Family Trip to Canada & Maine

This year’s family vacation with Taylor’s family was to Bar Harbor, Maine. Our flight from Abu Dhabi flew into New York City, where we met half the group. From there, we rented a large van and headed up the coast towards Maine. During our drive, we made a very fun pit stop at L.L. Bean.

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We’ve never been to an actual L.L. Bean store before, so we were very excited to check it out! This particular location in Freeport, Maine is the factory and where L.L. Bean began which was unique!

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When we were finished shopping, we continued our drive to the town of Bangor. Most of this day was spent driving up the coast. When we finally made it to Maine, we rented an Airbnb for the night. Originally, we planned on staying at a hotel, but we realized that it was silly to pay $150 per room when we could spend that on an entire house! We were only there for the night, but it saved us a lot of money! You can find the listing HERE.

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In the morning we drove from Bangor, Maine to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada! We visited Roosevelt Campobello International Park, where we toured the Roosevelt summer cottage!

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The Roosevelt summer cottage had the most beautiful views of the water and the interior was massive! We were really impressed with the home, and there were several tour guides inside to answer any questions we had.

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The weather was perfect for exploring!

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Once we were done walking around the summer cottage, we grabbed a quick lunch and drove to the Head Harbor Lightstation!

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You can only reach this lighthouse during low tide. The structure has been around since 1829, but is still used as an active lighthouse, although it isn’t manned by anyone anymore.

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Once we were done exploring the lighthouse, we drove to Herring Cove Provincial Park. We wanted to relax and watch the water for a few minutes!

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While we were in Maine, we stayed in an amazing VRBO within Acadia National Park. There were 11 of us on this family vacation, so we needed something that would accommodate everyone, and this house was perfect!

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picture taken from VRBO.

 

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The massive open windows that spanned the back of the house made us feel like we were still outdoors. The owner of the property did an amazing job at making us feel comfortable and welcome during our entire stay. If you plan on taking a trip to Acadia National Park and need a large home for your family, PLEASE consider renting this home. It was a dream! If you aren’t traveling with a larger group, she also rents two tiny homes on the same property that are equally as cute.

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Bar Harbor was exactly what you’d expect! Although it was fairly small, it was quaint and filled with charm. There were people roaming the streets and hanging out in the park, watching the boats come and go.

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While we were visiting, we found out that blueberries were in season and the people of Maine REALLY love to put them in everything.

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At almost every meal, someone was eating or drinking something blueberry!

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And of course there was a lot of lobster consumed! It’s not a successful trip to Bar Harbor if you don’t eat fresh lobster.

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When we were planning the family vacation, we had every intention on watching the sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain. Being the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard, it offers the very first glimpse of the sun each day. However, the weather was calling for rain, so we didn’t want to get up extremely early just to witness a thick fog.

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Instead, we visited Cadillac Mountain during the day, and it was wonderful!

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Although it was a little windy, the views were breathtaking! Everywhere we looked, there was another amazing view of the water. It felt like we could see for miles!

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Once we were done exploring Cadillac Mountain, we took a walk on the beach. Some of us searched for cool shells to take home, while others enjoyed the view.

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Just like the lighthouse, this beach is only accessible during low tide. The ground is completely covered in water during high tide. That’s why it’s extremely important to be aware of your tides when exploring the coast of Maine. As fast as the water lowers, is as fast as it can rise!

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On a different day, we walked along the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park.

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If you’re looking for a fun way to explore the park without exerting too much energy, the Ocean Path is perfect! It’s relatively flat, and there are several lookout points perfect for photos!

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We didn’t plan to match, but as a newlyweds this is bound to happen. 🙂 We both are wearing our Buck Shoals teeshirts in support of Dalton’s band! They are super talented, so you should check them out on Apple Music or Spotify!

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Along the Ocean Path, you’ll see Sand Beach, Otter Beach, and Thunder Hole.

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If the tide and water current are just right, you will hear the waves crash into the rock and create a giant splash plus the sound of thunder. There’s a small viewing area where you can stand to see the waves crash into a small cave. When the air get’s trapped inside and the tide is right, it creates the large splash and the sound of thunder!

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Once we were done walking the ocean path, we took a boat tour! This was such a fun and informative tour. There are tons of boat tours you can take while visiting Maine, and we’d recommend them. Just be warned that depending on the season, you may not see much. We saw a bunch of seals and a bald eagle, but that was about it for wildlife.

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Our tour guide was fantastic though, and she gave us a ton of historical information and even taught us about how to catch lobster! All in all, I think we learned a lot on that boat tour!

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It’s not everyday that you get the whole family together in another state! This was such a fun and memorable experience that I know we will all remember forever. Bar Harbor was adorable and Acadia National Park was stunning! Taylor and I love visiting National Parks, so we’d really love to come back and do some more exploring.

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Ice cream is a staple on our family vacations with Grandma, and the blueberry ice-cream was untouchable!!

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On a less serious note, we ended our family vacation with a laugh! On the way to the airport, we drove our van right into a ditch. We couldn’t get it out without fear of the van tipping over, so we had to call for professional help.

This is surely something we’ll laugh about forever! 🙂

Girls Weekend in Nashville Pt. 2

Our next day in Nashville was a fabulous one! We started our day at the Frothy Monkey in 21 South. This was a different location from the previous day, but it was so good the first time that we had to eat it again!

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We loved this location way more than the one downtown. It was extra cozy and homey, whereas the downtown location was more industrial and streamline.

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The two of us split the gravy biscuits, with a side of fruit and bacon. We also had coffee, but that’s no surprise. It was all phenomenal! We didn’t expect the portion sizes to be so large, so we could barley eat it all. One of the employees told us that we could order a half size the next time, so I guess we’ll just have to go back. 😉

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Thankfully, the weather was less windy and much warmer. It was the perfect weather for walking around the city! We needed to walk off some of the food we just ate, so we decided to walk across the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge. 

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If you want to see some amazing views of the city and the river, then this bridge is for you! I’d love to walk it during the summer when everything is blooming! Or better yet, during the fall when everything is transitioning!

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There are also several mini parks below the bridge that looked great for dog walking.

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The Bridge gives you a great view of the Tennessee Titans Stadium. If you decide to stay outside of the city, you can park your car at the stadium for free during the off season. You can then walk over the bridge into the city. Thankfully, we lucked out when it came to parking during our trip, but if you plan on visiting during the busy season, I’d highly recommend parking at the stadium. Most parking garages start at $25 per day.

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Once we walked the bridge, we headed back to music row to see everything in the daylight.

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During our first night downtown, we passed a giant candy shop and everything smelled plus looked amazing. We decided to revisit that shop for good measure. 🙂

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…and we splurged on some giant chocolate, caramel apples! If you love candy apples and you’re ever in Nashville, these will not disappoint!

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Once we were finished eating our apples, we drove around to some nearby antique shops! The best one we visited was the Downtown Antique Mall.  If you’re into antiquing or refurbishing furniture, I’d highly recommend this place!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while inside. However, this was only because I was in heaven walking in and out of each and every room! They had so many items and all in great condition. If you’re in the market for a specific item, I’m sure they have it here!

…Just casually carrying a table down the streets of Nashville. Lacie purchased this piece for $30 and already finished refurbishing it! She is the Fixer Upper QUEEN. I put her up there with Joanna Gaines in my world. After walking around the Downtown Antique Mall, we were hungry for an early dinner. We stopped at 12 South Taproom and Grill, and were not disappointed.

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Once we were done eating, we headed to the famous #whatliftsyou mural. We stopped by the mural earlier in the day, but the sun was casting a huge shadow on the wings. Take my advice and go later in the evening when the sun isn’t so high, especially if you want a good picture. This mural didn’t have near as many people standing around it as the other.

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They even have a tiny set of wings, which I’m pretty sure is for toddlers or dogs.

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Sadly, the next day was our last. We started our morning by eating breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. It’s right next to Vanderbilt’s campus, so we were expecting it to be busy. Surprisingly, it wasn’t!

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I’m not lying when I tell you that these were THE BEST PANCAKES I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I have no idea what is in their recipe, but they’re doing something right!

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Beside specialty pancakes, they also have your typical breakfast food. Each of their entrees comes with a side of delicious pancakes. I ordered a cheese and bacon omelet and it was delicious!

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When we left, there was a line around the building. Obviously, we came at a good time! You HAVE TO eat here if you’re in Nashville. Once we were done enjoying our pancakes, we decided to spend some time walking in and out of the shops.

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We still had some time to kill before heading to the airport, so we decided to go see the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Taylor had been telling us to go see it all weekend, but how exciting could a hotel be?

WRONG! Entering this hotel was like entering a completely different world!

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It was so beautiful! We walked around the water and looked at some of the shops they had.

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We wished that we would’ve gone earlier in the day to see everything. Neither of us was expecting it to be so beautiful!

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Afterwards, Lacie dropped me off at the airport.

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The two of us had so much fun exploring the city of Nashville. We had been dreaming of traveling to Nashville together for so long, so I’m glad we finally did it. We’re already  thinking about the next city we want to visit. Any suggestions?

Girls Weekend in Nashville, Pt. 1

One of my best friends Lacie and I have been dreaming of taking a girls trip to Nashville together. We both have crazy schedules ahead for the spring, so we wanted to visit before all the chaos. When we were searching for places to stay, most of the hotels downtown were out of our price range. I was kind of expecting this, so I did what I always do and searched airbnb! Of course, there were hundreds of affordable options to choose from!

We chose to stay in an adorable airbnb that was on the outskirts of downtown. Not only was it affordable, but it was in a fantastic location! It was a short 30 minute walk from Music Row and only a $5 uber ride.

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Taylor and I swear by airbnb. It’s a phenomenal way to travel and you can discover some of the most incredible destinations for a reasonable price. It also gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. If you’re skeptical about staying in an airbnb, choose a place close to home and stay for a night or two! Click HERE for $20 off your first trip of $75 or more.

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Our room was perfect for a long weekend! It was super girly and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay.

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I flew into Nashville on a Friday evening and Lacie met me there. After picking me up at the airport, we drove over to our airbnb and checked in. Then, we walked to Music Row  to explore the downtown area.

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If you want to see what Nashville’s really like, go to Music Row on a Friday night! Music Row is southwest of downtown Nashville and has so many shops and bars. We couldn’t believe how many people were there or how many talented performers there were.

 

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Once we were done exploring, we stopped and got some ice cream. After that, we took an Uber back to our airbnb and relaxed on the upper deck. The deck had so many string lights and a cozy hammock and fire pit.

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This was the perfect place for us to catch up on life!

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The next day, we spent most of our trip walking, shopping, eating, and drinking an abundance of coffee. The first coffee shop we tried out, was the Red Bicycle! It was only a 10 minute walk from our room, and we heard great things about it.

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They serve all sorts of coffee, pastries, and crepes!

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We opted for a cinnamon roll, bagel sandwich, and of course coffee!

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We really enjoyed eating breakfast at the Red Bicycle and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. While we were in Nashville the weather was pretty chilly, but the sun was always shining so we were thankful!

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When deciding what to spend time seeing, the Nashville Farmer’s Market was high on our list.

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There was tons of unique vendors here selling fresh produce, flowers, and food. They had an entire building dedicated to food. We weren’t quite ready for lunch yet, but it smelled amazing!

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The Nashville Farmer’s Market even had a greenhouse overflowing with different plants and gardening decor.

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Once we left the farmer’s market, we did some shopping at the nearby outlets. After that, we were starving! Our next coffee shop of the day was the Frothy Monkey. I’d heard incredible things about this place, so it was at the top of my list of places to try.

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They have several locations in Tennessee, but we went to the one in downtown Nashville.

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I’m glad we went later in the afternoon, because it wasn’t very busy. The Frothy Monkey was super cute and the food was just what we needed! It was also very affordable. I’m so glad we tried it out!

 

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Once we were finished eating, we drove to the famous We Believe in Nashville sign located on the 12 South Dental Studio’s building. If you decide to visit, be prepared to stand in line with everyone else. You’re in charge of taking your own pictures, so sometimes it can take awhile. Especially if there’s a large group!

 

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Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long.

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The 12 South area was very charming! They had tons of boutiques and shops along the street. Plus, there was a ton of great places to eat. It was the perfect place to spend the day walking around.

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We finished our second day full circle. We started at the Red Bicycle and we ended there too! Neither of us expected to be so exhausted from walking around all day. We contemplated going out to eat somewhere nice, but were feeling lazy and exhausted. Instead, we drove to the Red Bicycle and tried their delicious crepes.

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The Red Bicycle did not disappoint at night either. There was a completely different vibe during the evening compared to the morning. The morning was busy and crowded, while the evening was quiet and secluded.

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Thank’s for reading about part one of our trip to Nashville! Stick around for part two!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The City of Reykjavik

Before we headed to the airport for our flight back to the states, we did some last minute exploration around the city of Reykjavik. We were so thankful that we reserved a rental car, because it made sightseeing so much easier and overall better.

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We spent so much time in the countryside of Iceland, that we hardly had time to enjoy the capital!

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When Taylor and I were planning our trip to Iceland, we were excited! It was somewhere we’d always wanted to travel to, plus we knew it would be the perfect winter getaway. Although we were excited, we really didn’t expect to fall in love with the country.

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The city of Reykjavik was straight out of a Christmas Hallmark movie! The streets were decked out with Christmas trees and lights everywhere. They have such an abundance of Christmas trees, that they literally hang them off the buildings, and apartment complexes display them in every window.

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While we were walking around in the morning, we stumbled upon a small watch company. When we went inside, there was a wall of famous performers who purchased watches from this very place. The owner of the company told us that a lot of famous people will travel to Iceland because they can walk around freely and not be bothered.

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Iceland is one of the safest places to travel to and we felt very comfortable during our time there. This is one of those places that I would feel completely comfortable traveling to by myself.

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We were also blown away by how fluent the locals were in english. From the city to the countryside, everyone could understand and speak english with us! We’re used to traveling to other countries and not being able to communicate.

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On our first day in Iceland, we ate at a fantastic hotdog place and loved it! On this day, we ate hotdogs at their competitors!

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This place had more of a selection and a variety of toppings to choose from!

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These hotdogs were soooo yummy! We had a very difficult time deciding which one was better!

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On our way to drop off our rental car, we stopped and took some last minute photos of the city and the ocean.

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Once we returned our rental car and headed inside the airport, we found out that our flight with WOW Air was delayed by two hours.

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There’s nothing worse than trying to get home for the holidays and having a delayed flight. We passed time by checking in our luggage, visiting the duty free store, and ordering coffee and food.

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Honestly, Iceland was an incredible country and it has so much to offer. We’d highly recommend traveling here to anyone. Whether you’re well travelled or not, there’s something for everyone. We chose to visit during the winter season, and we were still able to see so much. We can’t wait to return one day, but hopefully during the summer season!

 

Charming Towns and Seafood

Our third day in Iceland was another long one! After grabbing our donuts and coffee from Dunkin’, we headed northwest for some more exploring.

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We started by driving north of Reykjavik, which took us through the Hvalfjörður Tunnel. This tunnel was completed in 1998, and ended up saving us close to an hour of driving while heading northwest. The tunnel is over 3.5 miles long and roughly 550 feet below the sea. There was one toll to enter, but only cost us a dollar. The time and milage we saved made it worth it.

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Since Iceland is one giant Island, there are tons of different lighthouses to see. As we came out of the tunnel, we drove through a small town where we stopped to look at one! We got there just in time to see the sun rising.

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The lighthouse had these adorably painted rocks all over the place.

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We wanted to go inside, but it was locked. In order to climb to the top, you had to call the number listed. We wanted to go inside, but we didn’t have the time to call nor a phone that would have worked. So, we just roamed around outside and enjoyed all the little rock paintings.

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Once we all loaded back into the car, we drove around the small town and stopped to take some incredible shots of the boats out on the water.

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We spent a ton of time in the car on this day. Most of the places we wanted to see, were farther away from our apartment in the city . However, the views were so stunning that the distance flew by quickly. I made Taylor pull over several times just to take some pictures. These pictures don’t even do it justice!

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About two hours away from Reykjavik, we stopped at another beautiful waterfall called Barnafossar! This one was wider than the one from the previous day, and it had an amazing turquoise color.

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Since this waterfall is a lot further away from the capital than most of the others, not as many tourists get the chance to visit it. However, it’s so different from all the others and it turned out to be one of our favorites!

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There’s a neat bridge that you can use to cross over the river and look down at the water. There used to be a natural bridge in this spot, but it caved long ago.

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All of the water is this pretty blue color because it emerges from a nearby lava field. Most of the surrounding rock is pillow lava from a past eruption.

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This was one of the most beautiful waterfalls we’ve ever seen before. It may take longer to get to, but we highly recommend seeing it if you find yourself in Iceland!

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When we were finished taking in the beauty of the waterfall, we drove to a nearby geothermal heating plant.

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The water bubbling out from under the earth’s surface is about 200 degrees and is collected and piped all around the country. It’s then used for geothermal energy.

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After we were done staring at the bubbling water, we drove an hour to Leif Erickson’s home.

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While we were driving, we saw a group of horses hanging out near the fence. They were eating, so of course we stopped to pet them!

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Horses can be spotted all over Iceland, and they’re super friendly. As soon as they saw us stand by the fence, they came up to say hello!

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We hated to say goodbye, but we were on a mission to see Lief Erickson’s home before the sun went down.

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It was such a nice day outside, which made the next part of our adventure possible.

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When driving to Lief Erickson’s home, you have to go through the mountains. They were covered in fresh white snow, so it was breathtaking!

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but then…

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it started to blizzard while we were halfway up the mountain. This is when I thought we were going to die. We slipped and slid up this mountain road, all while it was snowing heavily. Thank goodness it only lasted for about 20 minutes, because I was not thinking that we were going to make it off that mountain in one piece!

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As Taylor was driving, Grandma and I were in the back begging him to turn around. However, Taylor is a very stubborn person. Thankfully, we made it safely down the mountain. We ended up getting fantastic pictures and a good laugh out of it, so I’ll count that as a win.

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We finally made it to Leif Erickson’s home where he was supposedly born and lived while he was younger, before moving to Greenland and discovering North America.

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I’m so glad we decided to venture all the way to his home, because it was so neat to see it in person!

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Once we were done touring his home, we drove to the town of Stykkishólmur for dinner.

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This was a fishing town, and it was so unique. There was a peaceful harbor area that we enjoyed walking around.

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We hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, so we were starving! We chose to eat at the most amazing restaurant right on the harbor. It was called Sjávarpakkhúsiö, and they served fresh seafood that the fisherman had caught that day. We selected a table right beside the window so we could watch the boats.

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The restaurant is open all year round, so there is plenty of seating inside and outside.

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The restaurant was so cozy and welcoming. It was the perfect place to end our long and adventurous day.

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I got the fresh seafood soup, which was a creamy soup with white fish and scallops!

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Taylor and Grandma ordered the fish sandwich, which they say tasted incredible.

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Our friend Waite ordered the lamb! He practically licked the plate clean, so you know that was yummy as well!

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The food and service was impeccable. We dream about coming back to this restaurant one day! We didn’t want to leave this charming town, so we walked around after dinner before heading back to Reykjavik.

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It took us about two hours to get back to the city. As soon as we got back to the apartment, we each showered and fell asleep. We were exhausted from the long day!

Waterfalls and Glaciers

On our second day in Iceland, we were headed south! We started our day at 9am. You’ll notice in our pictures that it’s still very dark outside, which did nothing to help our jet lag.

Once the snow was dusted off the car, we drove a few blocks down the street to Dunkin’ Donuts. We could’ve easily walked, but it was cold and windy so we opted not to. While on vacation, we try very hard to only eat food that we can’t get at home. However, every once and a while you need something familiar and comforting. Dunkin’ was perfect!

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Taylor did all the driving during the trip. From what he’s said, driving in Iceland isn’t as intimidating as it looks. With all the geothermal heating underground, the snow very rarely sticks and freezes to the roads.

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While we were driving to our first destination, we stopped at a small church because we noticed that all of their gravestones were lit up with crosses!

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Every Christmas, family members will visit their loved one’s graves and decorate it with lights or candles. This is their way of showing those that have passed that they’re missed.

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We made it to Seljalandsfoss about an hour later! This is a breathtaking waterfall that is commonly visited by tourists who visit Iceland. Mostly because it’s so close to Reykjavik and you can walk behind it. No matter where you’re standing, it’s an amazing view!

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We suggest wearing waterproof attire, because when you’re behind the falls you’ll feel the mist. You can tell from the photos that it’s very wet.

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This is a great place to start when visiting Iceland! It’s easy to get to and won’t disappoint! Legend has it, that rainbows commonly form over the falls as well. I’m sure that would be incredible to see!

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Afterwards, we drove an hour to the small town of Vik. This small town is known for it’s black sand beaches. We were excited to see the beach, but we were starving and wanted to eat lunch first. Taylor found a small, cozy restaurant in town.

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We could go on and on about how adorable this restaurant was!

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While we were waiting for our food, a mini snow stormed passed through! Throughout our trip, these snowstorms would come randomly, but they would only last about 15 minutes.

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Taylor discovered this restaurant on Trip Advisor and we’re so thankful that he did! The service was wonderful and the food was even better.

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If you ever find yourself here one day, you MUST try the endless tomato soup and homemade bread. It was phenomenal and I really regret not ordering it myself. Taylor and I each got BBQ burgers and Waite ordered the lamb sandwich, both delicious as well.

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Once the stormed passed, we took a short drive to the beach.

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This was a very interesting experience for us. Everything started out fine and dandy, until…

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the wind came. Each time the wind would pick up, it would whip the sand into our faces and it stung SO BAD.

Thankfully, we were able to snap some pictures during the moments when the wind wasn’t throwing sand in our faces. The black volcanic sand makes the coast of Vik one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world.

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Seriously, the views were amazing!

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We were tired of the wind, so we drove up to the town’s church to get a better view of the beach and the town.

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Vik was so small and unique! You have to check it out if you’re in the area!

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Also within Vik, there is a natural arch on the other side of the mountain that we wanted to see.

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The sun was beginning to set and it made all the surrounding mountains looks beautiful.

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In order to see the arch, we parked the car and hiked up a small hill to the overlook area.

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We were literally on the other side of the mountain we were just on. You’ll notice the same stone stacks off in the distance.

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Once again, everything started out fine, until…

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the wind started up again. This time, we were standing at a higher elevation, so the wind was even stronger than before. Thankfully, there was no sand to be thrown around. However, the wind was so strong that we could hardly walk straight.

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At one point, the sky became very dark and we were all being blown around the cliff. It was almost impossible to stand! Grandma grounded herself with a rope, while Taylor literally tackled me to the ground because the wind kept picking me up. This is a story you don’t tell your mother… sorry mom! 🙂

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These pictures make us laugh because obviously you can’t see wind, so we just look ridiculous being blown around!

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Once the wind died down, we got to witness the natural arch we came to see!

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We ran back to our car before the wind could pick up again. As soon as we made it inside, a huge blizzard came through. Just to give you a reference at how strong the wind was, the signs outside were ripping out of the ground and our car was shaking with four bodies inside! A very neat experience, but we were thankful to get off that mountain.

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On our way back to Reykjavik, we stopped to see a glacier before the sun set.

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There are tons of glaciers all over Iceland, so pick one and go look at it! If you’re looking for more adventure, you can sign up for tours that let you climb and enter the glacier.

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