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Posts Tagged ‘fun’

Our second day in Iceland started off with our attempt to go to Bonus and get provisions…but somehow they are only open at 11 am most days, and on weekends they open at noon.

What I kind of convenience store isn’t so convenient? Luckily, the good thing about a Bonus is that it’s everywhere as far as “everywhere” can be in Iceland. This post is an exultation to Bonus — check it out.

We figured we’d run into one along the way, and we didn’t want to waste precious daylight, so off we went on our own Golden Circle tour.

Driving around Iceland is very easy and straightforward. The rules of the road are generally the same, except that you cannot make a right turn at a red light.

We opted to do the Golden Circle Tour on our own because we really hate being rushed. We both like to meander and discover on or own time and pace.¬† (We are not, however, above trailing behind a tour guide to listen in on little anecdotes and such ūü§∑ūüŹĽ‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ)

STOP 1: Random spot off of¬†√ĺingvallavegur (Hwy 36):

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To be fair, we had no idea where we stopped. We saw a few cars pulled over, a picnic table and bench, and a cordoned off area that acted as a lookout point. So, naturally, like the tourists that we were, we also pulled over.

I. have. never. been. so. cold.

It was so incredibly windy. Like nearly-pick-my-whole-body-off-the-ground windy. And that wind was bone chilling cold. We (over)heard from one of the tour guides that Iceland was the 3rd windiest place on the planet. And that #s 1 and 2 were uninhabited. I was shivering from head to toe in Iceland, and I wondered if #s 1 and 2 were colder.

Luckily, the rest of the trip wasn’t half as chilly!

But that view though. It’s that first, “wow, this is amazing” feeling and it really gets you pumped for what’s next.

And boy, was there a lot of “Wow!” coming up!

STOP 2:¬†√ĺingvellir National Park

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Tectonic Plates

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√ĺingvellir Church

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√ĺingvellir is a special place in Icelandic history. The¬†Al√ĺing (Icelandic Parliament — considered the oldest Parliament in the world) used to convene here from 930 to 1798.¬† The little church is also symbolic of the change from paganism to Christianity.

It is also a place where you can see the shifts in the tectonic plates evidence of the shifting of the earth’s crust. If I was smarter in geology, I’d explain it better. But why don’t you check it out for yourself?

STOP 3: Laugarvatn

We continued on the Golden Circle Route after a couple of hours at √ĺingvellir, afraid that the looming clouds threatened rain (anyone blogging about Iceland can tell you just how quickly the weather can change).

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Weather rolling into¬†√ĺingvellir.

We were also still on a look out for a Bonus, or any place we could grab lunch really, but as you will see, driving through Iceland can make you realize how remote some of the towns really are.

We ended up in¬†Laugarvatn, where we bought some bread, cheeses and cured meats for lunch (and the rest of the day). No, it wasn’t a Bonus store.¬† We also discovered Laugarvatn lake.¬† It is a shallow lake midway between √ěingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir. Under its floor there are hot springs heating the lake so it is warm and suitable for bathing all year round.

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The bank of the lake was steaming (and also smelled sulfuric). The water was indeed warm, and in fact, at the far bank of the lake, there was a public bath with locals and other tourists enjoying the hot waters.

Had we more time, I would have wanted to try the hot baths. But off we went towards the rest of our day’s adventure!

STOP 4: Bruarfoss

This was probably one of our favorite stops along the way, and it’s not one of the more well-known ones. In fact, it was a little bit difficult to find.

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Not Exactly X Marks the Spot.

We sort of just ended up pulling over at whatever dirt road off of Highway 37 that came as close to the red dot as possible.

We ended up parking in what we hoped was¬†not private property, but it might have been. It was basically just between two bushes on the side of the dirt road that led up to someone’s very nice house.

Then we hiked in the general direction of the red dot.

Pretty soon, the sounds of water rewarded us. But only after we crawled under some barb wire. Yeahhhhh, we were probably somewhere we shouldn’t have been. *hangs head*

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Yep, Bruarfoss is totally worth the detour.

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After about a half mile’s hike, you are greeted by this incredible sight.

The glacial river Br√ļar√°¬†falls 2-3 meters, ending in a U-turn at the base of the waterfall, where the river is concentrated into a deep crevice that runs through the center of dark volcanic rock formations.¬†This creates sky-blue rapids that almost defy the imagination.

We could have stared at that waterfall all day.¬† I mean, the photos above have not been altered in any way. The falls really are that blue. Plus, it’s so remote and hard to find, there were no more than five other people there with us, and at some point, only the two of us were there for about a good 15 minutes before another small group of lost tourists stumbled into the area.

But, we still had a few more stops on our list, so off we went!

STOP 5: Geysir

The geyser for which all geysers are named after can technically be found at our Stop Number 5: Geysir.

However, we learned that it does not actually go off — not unless there was a high magnitude earthquake right before. So instead, at this stop, it was all about that sulfur smell and fields of smoking crevices, bubbling waters, boiling mud pits, and signs¬†not to touch the boiling hot waters.

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It felt like the Land Before Time

There was, however, one geyser that erupted every fifteen minutes or so. It’s called Strokkur, and we saw it erupt three times while we were in the area. It’s quite a sight because it happens with little to no warning, and suddenly, a huge gush of water spurts out 100 feet up in the air.

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And like most of the common stops on the Golden Circle, this stop was littered with tourists.

There’s also a brand new visitor center across the street, but we didn’t stop inside because it was packed with people. We hopped into our rented SUV and went off to our next stop.

STOP 6: Gullfoss

Considered one of Iceland’s most popular attractions, Gullfoss is an iconic waterfall. It’s also one of the landmarks that sort of sparked environmentalism in the hearts of Icelandic folks.¬† Read up on¬†Sigri√įur T√≥masd√≥ttir.

The waterfall itself is majestic and powerful. You will get soaked when you get close. It’s also kind of unique because it’s a staircase waterfall, and also kind of makes a 90 degree turn.

It’s a whole other kind of wow factor. I mean, really, Iceland. How many times does a girl have to say wow in one day? [Suddenly WOW Airlines’ name makes sense…]

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STOP 7: ICELANDIC HORSES!!!

They’re so fluffy, I could dieeeeeeeeeeeeee!¬†I mean, they might as well be unicorns, they’re so cute! There are Icelandic horses and sheep all over the countryside, but sometimes, if you’re lucky, you see ones that are near enough the fence to be petted…and even better when the farm itself invites you to pet their cute horses.

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We pulled off the side of into a driveway and lo and behold! The sign basically says “Feed Cute Horses”

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So, of course I did.

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Can you fit in my luggage?

Can I has one, please?

STOP 8: FAXIFOSS

One of the mind boggling and wonderful things about Iceland is the fact that normal, regular people can have¬†waterfalls in their own backyard. In fact, Gullfoss used to be privately owned up until around 1940ish and didn’t become a national preserve til 1979.

Meanwhile, smaller, less-oh-whoa waterfalls, like Faxifoss…are still in someone’s backyard. Basically, some Icelanders have just become very tolerant of random people driving up their driveway snapping some photos and leaving.

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Just off to the right of this photo, is someone’s house.

Faxifoss is a mini-waterfall that still manages to be, ugh…so pretty. And to imagine that someone gets to wake up everyday to this view. Again,¬†ugh, I’m officially jealous.

STOP 9: Keri√į

Finally, as the sun started setting, we made it to the last little pin on our google map.¬† Keri√į is a volcanic crater lake with this unreal aquamarine blue waters (due to the minerals in the soil). It’s a cool little hike around the rim, then down towards the water.

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Tiny Chris at the top left corner of the photo!

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The photos don’t really do justice about how big the crater is, but it’s huge and super cool.

This attraction charges about $4 because…again, it’s owned by some private landowners.

By the time we got done walking around and exploring around the crater, the sun was setting and it was time to wrap up our Golden Circle Tour.

It was a long, beautiful, soul-restoring, awe-inspiring day. Thanks, Iceland. Let’s do it again.

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¬†On June 2012, I flew to Cebu, Philippines for my best friend’s wedding.

Christine and I had been friends since Kindergarten. Best friends from the age of nine till I had to move to the United States at the age of 16.  My last memory prior to moving from Cebu City, Philippines to Union City, California was going to tennis camp during the summer with Christine and squealing over how hot Patrick Rafter was.

In the years that followed, I had seen her a few times as I visited the Philippines and she came to visit the United States.

However, despite the time and distance that had separated us, I was proud to stand as a bridesmaid at her wedding to Mr. Romeo. No, literally, his name¬†is Romeo. But we all call him by his nickname…Junie.

Here are some photos from her wedding:

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Marcus is sad that my mom is packing my suitcase. “Please don’t leave me…”

 

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The bridesmaids get their make up and hair did…

 

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I’ve never had so much make up on my face…guess it has to stand up to the weather and bright lights. I feel like a celebrity. Mwahaha!

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At Sacred Heart Parish. Full Circle since they both went to Sacred Heart Schools (one for Boys and the other for Girls).

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Filtered.

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What a Rock n’ Rollin’ Entrance to their reception!

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The Groom also served as the Entertainment that night! Lead singer status!

 

It was such a fun night. I always wondered who my friends would have been or what kind of person I would have grown up to be if I had stayed in the Philippines. If Cre and her friends are any indication, I think I would have been just fine…a little more metal in my music, maybe a little more in touch with creativity, too.

I know Cre and Junie will have an amazing marriage. They’ve already been through so much together, and have always supported each other. I believe in both of them, and they make me believe that there is a happily ever after.

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