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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Iceland Day 1: Keflavík - Þingvellir

I had been waiting for this day for months now…our summer trip to Iceland finally was here!  We flew out of Baltimore with a layover in New York on the evening of June 14.  A night flight put us in country at 10:00 am, four hours ahead of EST.  We never quite got on Icelandic time, which didn’t prove to be an issue thanks to the midnight sun…a real treat! 

We arrived to a cold drizzle that made itself known on and off for a few days.  Immediately it felt as we had been transported to another world.  The hour long van ride to Reykjavik took us through a bleak landscape of volcanic rock and moss punctuated by lovely purple flowers (called Lupine) which we learned would make appearances all over the island. 

Reaching the Happy Camper headquarters was where our adventure really began.  We immediately took a liking to the friendly workers and were happy to find our campervan was just perfect.  There was a shelf full of “free-to-take” dry goods for our trip and I was astounded to find a bag of Frijoles Revueltos (refried beans), one of my most favorite foods from Latin America.  Someone must have brought these all the way from there!  One lowly bag was ours for free!  What’s extra special about these refried beans is that we ate them every morning for breakfast during our stay at Aqua Wellness Resort in Nicaragua, where we both fell in love with them.  Since then, I’ve tried to recreate them at home but to no avail.  In my mind, this was God’s special gift to us and a sign that the rest of our trip would be as special as I imagined…but with many extra surprises. 

Now that I’ve written a paragraph about beans…

We were soon off and headed straight for the grocery store where we picked up a few provisions.  We had heard Iceland was expensive, so we took it upon ourselves to go to Walmart and pick up food before we left.  We spent $100 and bought more than enough for ten days, but we still picked up a few things at the grocery such as cheese, salami, and tofu and hotdogs for Budaechiggae!  The prices at the store weren’t too outrageous, (maybe I’m used to the Korean groceries) but I was astounded at the number of boxes of Cheerios!  However, we were still thankful we brought a ton of food from home.  It lasted us the entire trip, with some left over.  (We only ate out when we wanted to after taking a liking to delicious Icelandic seafood!)

A wonderful treat was an Ikea right on the way we were headed.  We stopped there to pick up some coffee mugs and an extra pillow for me. (I always sleep with one over my head/face!)  

After our shopping excursions, we were ready to get on our way.  We headed off towards the Blue Lagoon, the famous heated pool.  It’s heated geothermally and colored by the runoff from the nearby plant.  It is very famous and was thus crowded, but we didn’t mind as the cares from our plane ride seemed to melt away in the warm waters.  

After the Blue Lagoon, we took a little drive to see the “turquoise” lake Grænvatn which was shrouded in mist and fog, explore some of the area around Kleifarvatn, a huge lake, and see the bubbling, steaming, sulfuric earth at Seltún.  Although the weather was gloomy, we were happy to finally be on our vacation, a much needed rest after another hard-working year.  

We continued our journey by driving north along the Golden Circle, stopping just short of the oldest national park in Iceland, Þingvellir.  For dinner we cooked up some Buddaechiggae, my favorite food from Korea…spicy hotdog and ramen soup.  It was a little interesting figuring out how to work everything in the camper…we tried to cook outside in the cold and the wind (definitely never did that again)…and it felt so nice to finally sit down with a hot bowl of soup after a long, drizzly, wonderful day.  We slept near a snow capped mountain underneath the clouds and the sun still in the sky. 

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