Ice, Fire, & the Moon

K and I set out on our honeymoon on a whim. We had not had the time to plan out a detailed itinerary in view of our wedding, but decided to go ahead with one a month later. We booked last minute everything (flights, trains, lodgings, etc) and flew off to our dream destination—Iceland.

Touching down in Iceland was a triumph in itself. Because of our lack of preparation (and hence not many flights left), we had to take a connecting bus in London from the Heathrow airport to the Gatwick airport before we could board our flight to Iceland. We ended up travelling for a full day before we finally reached Iceland.

We rented our 4×4 car from Hertz. There are some F-roads in Iceland that can only be accessed using a 4×4 car; the terrains are rockier, and at times there are even rivers and snow involved. It’s always an adventure in Iceland! 😉

We spent twelve days in Iceland in total, doing the famous ring route in the anti-clockwise direction, and ventured out to the west fjords and west coast for a bit towards the end. It was summertime when we went and in summer, the sun does not set in Iceland. They call it the midnight sun phenomenon.We went in end-July so it was approaching the end of summer. The sun set at midnight and rose about four hours later everyday. It was a good time to visit Iceland because you get plenty of time on the road. Some days, we drove till midnight, and if not for the midnight sun, we would have been scared stiff by the winding roads in the dark. Plus, the sun sets for a very long time and for a very long while, your view is lit up in gold.

The downside is that you would definitely miss the Northern lights (which many associate Iceland with) because the sky never gets dark enough. That’s fine though. I assure you Iceland is so amazing that you would want to return again.

I tried my best to research about Iceland prior to going but it was quite hopeless. All the waterfalls looked the same to me and have names that I couldn’t pronounce for the life of me (I can now!). From the words, I couldn’t even tell if it was a town or site of attraction. Everything was just completely foreign. Needless to say, I gave up eventually (lol). I looked at the map and booked random accommodations along the ring road and in the west, without a care for the length of drive between them. Fortunately, it turned out to be manageable, but there is definitely room for improvement with regards to the places we stayed at. For instance, I set aside three days to explore the west fjords and the west coast (accommodation booked and confirmed beforehand). The roads turned out to be extremely long and winding so we gave some sites a miss in view of time constraint.

Everything started to make more sense when you are really in Iceland.You can finally distinguish between the names and put them to every sight. It’s not that hard! Every night, K and I would list the sites we would like to see the next day before we went to bed. Along the way, if we see any signs pointing to an attraction, we would detour and explore. That turned out to be a pretty good plan!

Also, it is essential to stock up on food and water before you hit the road, and have some extras on hand for those nights you didn’t manage to make it to the next town in time of dinner. K and I relied on cup noodles for two nights and went hungry on one night. I didn’t have it but I would highly recommend you to bring along a thermos flask so that you could have some hot water to make hot beverages or hot soup. There were so many times we stopped by an attraction and wished we had some hot food or drinks with us so that we may stay longer and enjoy the view. Imagine—eating a piping hot tom yam cup noodle at Jökulsárlón, the lake with floating icebergs. Oh my, that would have been perfect!

K and I are not light packers, me especially. I remember my bag being overweight for our trip to Maldives two years back. Maldives!! All you wear are bikinis, summer dresses, and flip flops. I don’t know how that happened.

It’s important to pack layers for Iceland because the weather is ever changing. On good clear days, the temperature is extremely comfortable and I could get by with a sweater and a pair of tights. The real challenge comes when night falls, when the wind blows, when it rains, or when you are near a waterfall that can splash, which is pretty much most of the time. No matter how I dress, I always end up wearing my windproof-waterproof jacket. They are a lifesaver. If you are someone who is concerned about taking photos in the same outfit everyday (like me), you might want to consider bringing two or more such jackets. The inner layers don’t matter that much since they are not seen most of the time. Bring the softest, warmest, and most comfortable pieces!

Reykjavik

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At the top of Hallgrímskirkja
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At the top of Hallgrímskirkja
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The famous hot dog buns from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
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Our first encounter with the midnight sun
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Hallgrímskirkja’s architecture was inspired by the nature’s basalt columns

The Golden Circle

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Standing next to Silfra, a rift between the North American and Eurasian techtonic plates
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The waters was so clear you could see the vivid colours of the rocks on the bed
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Geothermal area near Strokkur
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Waiting eagerly for the eruption of the geyser, Strokkur
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Another geyser that does not erupt as frequently as Strokkur
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Gullfoss is the largest waterfall in Iceland
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Next to Gullfoss
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One of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland – Skógafoss
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Walking further up the trail at Skógafoss brings you to yet another breathtaking landscape
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Kerið, a volcanic crater lake
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You can find langostine soup in almost every menu

Vík

We stayed at Grand Guesthouse Gardakot and it was the most amazing experience. The host was unbelievably warm and thoughtful, baking and delivering fresh cakes to the common living area. For breakfast, we had the most sumptuous spread of fresh bread and pancakes made upon request. I highly recommend staying here.

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Black sand on the Reynisfjara beach
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Scaling the basalt columns by the Reynisfjara beach
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Views along our snowmobiling route on Mýrdalsjökull
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The end of our snowmobiling adventure
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Wild sheep are aplenty
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Climbing the rocks at Dyrhólaey
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Enjoying the panoromic view and sea breeze at Dyrhólaey
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One of the many Artic terns returning from the sea to feed their young
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Artic terns with their piercing screeches
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Wild horses along the road

Höfn

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Höfn houses one of the best langoustines restaurant as it is located right next to the harbour where the langoustines are caught
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Conquering Iceland together, one waterfall at a time
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A quiet fishing village along the way
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Jökulsárlón being extremely peaceful on a foggy night
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Greeted by another amazing midnight sun while walking back to our accomodation from dinner

We had dinner at Guesthouse Egilsstaðir. It was the best meal we had in the entire trip. I highly recommend ordering the fish dishes. It’s extremely fresh. You can end your meal by having beers on the balcony if you don’t mind the cold. I love that they provide fleece blankets at no additional charge.

The Mývatn region

After much deliberation, we decided to give the Mývatn lake a miss because we were afraid of midges, which is abundent at that time of the year.

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Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe
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Endless lupine fields
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Leirhnjúkur is the first stop of the hiking trail at Krafla
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Exploring the mysterious lava fields
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This area is called Eldhús Djöfulsins by the locals, which translates to Devil’s Kitchen, because of its boiling mud pools and pungent sulfur fumes
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The Icelandic moss covers wide areas of land
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The rich mineral content in the Mývatn Nature Bath is said to be good for the skin

Akureyri

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Caught sight of a humpback whale
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Trolls are featured heavily in Icelandic tales
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A picnic point by the lake
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RUB23 is a restaurant famous for its novel sushi pizza

The West Fjords

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Spotted more Icelandic horses
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Dried fish is an Icelandic tradition
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Seals sunbathing lazily on rocks
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Random waterfall on the roadside
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More Artic terns guarding their territory
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Getting upclose with Dynjandi (my version)
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Getting upclose with Dynjandi (K’s version)
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Cotton flowers in the wind
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The drive along the west fjords was the most scenic one that we’ve had
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You can get very close to the Puffins at the Látrabjarg cliff
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Driving during the golden hour
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Soaking in a natural hot pool while watching the sun set at midnight
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The calm waters reflecting the pastel sky just beside the hot pool

The west coast

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Snowy grounds at Snæfellsnes
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Roaming around Snæfellsjökull
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Kirkjufell looks like a wizard’s hat
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Kirkjufellfoss is located just beside Kirkjufell
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Following a stream into the mountain crack
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A classic Icelandic view
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A bright orange lighthouse in Stykkishólmur
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Galloping horses led by its owner
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Enjoying a cup of Pinot Noir under the midnight sun

 

Iceland had been the perfect destination for our honeymoon. We had the most incredible time just connecting with nature and with each other. It was certainly the most liberating trip I have ever taken.

I hope my post has inspired you to pack your bags and just go to Iceland. Just go, explore the country, get lost in F-roads, get drenched because no rain is going to stop you from having the time of your life.

x HY

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