Geysirs & Green Roofs

(Written by Danny.)

Our second day in Iceland has been magical…AGAIN.

We spent the morning walking around Reykjavik admiring the Scandinavian architecture and color schemes. More than once today, Mara pointed at a house in the city, or on our drive into more remote parts of Iceland, and “Oh my…that is my dream home!” One thing we decided was we absolutely love the bold colors and strong contrasts. Some of our favorites are below:

While walking up and down the streets, we kept our eyes out for a chance to get a souvenir. Mara was looking for a very traditional Icelandic wool sweater – they tend to be a stiffer and somewhat scratchier wool, but are known for their warmth. Fit was often difficult – I’m assuming many of them are hand made because they all vary greatly – some have long sleeves and some make it look like you have long arms, and it was difficult to find one that didn’t look like it was swallowing Mara whole :). Perhaps some of the best finds we had were at the Red Cross Thrift Store on the main street. Prices were much cheaper, and Mara found some she really loved. She couldn’t quite commit though and has a sweater on hold in case we find something better in our travels.

I just wanted to find a sweater that fit well and was comfortable…for me that meant steering away from the traditional sweater and going for something that still had all the flavor of the traditional sweater…but all the consistency of a manufactured and tailored fit. I guess that makes me a “hand-made” party pooper. I loved the sweaters and other winter accessories by IceWear. Their wool was a little softer, and they fit a little slimmer (and they cost less).

We kept on walking up the hill until we got to Hallgrimskirkja, an absolutely gorgeous church designed by the architect Guðjón Samuel, who was inspired by the shapes formed when lava cools into basalt rock (there are basalt cliffs in Iceland with a similar shape that we hope to see tomorrow).

I went to the top of the tower to get some views of the city below…you can see what a long shadow the church casts over the city, especially when the winter sun barely makes it’s way up a third of the way into the sky.

When we finished our city walking, we hopped in the car and started driving towards the Golden Circle- which consists of some of the most popular sites around Reykjavik. The drive itself is kind of other worldly and just as enjoyable, if not more enjoyable, then the destinations you visit.

For our final stop today, Mara decided to bundle up in her fleece bibs and relished in the warmth. She found them on Amazon and they’re made with Polartec for the U.S. Military, but they’re only $10!

We walked up to Geysir (the place from which all other geysers get their name). I caught a pic of Mara waiting for the eruption staring into the setting sun.

And Mara caught a pic of me after the eruption as we watched the sun set over steaming pools of super heated water.

The best part about the setting suns in Iceland at this time of year is…they last forever!! We stayed watching the sun set for about 15 minutes, then went inside a shop to look at more sweaters and souvenirs. When we left about 20 minutes later, then sun was still setting. And it was setting the entire 20 minute drive to our inn for the night – Héraðskólinn…which happens to be an old school designed by the same architect who designed the Hallgrimskirkja church that was just converted into an inn last year. We didn’t know that until after one of our long conversations with the owner of the inn, who by the way, is wonderful!  
If you ever come to Iceland and need a place to stay during your travels, you might find yourself having a wonderful conversation about happiness with the owner. He is a very thoughtful man, who has experienced many ups and downs of life, and though he wouldn’t claim to have found the secret to happiness, he is certainly a very thoughtful student of the subject. Mara and I wish we could have had recorded the conversation as he shared the simple but powerful things he’s experienced, where he claims that at his lowest moments (he described himself analogously as crawling on the floor with two broken legs), which led him to having an experience with God, and guides him now in his efforts to live a life that would allow him to “walk and talk with God.” He was a very heartfelt and sincere man, not religious but deeply spiritual, and had an unmistakable humility about him.  Truly, the conversations we had with him were one of the highlights of the day.  

P.S. Today Mara responded to many comments on the last three posts, just FYI: Writing from Iceland, Where Did You Get That, and My Attempt to Stay Warm in Scandinavia.

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  1. Camille Millecam Whiting February 12, 2014 at 1:23 am - Reply

    I love this so much! Good for you guys, and what a surprisingly romantic trip!

  2. M H February 12, 2014 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Danny, these pictures — esp. at Geysir at sunset — GLORIOUS!!! Excited to see what tomorrow's adventures bring! ~ Melissa

  3. Rose February 12, 2014 at 2:54 am - Reply

    I want to visit Iceland even more after reading this post…and visit with the inn owner. Great post, thank you!!

  4. Amy February 12, 2014 at 5:36 am - Reply

    I am geeking out over that church. Oh my goodness. Amazing. Keep enjoying your trip 🙂

  5. Laurie February 12, 2014 at 6:15 am - Reply

    WOW! your pictures are fantastic! so glad you are having a wonderful time. Enjoy 🙂

  6. kh February 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic journey! I'm loving your vacation. Way to go, Mara & Danny!

  7. Utah Girl Am I February 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    What an amazing trip! And what fantastic sweaters! Also, Mara, what size bibs did you get/what size pants do you normally wear (if it's not too much to ask!)? These are a great find!

    • mara February 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      Hi!! We both got size Medium Long. I couldn't find a small that was on Amazon Prime and I needed quick shipping. The medium fits Danny well but it's huge on me. But it's still wearable (with the adjustable straps) and it fits very well over clothes. Also,
      They are made a bit short on purpose so they can lay on top or tucked in to your boots. Though the mediums longs aren't so short on me -I'm 5'7" ( they are short on Danny.)

    • Utah Girl Am I February 16, 2014 at 3:24 am - Reply

      Thanks, Mara! That's super helpful. I'm 5'0", so I think I'll stay away from the long sizes. 🙂 And thanks for sharing such a great find! I left my snowpants in Utah, but this East Coast winter makes me feel like I should have a pair here, too. And thanks to you, I soon will! 😉 Good luck with your upcoming speaking engagements!

  8. Anonymous February 12, 2014 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Oh, this brings back memories from our trip a few years ago when Eyjafjallajökull had just erupted! That is one magical country. Don't miss out on walking behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall (one of many) and walking the continental divide of Þingvellir. I think the erupting geyser in the picture is actually Strokkur, the son of Geysir 🙂

  9. Sage February 12, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    So beautiful. Thanks for sharing. My Scandinavian blood feels kinship. Might have to go to Iceland!

  10. Anna February 13, 2014 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Iceland looks like a dreamland. I had a friend that went there once and I kind of made fun of him for going to such a random place but now I am DYING to go. So beautiful!!!

  11. Amy Poulson February 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for all of the pictures and descriptions. My family comes from Iceland, and though many of my extended family have traveled there, I have not visited. I am enjoying seeing my homeland through your eyes and pictures.

  12. Anonymous February 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    I love seeing images of Iceland. Can I ask, do you use filters on these pictures (esp the ones before the Geysir set)? I'm trying to get an idea of what the light is like there this time of year. The geyser looks amazing! Until this post I hadn't even thought about the origin of that term.

    I guess I'll be the lone voice of dissent: that church freaks me out! It's like a Neo Brutalist nightmare for me! I instantly thought it was the creepiest church I've ever seen and then when you mention what a huge shadow it casts over the town…yeah, just got creepier!!!

  13. Holly Olsen February 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Beautiful pictures! I want to visit Iceland!

  14. Crystal J December 13, 2015 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Went back to these posts as my husband and I are looking to travel to Iceland soon and wondering where else you guys would recommend to stay during our visit?

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