This is about to be a super intense post because it will be two days worth of incredibly great times!! So yesterday, our group was up bright and early to go to a horse farm outside of Reykjavik. We would all get to ride the adorable Icelandic horses (which essentially look like American ponies but just more fluffy and furry). We signed our lives away on a waiver and then got suited up to get our horses. Lucky me, I got to have a gorgeous white horse! I couldn’t remember her name because it was some long complex word probably spelled along the lines of ” Chopsdjlrushvn” aka me just typing random letters on the keyboard haha. Anyways, I didn’t realize I would be nervous about this excursion until I was up in the saddle and she kept wandering around the stable and she wouldn’t listen to me! There was a little mishap with a few other horses, and mine got pretty shaken up as well, so I was kind of spooked going into the trail because I wasn’t completely confident that I had control over this little mini horse. All too typical, I ended up as the very last person in the 35 person single file line on the trail, but I actually enjoyed being in the back and taking in the sights and sounds. We followed a path through a lava field (literally a field created by ancient hardened lava) with a backdrop of gorgeous mountains. I was able to have great conversation with the tour guide who was in charge of the caboose! She was a young girl native to Iceland who has been riding horses her entire life. I asked her if she had ever ridden an American horse, and she said no but that she wanted to visit Texas! So cute! I really enjoyed speaking with her and learning about the lifestyle of a girl who really only knows Iceland. She said that she wants to travel the world and “just see everything” which I thought was just so cute and ambitious. By the second half of the ride I was feeling more confident, but I did pass on joining the “advanced” group haha.
We finished riding and drove over to an outlet mall where many of us could afford the shops (Iceland is very expensive!!) But some of us decided to pass on the shopping and we took a nice walk back into town to grab some lunch. After lunch, Julie and I gave in to our exhaustion and took a short break/nap. This was the first time we did not spend our free time exploring and adventuring so I am pretty proud of that! A short time later we got up and ready to go down to the harbor for the opening ceremony of the Reykjavik Arts Festival. This is a now annual festival that takes place over a few weeks in Reykjavik. It’s an opportunity for many countries and a diverse group of artists to come together and put on all of their artwork. The opening act was a “symphony” which ended up being an organized song of different boat horns on the harbor. It was so unique and different from what I had expected, a pleasant surprise for sure! It wasn’t a very long show so afterwards a few of us grabbed some food and drinks and enjoyed our free night!
We woke up early this morning to take on our free day. Aka our badass adventure day!!!!! I had not been this excited for an activity like this in a long time. At 9am, our tour guide for the ATV company came and picked me and Julie up, along with two of our friends Alec and Tori. We drove about 15 minutes outside of town to a little farm area and got really suited up for our hour long ATV tour!! Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy and grey out (although I cannot complain because we have had amazing weather this entire trip) so our guide was joking with us and said “well you signed up for the sightseeing tour but you won’t be able to see anything!” Kinda lame but honestly I was so excited to speed around on the 4 wheeler I didn’t care too much! We drove down a main road until we reached the entrance to the gravel pat path and then wound our way up rocky trail on a mountain!! It was so thrilling and fun to be offroading like that in such a cool environment, and the tour guide didn’t go easy on us! We were flying. We made it to the top, and it was pretty cloudy, but I was still in awe of the view because it was better than any mountain view I could try and get at home! The guide was so complementary and impressed by our ATVing skills that he said he would take us on a longer loop to head back to the farm. It was so much fun to be on the rocky trail, going through puddles with the wind whipping all around! We were so pumped up when we got back at the end of the tour. The guide was just so awesome, which can really make or break an excursion, and we were all so satisfied and happy with the experience. We drove back into town and had to wait a little while until the second half of the day. So we grabbed lunch and mentally prepared for what was ahead!
We got picked up for the snorkeling tour a few hours later and took the 40 minute ride out to the countryside/National Park that we had been to earlier in the week (where the continental places are separating). We met our two Swedish tour guides at the site and REALLY suited up to submerge our bodies in 34 degree F waters. We were laughing so hard as we kept all of our clothes on, put on a puffy “teddy bear” suit, and a huge dry suit on over all of it. It had built in boots and super tight rubber parts around the neck and wrists so that water could not get in. We also got a hoodie, gloves, and fins along with our snorkel masks. Julie and I bought disposable underwater cameras, so you can only imagine us in these HUGE marshmallow suits with bulky gloves trying to juggle our masks with our cameras and all of that. It was so funny. (Also you can laugh that Julie and I wore bathing suits because somehow we thought we would be in wetsuits and would need them?? Ignorance at its finest??? We’re ridiculous) Anywho, we waddled down to the water and climbed right into the frigid depths! Some background- the lake we went to is the largest, coldest lake in Iceland, freshwater, with incredible visibility to the bottom, in between the two continental plates of Europe and North America. AMAZING. Jumping in was so funny because we were completely buoyant and just were floating puffy things rolling around. Once I figured out how to maneuver myself in all of my gear, I was face down to the most beautiful geologic landscape I have ever seen. The brightest blues and greens with the layered rocks all around… Words cannot describe how pretty it was. My face was numb within 15 seconds so I got over the cold real quick and took it all in. I took pictures with my disposable camera (by taking pictures I mean aimed and clicked because it was impossible to handle the little camera with my bulky gloves, mask falling off my face, water in my nose, etc… Hilarious) It was truly one of those things where you forget absolutely everything and just take in what your eyes are seeing. Pure stunning and breathtaking beauty. We floated along around the landforms for a while and then way too soon had to get out! I wasn’t even that cold! But it was a fabulous experience to say the least and something I will never forget. We hobbled out of the water and then, surprise, we were able to do a few cliff jumps into the water!! AH! We went “Icelandic style” and took off our gloves and hoods and only jumped in with our dry suits on. They said that they American style was probably along the lines of being naked with only the hood on, classic. Don’t worry mom, I pretended to be Icelandic for the day :). It was such an adrenaline rush to jump into the icy waters! So fresh and tasty and clear and clean. I absolutely loved it. It was a workout in itself to peel all of the gear off of our bodies, and I just couldn’t get the biggest smile off my face. The drive back made me sleepy and I took a warm shower as soon as I got home! Julie and I grabbed some yummy pizza and hot chocolate and we are now relaxing at the hostel watching Eurovision– this European music contest that all the people here are obsessed with, it’s quite interesting.
Well, if you actually took the time to read that, many thanks! I’m having a spectacular time here in Iceland and am definitely sad that the end is near. This place is full of surprises and adventures and I really believe everyone should make the journey out here at some point!! Get excited for me, tomorrow I will be relaxing in the warm waters of the famous Blue Lagoon 🙂