Aging and Health

Happy February, everyone!  My birthday is coming up and I’m becoming more and more aware that as I age, muscles hurt more, my digestive system can’t take as much and my hair falls out when I am stressed.  That and also I do not fit into my clothes as I did before Christmas.  I had a resolution of losing weight once January came by.  But with party after party because of Chinese New Year and my birthday, I’ve noticed that the weight has not only been going but it has been adding.  In addition to that, I am feeling less energetic and more grumpy.  I knew the truth, my nemesis is sugar.  Well, and maybe will power.

In the midst of holiday cookies, birthday cake and ice cream, I forgot about my health.  Like most people during the holidays, I neglected my exercise and my meditation.  [Okay, can we take a moment and realize that I just said meditation?  I speak about it like I do it all the time.  I didn’t.  Until last summer when I went to the yoga retreat and I realized that it actually really helped me.  In line with my resolution of keeping calmer this year, I have actually been meditating once a week.  I digress.]

Realistically, I have so many dinners to go to for the next week until my birthday, I have decide starting February 10th I will be cutting out artificial sugars.    Meaning, no more cookies or cake.  Especially, no more ice cream, even when I’m PMSing.  That will be extremely hard, let me tell you.  I’m going to keep this up for a month because studies show that if you keep with something for 17 days, you will make it a habit.  Plus a month is so much easier to gauge.

Once the month is over, the cravings will stop (mostly) and I’ll be able to control myself way better with sugar.  So, I hope.  It did work for me before.

With this, I hope this will help me with my overeating and get my mindset back on health.  I find that people often complain that healthy eating is hard but my rule I always go by is ‘everything in moderation’.  If you overdo the health craze (drinking green smoothies, eating salads, no crabs) it’ll make you crave things way more than you should.  Vice versa, if you eat too much sugary and fast foods, you get unhealthier every time you take a bite.

I’m by no means a health expert, nor am I fit or (currently) at a weight I want to be at.  But I realized once I started working out three times a week, I looked forward to those exercises.  When I began eating salad more often, I started feeling lighter and my digestive system was also thanking me.  And the best part of a healthier lifestyle?  Healthy mental health.  When I’m active and eating better, I feel happier and better about myself.  Not because of my weight but because I know I’m doing something good for myself.

This blog was a whole lot about my experiences and babble.  But here are two articles that have been so helpful to me.  I’ve listed them here:

http://www.gaiam.com/discover/146/article/10-ways-detoxify-body/

http://www.delish.com/food-news/a51334/quit-sugar-for-30-days/

Let’s all work towards a happy and healthier life.

Birthdays and Cross Stitching

Well, hello there.  It’s been awhile.  The holidays were crazy for me and I’m finally settling down to my regular crazy life again.  I must say, 2017 has really been treating me well.  Last week, my family and friends threw a big party for me because I am turning, *ahem*, an age.  It was Pinterest-worthy.  Just take a look at what they did!

I think I got knitting and crocheting down pat, pretty well.  I do have some big projects that I hope to do within the next few months.  More on that later.  Yesterday, I went to my first workshop of 2017.  It also happened to be my first workshop that I went alone to this year.  See, before I had met my current boyfriend, I did so much alone.  It included going to the movies, eating dinner and (definitely) craft workshops.  There shouldn’t be any shame in spending time alone.  Besides, it’d be pretty difficult to live life not being able to hang out by yourself.

I went on our local event page and began clicking away on things that I was possibly interested in.  I found this really cute and affordable workshop for cross stitching.  It’s called Cross Stitching with Caitlin.  It’s held at the Left Field Brewery in Toronto (close to Greektown area) where Caitlin works during the day.  For a mere $35, you get a kit with everything you need: embroidery hoop, small cross stitch needle, aida (the fabric that you cross stitch on), thread, pattern, instructions, and a ticket for a beer.  Look, you could sell me a workshop on watching grass grow, as long as you feed me beer.

I arrived, really early but spend about 20 minutes driving around trying to find a parking spot where I wasn’t creeped out.  I ended up parking where Caitlin specifically suggested which was the residential street next to the little alleyway of a street the brewery is on.  All that aside, when I arrived, I was greeted by a smiling face in plaid and she gave me my kit and told me to find a spot to sit.

First things first, I thought to myself: Beer!  Left Field Brewery had a lot of choices of beer they brew in-house.  I chose the coffee tasting stout that hit the spot.  It was called Brick and Mortar.  I saw that one of the bartenders was also roasting a marshmallow with a hand torch.  Turns out those were put into the marshmallow tasting stout: Sweet Jesus!  Don’t worry, I bought some to try and it was fantastic.

Sipping my beer, Caitlin began to teach us some fundamentals of cross stitching.  It wasn’t hard to learn at all.  We put the aida into the hoop and anchored our thread with her mom’s special way.  We were on our way… to cursing and blinding ourselves because everything was so small. I chose the pattern that said “You have a ‘pizza’ my heart”, where the pizza was an actual picture of a slice of pizza.  In the two hour workshop, I managed to get all the pepperonis and the cheese done.

Before leaving, I picked up some beer for home and an extra kit because it is just too darn cute not to have more.  After my second go at it, I’m sure I will be able to make my own pattern.

Since then, I finished up the pattern.  Check it out:

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I’m going to frame it along with two other patterns.

I think you should start cross stitching too. It’s just too cute to say no to.

Kitchener, Ont: Oktoberfest at it’s best

Who needs to go to Oktoberfest in Munich, when you have Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario) to go to?  The Oktoberfest hosted in the university/college town, an hour and a half North West of Toronto is the world’s second largest celebration of the German festival.  Originating in Munich, the citizens of the city celebrated their King Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

Tickets had to be bought a month ahead because they were so quickly sold out, each year.  Along with the celebrations, we bought a ticket to a grand feast.  We chose to go to the Koolhaus gathering located at the Bingeman’s grounds.  During regular hours, Bingeman’s grounds had a small fountain and pond with a mini-putt area as well.  We chose the latest slot for the feast at 8:30pm and we quickly jumped into line for the buffet dinner.  Starting with a small salad area, we moved onto the entrees.  Including schnitzel, rib pucks, potatoes (German style), cabbage rolls, and sausages and so much more, we engorged ourselves in food.  Did I forget to mention the bar where you can buy a pitcher of beer.  Sadly, the only beer they had was Canadian or Coors.  I thought at Oktoberfest, they’d have German beers! (Complaint number one).  When you were overstuffed and was still managing to walk, you walk over to the dessert table for an awesome pumpkin cheesecake or apple bake.  Because we were the last time slot, we were the last ones to leave the dinner.  We missed most of the performance, though it was an eclectic mash up of songs and something about a rubber chicken?  It was slightly distasteful and awkward, I felt. (complaint number two)  Maybe I just wasn’t drunk enough.

You’re so full from food, you barely could think of any more beer.  However, we rolled ourselves to the second tent where the actual celebration was.  Security was tight.  I was very impressed by that.  There wasn’t a line but it seemed like they were expecting a lot more people.  Walking in, the tent was huge and there was a stage in the middle of the back of the tent where a man who was dressed like Elvis was playing with his band.  The tent had a few decorations here and there but all-in-all just felt quite ‘meh’. (Complaint number three).  We walked straight to the bar and I was super impressed by the quick service that we got, albeit the pouty woman behind the bar didn’t seem that nice (complaint number four).  We managed to steal a table and spent the rest of the night dancing and drinking.  I was completely sober all the night (complaint number five) only because the whole thing was so expensive and I didn’t want to buy so many drinks.  But to be fair, I can drink quite a bit before I feel anything.

The music was good and was very polka-ish. I liked the fact that they had a screen and posted up people’s hashtag pictures from Twitter.  People were fun and friendly, and someone ended up teaching us how to line dance.  Which was totally not surprising.

Just one last complaint (complaint number six), my girlfriends came back from the washroom telling me that they had overflowing porta-potties and only one washroom actually worked.  I held on to not go to the washroom until I got home.

In the end, I still had tons of fun with my friends.  Most of the complaints are sort of typical of festivals.  However, I was surprised to see how little people there were and that the drinks were so expensive.  I mean, extremely expensive for a Canadian or Coors beer.  I’d likely not go again next year…Maybe.

Happy WAAAAAAAAAAAY BELATED Oktoberfest!  Prosit!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! :)

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope everyone had a great holiday and was able to eat their heart out and drink till they dropped.  I was super busy this holiday and that’s why it took me over two months to get all the Iceland blogs up.  It’s the new year, so what do you have in store for yourself?  This is often the time where everyone reflects on what they have done and what they want to do.  We all take this time to figure out our goals for the years and resolutions.

Firstly, I’ve already planned a few trips with my friends this year.  I will be heading to Orlando, Florida this March for Harry Potter Land.  I’ve been excited since the prospect of me going in October.  Later in the year, I will head to California for a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  From there, I’ll boot over to Vegas to attend a bachelorette for my bestie.  This year was supposed to a year where my family (yes, whole immediate family) would head over to a resort.  Not sure if this is actually going to happen, but I do hope so.

What sort of goals do I have for this year?  Well, I hope to make this blog better.  I have a few things in mind, it’s just finding the time to do it.  Outside of my travelling, I don’t talk much about my other hobbies.  FYI, I crochet and knit a lot.  A lot meaning, a lot.  I hope to get some of my Christmas presents done earlier in the year and also actually knit myself something for a change.  Finally, I’d like to check off five things off my bucket list and add five more.  I’m trying to reach 100 in total. I’m at 88 (I think) and I’ve checked off more than half of them.

Resolutions.  I often don’t actually get these done.  I think a lot of people forget about their resolutions past January.  This year, I want to focus on myself.  I want to focus on dealing with my stress better and taking time for me time.  Eventually, I’d like to meditate in the morning before work or go to the gym before work so that I can set the speed for the rest of the day on good terms.

Hope everyone has reflected on life and saw exactly what they need to make this year a great one.  I have no doubt it will be.  Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to share my year with you guys!

Love, M

Day 7: Blue Lagoon and Pho

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Our last official day in Reykjavik was super bittersweet.  Nat and I woke up somewhat early to try to see some puffins.  Puffins are penguin like birds that have a beak like a toucan.   Apparently they were out at sea, and we wouldn’t be able to see them from the main shore of Iceland.  I’d suggest booking a boat tour if you really want to see them.  You can’t really get close anyway, so I’m not sure if it’s really worth it.

We headed home and made instant noodles (we brought them from home) and then headed to the Blue Lagoon.  This is a man made hot spring.  Do not be fooled.  We had the package that included a bathrobe, towel, slippers, two masks and a drink.  We spent almost 4 hours here.  Something that frustrated me was the lack of organization at the hangers outside of the lagoon.  This is where you put your robe so you can get it when you get out of the water.  Mine got stolen because there was no designated spots.  And if there was, no one followed it.   Either way, I got a new one from the bar.  I found the locking bracelet system very efficient because it was also used as a drink buyer.  When you leave you just pop the bracelet into a slot which was really cool.  No surprise, that the products that they sold were super expensive but I’m sure they all work, I just didn’t try them.

img_20160926_141306I was happy to see that the water didn’t smell like sulfur.  The water was murky blue and steam was lifting off the water because it was so hot.  The lagoon is usually at around 38 degrees Celsius all year.  When we were ready, we went up to the mask bar and got our first Silicone mask that hardens and can be washed off from the water.  We roamed around the big ‘pool’ and arrived at the falls to have our backs massaged by the falling water.  Then we got out to check out the steam room and sauna.  They were both pretty busy.  I’m not a big fan of sitting in a room awkwardly with a large group of people, sweating.  Closer to the end of our time, we put the Algae mask on and continued to bask in the water.  However, soon enough, I was so relaxed that I couldn’t keep my body up anymore.  On top of that, we could see a wave of people were leaving and there would be a long line at the showers, so we headed there to get a good spot.  Before we left, we picked up our complimentary drink.  I got a smoothie and it was great.

I was iffy in going to this lagoon because I thought it was too commercialized.  In the end I was very impressed by it.  I did feel very relaxed and it was a great way to end our very hectic trip.  Make sure to book your time to go in before you go, it’s crazy busy.  I had a friend who tried to go the day of and couldn’t get in.  We paid around $90 CAD for our package.

That evening we found a Vietnamese pho place to eat dinner.  It was called Pho Vietnamese and it was close but not in the city center area (more south of the main shopping street).  The service was great and the food was authentic.  How did we know? Because we’re from Toronto and we’ve had authentic pho before… but also because the people that ran the place were Vietnamese.  With spring rolls, it cost us about $40 CAD which was our cheapest meal, the whole trip!

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I arrived back to the air bnb, thinking we would finish our movie but I just passed out on the bed.

The next morning we woke up and cleaned up.  We headed to the airport around noon.  Returning the car was quick because there was no line (surprisingly) and we took the shuttle back to the airport.  Going through security was quick and more efficient than Toronto Pearson.  When we got in, I finally ate fish and chips at one of the stations (it was pretty good) and then bought a ton of souvenirs.

It upset me that when we arrived back to Toronto, they kept us in the plane because “customs was too busy” at Pearson.  We were stuck in the airplane for an hour and half.  I digress.  When I finally got home, I was sad that our week was over already but happy that I was in my comfortable bed.

Otherwise, I had so much fun! I’d highly recommend Iceland to anyone that asks.  Off to plan my next adventure…

Iceland: Day 6 – Horseback Riding and Gourmet Food

Ah, day six.  Nat and I slept in till 9:30.  Went to the all you can eat breakfast at the hotel and then literally went back to bed.  We checked out at 12.  Such a relaxing and good morning, we had.  Then, we researched some places to go to and were introduced to Fridheimer Farm.   This is a huge greenhouse that farms tomatoes (and herbs).  They also farm honey, so they have about 700 bees in the farm area at all times.  It was about an hour away but worth the drive.  Arriving, we thought we could get a table to eat, but all tables were reserved.  So instead, we ‘took out’ tomato soup and bread for 1000 ikr.  The tomato soup was incredible.  I wanted more, but it was a little pricey for my liking.  In their shop, I picked up a chicken and a lamb rub for souvenirs because they smelled so good.  They are made with their grown herbs in their greenhouse.

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img_0178We headed over to ride horses at Horse Riding Tours.  We got lost and was late, but thankfully one of the trainers (not a guide) actually stayed back to wait for us.  We were so grateful because we really wanted to ride these majestic beasts.  How do Icelandic horses differ from those in Canada?  They can survive winter outside.  They also are groomed so that they have long manes and also have some hair at their feet like they’re wearing boots.  They’re adorable and beautiful at the same time.  I’ve rode a horse before, but I was still freaked out.  We rode through a beautiful farming area and a small pond as well.  We were surprised to know that we passed the Icelandic Prime Minister’s house and his horses as we arrived back at the farm.  I would highly recommend this tour.  Marcus, our tour guide (normally not a tour guide) was so patient with our lack of horse riding experience and was very knowledgeable.  This cost around 8000 ikr.  Tipping is not a custom in Europe (in this case Iceland), but we still did because it was so nice that he waited for us and still took us out)

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After the ride, we rushed to Almar bakari, where they make rye bread with geothermal steam.  They were closing, but we managed to pick up some lunch and some souvenirs.

We headed back to Reykjavik to check into our new Air bnb place before dinner.  On the way to dinner, we stopped in at Hallgrimskirkja.  It was very simply decorated inside with a huge focus on their organ.  Then, we headed to Grill Market for dinner.  Prepare to lay some dough here!  My dinner ended up being $120 CAD.  I had a glass of wine, an appetizer and a main.  I wanted to try something new so I had some sliders: Puffin (Iceland’s infamous penguin-like animals) meat, whale steak, and langoustine.  The puffin and the whale steak was very much like beef.  For my main I had cod that was matched perfectly with the apple sauce and lobster salad on top.  It was worth the money, but also hurt my wallet a little.  But you gotta live.

img_20160925_214706Afterwards, we retreated home for a few drinks and bed time.  Day Seven.

Iceland : Day 5 – Glacier Hiking

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On day five, we had booked a glacier hike on Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Iceland.   It spans 8300 square km of Iceland.  Which is almost 9 times bigger than the second largest glacier in Iceland.  We went with a tour guides called Glacier guides.  We arrived just at 8:30 am, where they already were loaded up on the bus and rushing us.  Be on time!  Quickly, we got geared up and jumped on the bus.

img_20160924_112913Peter, our guide, walked us to the glacier and taught us how to put on crampons on.  These are spikey hiking boot protectors that dig into the ice so you don’t slip.  Make sure to wear hiking boots that wrap around your ankles for protection.  For the next 8 hours we hiked up and down the glacier, looking at crevices and deep holes that the melting ice created.  We hiked almost to the top, because the ‘waterfall’ of ice was too dangerous to stand on.  At any moment it could melt through and we’d find ourselves inside the glacier.  I fell twice.  I am clumsy and embarrassing. I have two big bruises and a bruised pride.  All jokes aside, I knew I would fall so I wasn’t so hurt but make sure not to wear big pants like I did because the crampons caught onto my pants and ripped them, causing me to fall. 

We were lucky to see double rainbows all day.  Fearing that it was going to be rainy and windy, like the night before, we layered up.  I had two fleece jackets, the outer shell of my ski jacket, my thermal top, huge rain pants, thermal underwear, and a pair of sweatpants on.  I was sweating at one point, but I knew I could just take a layer off.

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The hike wasn’t very hard.  The guide made sure that we were ok after a small bit of a steep hike.  The other guides that aren’t guiding the tours, were making ‘stairs’ for us so that it wasn’t so steep.  It seemed like hard work but these Viking-like men seemed to have been enjoying it. This hike cost about $280 CAD.

img_20160924_1521101We had gotten the grand slam combo, so after we had finished our hike, we headed straight to the lagoon where we jumped onto a boat ride.  We were all pretty tired so we hadn’t asked many questions (I felt bad for our guide, who was super enthusiastic but we weren’t reciprocating).  It was getting cold, windy, and rainy again but they placed in big floatation parkas and life vests.  On the boat, we rode out to see large ice bergs that were broken off from the glacier.  Because it had rained the night before, all the icebergs were far from each other and I couldn’t get a great picture, but what was cool was to see the wall of the glacier. It reminded me of Game of Thrones’ ‘the North Wall’.  Our tour guide also picked up a piece of ice for us to eat… and see.  It was so clear, it was said to be cleanest water in the world.  You could also see that the ice bergs were so blue.  This was because the rain had melted the outside white layers of the iceberg.  The insides, being so compressed over the years, only emitted the blue colour because it is very hard for our eyes to see red… so that’s why we only see blue.  This is the same theory for why we see blue water in the sea.

img_20160924_1508441On the tour, she also mentioned that if the attached volcano were to erupt, the glacier would melt quickly and flood our area.  It would only give us 10 minutes to evacuate.  It made us all nervously laugh.  Thank goodness nothing erupted.  Probably quite upset that she got such a blah group of people, we headed back onto land.  We headed towards our next destination: Stracta Hotel near Hella.

We chose Stracta Hotel because it was in the country and it was our back up for if we didn’t see the Northern Lights the night before.  It also had a sauna and a hot tub outside.  We had dinner at the hotel which was mediocre.  I had the langoustine (lobster tail) soup that was super salty and the salmon with mashed potatoes.  The service wasn’t so great but the overall experience was decent.  We popped into the sauna right after dinner but lost one of our friends to the  Northern Lights.  He had taken his camera and was shooting it.  As we sat outside in the hot tub (which was freaking amazing!!) we saw faint white glimmers of the Northern Lights. Our friend showed us afterwards that on his camera, with exposure, he could clearly see the green and the purple.  It was beautiful. I was sad I wasn’t able to capture it.

Iceland : Day 4 – Vik

By now, you can see why I can’t just put all of my trip on one blog post because we managed to do so much in the 7 days we were in Iceland.  I imagine I will be recovering from this trip until a week after I’ve arrived back to Canada.

Day four was supposed to be a sleeping in day.  Nope.  I woke up fairly early and made breakfast for everyone then began cleaning up so that we could check out and begin our long drive to Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.  After the not-so-great Air bnb we had just stayed at, we were all very excited to sleep at a new and fancy hotel in the country.  We were too late to book Ion hotel but found Fosshotel close enough to our next tour for day five and also was told that it was a prime place to see the Northern Lights.

We were surprised to see sunny skies, because the last few days were rainy and windy, as we drove towards Fosshotel.  Because it was so sunny, we decided to stop at Seljalandfoss waterfall to take some pictures.  One of the sights that Justin Bieber had filmed at in his music video ‘Show me’, we walked behind the falls and got tons of pictures.  Note that you can walk behind the waterfall.  Make sure you wear rain coat and pants for this.  It also gets quite cold in the back there.

img_20160923_152400On the way there, we were snacking on these ‘chips’ that are called Gestus’ Knasende Sprode Flaeske-Svaer.  A mouthful, I know.  If you’ve ever had Chinese bbq roasted pork, this is how the crispy skin tastes like.  It’s so rich that you can’t have too much of it but it’s worth a try.

Back to the matters at hand.  We reached Vik around lunch time and checked out the outside of the cave.  This cave is said to have a monster instead but was trapped inside after the cave was closed off after a volcano eruption.  The cave had many different shape rocks that were all eroded down by the stormy sea.  On this black sand beach, we also saw a natural arc, hole in a cliff, one might say.  On the other side of the beach, you’ll see two rocks standing on their own.  There is a myth that those rocks are actually two trolls were frozen by a man who found them trying to steal his wife.

Black sand beaches are made because of the ashes coming from volcanoes.  This black sand beach is very close to the biggest volcano in Iceland, Katla.  Lately, there has been a lot of talk about Katla possibly erupting soon because of some noticeable earthquakes coming from surrounding areas.  The last time the volcano erupted was in 1918.  It’s brother volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, erupted only a mere 6 years ago.  It, too, is very close to Vik.

img_20160923_222044Driving through another storm, we arrive at Fosshotel where we were greeted by warmth of a new hotel.  The service wasn’t great, we didn’t feel super welcomed but we were just happy we made it safely to the hotel.  Because they were new, we were upset that they didn’t have a sign outside showing the entrance.  We had missed it twice.  This is where we solidified our lesson: ‘don’t go on unpaved roads, they often don’t bring you where you want to go’.  The staff in the restaurant were better, welcoming us to stay behind even after they were to be closed at 10pm to eat.  I had the best pork loin and the best red wine on this trip.  To be fair, we haven’t had dinner out in a while. My meal was about $70 CAD.

That night, my friend was kept up all night because of the storm outside but I slept like a baby.  The big windows in th room would have been a great way to see the Northern Lights, if weather wasn’t so bad.

Sleeping in a comfortable bed, I didn’t want to wake up for our glacier hike the next day. Day Five.

Iceland : Day 3 – The Silfra & Golden Circle

Day three was an insanely busy day.  It is the day we visit the Golden Circle which includes: The Geysir, Thingvellir National Park and Gullfoss waterfall.

img_0037We started off with breakfast a-la-marina and then began to head to the Geysir.  Geysir is a hot spring that ‘explodes’ every 5-7 minutes.  It is a large hole in the floor and you’ll see it bubbling with heat and steam.  Then suddenly, ‘boom!’, the hot water is pushed up in the air between 5 to 10 feet high.  People standing around waiting for it to do it again for a video or a picture.  Around it, there is the little Geysir that never erupts and then there’s a hot spring that is also roped up for safety reasons.  At the middle of the hill, you will find a sundial and a great view of the farm land around the Geysir.

Our next stop was the Gullfoss waterfall.  Named as the “Golden falls” with a stone memorializing Sigridur, depicting her profile, this fall has two steps that are perpendicular to each other. The water is then rushed into a river in a valley area.  The river that feeds Gullfoss is called Hvita.  It was a breathtaking powerhouse, grander than the Niagara Falls that you can find in North America.

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dscn0208Our final stop was Thingvellir National Park (we essentially drove back and forth… we essentially should have started at Gullfoss and walked our way back to Thingvellir).  This is where Nat and I took about two hours getting into dry suits that almost choked us to death and jumped into the cold water of the Silfra and touched the North American plate and the Eurasian plate at the same time.  The two plates are moving away from each other about 2cm a day (10 m a year) but is filled in by lava when an eruption occurs.  The very blue waters are worth the long preparation to get into the water.  I have a pretty crappy water camera and so I feel like the pictures don’t do this any justice.  The only thing I was a little upset about was not stopping to take a picture between the two plates.  I was too preoccupied of not getting my face kicked in my another snorkeler.  I imagine scuba diving would be even better.  This diving trip cost around $250 CAD.

While my friend and I were frolicking in the waters and drinking the hot chocolate and biscuits Dive IS provided us (Note: the entertaining and nice people of Dive IS were very patient with us non-dry suit wearers.  I commend them and thank them), our other friends were hiking out in Thingvellir.  They found a waterfall that was hidden behind a rock.  It was a 15 km hike but it was worth it.

img_20160921_221124In the evening, we headed to a new air bnb for another home cooked meal.  This place, less sulfur smelling water and much cleaner.  FYI, Bonus grocery stores always close around 6pm.  Kronan, the other grocery store, usually closes around 9 pm but are more expensive.  We snuck in after 9 and almost got kicked out.  All in all, we made a great dinner.

 

 

Iceland : Day 2 – Snaefellness Volcano

Jet lagged, I woke up right on time at 8 am and cooked breakfast for the sleeping beauties in the apartment.  Yep, even in Iceland, am I the mother of my friends.  At the breakfast table, we talked about what we prepared to do for the day and headed out in the car towards our first road trip.

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We stopped for the first time at this bridge.  There were no names listed anywhere, no signs, but we snapped some pictures and went on our way.  There are a lot of stops like this but this was the only one we actually stopped at.

Going North of the city, we headed four hours on the ring road towards Snaefellnesjokull.  This is the volcano that was featured in the movie “Journey to the center of the Earth”.  This is the national park that holds one of the stratovolcanoes, of many, in Iceland: Snaefellnes volcano.  Albeit, we got lost.  The Google GPS told my friend to turn right on a small road that took us to a small falls.  But good news was, we saw some pretty horses to take pictures with and then headed back onto the ring road.

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I took the reins and drove another hour or so to the park.  Arriving, close to sundown, we snapped some pictures of the pretty almost-sunset.  There were two big rocks standing upright down a cliff.  There was also a few amazing viewpoints to see the volcano.  Along the drive there, I couldn’t help but take a big gulp when I saw the hardened lava with moss on them all over the mountains around the area.  It sort of reminded me that life was fragile and that if the volcano felt like erupting right at that moment, we wouldn’t be able to survive it.  I also had to slow down for several sheep crossings along the way.   They always travel in threes because usually there are two babies with one mama.  I learned that from Google.  Make sure you keep your eyes open for those sheep.  They have right of way.

img_0012Another thing to note, there are speed cameras that are tourist traps all around the ring road.  You usually have a sign before you actually see the camera that warns you that it’s coming.  Drive 90 km/hr if you don’t want a ticket.  Tickets can go up to 300 USD, a ticket.  We probably got a few of those before we figured out that those were cameras.  Though I didn’t see any, sometimes you’ll find actual police parked on the side.  For your safety and for not having to pay a big fine, drive to speed limit. We also bumped into some horses along the way (we got lost).

img_0015We didn’t go far into the park because it was getting dark and there was a long drive ahead of us.  Driving in about three km to find a good place to have lunch, we stopped at one of the camp sites and climbed the lava kills to see if we could see black sand beach.  We didn’t find the black sand beach, but we did interrupt someone’s car camping experience.  Haha.  We took some pictures and scurried off to the light house where we were able to go to the washroom.  We then began our journey out.

That evening we ate in.  we wanted to save money and we wanted to relax at home after a terrible drive home.  For four hours, I drove in heavy rain.  There are no streetlights and it was windy as hell.  Sometimes, it may be safer just to park on the side to wait until the weather subsides.  I don’t know where my courage came from, but I got home safe.  Trucks seem to like to drive crazy fast in this weather.  Be careful.

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The above is the lighthouse at Snaefellnesfoss.  Around there is a visitor’s information office and a washroom (this is important for those driving a long way).