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.

 

 

 

 

April Showers Bring Bridal Ones!

More like May showers, considering how drizzly and gross it was out today. But despite the terrible weather, I had a great day!

My amazing, gorgeous friend, Monica is getting married in June and I get to be one of her bridesmaids!  In addition to taking a super fun trip to Vegas for her Bachelorette party in a month, I also got to help throw her Bridal Shower which was today. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. We basically stole everything from Pinterest, but that’s ok because it’s so damn pretty!

Considering it was pouring rain outside and traffic was insane because of the Goodlife run,  I think we managed to pull it off and I think everyone had a good time hiding from the weather.

Monica’s sister, Dana made a whole bunch of delicious food, Gillian, Michelle and I pieced together the decor, drinks and treats and our extraordinarily talented friend, Sara made the Drake-themed “Hot Lime Bling” Cupcakes.

All around, it was a fun day to celebrate two people who are pretty awesome.

Ugly: SO MUCH RAIN. Grossy gross weather.

Awesome: SO MANY CUPCAKES. One lady said they were the best cupcakes she’s ever had.

 

 

Welcome to The Century Club!

Hey guys, guess what? This is my 100th Blog Post. No biggie. Just a life goal and landmark but you know, whatevs!!! (That’s what the title was about…not drinking 100 beer shots in 100 minutes…)

Being that this is my 100th Blog Post celebration day, I get to do whatever I want. Which means posting MORE CHRISTMAS PICTURES! Even though no one wants to see them anymore!

I promise, these are the last ones. It seems that everyone is now over it (Jamie wants to take down the tree tonight!) But I need to hang on for one more week. One more sparkly, happy, festive week and then it’s back to normal home decor colours and scents that are not “peppermint” or “gingerbread”. In all honesty, it won’t be so bad – I got lots of new non-Christmas Home decorations with my gift cards, so I get to play after the Christmas stuff comes down!

The first bunch of photos is from my annual “ladies only-ish” Christmas party where some lady troopers braved their way through the snow storm to come over and eat massive amounts of food, watch movies and exchange gifts. I look forward to this party every single year and this year it snuck it’s way in right before I got sick – very lucky.

The second bunch is from my Christmas in Kingston with my family! My parents got a new kitty named Inky, who is the best. She’s very cuddly and added even more excitement to the holiday. Even though I was a bit wobbly, I had a great time and it was nice to be home where my mommy could take care of me 🙂 So spoiled.

We had a fantastic Christmas dinner with my Grandparents and Uncle, his lady friend, Nancy and our family friend (and my old doctor), Roz! We also celebrated my Mom’s birthday and I spent New Year’s Eve with my parents. All in all, a TON of awesome family time which is a rare treat.

UGLY: Christmas is over, and I’m the only one hanging on to the holly for dear life. Also, I have to get up early tomorrow!

AWESOME: It’s been a really long time since I’ve spent so much time with the folks. It felt like University when you went home for a month! Also, new Inky and old Penny – I love visiting Kitties without having to actually take care of them 🙂

And here’s a special Christmas gift from me to you on this grand occasion!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

4 Little Piggies Went to Market

Hi strangers!

It’s been a while since my last post. Earlier in December I got to celebrate Christmas in several amazing and festive ways and then unfortunately, before I was able to blog about any of it, I got sick. First with a brutal cough, then just when I thought I was in the clear, I came down with Labyrinthitis. I won’t go into how crushing and debilitating this insane illness is, only that you literally lay on your side for a week and any time you move, you experience the most severe vertigo, dizziness and nausea. It’s like being very drunk and sick all day long. So looking at the computer for any amount of time was basically out of the question. Which resulted in the blog break! (And even more annoying, an unanticipated work break) But now I’m back! I’ve been moving around for a week and I can finally focus enough to read books, blogs and most importantly, Facebook!

So – lets jump into our one horse open sleigh time machine back to the start of December, when some special ladies and I hit up Toronto’s Christmas Market in Toronto. The market is set up in the Distillery district and is Christmas incarnate. It was so pretty and sparkly and fun, but like seemingly everything these days, it was just so busy and had such long lineups there were some things we just didn’t go for. Like the churros. Everybody said to get the churros. But the lineup would have taken us half an hour to get through! So instead, we drank delicious hot chocolate and had amazing creamy mac and cheese. We sang carols with the Victorian carollers and we danced the Little Women traditional Christmas dance made famous by Winona Ryder (Or more specifically, Kari did this whilst excitedly running into passersby).

We were lucky enough to have Ashley and Brodie staying with us that weekend, so after the girls and I had our fill of Christmas fun, we met up with the boys at C’est What on the Esplanade where we had drinks and dinner and good times. Very lucky to see this crowd as often as I do – especially when the Ottawa folk come to visit!

Ugly – Lineups! I wish I was a billionaire who could rent out markets and fairs for my own personal use like McDreamy did for Reese Witherspoon at Tiffany’s in Sweet Home Alabama…

Awesome – Despite the crowds and lineups, it’s really hard to squash my Christmas Spirit. Any place that’s so full of Christmas decorations, lights, sparkles trees, carollers etc. is OK in my book. Extra bonus for going with awesome ladies.

When I Compared My Christmas Tree To A Puppy.

It’s that time of year again! The time of year I walk aimlessly around the city looking at all the twinkly lights and anticipating decorating my own little blank canvas of a home. Last year, I purchased a bunch of Holiday decor because it was our first Christmas in this apartment and I wanted to take advantage of the little bit of extra space we have now. This year, I tried to re-use as much as possible and the only new things I bought were the plants for the porch and the new candle holder from Kitchen Stuff Plus (it was on sale…).

Jamie and I followed through with our annual tradition of decorating the tree while watching Sunday Night Football and I tried to make Christmas Sugar Cookies! The cookies were a success in general, but I absolutely failed on the icing front. I accidentally made the icing too thick so it was giving me a super hard time due to my tendency toward culinary ineptitude. I finally got my icing contraption to work and spent 15 minutes icing the trees. By the time that was done, I was losing patience on the snowflakes and by the time we got to the gingerbread men, I could barely motivate myself to make more than a face blob on each one. Regardless of their ugliness, they were still delicious so I count it as a flavour win, presentation fail.

UGLY: The horror-movie gingerbread monsters.

AWESOME: It’s Christmas!!! (obviously). Being in this house with twinkly lights and festive candles makes me excited about walking through my door every day. I’m pretty sure I turn on my tree lights with the same enthusiasm one would exude when meeting their puppy at the door upon returning home.

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.

Holiday Hiatus?

Weird post, weird week!

So, I arrived in Toronto to spend some excellent quality time with Jamie’s family and had a great few days. We went to the gym (once…), ate leftovers and terrible treats and most importantly, spent time laughing and being silly together. Jamie and I were planning on driving back to Kingston on Saturday to continue Christmasing, after Jamie’s uncle Phil had left. Come Saturday, my poor Mom and Dad called to say they were both very sick with a gross flu that EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE HAS. Jamie was also sick with the cursed disease, so we hunkered down to spend some intense lazy, restful flu-cure time inside. I made it my mission to cure him of his ailments (and I was pretty happy to be doing nothing I have to say) and we had a great day of Upstairs, Downstairs (the new one), movies, ham and eggs, leftover turkey, and chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for dinner. It was actually the best. Unfortunately, I woke up today with the exact same symptoms everyone else had before they were launched into flu time city, so although I feel OK now, I worry it’s only a matter of time before the thing takes me down. So this pause in Holiday momentum has caused my brain to think that Christmasing is over, when in fact, it will start again once we get to Kingston on Monday. So I’m considering this weird limbo my Christmas hiatus.

During this hiatus of nesting and snuggling in blankets and tea, I also spent some time thinking about the current state of my apartment decor and how pretty it is now with all the Christmas decorations. Come January, I’ll have to put all the Christmas away and go back to real life, which makes me sad and in the market for ways to spruce. I started putting together a design board for my Living room, beginning with the elements I already have and know I won’t be losing any time soon: Brown couch (although less fancy than the one on my board), brown and beige walls, exact rug, exact bookshelves, brown dresser thing and ottoman. After I stuck in the basics, I started adding little accents that I know I either already have or can get for cheap. All of a sudden, I had this cool little design board which I’ve shared with you today, because for unknown reasons, I took absolutely no pictures in the last 4 days. I can’t believe I didn’t even document the chocolate chip pancake dinner. I am ashamed.

Ugly:
Forgetting to take bloggy photos! Throat burn, sniffle nose.

Awesome:
The recent days of extreme laziness have been amazing, despite my getting ill.
Even if I don’t end up realizing my little design board dreams, I had so much fun making it, I’m going to do the same thing for my other rooms!
Going to Kingston tomorrow for continued family time and New Year’s Eve shenanigans (hopefully neither of us will be too ill for shenanigans)!

Brown Living Room
Brown Living Room