Iceland is for Lovers

Day 1: We got our rental car from the airport, then got groceries and had Taco Bell for lunch. We drove 4.5 hours to the glacier lagoon, a huge lake with floating glaciers big and small parading through it.

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We hiked around for two hours and then found a spot to camp for the night.

Day 2: We woke up early today because we were a bit cold and uncomfortable in the back of the car. We got up and drove to the Svartifoss nature area and hiked to see basalt formations and some waterfalls.

IMG_6663  We left there and headed to the Fjadrárgljúfur gorge. It was so beautiful to see.  IMG_6707 IMG_6716

Next we pulled off at a stop we saw on the road. It happened to be the best part of our day and one of the best hikes I’ve ever done, the Hjörleifshöfdi mountain. IMG_6852 IMG_6855 IMG_6743 IMG_6747 IMG_6769We were the only people there except for one other couple. We saw the burial of the 2nd inhabitant of Iceland and some other truly stunning views.IMG_6752

It was only a 3km hike. We made some food at the bottom of the mountain and camped out there for the night. It happened to be one of our best sleeping locations as well.

Day 3: we woke up around 8:30 and got ready for the day. We left our camping site and headed to the town of Vik to get some coffee. While in Vik, we found the entrance to to black sand beaches so we went there and enjoyed seeing the waves crashing. IMG_6875The sand was so fine and very black. After we made our way to the Reynisfjall sea cliffs. IMG_6880There was a very windy steep hill that we tried to drive up but decided to give up half way and walk the rest. When we got to the top it was so windy I had to sit down a few times because I was afraid to be standing. We couldn’t do the whole hike but we still got some great views of the black sand beach from above.

IMG_6938 IMG_6925 IMG_6917 IMG_6905 IMG_6902Next we headed to Reynisfjara and saw the sea cave and walked along he beach for a bit. IMG_6985Next stop was Halsanefshellir a huge archway cut out of rock in the sea, and a bird estuary.

Afterwards, we drove to the Skogafoss waterfall and found that there was a nice long hike there. We hiked for two and a half Km and then turned around. IMG_6997 IMG_7022We stopped in a town and looked around a shop with locally made things. I couldn’t believe how expensive the famous Icelandic sweaters are 🙂 We drove to our next stop looking for a place to camp for the night. We are clearly getting more intl civilization because it was harder to find a spot to camp! In the middle of the night we saw the aurora borealis.

Day 4: We woke up next to the side of the road where we were parked and got ready for the day. Our first stop of the day was Gullfoss, the golden waterfall. IMG_7037 IMG_7052 IMG_7060It is more powerful than Niagara falls. Next we went to geyser and saw one erupt a few times and it was amazing.IMG_7078 IMG_7102 There were lots of hot springs in the area too that you cold wander around and see. Next we headed to Selfoss and picked up a few things we needed and checked out a second hand store and a handmade craft store. Lastly, we headed to Thinglever National Park and saw tectonic plates that Are above ground. IMG_7138 IMG_7141

Day 5:

We woke up and headed into Reykjavik. We checked out possibly taking a tour, but instead decided on a plan based on what the tour bus would have taken us to. We walked around the city for a bit and saw lots of really trendy shops and restaurants. We also saw the tallest building in the city which is an interesting looking modern church. IMG_7151After exploring, we left and went up north of the island, a place we had yet to explore on our trip. To get there we had to go through a really long underwater time that cost about 7 dollars U.S. Our first stop was Deildartunguhver hot springs which are the most powerful hot springs in Europe and they are used to heat many houses. It was hot near them.IMG_7157

And there was a lot of steam being given off, but they were actually pretty small and not that impressive. Our next stop were the Hraunfossar waterfalls. IMG_7170 IMG_7176 IMG_7185 IMG_7196This is a series of many waterfalls that are actually falling over lava rocks. It was beautiful and less crowded than the other waterfalls we have seen on our trip. Our last stop of the day was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. We saw the Langjökull glacier. We had to drive down a crazy ‘road’ that seemed like we were driving on the moon. IMG_7210When we got almost all the way to the glacier we had to get out and walk because the road was way too bumpy. We walked right up to he glacier and touched it!! It was amazing and invigorating.IMG_7220 IMG_7227 If I ever come back to Iceland, I would definitely like to take one of the glacier tours they do with hiking, snowmobiling, or even going inside the glacier. Afterwards, the day was getting older so we headed back to Reykjavik for the night. We stayed at a camp sight directly inside the capital city. It’s the first time we paid for camping, and let me tell you, it is quite an experience. There are kitchenettes that look like a science lab from high school and there are people everywhere! There is a lounge with tons of people, some outdoor eating areas, nice bathrooms, and tons of people camping here. It is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it costs about 12$ per person per night.

Clearly, our experience in Iceland is something I will remember forever.  The scenery was stunning, and constantly changing everywhere you looked.  Each stop had something unique, awesome hikes abounded, and the place is so natural and untouched by humans.  Now, I’m back in Prague, and looking back through all my pictures of the last month of adventures.  I will treasure them (the pictures and adventures) forever.

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Day 20; prep for Iceland

Today was all about getting prepared for Iceland. We woke up early and left our air BnB. Then we headed over to the bus station to catch a 7am bus to Lyon. I slept the whole time on the bus – really practicing for sleeping in the car in Iceland! We arrived in Lyon 6 hours later and explored the city a bit. It was pretty quiet but also nice. 

   
Jordan bought me some ice cream and we hung out for a bit using free wifi. Then we left to go to the airport. The shuttle was expensive – it cost 13€.  We made it to the airport and had a nice last meal. Fresh salad- we won’t be having that for a while because we’re going to mostly be eating non-perishables in Iceland out of the car. Anyway, Iceland here we come!!

Day 19; Paris 

We did another bunch of sightseeing today on our second and last day in Paris. We started with going up the Eiffel Tower. We walked up to the second floor and then took an elevator to the top.  

    
   
After that, we went to the Louvre and saw some of the interesting artwork. It is so big, I wish we could have seen it all. 

   
The outside of the Louvre. We went around 6 and there wasn’t much of a line. 

 
The Mona Lisa. You wouldn’t believe how pushy people were in front of her. She must see some interesting things all day. 

   
Sitting scribe. A classic example of Egyptian art because of the proportions, colors, and being cut out of one block. 

 
We saw lots of different kinds of mummys and tombs. 

  Winged bull. 
 
Venus de Milo. People think it is Aphrodite but it’s impossible to know because the arms and other distinguishing features are broken off. 

  
There was a whole room dedicated to michaelangelos sculptures. This is the dying slave. 

  
The winged victory of samothrace. 

Once we had all of the ancient beauty we could take, we left to go to sacre coeur. The sun was going down and the place was packed with people watching the city turn its lights on.  

   
I love the cathedral from the outside and we also got a chance to see its beauty inside too. 

After that I was pretty exhausted so we grabbed a quick bite near the air BnB and headed back!

Day 18; Paris

Today was our first real day in Paris and although I have heard pretty terrible things about the city, and especially its people, today was an amazing day. 

We started out at notre dame. The outside of the church was quite amazing and we waited in a short line to see the inside too. 

   
  

Next we went to the catacombs. We got there a bit early and had crepes! Mine was chocolate and banana.  

 Next we toured the catacombs. In Paris’s history, at one point someone said all the bones from burial sights need to be moved, so the result was the catacombs. It seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t believe how many bones there were. 

   

  

 Back above ground, we wandered around a bit searching out a place for dinner. 

  We walked through this park.

We found a nice place for dinner where we had fondue and some meat that you cook on a hot plate in front of you. 

   

 After dinner we caught a subway ride up to a different area and went to a Tanlines concert. It was so much fun, and also at a very cool venue.   

 After the show we saw the Eiffel Tower at night. It was breath taking. I can’t believe I got to see the Eiffel Tower!

   
   
It also sparkled for five minutes at 11pm. 

We bought some beers from the vendors at the tower and enjoyed the view!

That’s all for today. I hope tomorrow is just as nice in Paris!

Euro trip: days 9-17

Day 9:

All day was spent in transit. We started in the morning with a train from Certaldo to Siena. When we got to Siena we had some time to walk around the city which was nice. Then we grabbed some yummy pizza with surprisingly thick crust for lunch and caught a bus from Siena to the Rome airport. We hung in the airport for a few hours before getting on our flight to Nice. We were flying right as the sun was setting and it was a truly awe inspiring sight.  
   In Nice we took some extra crowded public transport and met our air BnB hosts and then relaxed for what was left of the night. 

Day 10: 

We slept in a bit and then woke up, got ready and went to the laundry mat that is across the street from our air BnB in Nice. We did our laundry with the help of a friendly French woman who kept saying voilà. While we were waiting for that, we went to the grocery store Carrefour and picked up some food for breakfast lunch and dinner. We both agreed we were getting a bit tired of eating out so we decided to take advantage of the nice kitchen in our air BnB. 

After all the laundry and shopping was done we went out to check out the city of nice. We walked down to the water which was about at 25 minute walk from our air BnB. The city is probably the nicest I’ve ever seen.   

 It is so clean with very nice architecture in the French style. Right in the city center there is a fountain water park for kids to cool down in. The street leading up to the beach has lots of shops.   

  

 We walked along the beach for a bit and put our feet in the water, finished exploring the area and then went back to our air BnB and had some lunch. After a quick siesta, we caught a train to Monaco another country that only took 20 minutes to get to!   

   It is a very wealthy place and I was surprised and how entertaining it was to gawk at all of the yachts and cars and dream about the type of people that were inside. We walked around the harbor and then went to the casino- the same one from James Bond!  

  We went into the slot casino and Jordan played 5 euros on some roulette. He almost doubled his money at one point, but then lost it all in the end 😉 

We headed back to Nice and made some dinner. 

Day 11:

Today we took a day trip to Antibes. It was very similar to Nice except for the fact that we took at walk on the le sentier du littorale which is a 2 hour hike along the coast.   

  

  

  It has beautiful scenery the whole time and we stopped to go swimming in one of the alcoves. Then we took a bus back to Antibes city center and walked around for a bit before heading back to Nice. 

We got back to nice and headed straight to the beach again to go swimming since we hadn’t had a chance to swim here yet. The beaches are pebbled which makes it very different to walk in than sand! But the water was so clear and clean it seemed like swimming in glass. I could have swam in there forever. 

Next we headed to Fenocchio, an ice cream parlor that caught our attention because of their crazy flavors like cactus and beer. I tried ginger bread, black licorice, and m&m. It was so hard to decide on a flavor! They had about 90! 

Afterwards, we walked along the bumpin Boardwalk for a bit and then decided to go into one of the casinos. I played roulette and lost 1€. I was really unlucky at first, but then I made all my money back except for that 1€. Then we headed back to our air BnB for the night!!

Day 12:

We were both pretty tired after all of our adventures so far so we started the day off kind of slow and lazily. We took another trip to the grocery store to buy some dinner food and then we relaxed in the apartment for the morning. When we finally got ready, we walked down to the water and rented some bikes. There is a great bike lane along the beach so we road until the beach ended, stopped and took a nice swim, and then road back. The beach that far down was much less crowded; it was very relaxing. We brought some wine with us so we had a bit of wine before riding back. We returned the bikes and then sat on the beach and finished drying off while the sun went down. We headed back to the apartment and made some dinner. 

Day 13:

Today we woke up and packed up everything that we had strewn around our air BnB and got ready to leave. We had to leave the apartment by noon so we had a leisurely morning and left. We found out about a service called left luggage where you can leave your bags so we did that, happy to be rid of our heavy backpacks. Next we did a little shopping along the main boulevard in Nice and then ended up at the beach. We had a really relaxing day just laying on the beach, tanning, and a bit of swimming. We also had some lunch on the beach and more wine 🙂 We had to pick up our luggage at 6, so when we did we started making our journey towards the airport. We started at a mall where Jordan could change out of his bathing suit in the bathroom. After that was sorted, we started walking in the direction of the airport. We decided to walk all the way from the city center to the airport because it was only 5 miles and the bus was quite a rip off. It wasn’t a bad walk, but with our packs it got a bit tiring. We took a couple of stops one was for Jordan to get a huge hamburger called a “Mexican” that had two beef patties, French fries, and sautéed onions wrapped inside a pita. It was good! Then we carried on and finally ended up in the airport. Next stop: Barcelona!

Day 14:

Today was our first day in Barcelona. We started off with a tour of la guardia familiaia and went up in the tower.  Gaudí’s masterpiece was really impressive. It seemed like everywhere you looked there was more to see in the architectural design. The tower have is a good view of the city and we got to walk down a really windy staircase.  

  

 Then I had a coffee cream. We stopped at a restaurant. Jordan had a sandwich and I had sangria. We walked down to the beach area and hung around there for most of the rest of the day.  

  

 There was a fun Spanish band playing on the beach. 

For dinner we had tapas at a restaurant near the boardwalk we tried gazpacho, chicken croquettes, patatas tortillas, nachos with guacamole and got a big pitcher of sangria.   

 Day 15: 

We took the walking tour in Barcelona today and learned a lot about the country’s history and some other interesting facts. 

   Catalian style architecture with a flat roof. 

 This is a tower to represent the world record for Catalian human towers, a popular activity that is held at a festival every year. 

When that was over we walked around a bit and checked out the barcoletta area.  

 We had a huge dinner which was a paella meal. It started with tapas, then Paella then dessert.

   Patatas(soo good), croquette, squid, garlic peppers, fried anchovies

  Chicken paella

  

  After dinner we got some drinks and had them on the beach. We had a free drink in the casino and won some money. We watched the Barcelona soccer game on tv while we had our drinks and it was very enjoyable. Then we cashed out and headed home. 

Day 16:

It was our last day in Barcelona and although we started out wanting to have a day at the beach, the day broke a bit too cold and rainy for that, so instead we started off at la rambla, a street with lots of different vendor stalls. As we wandered around, we found the at Josep mercat.  

  

  

  

  It was a huge market with every type of imaginable fresh food. We really enjoyed walking down the super crowded alleyways and trying a few of the delicacies they had to offer. We both tried fresh juice and some Mexican inspired food from one stand. 

  

I got fresh kiwi juice. 

After the market, we wandered by the sea before hiring some bikes and riding the entire length of the beach.  

 It turned into a beautiful day and it was fun to explore. We finished with the bikes, headed back to our hostel, and then went to find some dinner. We ended up at an interesting place outside of the tourist sections and got one last Spanish meal. One of the best foods we tried was patatas bravas.  

  Sangria is of course another Spanish favorite. 

Cheese plate and patatas bravas.

After dinner, we walked to the placa de espania and got a nice view of the city at night.  

 

Day 17:

Today we woke up at 5am, checked out of our hostel and caught a bus from Barcelona to Paris. It was a 14 hour ride so we didn’t get to do much else today except for nap, listen to music, and read. We finally made it to our air BnB in Paris around 11pm. Time to get some sleep!

Day 8: Pisa and Lucca

Today we took another day trip to Pisa and Lucca. Before catching our train, we went to the supermarket Coop again and I got some amazing food. A nectarine, waffles, and focaccia for lunch. It was all so perfect, I literally can’t say a bad word about any of it. We caught the train and got started in Pisa which was about 45 minutes away. It was a bit rainy when we first got there but after lunch it cleared up and we got to do some sight seeing. 

  
The city itself was very cool, too. There were lots of small windy streets, but all of the buildings showed a bit more wear than in Florence and gave it a pretty rustic feel. 

  
Next we headed to Lucca, a walled city about 20 minutes from Pisa. It was featured on an episode of top gear because it was impossible to get out of there in a car! And we found that to be true. The street plan is so convoluted, it took us almost 2 hours just to find the center of the city. But it was so beautiful.

   
 
After some exploring, we got a pasta dinner. I had lasagne! So good!

  
After dinner we stopped for dessert and I had a one of a kind experience. It was an ice cream sandwich made with gelato and topped with any kind of syrups or fruit toppings you wanted, and it’s made right in front of you! 

  
I’m pretty exhausted after all of our Tuscan adventures. Tomorrow will basically be a travel day as we head to the south of France!

Day 7: Florence

Wow, it’s been a whole week of eurotrip so far, and I can’t believe how much fun I’m having and how amazing each of our stops has been. I feel like I hope this trip never ends!! 

We woke up today and took a train into Florence from Certaldo. It took about an hour to get there. Before we left, we went to the grocery store in town and got some amazing food. I got some of the best grapes I’ve had in my life and Jordan got some focaccia which was to die for. I couldn’t believe how amazing the food was. Then we headed to Florence. 

The big thing to see in Florence is the Doma, which we were surprised isn’t more famous. The amount of detail is incredible! The pictures don’t do it justice but each time we walked by it we were equally amazed. 

  
Next we just enjoyed wandering around the streets. They seemed so ‘classic italy’ to us that we wanted to snap a photo at every corner. They were small and windy with colorful shutters, with lots of Vespas and bikes everywhere. 

  
We saw the David statue and some of the other famous landmarks. 

  
The David.  

 Ponte Vecchio was a beautiful bridge with some vendors. A great place to take photos.  

 Palazzo Piti. 

  
The great view across from Piti. 

After wandering around and enjoying ourselves for most of the day, we decided to get a Classic Italian meal before heading home.

  
Red house wine and water to drink.  

 Tuscan ham and cheese for an appetizer. The ham was shaved so thin and the hard cheese was really delicious. 

For the first course I got pici pasta with cheese and pepper. The pasta was so fresh. 

  
For my second course I got salmon grilled with citrus and mixed green salad. It was a ton of food but we left feeling great because of the high quality and deliciousness of all of the food. 

  
We love Italy!! It’s so interesting here. I still can’t get over the popularity of the siesta. Everything definitely moves slower here, but for the most part, it’s not frustrating. The scenery has been so beautiful. The bit we have seen of a Tuscan sunset was amazing. The whole sky was lit up. We have even seen some sunflower fields. 🙂