Iceland Part Two: The Eastern and Northern Coasts

By July 7, 2015 Photography

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Today we are sharing our travel itinerary for Iceland Part Two: The Eastern and Northern Coasts. In case you missed it, check out part one as well as our general guide. The second leg of our trip was much different from the first. As you make your way up north, the destinations are more spread out and we spent larger chunks of time in the car. We saw incredible waterfalls, lakes, craters, and lagoons. We only wish we had more time! Below is what our daily itinerary looked like.

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Day Four (Höfn)

We returned to Jökulsárlón with our breakfast of skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and fruit to enjoy the glacial lagoon one more time. We then continued driving along the coast to Höfn. Höfn is a charming fishing town surrounded on three sides by gorgeous blue water. After exploring by foot and grabbing lunch we were back on the road. As we headed to our next guesthouse in Seyðisfjörður, we discovered the majority of our drive was not on the Ring Road. Our GPS led us on a remote gravel road for a couple of hours that took us way up into the mountains and before we knew it there was snow all around us and a large cliff with waterfalls next to us.

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After that long drive we descended back down the mountain and into the town of Seyðisfjörður. We had booked a guesthouse from Booking.com. The guesthouse was wooden, with a hot tub and beautiful views. This ended up being one of our favorite accommodations and probably our favorite town too. The guesthouse and the tiny town were so quaint and charming, we never wanted to leave.

 

Day Five

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Our first stop on day five was Dettifoss waterfall. As we were getting close, we arrived at a sign that said the road was closed due to snow. Luckily, there was a guesthouse nearby where the kind owner served us coffee and amazing apple cake. She told us that we could still get to the waterfall by taking a road that would bring us to the other side of it. The walk to this waterfall was longer than most. It was also a snowier and wetter walk – be prepared to get your shoes dirty here. The mist from the waterfall made interesting formations in the snow. Afterwards, we drove to Lake Mývatn. Here we took an unintentional hike to see a geothermal cave. There is a lot to see in the area, due to its volcanic history and geothermal activity. We had to keep moving so we drove around the lake and went to Goðafoss waterfall (picture at the top of this post). It was breathtaking! From there we drove to the Guesthouse AkurInn in Akureyri, a larger town in Northern Iceland.

 

Day Six (Akureyri)

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The next morning we spent a little more time exploring Akureyri before making our way to Glaumbær, a historic farm with a row of small buildings covered in turf. We walked around the farm, visited the museum, and enjoyed traditional Nordic desserts in their cafe. We tried Icelandic pancakes which are more similar to French crepes than American pancakes.

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We made an impromptu decision to go to a hot spring called Grettislaug (we learned about this awesome website hotpoticeland.com from another traveler in Akureyri – it shows you all the different hot spring and geothermal pools around Iceland as well as info about temperature and how to get there – it’s so handy). There are two pools but we stayed in the warmer one which was about 104ºF. If you have your feet on the bottom of the pool you can feel the heat bubbling up through the rocks.

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Our last stop before heading to Sæberg Hostel was Víðimýrarkirkja Church. Like the buildings at Glaumbær, the church was also covered in turf.

 

Day Seven

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On our final full day in Iceland we drove along the West Coast making it all the way back to Keflavik. The first stop we made was Grábrók Crater. There is a nice wooden path that takes you up and around the crater. The view isn’t too impressive until you get to the top and realize what you’re standing on. It is a short, memorable hike due to its interesting terrain and wind.

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From there we went to Akranes, a port town in West Iceland. We drove up to the Akranes’ Lighthouses where we wandered over rocks and attempted to avoid inhaling the pungent fish smell. The lighthouses were closed until summer season so we were not able to go in. We stopped for gas and one last hot dog. Before we knew it we were back in Reykjavik. We spent the afternoon in the city walking around, window shopping, and drinking coffee. For a traditional Icelandic meal that wasn’t too expensive, we went to Íslenski Barinn for dinner. We tried lamb burgers and the cod special. We left full and very happy.

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Before going back to Keflavik we stopped at the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most famous attractions. Daniel decided to bite the bullet and pay the entry fee to go swimming. The rest of us just walked around but were still glad that we got to see it. The staff was very friendly and let us explore a lot of the lagoon for free. Our last night in Iceland was spent at Kef Guesthouse which, despite having a questionable exterior, is very nice and spacious inside.

 

Day Eight
We got about 4 hours of sleep before we had to wake up and get to the airport for our 7am flight. We enjoyed our very early (free!) breakfast and checked out. We struggled to find a gas station in Keflavík but eventually succeeded. We got on our plane heading to Copenhagen Airport without a problem and slept through most of the flight.

 

And that concludes our trip to Iceland! Our pictures simply don’t due it justice but we hope that we’ve convinced you that you have to visit Iceland yourself! Our next travel post will share our experience of Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. If you want to see even more about the trip, you can visit Katherine’s Instagram, Tara’s Instagram, or even search our hashtag, #onedogmore. You can also see more posts on Sarah’s travel blog, The Sound Mountain.

 

Iceland Part One: Golden Circle and Southern Coast

By June 25, 2015 Photography

We’ve divided the Iceland road trip guide into two parts and here is Iceland Part One! The first three days of our trip we explored Reykjavík, did part of the Golden Circle and made it all the way to Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon in the southeast. Below is a day by day breakdown of what we saw, where we stayed, and how we got there. As we mentioned in our last post, we used Google Maps and Google Sheets to plan our itinerary flexibly and between multiple people. This method worked really well for us. We were all able to check and update it at night, as well as link to our accommodations and other attractions. Here is a screenshot of what the first three days looked like planned out in our Google Sheet and a screenshot of a map with all of our destinations starred.

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Day One (Reykjavik)
We arrived at 5am at Keflavik Airport and took a shuttle to pick up our car from the Sixt Car Rental. You can read more about our great experience with Sixt in the last post. We then drove to Reykjavik where we stocked up on groceries for the rest of our trip.

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We were so excited to stay at Kex Hostel because of the pictures we saw online. We definitely recommend stopping by for breakfast or getting a drink at night. The lobby has such awesome decor and the hostel is always bustling. The accommodations themselves were perfectly nice but nothing out of the ordinary.

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Jet lagged as we were, we made the most of our one day in Reykjavik and walked all over town. We were eager to check out Hallgrímskirkja, a famous church in Reykjavik designed by Gudjon Samuelsson. We saw a ton of cool murals and street art, poked in a bunch of cute shops in town, and avoided a downpour at the National Gallery of Iceland (which was unfortunately mostly closed until the summer season). For dinner, we went to the famous Bæjarins Bestu hot dog stand, and then had coffee and dessert at a cute coffee shop near by. After dinner, we walked down to the water (which Kex Hostel has wonderful views of), to see the Sun Voyager Sculpture. Later that night, we ventured out for drinks at the Lebowski Bar – it’s actually modeled after the movie. We wanted to check out the Kolaportið Market, a flea market, but it is unfortunately only open on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Day Two (The Golden Circle)

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Our first day out on the Ring Road! We started the morning with breakfast at Kex Hostel, which has a delicious buffet style meal. We drove to Þingvellir National Park where we walked through the continental drift and saw the beautiful Öxarárfoss waterfall.

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After we finished that walk, we piled back in the car heading to Strokkur Geysir. This was one of the more touristy attractions we visited, but as people who don’t see geysers often, we thought it was really cool and totally worth the crowds.

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Although we didn’t initially plan to see Gullfoss, it was so much closer to Strokkur than we realized, that we quickly drove up to see it. We definitely recommend doing both. They’re only a few minutes apart and both are stunning!

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Back in the car and off to see Tara’s favorite destination, Seljalandsfoss and the neighboring Gljúfrafoss. These two waterfalls are right next to each other and SO cool. You can explore these falls freely by walking around them, in them, and even behind them – be prepared to get wet! After this full day, we drove to our beautiful guesthouse, Fagrahlíd Guesthouse. We really can’t say enough great things about this place. The woman who owned it was sweet, helpful, and knowledgeable. She told us about a few great walks right around the property and shared some interesting history about the area. The surroundings are stunning, there were horses right in her front yard, even more just a short walk away (which you can see on Sarah’s Instagram), and views of the mountains and volcano.

 

Day Three (Vik and Skaftafell National Park)

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We woke up early on day three and headed to Seljavallalaug, Iceland’s oldest geothermal pool that our hostess at the guesthouse had told us about. You have to do a short hike in order to get to the pool. This place is gorgeous. The weather that day was freezing so getting out of the water and hiking back to car was pretty intense but well worth it!

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From there, we drove to Vík to visit the Black Sand Beaches. We walked down to Reynisdrangar Beach, where you can see the crazy the rock formations in the water. We took a lot of photos here, walked all around the beach, climbed on the rocks, and had a great time exploring this area.

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Next, we got back in the car and drove west to Skaftafell National Park. It was incredibly foggy when we arrived so we could not see any of our surroundings. We got advice from the friendly people who worked there about which hike to take. We chose to do a medium length hike that would bring us past Svartifoss, the Black Waterfalls, and then up to see a view of the glacier tongue. The view from above was incredible! When we got back to the parking lot, we laughed because the fog had cleared and there was an amazing view of the glacier right from the parking lot – ha! Regardless, the hike was really fun and the terrain alone was worth it.

IcelandPartOne_Lagoon

We planned to drive straight to our hostel and backtrack to the glacial lagoon in the morning but as we drove by, we couldn’t resist stopping at least quickly. Our minds were completely blown by this place. Something about the 8pm sun hitting the lake was breathtaking beyond words. We took a few photos and walked around and agreed to come back again the next morning. The area surrounding our hostel was so beautiful, with tons of sheep close by to look at and play with, and a gorgeous dining area with views of the whole property and nearby mountains. The accommodations themselves were certainly not luxurious, but it was a good stay overall. Stay tuned for the next post about our Iceland Road Trip!

 

Travel Guide to Iceland

By June 18, 2015 Photography

For years we’ve been dreaming of going to Iceland (most likely sparked by watching the Sigur Rós movie, Heima). This summer we finally went with two of our friends, Sarah and Daniel. We are doing a series of posts these next couple of weeks, sharing the details of our adventures in Iceland and Copenhagen, Denmark. We’re starting with our general travel guide for taking a 7-day road trip in Iceland on a recent college grad budget.

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Flights
We knew we wanted to travel abroad but weren’t entirely sure where. We had heard that WOW air, an Icelandic low-cost carrier, had unbelievably cheap flights. Within a few hours it was decided… we were going to Iceland and Copenhagen (another of WOW’s Nordic destinations). We flew from BWI to Keflavík to Copenhagen then back in the same order. With 3 flights and one layover it ended up costing us a little over $850! (Photo by Sarah.)
 
Even though this was a budget airline, it was great and we would definitely recommend it! There are a few things you should know if you’re planning on booking a flight with WOW. You’re not provided free meals or snacks. You have the option to buy food but we’d recommend trying to eat beforehand. Another thing to note is the baggage restrictions. You get a free carry-on (5 kg/11 lbs) and then have to pay anywhere from $40 to $70 to check a bag (20 kg/44 lbs). We decided that since you have to pay for your checked bag for each flight, we would share bags and split the cost. We were nervous about the weight restrictions after buying all of our souvenirs but we ended up making it work. Another option is to bring a very small suitcase or backpack and pay the fee to add 7 kg of weight to your carry-on luggage.

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Car Rental
Once we booked the flights it was time to begin planning our trip. We did some research and it didn’t take long to realize the best way to see Iceland is to take a road trip and drive around the country. We then began to compare prices between renting a camper, renting a car and paying for accommodations, or doing one of Icelandic Farm Holidays packages.
 
Though there were pros and cons to each, we ended up renting a car. We decided the price of renting a car and paying for accommodations was comparable to the price of renting a camper so we went with the more luxurious option. We used Kayak to compare prices and found Sixt to have the cheapest car that suited our needs.
 
Sixt was great! We ended up booking a Chevrolet Captiva Automatic. Although we did not splurge on 4 wheel drive, we did play it safe and went with a bigger car. We were really glad to have it when we got to some of the gravel roads. Since it was summer and the roads were clear of snow, we really did feel great with this car! We were talked into getting the full insurance package which we probably didn’t end up needing but at the time decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

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Itinerary
For a while we had been accumulating a list of all of the beautiful attractions we wanted to see. We used Google maps to save our destinations which made it easy to plug-in directions and get an idea of how long our drive would be each day. We decided to spend the first day in Reykjavík and start traveling the following day. We pretty much stuck to the Ring Road, which makes a huge loop around Iceland. We spent 7 days and 8 nights. We drove about 3 hours each day. Our next posts will go into more detail about each place we went.

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Lodging
For lodging we immediately began looking into hostels, mostly through Hostelling International. There were a few places where we had trouble finding room for 4 people without having to pay for private rooms. That’s when we came across guesthouses on Booking.com. If we could only give one piece of advice it would be to stay at guesthouses! For 4 people, they were about the same price, if not less than the hostels. We loved every guesthouse we stayed in and most of the hostels too. Our average price for lodging was about $32 per night, including linens and towels.

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Tips
-book guesthouses
-pack light
-hiking boots are a must
-go on the off season for lower prices and less people
-bring rain gear (great for waterfalls and geysers too!)
-eating out is expensive, consider cooking your meals
-use Google Sheets to keep your itinerary
-use Google Maps to save your destinations
 
Stay tuned for more posts on our trip and lots of great photos!
 

Graduation Announcements

By June 9, 2015 Design

We’re so excited to announce that we’re now college graduates! We just graduated from our Visual Communication Design program at Virginia Tech. To celebrate, we took an absolutely amazing trip with two of our friends to Iceland and Copenhagen, Denmark. We will be sharing all the details of the trip here but before we get to that, here are the graduation announcements we each made and sent to our families and close friends.

 

Katherine wanted to take advantage of using the screen printing room while still at school. She used a regular inkjet printer for the black, and screen printed the gold on top.

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Tara kept her graduation announcements in the same system as rest of her personal branding and printed them at Moo on their “Luxe” paper collection. We both printed our business cards from Moo and we’ve had great experiences with their printing and especially with their customer service. They’re always willing to reprint if they make any errors and are so friendly no matter what you need to talk to them about.

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Pineapple Coconut Matcha Popsicles

By May 12, 2015 Food

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Have you been enjoying these warm, sunny days as much as we have? The weather here has been gorgeous! We finally got our hands on some matcha and decided this would be the perfect time to make popsicles. For those of you who don’t know, matcha is powdered green tea that is loaded with health benefits. We wanted to incorporate it in our popsicles but had a little trouble figuring out how. As you might it expect, it has an earthy, herbal taste, so a little goes a long way. Our first attempt at matcha popsicles (documented on Instagram) was a bit of a fail. This time around, we decided to use pineapple coconut juice the base ingredient and it turned out to pair really well with the matcha.

matcha-popsicles-ingredients

Ingredients (makes 8 popsicles)
2 cups R.W. Knudsen’s Pineapple Coconut juice
1 tsp matcha
8 pineapple chunks
1 tbsp lemon juice
 
Recipe
Making popsicles is very simple and these were no exception. We used our NutriBullet to blend together the pineapple coconut juice, the matcha, and the lemon juice. Next, we cut the pineapple up into small chunks and placed them in the popsicle molds. Then we poured in the liquid and after a few hours spent in the freezer they were ready!

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These popsicles turned out fruity and refreshing, but not too sweet. They’re the perfect healthy treat. We hope to make more popsicles as the seasons shift from spring to summer. What’s your favorite kind of popsicle? Have you ever used matcha as an ingredient?

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Seed Bomb Gift Tags

By April 27, 2015 DIY

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Have you ever heard of seed bombs? To celebrate Earth Day this year we decided to make some. They are often constructed in two different ways – clay, soil, and seeds molded into balls, or paper and seeds flattened into shapes. We loved the idea of turning them into something practical and giftable, so we made ours into gift tags. The process is very simple, but it requires a bit of patience. There are a lot of great resources already out there like Offbeat Bride and Hill City Bride that help with the process.

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Supplies
-3 packets wildflower seeds
-8 pages construction paper, torn into small pieces
-water
-blender
-mesh strainer
-scissors
-hole puncher
 
Directions
Start by soaking your seeds in water or compost tea for a few hours (here is a great resource for more details). This helps speed up the germination process. At the same time, soak your torn paper in water. You can soak these for a few hours up to overnight. Next, pour the water and soaked paper into a blender and blend until it is completely combined making a paste. Stir in your seeds and strain the pulp through a mesh strainer. In order to make gift tags, flatten your pulp on a hard surface. Set it to dry in the sun. Once it is mostly dry, you may want to add something heavy to the top to keep your paper from buckling. Once it is fully dry, trace your gift tags and cut them out from the larger sheet. Use the hole puncher to make a hole near the top. Ta da! Now you can write on them, add them to your packages, or give them as a gift all on their own!

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If you receive one as a gift, you’ll want to bury it, then water it. If you want to read more about guerrilla gardening, here is an interesting article by the Guardian.