OH SNAP!!! No blog posts for almost a month? What is going on here?? Well, let me tell you why you haven’t been updated on the final week of our epic journey around the world…
BreAnn usually blogs about a city/place/experience about a week after we have left so that there is time to write the post, edit photos/videos, etc. However, after our last week of travel, we arrived in the United States and WHAMMY! Welcome back to real life, ladies and gentlemen. We didn’t exactly cross the goal line, spike the football, and do the end zone dance that we were expecting to do. The time it took to reconstruct our “pre-travel lives” was as time-consuming as it was to deconstruct them before we left…visit with family and friends, get phone plans, find affordable health insurance, buy cars, register and insure said cars, coordinate with friends to couch-surf in LA while we hunt for our new home (thanks, Amit and Kim!), and then begin the search for employment. Phew…
The dust has begun to settle now so we plan to write this post that covers our last week in Norway and Iceland and then write a couple more posts with our reflections on the year as whole. As for now, let’s pick up after our South African safari in Kruger National Park and head WAY North to Norway and Iceland.
WARNING: If you are a California native like myself and can’t comprehend below zero temperatures, I suggest you put on a sweatshirt before reading the following post.
So surprise, surprise…BreAnn has friends we could stay with in another foreign country! Awesome. Not only that, they were a married couple that also did an around-the-world trip so they understood our travel woes and needs (bed, food, and WiFi) and opened their doors to us. We were only there for a day stopover to Iceland (and then again on the way back), but Gro and Andreas drove us around Oslo to see the Holmenkollen Ski Jump (used for Olympic training) and we watched a beautiful sunset over the city itself. Plus, they made us the Norwegian version of Mexican food and we loved it. Thanks, you two!
Upon arrival in Iceland, we met up with yet another of BreAnn’s friends (Anita) who flew from Stockholm, Sweden to travel around Iceland with us on her one week vacation from work. It was quite nice to have a travel buddy, but I am sure that Anita had to put up with us a little bit. After all, BreAnn and I had been traveling together for over a year at that point and definitely had our routines…like an old married couple.
For example, mornings moved a little slower for us and Anita was ready to pack in the travel activities since she only had a “normal person vacation” of one week. We also got tired early because all we could think about was how close we were to going home. Anyway, she helped out A LOT with the planning and was really a blessing during our last week. Anita, you are awesome.
At first, I was a little skeptical about our decision to visit Iceland in the dead of winter. James two days after arriving: “Hey BreAnn, I’ve got a great idea: let’s fly to the Northernmost capital of the world (Reykjavik), hop in a tiny rental car, drive out to the countryside on barely passable roads, and walk around outside to experience nature along the way.” Honestly, the winds were so high that it literally blew our little car off the road and I had to drive at a third of the speed limit so we didn’t slide sideways.
I wasn’t too concerned if we got stuck in the snow since we had four days of food and water with us so we would have survived while we were stranded and waited for help…but the fact that those thoughts had crossed my mind should give some indication as to the severity of this weather.
Sidenote: I snapped an awesome photo of BreAnn when she was sporting only two layers of clothing on the first day of our Icelandic adventure. I was a kind of a baby from the moment we arrived in Iceland and was not showing a single inch of skin under my five layers of thermal shirts, sweatshirt, fleece, and winter coat. I also wrapped my head in my scarf, beanie, and sunglasses. Nevertheless, it allowed me to take action shots of BreAnn as we walked around the Kerið crater.
Thankfully, the storm passed after two days and the scenic views were breathtaking:
We visited frozen waterfalls:
Walked on glaciers:
Traversed through an icy lava cave:
Relaxed in the famous “Blue Lagoon” natural hot springs:
and ran away from crashing waves on a black sand beach with large blocks of ice on the shore:
So. Unbelievably. Beautiful. While this winter wonderland amazed us during the day, the real reason for visiting this country was to see Aurora Borealis, or “The Northern Lights.” Because Iceland is so close to the North Pole, electrically charged particles from the sun gravitate towards the magnetic pull of the poles and collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere causing an amazing light show in the sky. The oxygen emissions (most common) cause a green glow and the nitrogen emissions cause a red or blue glow.
After five nights of searching and waking up at 2am to check the sky with no luck, Anita had to leave for Stockholm to return to work. Of course, on night six, BreAnn and I witnessed the most brilliant display of the Northern Lights in the past two months, according to one local. Sorry, Anita. We spent several hours outside near a lighthouse north of Reykjavik (in Akranes) and snapped dozens of time-lapsed photos of the show.
Let me just say, it takes real discipline to stand perfectly still in freezing cold weather at 2am for thirty second intervals as the iris in our camera captures the light movement. However, like every other challenge this year, we did it together. Since it was our second to last night before returning to the United States, it really gave us a feeling of having completed our adventure. We slept in the next day, relaxed a bit, and felt ready to return home.
Or so we thought…tune in next week.
Anyone else visited Iceland in the summertime? We have considered going back when it’s “warmer” because we have heard so many wonderful things. Please share!
To see photos from Iceland, click here.
To see photos from Norway, click here.