Canvas-Worthy Europe, 2014 edition

Last Wednesday I shared my round-up of my favorite photos taken in Paris in 2014. Now it’s time to see the year in review through a collection of my canvas-worthy contenders from our European travels outside of Paris. Here’s where I traveled to during the year!

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Northern Bound in Iceland: On the Way to Akureyri

Planning a trip to Iceland can be hard. There are so many options of areas to go, that unless you are planning on an epic 2-week trip around the ring road, the simple decision of which section of the country (West fjords, north, south…) to visit is overwhelming.

Having already visited Southern Iceland, and having read that the West fjords are best visited in the summer when there’s more daylight, we came to the decision to visit Northern Iceland in October.

If you’re thinking of visiting Northern Iceland, but are put off by the long (6-hour) drive there, here are some things you’ll see along the way that might help to change your mind.

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The Golden Question

Bon lundi!

“What was the highlight of your trip?”

I ask this question often. I love to hear others reflect on the most memorable experiences of their travels. I am always interested to gauge what the best parts in Paris were from my American visitors who spend time with me. And I’m often accused by my husband for being too eager to reminiscence and rehash a trip halfway through the vacation.

So if you have been asked this, have you ever come up with an odd answer? Because if you asked me what the highlight of my Iceland trip was, I undoubtedly would start giggling a little. Iceland was so beautiful with its waterfalls, natural wonders, and all-around jaw-dropping beauty at every turn. We even got to see the northern lights for our first time! But the most memorable moment of the entire trip? Being silly with my hubby.

Endless possibilities unfolded when Michael purchased a remote clicker for the camera a week before the trip. A tripod, clicker, amazing scenery, and isolation provided the most hysterical photo shoot ever. We laughed like hyenas until we cried. Until our stomachs hurt. 

Want to see the highlight of Iceland?

Did you see that iceberg?

Come on, you know you want to listen to this song now.

(And these are the tamer ones. Possibly more to come later if the mood to embarrass myself strikes…)

Chasing Waterfalls in Iceland

Iceland is the most active, geologically dynamic place I have experienced. It’s a fascinating country filled with volcanoes, moon-like lava fields and craters, glaciers, boiling mudpools, shooting geysers, and the list goes on. I’ve even seen the result of what happens when a volcano erupts beneath a glacier and causes flash flooding: a steel bridge on the side of the road mangled beyond recognition. It’s truly a land that makes you recognize and appreciate the majesty of creation and a powerful Creator.

And as much as Iceland shows its powerful natural “guns” if you will, it also is full of peaceful farmland, lakes, and an incredible amount of waterfalls. Without even pulling off the main Ring Road, you can see countless little cascades trickling down, flowing rivers, and carved-out gorges. Driving around Iceland is just as much a highlight as reaching “destinations,” which are also pretty spectacular. Today I want to share some of the waterfalls I sought out between two trips to Iceland, which were well worth the stops! 

Here they are, 11 of Iceland’s seemingly countless waterfalls:  

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Cruisin' through Iceland

1 Toyota Land Cruiser
4 Tanks of gas
2 Volcanic craters
8 Waterfalls
5 Days

And 1,800 km of Icelandic roads covered. (Or 1,100 miles and change. Or for those like me who numbers don’t register much, the equivalent of over a third of the way from coast to coast of the United States.) 

Any way you choose to look at it, it’s certainly a considerable distance for two people to cover. Especially two people who rarely drive these days being city dwellers and all.

Even though neither Michael nor I particularly enjoy driving, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat to explore Iceland by car. There is so much to discover in this country with such a diverse landscape and a car grants great freedom to do so. Here’s a look at what we saw along the way from the confines of our four-wheel drive monster of a vehicle, most photos being taken as we cruised along at 90 kmh (56 mph), the speed limit on paved roads.

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Stopover in Iceland

Bon lundi!

Sometimes promotions work. It's what got me to Iceland for the first time last year and started my love affair with the island.

You see, Icelandair has a promotion that when you fly with them between Europe and the US/Canada, you can build in a stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights at no extra charge. (Maybe I should interject here that this post is not sponsored by Icelandair, but merely my honest opinion.) Michael proposed trying it out last year for a trip back to the US, and we spent three nights in Iceland on the way to NJ.  (A word of warning I must share: even though the stopover is free, don't expect the trip to be cheap! Just renting a car, filling it with gas, sleeping and eating will easily run $250 per night for 2 people)

Before then, Iceland was never on my radar. It just never really crossed my mind as a travel destination. And then when Michael put it on my radar, I was a bit overwhelmed by how to plan a trip there. (I'm used to navigating cities but the great outdoors, not as much.) But our trip last year to the south part of the island turned out so well that we were more than up for another stopover to discover the northern coast.

There is so much to share and I promise more in the coming week(s) as I gush on and on about just how beautiful the country is. For now, I'll leave you with one picture to illustrate some autumn colors on a cold October afternoon just a few days ago.

Autumn colors by Lake Mývatn (northern Iceland)