Iceland. There were no expectations really. I knew it was the dead of winter, freezing cold and that there would only be a few hours of sunlight. Other than that, Luke organized the whole trip. Flights, accommodations, everything was taken care of. All I had to do was show up and enjoy the ride.
We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and the sun was already setting. We couldn’t see the sun or anything, the skies were thick with rain clouds and the air had a nasty bite to it. It only took the walk from the arrival gate to the car rental shuttle for my fingers and face to freeze to an uncomfortable numb.
Our first piece of advice was given to us as we were handed the keys to our rental car: “Make sure to hold on to your doors. The wind will rip them right off.” I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Was he serious? I had no idea that Iceland is known as the third windiest place in the world. The other two are barely inhabited, so technically it’s the windiest.
Didn’t take long for Iceland to live up to the rumors. We were laying in the loft of our sweet little cabin just outside of town when the storm hit. It quickly escalated into what felt like a full blown hurricane. Luke and I thought the roof of our cabin was going to blow right off. Every time one of the gusts blew, it would shake and rattle the whole house. Somehow it stood strong through the night and we managed a few hours of sleep.
Nine am… it was still pitch dark. The sun didn’t rise until 11. And it didn’t really rise. In fact, we never really saw the sun all day, but it was light enough to finally see around late morning. With only five hours of daylight we tried our best to use our time wisely and pack in as much as we could. First on our list was to visit the famous geothermal pools.
Luke and I had it in our minds that we would drive, find one of these pools on the side of the road and have it all to ourselves. It would be a rugged adventure! Secret Lagoon wasn’t as secret as we thought. We pulled into a parking lot of a full blown tourist destination. We were slightly disappointed at first but with honeymoon luck on our side, we timed it perfectly and no one was there. It was rugged, just watered down a little bit with hot showers and a snack bar.
We checked out several waterfalls. Each one seemed grander and more magnificent than the last. We danced on the icy sheet below to get close enough to feel the spray on our face and take a cool picture for our scrapbook. Did a lot of driving in between. Well I didn’t, Luke did. I still can’t drive manual very well. He’s trying to teach me. I sat passenger and dozed in and out of sleep the whole time. Wasn’t a great right hand woman but I can’t help it. Ever since I was a kid the car put me right to sleep. When my eyes were open, I did get to appreciate the many different landscapes. Beautiful mountains painted white with snow, black lava fields, icy lakes, ominous coastlines, wild ocean waves, and yellow grass fields that went on for miles. My favorite were the viking ponies. They look like regular horses except a little thicker and fluffier. They aren’t really called that but that’s what we decided they were.
About a week before our trip, I was scrolling through Instagram and stumbled upon an incredible clip of someone surfing in Iceland. I was completely blown away by how good the waves were. Getting suited up in a full suit, hoodie, gloves, booties and walking through the snow to surf has always been on my bucket list. Who would have thought Iceland, on our honeymoon, would be the perfect opportunity to make my dream come true.
Inspired, I made a few calls, sent a few texts and lined up a day to surf with Arctic Surfers. I was completely nervous about freezing to death but extremely excited about stepping outside my comfort zone and doing something new. With our guide, Ingo, we checked a few spots close to Reykjavik before deciding on an empty peeling right-hander a little south of the city. I won’t lie, there was a split second that my fight or flight response kicked in and I contemplated making up some lame excuse to get out of jumping in the water. Thanks to Luke, he would never let me back away from a challenge. One of the many reasons I said yes.
Ingo gave us a couple great tricks to keep us warmer longer. Don’t know if I’m allowed to share them or not but I wore wool socks under my booties and it really worked! Suited up, with just my face exposed, I felt like a secret agent ninja seal with lobster claws ready for battle. The water was warmer than I expected when we jumped in. It wasn’t until my first pounding and instant brain freeze that I realized it was a great wetsuit and gear that gave that illusion. The thick layer of rubber made my arms feel like heavy logs as I paddled. I could barely move. After paddling and missing a few, I built up enough confidence to go deeper, paddle a little bit harder and finally caught one. My booties got stuck in the wax, I couldn’t readjust my footing and I almost ate it right off the take off. I managed to maintain my balance and Eddie Aikau stance it all the way to the end. It was one of the most exhilarating waves I’ve ever ridden in my life! Couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the rest of the session. I was so stoked!
Iceland. You exceeded all expectations. Thank you for the unforgettable memories and breathtaking sights I will take with me for the rest of my life. It only took three short days to realize that I most definitely need more than five hours of sunlight a day to survive. The sun makes me happy. I also confirmed with myself that I will probably never live somewhere cold. Ever. I just wasn’t made for it. I had a blast visiting for a few days. I’d love to come back again! Maybe in the summer next time? Haha. It was hella frustrating to have to put on five layers just to walk outside for two seconds. And leggings under my jeans! Help! It was nice to get a new perspective on a way of life and a fresh appreciation for the simple luxuries I take for granted at home on the daily.
Overall, I absolutely loved our trip. I loved stepping outside my comfort zone, experiencing new things and adventuring with my best friend. There is nothing better. My favorite moments were spent in our little cabin, making meals, snuggling, watching Netflix, working out and relaxing in the jacuzzi. We could have went to the middle of Kentucky and had the best time together. All we need is each other.