Iceland by Karli Blalock

Pilar and I were college roommates for three years. Ever since seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, she has talked about going to Iceland. We vowed 2016 would be the year. We stayed up late at night on Skype planning the trip. Air BnBs across the country - check; Rental car - check; Itinerary - check; Snacks for the car - check! We hopped on an Iceland Air Boeing 757 and landed at 6:20am Iceland time - desperate for coffee (or a drink?). Our first day we explored Reykjavik and holy fashion inspo! I would move there just for the vintage shops. And, of course, we had to stop at the Icelandic Philological Museum.

Day 2

We took our first real outing - Gulfoss Falls and Seljalandsfoss. Pilar cried the whole time -partially from exhaustion, mostly from the unbelievable beauty. We ended that day with a 10pm visit to the Blue Lagoon. I think that was my favorite part. The color of the lagoon matched the color of the sky at dusk (because, you know, the sun didn’t even set until 9:45). They provide free silica mud masks to everyone and if you pay extra for the towel, they throw in a free algae mud mask and a drink, too! There were large hairy men floating around the Blue Lagoon in white mud masks - a sight to see. I LOVED the algae mud mask, though. I’ve been talking about it since we got back. It was moisturizing heaven.

By Day 3,

I was really getting hungry. We’d hardly eaten anything besides the car snacks we smuggled in. Food was so expensive! I’m talking $15 gas station hamburgers. I consumed 10 king size Snickers on this trip - really providing new appreciation for their “hangry” commercials.

Day 3

was pretty epic though. We took a 12 hour long outing with Extreme Iceland. Our tour guide Ingvar told us all about the country as we off-roaded in his 8 passenger van. The best part was exploring inside Langjökull Glacier. It felt like a dream - maybe it was? I was seriously hungry.

Day 4

We got a little lost, but we found our way to Black Sand Beach and Glacier Beach. Along the way we stumbled upon Glacier Lagoon - that was insanely beautiful. Driving back, the clouds parted, and we found ourselves to be the only people on the road - for miles and miles. We naturally got out of the car, danced in the middle of the road, took some photos of the late day sun, and did yoga in front of a volcano. This was such a magical moment. I’ll never forget it.

Day 5

We hiked to Skaftafell at Vatnajokull National Park. It was great until we got to Skaftafell. All the stupid tourists were disrespecting the signs asking us to stay off the foliage and off the slippery rocks. Well…nobody minded the signs, they were disrupting nature, we were pissed, so we hiked back down. The Icelandic always say, “take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.” We also went to a canyon this day, just before sunset. It looked straight out of Lord of the Rings. On the way back to our little B&B, after making it down the gravel road along the side of a mountain in our tiny 2WD Suzuki…we got caught in a torrential downpour. The roads were dark, the rain was coming down by the gallon, and every time a truck passed on the other side of the road, we were nearly splashed off the road. But we put on some Beyonce and survived.

Day 6

We decided to take the longest trip on the last day. We didn’t have much of a plan this day besides to get to Olafsvik. We drove around the peninsula, stopping to snap pics of sod covered houses and Fijords across the water, and we hiked up a giant crater left from the explosion of the Snaefellsjokull volcano in approximately 200AD. Wild. What’s really interesting is that some of this rocky terrain can actually support life. The crater itself was barren, but the surrounding land was covered in moss. One of the most strangely beautiful natural occurrences. We stayed with Inga and Oli in their newly constructed guest house. They are a loving, interesting couple.They retired to the fishing town of Olafsvik, a town with only 1,010 residents.

Day 7

I wound up waking up to watch the sunrise at 4:30 in the morning. I watched as the sky crept to life. We packed our things, left our unfinished bottles of liquor to the other air bnbers, and we headed back, over the mountain, under the river, and through the woods (jk they don’t have trees in iceland) to Reykjavik to fly home. It all felt a bit surreal. But every moment wasmemorable, photographable, and incredible. 10 of 10 would recommend.

Tips for you

1. Get a 4WD vehicle.

2. Budget for food.

3. Bring caffeine to ward of jet lag.

4. Bring an eye mask for sleeping purposes.

5. Bring your good camera.

6. Bring a rain jacket, gloves, and water-resistant pants.

7. Don’t lose your debit card on the first day. But if you do, make sure to get an international

phone plan so you can call your bank.