Iceland Road Trip: The Golden Circle

Golden Circle Road Trip

The Golden Circle basically covers the highlights of Iceland in one neat little day-long road trip. If you’re pressed for time and can only spend a day or two in Iceland, then this is the route for you! You’ll cover waterfalls, geysers, national parks and much more in a very short period driving the Golden Circle.

Firstly, I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Auður at IHeartReykjavik for the inspiration for this Golden Circle road trip. We used her map and suggested stops to get us from Reykjavik to Gulfoss and back, and it was super handy!

Why drive The Golden Circle yourself?

Rather than take a guided coach tour, we opted to rent our own car when in Iceland so that we could do the sights our own way – freedom to explore and choice far outweighed our need to be chauffeured around. Plus, being in our 30’s we didn’t want to be crammed into a coach bus with a bunch of old people. No offense to old people, but overhearing conversations about retirement plans, medication and grandchildren wasn’t on our list of experiences to be had.

Golden Circle road trip

Road trip! On our way out of Reykjavik, heading east…

It was summer when we went so we did not need to worry about snow on the roads. Although I was a bit nervous about renting a car abroad, I was assured by friends that driving is easy and safe, so long as the weather cooperates. They were right – it was really, really easy to drive there and there’s nearly zero traffic.

Hitting the Road

We set out from Reykjavik after picking up our rental car at around 730am, which included Continue reading

Top 15 Packing Tips for an Iceland Summer

Top 15 Packing Tips for an Iceland SummerAn Iceland summer may have the sun, beach and waves, but what it doesn’t have is any heat that is not in a geothermal pool. It’s COLD, y’all. Although it’s in the northern hemisphere and it’s technically the summertime, temperatures in Reykjavik and beyond don’t normally rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit/21 degrees Celsius. As I write this post, it’s currently 55 degrees Fahrenheit in Reykavik, and a boiling 93 degrees in New York City. I think I’ve made my point.

Iceland is also known for being a pretty outdoorsy place to visit, so balancing sturdy activewear with city threads for a night out can be a challenge.  Hopefully these tips will help you figure out what to pack for an Iceland summer and what to leave at home.

Without further ado, here are my:

Top 15 Packing Tips for An Iceland Summer

1. Hiking Shoes

I had read up before we left on our trip about what sorts of shoes I should bring and thought to myself, “I don’t own any hiking shoes, why would I buy any now? Just for a vacation? I don’t even like hiking.”  Let’s just say I was glad I took a last-minute trip to DSW to pick up some Merrell shoes, because I wore them every single day of our trip. I got the Siren Sport 2′s, but not in waterproof. In hindsight, I should have gotten the waterproof ones, as they’re only $20 more.

Iceland Summer Packing Tips

Merrell’s Siren Sport 2 Waterproof hiking shoe

I still don’t like hiking (or, as I like to call it, “walking uphill in dirt”), but we sure did a lot of it on our trip. The amazing views usually made it all pay off in the end. Still, I’m so glad I was wearing those shoes. Especially when I took a tumble down the Kerid crater. True story.

2. Bathing Suit

Icelanders love a good hot swim, no matter the weather outside. No trip to Iceland is complete without a dip in one of Reykjavik’s hot pots or a trip to the super-touristy-yet-bucket-list-item Blue Lagoon. Or, you can find a fabled swimming hole described in an Icelandic saga, instead, like on our Snaefellsnes tour.  Don’t be caught without your bikini or trunks and be forced to miss out on a truly Icelandic experience!

3. Sunscreen

Just because it’s cold or cloudy outside doesn’t mean that you won’t get a wicked sunburn. Make sure you slather up your face and other exposed body parts during the daytime (remember, the sun during an Iceland summer is out nearly 24 hours a day) to avoid looking like a cooked lobster come dinnertime!

UNSS030-web

I highly recommend one of the Rodan + Fields options. (full disclosure – I’m an R+F consultant, and clicking on the link will bring you to my R+F online store, but I 100% recommend the products because I use them myself – including on our trip to Iceland!). For my face I love the Unblemish step 4 with 20 SPF and for body the Essentials 30 SPF full spectrum sunscreen does the trick.

4. Sunglasses

Did you know that if you have light-colored eyes, it’s even more important for you to wear eye protection from the sun? These baby blues rarely see the summer without a nice dark lens between them and the outside world. Most of the amazing experiences Iceland has to offer include being outdoors. Remember, the sun shines nearly 24 hours a day during an Icelandic summer (see above). Bring some sunglasses to avoid paying crazy prices once you land in Reykjavik (clothing and other items are much more expensive there than in the U.S.). The glare off of the glaciers in the sun can be blinding – snow blindness is a thing. Sunglasses usually help a photo op, too, so you’re not squinting in every photo!

Top 15 Iceland Summer Packing Tips

These Ted Baker Petrus Wayfarer sunglasses are one of my faves.

5. Water-resistant windbreaker with a hood

You’ll be so glad that you brought a water-resistant or waterproof hooded jacket if you get up close and personal with a waterfall (which are like churches in a European city – everywhere!).  The weather can also change fairly quickly or be a little rainy – and sometimes windy. Keeping your hands free and your body dry, one of these babies will help you really enjoy your beautiful surroundings without being uncomfortable or getting sick later.

Iceland Summer Packing Tips

The North Face’s Venture Jacket

I bought a cheap number from Target (Ava & Viv), and hubs got a great lightweight shell from The North Face that rolls up into a little ball. Unfortunately, The North Face’s XL women’s jackets are a little snug on me (yes, I’ll actually admit that), so I couldn’t join him in the The North Face fun. But his looks pretty sweet, too.

6. Water-resistant pants/Trousers

Iceland Summer Packing Tips

The North Face’s Aphrodite pants

Being sprayed by waterfalls and riding around a glacier lagoon in a Zodiac boat means that you won’t want to wear jeans. Plus, pants with some stretch but water resistance are good for hiking around, being outdoors in the rain and keeping your rental car somewhat dry. Quick-drying pantalones are essential. I picked up some North Face Aphrodite pants in black Macy’s before leaving for the trip (same shopping trip as DSW) and I am so glad I had them. The bonus is that they have pockets and everything.

7. Wicking long-sleeved shirts for layering

Cooler mornings and evenings in the Iceland summer mean you’ll want a little something extra to layer between your tshirt and your windbreaker. A moisture-wicking long-sleeved top can be just the ticket. And, with near-24-hours’ daylight, you can spend 18 hours in a day in the Iceland summer seeing the sights, so you WILL be out and about at a waterfall at 9pm (if you’re up to it!). I love my long-sleeved wicking tops from Fabletics for this.

8. Wicking t-shirts or tank tops for layering

My number #1 favorite item I brought with me was a moisture-wicking, loose-fitting t-shirt. The material is cool in the heat and warm enough in the cooler morning, and if you work up a sweat hiking up to Svartifoss, you won’t be gross all day long. Layering is key in a climate like this!  The Mosa Tank from Fabletics is moisture-wicking and has a vent in the back top.

Mosa Tank from Fabletics

The Mosa Tank

9. Jeans

A pair or two of jeans is great for trekking around Reykjavik in, and you can dress them up a bit to go to dinner at Kol, Dill, or any other cool restaurants in town.

10. Nice tops

Again, for dinners in town it’s a good idea to have something resembling fashion with you. Plus it’s a nice balance after wearing athleisurewear all day to be able to dress up a bit. Pack one or two tops that you can wear out to dinner and wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in by a friend. And let’s face it, with Iceland becoming such a popular destination, the odds are becoming greater that you actually WILL see someone you know while there.

11. Camera

If you go to Iceland without a camera, you’re just an idiot. One of the most beautiful countries of the world deserves to be photographed. My iPhone 5 took some decent ones, and I had purchased a Sony DSC-QX10 to turn my phone into a better camera. Hubs used our Canon DSLR. I really liked the DSC-QX10 but I’m not sure that it takes better photos than my iPhone 6, now. However, as an attachable lens, it was great to travel with as it was fairly small and set up easily.  I got lucky with mine as it was an open-box item, so I got it for about $130 US.

Iceland Summer Packing Tips

The Sony camera I bought for our trip, attaches to my iPhone

The plus side is that the DSC-QX10 has its own WiFi signal and works remotely. So, I was able to use the Sony PlayMemories app as a viewfinder on my phone and set up the lens somewhere else, which is great for selfies, landscape shots, and silly jumping photos.

12. Flats

Reykjavik is hilly in some areas and after a full day of hiking, I don’t think most women want to put on high heels. Reykjavik is also a very walkable city, and you’ll likely be able to walk from your hotel or AirBnB anywhere. Throw a pair of flats in your luggage for a night out, even though a night in the Iceland summer looks like the day! I live in my Crocs Rio flats.

Icelandic summer packing tips

The Rio flat from Crocs in black/platinum.

13. Comfortable socks

Make sure you have dry-fit or other comfortable socks to wear under your hiking shoes that will stay relatively dry to prevent blisters. You may walk much more than you do at home, and foot pain is the worst when traveling!

14. Ziploc bags

Iceland Summer Packing Tips

The duct tape of traveling?

In case you missed the theme here, Iceland can get pretty wet. Having a Ziploc baggie to put your phone in when you’re hiking isn’t a bad idea, and you can even use your touchscreen through the bag, so it will be protected from rain, spray, water and sand. Gallon-size Ziploc bags are great for temporarily storing wet bathing suits after a swim and transporting pastries from Sandholt bakery as roadtrip snacks. They take up almost no room in your suitcase and you’ll be prepared! I feel like Ziploc bags are the duct tape of travelers. Don’t you think?

15. Beach towel

Hitting up the hotpots, swimming holes or Blue Lagoon is great but having a beach towel with you or to sit on in your rental car afterwards will come in very handy. You can also use it as a blanket to sit on if you’re hiking and want to stop to relax for a while. Take it to the beaches in Vik and sit for a few hours to watch the waves hit the shore and think about how lucky you are to be enjoying an Iceland summer!

*Note: This is not a sponsored post. I truly believe in the products that I’ve recommended here, and with the exception of the Rodan + Fields products, I receive no benefit from recommending the items noted, and I only receive a benefit from R+F if you click on the link and purchase from my personal retail site. Thank you!

Have I missed a must-bring? Let me know by leaving a comment! 

Top 15 Reasons to Love Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are several reasons for this. And, without further ado – here are my…

top 15 reasons to love Dublin, Ireland

  1. Its Size

    Population-wise, Dublin has about 527,000 inhabitants, and covers an area of about 44.4 square miles. Much of what a tourist wants to see and do is packed into only a few square miles in the city center and this results in a very accessible, walkable town.

     

    Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

    View of the Millennium Spire through the Samuel Beckett Bridge

    I’ve spent a day walking one end to the other – starting around the Grand Canal Dock at Samuel Beckett Bridge and strolling along the Liffey all the way to Phoenix Park and Kilmainham Gaol. It takes a few hours if you stop here and there to see the sights, and it may not be great if you have older folks in your group, but it’s a definite plus that you can see most of the sights on foot if you want.

  2. Ease of public transportation

    You can take public transport all around the city and skip taxi cabs all together if you like. Take the DART from the outer neighborhoods to Tara Street and you’re smack in the middle of Temple Bar, for example. Or, take the DART out of the city to Malahide or Howth and take in the beautiful sea views.

    The Luas, a relatively newer light rail system, hits the city’s shopping streets north of the river, but it doesn’t go many other places that a tourist would want to visit.  Nevertheless, DART and Luas tickets are cheap and are a great option for travelers who are solo or are in small groups (when splitting a taxi doesn’t make sense).

  3. Direct flights to Dublin from many cities

    Dublin’s status as the capitol of Ireland and a tourist destination means that it’s easy to get to from many world cities. There are direct flights daily from the U.S. cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Orlando, for example.  The best airlines to get you there would be Ireland’s own Aer Lingus, or the other major carriers like Delta, American Airlines/US  Air, and even Emirates. I love Aer Lingus personally because you start getting the hospitality and flavor of Ireland the minute you step foot on the airplane.
    Continue reading

Top 6 Things To Do in Long Island City in the Springtime

Spring is in the air… finally! This morning,  New Yorkers crawled out of their winter dens, stripping themselves of snow boots, misery and wool coats, slapped on a (temporary) smile and ventured outdoors for what seems like the first time in ages to enjoy the balmy 65-degree Fahrenheit, sunny weather we’ve been blessed with on a weekend day. Hallelujiah! Spring is here!
With the better weather comes a responsibility that most weekend warriors will understand. On the two days a week you’re not stuck indoors at your office, if it’s nice outside, you darn well better be outside enjoying it. Let’s be clear, though. You shouldn’t ditch the black boots and long sleeves yet. We’re still in New York and it’s April, and it could very well snow tomorrow … so don’t get too excited.
An old friend we met in Argentina, but just so happens to also live in NYC, came over today and we set out to enjoy the best of what LIC (that’s Long Island City….which, while technically geographically located on Long Island, is very much part of New York City and one Subway stop away from Manhattan on the 7, E or M trains – sorry to blow your mind) has to offer.
So, we took her out to enjoy our favorite weekend rituals for good weather in Long Island City. What are those, you ask? I’m so glad you did!

Here are my Top 6 Favorite Things To Do in LIC in The Springtime:

1.  Visit the LIC Flea & Food

Inaugurating the unofficial delayed start to the season this weekend was the grand reopening of the LIC Flea & Food, a celebrated local food and artisan fair held every Saturday and Sunday during the spring and summer outdoors at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street, just one block from Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.
Tons of food options, tons of artists and craftsmen – making for a few hours of fun at the Flea
Keep your eyes out for a detailed post about the “Flea” in the coming days.
For more on the LIC Flea & Food, visit http://www.licflea.com/ .

2.  Enjoy Gantry State Park

Iconic Pepsi-Cola sign? Check.

Amazing, unobstructed views of the New York City skyline? Check.

Ample room to sit, lounge, stroll and enjoy the waterfront? Check.

Dog park with (what I think is) the best view you can get? Check.

Ferry landing, where you can grab the East River ferry to Manhattan or to various parts of Brooklyn? Check.

 



Trouble finding the park? Walk straight from Center Boulevard towards the skyline. Stop before you fall in the East River. Easy peasy. Continue reading

The High Line in NYC

Spring has been teasing New York City lately, and it’s kind of messed up. But on those days where it’s warm and sunny, New Yorkers flock to the High Line in Chelsea.

Sixty degrees one day, and the young female office workers ditch the tights and wear short dresses that are a little too short, a little too early. Calm down, it’s March.

The fact that the next day’s high is in the forties (or lower) snaps us all back to reality, and we realize that spring just ain’t here quite yet. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time this spring and summer to strut your inappropriately-short-and-tight office attire around the city streets, twenty-something social media interns and fashion stylist interns. It’s just not that time yet.

However, we got a taste of spring today after we exited our boozy brunch at Fonda in Chelsea this early afternoon.  (Delicious brunch! – Will post a review next time.)

The elusive sun beat down on our hibiscus margarita-stained lips as my husband, our friend and I walked up 9th avenue and decided to stroll over down to the High Line and enjoy the brief respite from the sh*ttiest winter in recent memory.

One thing you’ll learn about most New Yorkers is that we avoid touristy things like the plague. Case in point: I hadn’t visited the Statue of Liberty until I was 26 years old and I went with a tourist I befriended during their visit to NY. So, it’s not surprising that I had never visited the High Line prior to today since its opening in 2009.

 

We entered at 23rd street and walked downtown toward the Meatpacking District and the Gansevoort Street exit.

 

 

Remember that time the sun was out? It was just a few minutes ago…

 

You can sit in these stadium-style seats and gawk at the traffic below you on Tenth Avenue. If that’s your thing.

I have to admit, it was pretty awesome. Oh, yeah… and it’s free.

I’ll be visiting again when the weather is nicer (as in, sunny and warm for more than a few hours at a time), and taking more photos then.

I love the architecture in the Meatpacking District.

After, we strolled around the Meatpacking District, wandered into AllSaints and coveted ALL THE THINGS, balking at the prices and decided we couldn’t afford ANY OF THE THINGS in good conscience, and took the Subway back home to LIC.

I want all the things.

It was a fabulous afternoon!

How do YOU like to spend a sunny day in NYC? Leave a comment and tell me!

Autumn in Mendoza

Autumn seemed to suddenly set upon Mendoza overnight.  One day, the trees all had leaves, and the weather was decent (no coats needed), people were out at all hours of the night, sitting at sidewalk cafés and bars.  The next day, the leaves turned yellow and fell from the trees, the weather turned brisk and coats are a necessary item, and the Mendocinos have begun to hibernate.

The same change is noted in the vines at the vineyards. Within a 2 or 3-week period, they went from beautiful deep reds and purples, to shriveling up and losing all their leaves for winter.

The saving grace of the Mendocino winter is that the sun is still strong and warm, and there are still over 300 days of sunshine here a year.  Outdoor cafes have tables outside still (optimistic?), and many have big spaceheaters to accommodate diners who want to dine alfresco without getting too frio. 

Arístedes (the major nightlife street) is dead – about 1/4 of the people are out at any given night now, compared to a month ago. It’s really quite strange.

It’s good red wine drinking weather. 🙂