Summer Road Trip Series: a trip around Iceland

Do ponies, waterfalls and a glacial lagoon sound good to you? Then you’ll love Inness’ trip to Iceland.

Last year, Inness and her partner Tyler traveled clockwise around Iceland starting in Reykjavik, visiting thermal pools, wearing Icelandic sweaters and eating local fare along the way. She sums it up well here: “One of the best adventures of my life.” Read on!

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THE INSPIRATION

“We took our trip last July (2013) and it lasted 8 days. We traveled clockwise around the entire country in that time, although we didn’t reach all of the periphery (or the islands off the mainland). The main places we hit were Reykjavik, Snaefellsness, Akureyri, Myvatn, Northeast and East Iceland, Vik, and the Blue Lagoon. Every stop was a fun stop!

I had just turned 25 and I wanted to commemorate that milestone birthday with an epic trip to an I-named country (“I” for “Inness”). I told Tyler, my partner, to choose from Ireland, Israel, Iceland, or Italy, and he chose Iceland.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“The most amazing thing, no, ONE of the most amazing things about Iceland is that the terrain is ever-changing. There is so much to see packed into one tiny little country, and that’s even excluding the entire middle! One minute you’ll be trundling through a lava field; then you’re barreling down a gravel path toward a humongous waterfall; then you’re rounding the bend and your breath is taken away by a sudden glacial lagoon that appears through the parting mist. You can see a lot in eight days, since it’s a small country, but you could also spend a month or more and never exhaust all of Iceland’s wonders. I highly recommend renting a car and getting out of Reykjavik, as cool and charming a city as it is – road trip is definitely the way to enjoy Iceland! (At least in the summer.)

Memories that really stick out to me: drinking Brennivin at midnight (with the sun still up!) in a thermal river; eating a giant bowl of perfectly buttery, garlicky Icelandic lobsters in Hofn (which is pronounced like a hiccup, kind of); trying to pronounce Icelandic words in general and failing completely; filling my water bottle from a waterfall; Akureyri’s perfect ice cream and weird parking rules; sticking my feet in Dettifoss, the world’s most powerful waterfall; picking out the perfect handmade Icelandic sweater; all the amazing pools. Also, the Icelandic people – they won’t always return your smile (they just smile less than Americans do, which is true of most other countries apparently), but they are outrageously kind and generous and will go out of their way for a stranger. They are also very well-dressed, and men and women alike appear to be very fond of tailored red trousers.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I either want to drive around all of Ireland or Scotland, or drive through all of the lower 48 states in the U.S.”

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Inness’ Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Thanks for sharing your trip, Inness! Iceland is officially on my list of places I need to visit.

And just like that, the Summer Road Trip Series has come to an end.

We’ve met eight fascinating explorers with eight incredible adventures to share, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have. (If you haven’t seen them all, you can check out the rest of the series posts here.) But just because the series is over doesn’t mean summer is yet. Do you have any trips planned before the end of the season? And what’s your favorite road trip you’ve ever taken? 

It’s been a busy summer around these parts (especially this month), but I’m looking forward to getting back in the blogging groove with a few minor changes to make balancing grad school, work and life a little easier. Thanks for following along!

Summer Road Trip Series: from Melbourne down the Great Ocean Road

It’s time for an international road trip, yes?

Olivia of Halfway Somewhere took an amazing trip along the southern coast of Australia, and she shares her journey with us here today.

In her own words:

“The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s iconic destinations, and in December of last year (I’m in the southern hemisphere, so it was a summer trip!), I finally took the time to drive most of the way along it with my sister. We grew up just a few hours away but, like is often the case with places in your own state, it took me over 20 years to get there.”

Great Ocean Road

THE INSPIRATION

“I’d been wanting to do the trip for a while, but since I live far away for uni, whenever I went back home, I was too busy seeing friends and family to take the time. There really wasn’t any particular reason for going other than it was just time to get our act together and finally visit this area of the country.

We drove from Melbourne down to Geelong and from there it’s straight down to Torquay and onto the Great Ocean Road. There’s a lot of awesome little beach towns to stop in on along the way – Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, and Lorne, to name a few.”

Great Ocean Road

THE HIGHLIGHTS

“One of the most fun stops along the way was the Split Point lighthouse. There’s nothing extraordinary about the lighthouse itself, except for the fact that it was the setting for a popular kids show in Australia in the ’90s, Round the Twist. We were singing the theme song for hours that day.

The other obvious one is the Twelve Apostles, the main attraction of the Great Ocean Road. We stopped by a few times since the first time they were mostly shrouded in fog and we stayed overnight close by. In the evening the view was amazing. Then as the sun went down, there were hundreds of baby penguins making their way in from the water, which was awesome to watch.

We stopped in Port Campbell, which is a really fun small town. The official Great Ocean Road goes all the way down to Warnambool, although you could actually keep going all the way to South Australia if you wanted to and had the time.”

Great Ocean Road

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I just ticked off two road trip I’d been wanting to do (around the south of the USA and around the redwoods in California). My ultimate dream road trip is to buy an old Winnebago and spend a year or more slowly driving around. I’ve been a bit obsessed with this idea for a while now and my short recent trips and have only made it worse. Hopefully I can save up enough to do that in 2016, but we’ll have to see.”

Great Ocean Road

Olivia’s Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Have you ever been to Australia? Olivia’s trip makes me want to visit.

There’s another featured road trip scheduled for this time next week—but it’s not a car. Stay tuned!

Summer Road Trip Series: from Detroit to San Diego

I remember the surreal feeling I got every time I told someone I was moving to California.

It’s something you need to keep repeating to remind yourself that it’s real, especially when you’re moving all the way across the country to do it.

That’s why Sarah of XO Sarah fame’s recent move to San Diego was so exciting to read about during the process. It brought me back to the rush of anticipation I felt for so long before my own big move.

To continue on with the Summer Road Trip Series (here’s part one), Sarah tells us about the big move she made last month to San Diego all the way from Detroit—more than 2,300 miles!

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THE INSPIRATION

“This road trip was a quickie! Four days in the car, blasting our way across the states as I moved from Detroit to San Diego. My friend Beth and my rat terrier, Slayer, came along for the ride in my tiny Scion.

Since we were trying arrive in San Diego at a certain time, most of the scenic photos were actually taken out the car window, flying 80 mph down the highway. Detroit to Omaha was fairly uneventful, outside of some killer enchiladas, a hail storm (thanks Michigan!), and massive wind turbine blades being hauled down the highway every hour or so. It was mostly farms and cows and quiet, which we happily disrupted with an Ace of Base Pandora station.”

XO Sarah

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“In Denver we downed giant salads and met up with Beth’s friend who gave both of us dead-on tarot car readings over beers in the back of a dive bar. The next day we stopped a couple hours into the Rockies to cool off in Grizzly Creek and listened to old-timey bluegrass, which seemed perfect for the scenery.

Driving through the canyons in Utah was my favorite part of the trip. People use the word amazing a lot, but for this it is completely appropriate. I had never seen anything so big and empty.

On the creepy pitch-black drive into Vegas, Beth told me alien abduction stories and we were stunned by the sea of glitter that poured out of the mountains upon our arrival. Vegas from the ground is much more spectacular than Vegas from the air.

I drove the last five-hour leg to San Diego alone (Beth flew home from Vegas) and was drawn to the parched, vacant vastness of the desert more than I expected. Growing up in Michigan there are trees and grass and people everywhere – in the desert from Nevada to California there is nothing but sand and heat and I loved it.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“Now that I’m in California I’d love to road trip straight up the coast to Seattle. I’ve always wanted to see the redwoods, take a photo in front of the Full House house in San Francisco, kill my sugar craving with VooDoo donuts in Portland, and visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle in Seattle. I’m also planning, now that I have my passport (only took me 29 years!), to get further out of the country than Canada at some point soon!”

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Sarah’s Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Live it up in San Diego, Sarah!

This time next week, I’ll have another cross-country trip to share. But this trip is taking the southern route.

 

Hanging in Pacific Beach, San Diego

Pacific Beach

One of the biggest benefits of going back to school is having breaks again.

And I kicked off my spring break by driving two hours south to sunny San Diego with John this past weekend. (It was his birthday!) We’d stayed in the city before, and we each had spent some time on Coronado Island, but this time, we opted for Pacific Beach, which was beautiful, laid-back and very bike-able. I was so glad we brought our bikes along—we hardly drove anywhere all weekend.

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Pacific Beach pier cottageslifeguard standTurns out a lot of other people were traveling to San Diego for spring break, too. While there was some debauchery, nothing ever interfered with our visit. It helped that we were only half a block away from the beach.

Pacific Beach

My favorite part? Watching the sun set over the Pacific two days in a row. On Friday, we watched it from a rooftop bar. On Saturday, we watched it from the beach. Both times, the crowds that had gathered to watch applauded when the last sliver of sun disappeared.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

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Other trip highlights include stargazing by the shore. People watching. Dog watching. Making rum-infused smoothies in the hotel room. (We brought our own blender.) Spending a weekend away from the computer. And simply relaxing. A shout-out to Woody’s, Beaumont’s and Dirty Birds, which were some of the food & drink highlights of the weekend. Not to mention all our servers and bartenders. Is it just me, or is everyone nicer on the West Coast?

Now, I plan on using the rest of my spring break wisely by getting some reading, writing and cleaning done.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans you’re looking forward to?

Driving stick in San Francisco

Petrero Hill

I bought my new car, Sheila, just a month or so before moving to California.

When I got her, I envisioned lots of day trips and road trips along the West Coast. This weekend, I had the chance to show Sheila what San Francisco is all about.

When I began to get serious about moving to California and going to grad school, San Francisco felt like a real possibility. The last time I visited four years ago, I was enamored. Northern California is one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

To think that San Francisco is only a five-hour drive away from Los Angeles is kind of mind-boggling to me. You know what else is mind-boggling? How frighteningly steep the hills are—especially when you’re driving stick.

My first car was a stick shift, so I’ve always had an appreciation for the art of getting into first gear. But parallel parking on a steep incline was never part of my training. I might’ve had a mini panic attack over the summer when I was parked between two BMWs on a hill in Runyon Canyon and wasn’t exactly confident that I’d be able to get out of the spot without causing some damage. John gave me a crash course in using the emergency break as a back-up then (and no damage was done), but San Francisco was the real test of my abilities.

There’s something special about zipping around a city as a visitor in your own car. Even though Sheila was embarrassingly filthy (bird poop, bug guts, desert dust, etc.), I was proud to take her around town. We visited Golden Gate Park, drove along the Embarcadero and struggled with directions when we realized you can’t make left turns anywhere. We even parked on one or two of the steepest hills San Francisco has to offer. Though I handed John the keys and let him sweat it out when we parked here.

The weekend went by fast, but knowing the Bay Area is just a few hours away means we won’t go another four years before we visit again, and that’s pretty cool. I’ll share more pictures later this week, when I do my monthly photo roundup.

Do you know how to drive stick? Has anyone ever driven stick in San Francisco?