A home away from home

They say if you visit a place at least 3 times, it’s time to start looking for property. Ok, maybe they don’t really say that, but its definitely crossed our mind.

After booking our flights with Icelandair, we decided to take advantage of their stopover option and spent a few extra days at some of our favorite places in Iceland. Stops at the Blue Lagoon, Gjain, Stong, Geysir, Gullfoss, Efstidalur’s HLÖÐULOFTIÐ Farm to table restaurant (twice), Brúarfoss and Sky Lagoon filled our 3 days. The weather wasn’t perfect but when visiting Iceland you need to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature dishes out.

Check out a few photo highlights from our most recent trip.

Commonwealth farm exhibit in Thjorsardalur
Stong – Viking era long house
Small valley of Gjain with waterfalls, volcanic rocks and rushing streams.
Feeding the Icelandic horses
Brúarfoss waterfall gets its vibrant blue color from the melt on Langjokull glacier. An easy, but muddy trail, takes you past 2 waterfalls on your way to this beauty.
Reykjavík and view of Hallgrimskirkja Church
Sky Lagoon – geothermal spa at sunset. Located close to downtown Reykjavik and opened in 2021. This is a great alternative, and less crowded, option than the Blue Lagoon. They offer a 7 step ritual that includes warm and cold water pools, steam, scrubs and fresh air.
Blue Lagoon and Silica mud masks. Visiting the lagoon has always been our first stop when traveling to Iceland. It’s such a great way to get rejuvenated after a flight.
Reunited with the Pepperoni taco sandwich while we waited for a break in the rain.

Scotland Distillery Fun

So many distilleries to choose from when visiting Scotland and so many different flavors and regions to explore. This time around we visited The Oban Whiskey Distillery. Fun fact, this distillery, founded in 1794, is actually older than the town itself, and just mere feet from the harbor. Our guide Mike was fantastic and I’d highly recommend the tour if you ever visit Oban. They may be small in size but are a huge exporter of whiskey to the US.

The other activity we planned was attending Rum School at Pixel Spirits Distillery in the west Highlands. This was a 3 hour class on how to make rum by the master distiller at Pixel Spirits. In this class, we learned the process of how to make rum, and got to create our own concoction from an array of botanicals, bottle our own booze, and finally create and apply our label. This was a great hands on experience taking you through their own operation. Again, highly recommend if you want a unique small group experience. If rum isn’t your thing, they also hold a gin making class.

Let the games begin. Argyllshire Gathering – Oban Games

Scottish Highland Games- There can only be one!

After spending a few days in Glasgow, we headed north west to Oban. Our first stop was the Argyllshire Gathering Oban Games for an afternoon of culture and competition. We lucked out and were able to catch this 1 day event while we were arriving in Oban.

The Argyllshire Gathering began back in 1871, as a way of bringing families of Argyll together. The Games happen 1 day a year in different communities across the Highlands and include various track and field events, performances by the local piping bands, dancing and tug of war.

One of the signature events is Tossing the Caber; an event where a competitor must raise a tree trunk, weighing about 130lbs and measuring up to 20’, to a vertical position, balance it, and then run to build up momentum and throw the trunk in a way that the larger end hits the ground with the smaller end making a semi-circle in the air. The crowd was getting into it as each competitor made their attempt.

Another game that we were entertained with was watching the Scottish Hammer. In this competition. The contestants swings the hammer around their head and then releases it with the winner being the one who throws it the furthest distance.

Finally, no trip to the games is complete with the piping band.

Better late than never…a post on Palm Springs

Too much time has past since our last post and trip. We celebrated our birthdays this year with an escape from the cold Minnesota winter, and headed out to Palm Springs. We rented an Airbnb with amazing views just outside of Joshua Tree, and spent our time hiking at the national park and exploring the city. We visited Coachella Valley Nature Preserve, Pioneertown, the iconic Cabazon Dinosaur roadside attraction and visiting Mount San Jacinto NP. The trip was short but exactly what we needed to get away and recharge.

Fire & Ice…the return

After being sidelined from traveling for a year, and having to reschedule our previous trip, we were so looking forward to getting back to travel adventures. With our vaccine cards in hand and negative Covid tests complete, we were off to explore. Iceland was exactly what we needed.

On this visit to Iceland, we spent 11 days, putting over 2000 miles on the rental car, traveling the ring road and the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Highlights of the trip included: hunkering down in our cottage on a horse farm in a storm with 40mph wind gusts,

a whale watching excursion where we saw a humpback and several pods of pilot whales,

Jubilee the humpback whale

conquering the roads of the eastern fjords with their high, narrow passes and no guardrails,

Eastern fjords of Iceland

taking an upgraded “private boat” tour in the glacier lagoon,

hiking to the active volcano,

Fagradalsfjall

gazing at countless waterfalls,

Skogafoss Waterfall
Gljúfrabúi Waterfall
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Skógá Trail/Waterfall Way

soaking in geothermal pools,

Blue Lagoon

seeing the northern lights for the first time ever,

and being tortured by Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habbits on repeat due to an apparent lack of songs to play.

The best part of the trip though was getting to spend time on this adventure with Jason celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. There is no one else out there who would put up with pb&j car sandwiches and jam packed days cramming in as much sightseeing as one possibly can during daylight hours. Time to start planning the next adventure.

Skogafoss and hiking ‘Waterfall Way’

Skogafoss is located in southern Iceland a few hours east of the capitol and just off the main highway. This of course means it’s super popular and ALWAYS busy.

But if you’re willing to climb the 370 steps to the top, you can escape 2/3 of the crowd. And behind that if you choose to walk the path you are rewarded even further.

Waterfall Way is a 15 mile uneven hike that can take a full day to complete. Along the way are dozens of named and unnamed falls. We decided to walk the path for over 4 hours, barely seeing any other hikers.

Due to the weather we brought multiple changes of clothes. Visibility changed multiple times during the hike, almost as many times as I shifted layers of clothing.