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A week in the Land of Ice and Fire

Iceland has been on my bucket list ever since the day I started taking pictures and now I finally got to spend a whole week there! Bridget (@bridgetabroad), a friend from Instagram, and I landed at Keflavic International Airport in the morning of April the 13th, a day after my birthday and I could already tell this would be the best present I  had ever given myself! The weather was cloudy and quite moody but our spirits were high. We rented a car and started driving towards the Capital, Reykjavik for lunch and some sightseeing. We knew that this city didn't have much to offer so we didn't stay the night. Instead we walked around for a few hours, visited a couple of landmarks, had some awesome hotdogs and then got back on the road heading Northwest to catch the sunset at Kirkjufell. 

The plan for this trip was to catch every sunset and sunrise but it became clear after day one that that would be impossible. The sunsets lasted three hours and by the time we went to bed it was already midnight. As the sun rose at half five in the morning this didn't give us enough sleep time. After shooting Kirkjufellfoss in the morning (-fell at the end of a word indicates a mountain, while -foss is a waterfall) we headed back south towards the Golden Circle where we visited Thingvallir National Park. Our next stop was the famous Geysir where water erupts out of holes in the ground every five minutes. That was an exhilarating experience. For the sunset we stopped at the majestic Gulfoss, one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland.

The itinerary had waterfalls for breakfast as well, this time Seljandafoss, a waterfall 60 metres high that you can walk all the way behind. Needless to say we got drenched but it was totally worth it! Our next stop was another waterfall but on our way there we stopped under the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. That’s the one that erupted in 2010 and caused all the trouble with the flight plans. There we spent some time with some gorgeous Icelandic horses. A short drive later we arrived at Skógafoss which greeted us with a stunning double rainbow! We spent a couple of hours taking pictures and hiking around the area and then left to catch the setting sun at the Black Beach Reynisfjara. The sunset was absolutely stunning! I was so focused on capturing it that the tide came in and I got drenched once more! So far the skies had been overcast so there was no chance of seeing the Northern Lights however tonight we saw online that there would be a patch of clear skies nearby. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and made it our mission to drive in the dark until we saw them. After about an hours drive we found a clear patch and waited with our cameras ready. They were very faint and you couldn't really see them with the naked eye but my camera could capture them. I was very excited but I was still hoping to see them with my own two eyes before this trip was over.

Our next destination was Skaftafell where we would hike over a glacier and visit another waterfall. After a nice brunch in Vik we got back into the car and a few hours later we found ourselves right in front of the massive glacier. You are advised not to go on a glacier without a guide but I felt comfortable enough with the knowledge I had about how to be safe on it so I ignored the warnings. Even though I didn't feel unsafe at any point, it was still very scary cause you could hear the ice cracking around you and there were 30 foot crevasses all around. When we were happy with the photos we took there, we headed up the nearby mountain to find the Svartifoss waterfall. This waterfall is famous for its black hexagonal column shaped volcanic formations. Our next destination was Jökulsárlón, also known as Glacier Lagoon. We thought we had missed the sunset, however there was still light in the horizon and it was quite beautiful to take pictures. When looking around, there were thick clouds everywhere except right above the Lagoon so we decided to stay till it got dark in case we were lucky enough to actually see the Aurora this time. And boy did we see it! Minutes before midnight nature put on a spectacular show for us and the sky turned green and purple as Northern Lights danced right above our heads! I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I felt that this trip was complete now, even though we still had three full days left with a lot more to see. 

At the start of the trip we thought we'd only stay in the south part of the island but at this point we had seen most of it and after seeing how good the roads actually were and how easy it was to drive around we decided to head East and then North and actually circle the whole island. We didn’t have an itinerary but only set a goal for where we wanted to spend the night. That meant we got to stop whenever and wherever we wanted for as long as we chose. The drive Northeast was beautiful and the weather was nice and sunny.  The terrain was ever-changing from fields of brown grass to volcanic and snowed peaks, from massive cliffs to black sandy beaches. Eventually we reached our destination, Borgarfjarðarhreppu,  right after the sun had set. Here we stayed at the best guesthouse thus far, just because It had an outdoor hot tub and sauna! We got into the hot tub in the freezing cold and waited for the sky to start dancing once more. There were no clouds to be seen so we were certain we would see the Aurora. And soon after we had become warm in the tub the Lights came! It was simply magical! We just enjoyed them for the next hour. 

The next day we left for Akureyri, one of Iceland's biggest cities situated in the North. On our way there we stopped to see Iceland's strongest waterfall, Dettifoss and also a smaller one a short hike away. When we arrived at Akureyiri the trip had started taking its toll on us so we rested at the hostel for a while and then went for a proper meal before chasing the Northern Lights one last time. The skies were very clear once more and we could see the Lights even from the centre of the city but we also drove outside the city to a nearby beach to see if we could get them reflecting on the water. Unfortunately by the time we got there the Lights where dissipating. 

We still had a whole day to spend in this beautiful country and because we were flying back early next day we decided to stay the night near the airport which meant we had around 500km to drive. Once more we didn't have an exact plan and rather we just stopped anywhere that looked pretty. One of my favourite of these stops was at a small town called Siglufjörður in the far North where the town relected off of its very still waters and had really cute coloured houses. We also tried to find seals in one of the spots where there had been sightings however we were too early in the day for that so we just continued driving. By nightfall we reached the Guesthouse in Keflavik where we prepared the car for dropoff  the next day and our luggage for the flight back home.

Iceland is right at the top of my list of favourite countries now and I would love to go back and see it in different seasons. I had the most amazing time and it was really nice having Bridget as my travel companion! She also took all the photos you see of me here!  I urge everyone who hasn't been to Iceland to add this amazing destination to their Bucket List.