I’ll start off slow with this dry toast and chicken broth of a post: My jaunt around town on a brisk fall day (yes, I realize fall does not begin until September 22, but in my heart, it begins the first day I need a scarf). Also, I’m now very hungry.

It began at Rebel House, with a delicious brunch with my autumn muse and fellow fall worshiper, Kari and continued to a feminine paradise, Putti in Summerhill (so many sparky things). I stopped by The Harvest Wagon for a couple of artichokes which I plan on consuming later and ended with the purchase of some mums for the front porch and a lovely autumn bouquet for my living room.

Usually, I’d be cuddled on the couch watching football right about now, but Jamie is super busy lately and it’s just not the same without him. So I blog and eat artichokes and read books while it gets gusty outside. Which is a perfect Sunday in my opinion.

UGLY:
The number of boxes I must remove from the closet in order to reach the one full of fall decorating supplies which I will need for next weekend…

AWESOME:

It’s time for fall decorating! I can’t wait! I’m reusing all my Dollar Store purchases from last year, so at least I’m being frugal 🙂

Also artichokes…which makes me think a possible artichoke instructional blog is required…PLOT.

There’s No Business Like Snow Business.

Oh hay there, friends!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been slowly burrowing my way out of 9 feet of snow.
I’m not complaining, though. I love the look of brand new, sparkly snow, especially this year now that I have nice high boots to trudge around in. Snow is so much more fun when your socks are dry!

So, a couple of weeks ago, we had a wee Superbowl party which was Superfun (seewhatididthere?) and it covered my lentil quota for a month. We were eating chili and dip for DAYS afterwards. It also gave us a chance to have a SuperSlumber Party with our favourite super-couple Brodie and Ashley. I love when they come to visit. They make me want to be healthier. I took four pictures, because I am an amazing and dedicated blogger.

This weekend, the snow looked so purty that I took myself for a little walk to the park where I watched children and dogs play in the snow and then left because people were starting to stare at me suspiciously. Probably because I kept taking pictures of myself smiling like a fool. Over and over again.

On Sunday, my Supergood friend Celeste and I took advantage of our old-money heritage Groupon coupons and took ourselves to the Windsor Arms for brunch. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Windsor Arms, but it’s where fancy rich people go to have high tea and probably sell their fur (that is what rich people do, yes?) We made up a back story which was that I was a Scottish famous blogger and Celeste was my hip friend from LA. I don’t know why we needed a back story, but it did add to the overall enjoyment of the day. It was soooo yummy, I wish I had 8 stomachs so I could eat more. The dessert table was craziness and it looked like a scene from a Graeme Base book. After we were done, we ran around gallivanting through the hotel because that’s what respectable people do at The Windsor Arms.

All in all, I feel like it’s been a fun couple of weeks, not so stressful, a nice change from the ordinary. The next few days marks Jamie and my Valentine’s dinner and the Family Day long weekend where I hope to relax and do something interesting!

Ugly: My team lost the Superbowl 😦

Awesome:
Eating 70% dessert for brunch.