Writing From Iceland

I love it when I can remain current on this blog. But man, that is HARD sometimes. The last few weeks have been all about seeing friends and wrapping up our lives in America.

And this morning after a night flight, we landed in Iceland!! I am writing you now from our hotel room in Reykjavik.

This first day here has been AMAZING. I love this place so much. I could actually turn around and leave now without even spending the night and say that even just one day here was worth it!

From the airport, just as the sun was coming up, we drove straight to The Blue Lagoon. I was blown away when I saw this foggy, blue mist in the distance, all amid green moss covered lava rock as far as you could see in every direction.

We couldn’t believe it when we finally saw the cloudy blue water on the side of the road.

And then we parked (first ones there!) and walked down a lava path, like we were walking towards a star ship or something. 🙂

And then… THIS:

We soaked in the perfectly hot water, steam bathed, covered our bodies in silica mineral clay, sat several times in the sauna, chatted it up with people from all over the world, and showered naked with all the Europeans (it’s actually a requirement of the spa- and I embraced it. Why not. I’ve come a long way from my 7th grade gym days when I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing that! 🙂

The place is IMMACULATE and every detail and fixture is so, so Scandinavian, which in my mind means it’s all really, really nice to look at. They really do know their design and I think it’s safe to say it’s my favorite kind.

A Few Blue Lagoon Tips If You Visit:

1. Take Off Your Metal Jewelry as the minerals can discolor it.

2. Put Loads and Loads of Conditioner On Your Hair before and afterwards as the minerals can make your hair very coarse. Or wear a shower cap. The minerals can also damage your highlights/color.

3. Do Not Miss the Amazingly Designed Lounge Chairs upstairs in the “Relaxing Area.”  I want one of those chairs in the worst way!! They were genius and put every other pool or patio chair to shame.

4. Bring Your Own Towel and Flip Flops if you’d like to save a little money.

5. Float Around to Find the “Hottest Water” Areas. So, so nice. I guess I love my hot water.

6. Take a Water Bottle or Use a Free Plastic Cup From the Cafe and fill it up with the delicious spring water from their drinking fountains. You will desperately need water in the sauna & steam room.

Later tonight we went to our speaking engagement and dinner in Reykjavik. We talked about one of our favorite topics: Choosing Happiness. Danny and I know this message so well that luckily, at this point, we don’t need to prepare. We find it’s usually best, anyway, when we just speak from the heart. And that happened. We’re so grateful. I never take it for granted and feel SO grateful each and every time. But the best part was meeting such an amazing group of Icelandic people. They were SOO welcoming and warm, so charming and kind. Afterwards we chatted with them all ’til late in the night and could have chatted even more. They all have amazing stories to tell and it was wonderful to just be united with them in trying to live the best lives that we can.

AND! We met these two lovely ladies who came because of the blog. We’re so glad they came!!! It was such a highlight to meet them. We were blown away by their kindness and also just felt so connected with them. Anyone who reads our blog becomes a fast friend when we meet them in person. It’s so beautiful how that works out.

And then, late, late tonight, we saw the Northern Lights!!!!! Danny and I drove slightly out of town and sure enough, Danny spotted them in his rear view mirror. We parked the car and watched the lights move and change. Danny did his best to capture them on camera, though was super bummed he forgot his tripod.

See what I mean? It has been the most perfect day.
Sending love to you all,
P.S. If you’d like to see, we’ll be sharing more tidbits from our Scandinavian journey on Twitter. The latest: We also got asked to speak in COPENHAGEN and OSLO, too!! Dates are getting worked out. We’re super excited!

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  1. emma February 11, 2014 at 3:18 am - Reply

    What a perfect way to start your new adventure! So very happy and excited for you both. x

  2. lernverzey February 11, 2014 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Just the pictures took my breath away — I can't imagine what it would be like to be there in person! Thank you for sharing your perfect day 🙂

  3. Alex February 11, 2014 at 4:45 am - Reply

    My goodness, the pictures are simply wonderful – the light, the water. What a dream come true! (My dream too…)

  4. erin m. February 11, 2014 at 5:11 am - Reply

    Iceland is one of my dream destinations. Please keep sharing photos! I'll live vicariously through you 🙂

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      Having Iceland as your dream destination is a very, very good idea. It will not disappoint you!! It really, really is worth all the hype.

  5. Amy February 11, 2014 at 7:23 am - Reply

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Seeing the Northern Lights is on my bucket list, so I'm jealous/happy you got to see them! And I have to say, your hair looks super cute the way you pulled it back 🙂

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Ah, thanks, Amy. I should pull my hair back more often. Yesterday it was a necessity as it was quite after the Blue Lagoon and a short nap. 🙂

  6. A Place to Reside February 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Your photos are amazing! It's hard to believe it's all real; it's so beautiful!

  7. Lauren February 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    So exciting! I've been dying to know how you guys are doing- what a lovely update!

  8. Traci February 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Those photos are amazing! Iceland is on my bucket list for sure. Soak it in!

  9. Sally Smith February 11, 2014 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    The pictures are amazing–they don't even look real! I love seeing things that have not been touched by humans. Makes me think about the "big picture"! It's wonderful that you are having speaking engagements all over the world. Are they arranged by your church? What about Chicago? There is a LDS church about 2 miles from my house. Can I ask them to invite you? Can I invite you?

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Oh my gosh, Sally, this comment just made us smile big.
      We feel so honored that you would want to hear us speak. Thank you so much for writing!

      So – most of the times we've spoken it is because someone who reads our blog reaches out to us and it just turns out that they are usually from our church and in charge of planning an event. Getting together to hear people speak is a common practice in the Mormon church, so I think people are just used to that format. If we need to travel for an engagement, it's usually for a special conference of some kind and they usually use some of their budget to pay for our travel. Here in Scandinavia, there is no need for them to pay for our travel as we already planned to be in the area.

      Anyway, we would LOVE to visit Chicago if travel could be worked out somehow. My brother, sis-in-law, niece and nephew actually live in Chicago so we could stay with them.

      You are more than welcome to contact the LDS church there and mention the idea to them. They sometimes call gatherings like these "firesides." In that case we could use the church as the venue and if they have any large events planned, maybe they could cover for travel.

      OR, alternatively, perhaps you could gather some individuals (we could also market on the blog) and charge people for the event so that travel could be covered. Another major plus -I am sure we could use my brother's home as a venue if needed. He is in downtown Chicago and he has lots of space. And perhaps you could help us with any other logistics locally (like maybe refreshments, marketing to people locally, etc.) ? That would be amazing.

      (btw, we've been wanting to arrange events like this for ages but with Danny working, we didn't have the flexibility or time. But now, we have the time and we would LOVE for this to be a trial run! In fact, our hope is that we can come to the States several times a year and go to different cities for events.)

    • Sally Smith February 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Oh my gosh, Mara, you have made my day! I will be in touch very soon after I gather some info. BTW, I think it's kind of nice that when people comment, their language often mirrors yours (I did it on purpose this time)!

    • mara February 11, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      HAHA. I am just laughing. I read this to Danny, sitting next to me, and he laughed, too. You're delightful. Let's make this happen! (Our schedules are basically open. Though I don't think we can pull this off before Ecuador. We're actually going to try and do one other thing in the states before we leave. Some women we met at Alt invited us to their gorgeous Snapdragon Inn in Windsor, Vermont. We will go stay there Feb. 28, 29, March 1 and will offer to do an event there at the Inn – for anyone who would like to come. YOU ARE WELCOME TO COME to that, too. I should have mentioned it. But as for coming to Chicago, we could do that in say 3-6 months time. We'll be getting settled in Cuenca, but after that could come to the states. Also, I don't believe flight prices are horrible. They even have direct flights to Chicago from Ecuador. I know the flights from NYC are just about $450 each.

  10. Anonymous February 11, 2014 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I really, really loved meeting you and hearing you talk. What a wonderful message. So inspiring.
    Have a great time – happy traveling!
    Love, Karen

    • mara February 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      Oh, Karen, I can't tell you how happy we were to meet you. I wish we had more time together and I'll dream of crossing paths again someday. We're loving Iceland so much that I'd love to return again and again. YOU were absolutely delightful and it made our day to have you there. And I meant to tell you, I just loved your sweater!! XOXO

  11. Melissa Nutter February 12, 2014 at 12:00 am - Reply

    I never thought of Iceland as a place I would want to go, but I've just changed my mind!! Wow!! What kind of camera do you guys use?

    Also, I love that you guys are traveling the world and teaching people how to choose happiness! We need more people like you. I'm so glad you chose to use your hard life lessons to help others…that's not easy.

    Thanks for your inspiring blog! Did I mention I loved those pictures!?! : )


  12. Brianne February 12, 2014 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Oh my, I am flipping out over these photos! It is a lifelong dream of mine to see the Northern Lights, and when I got to the end of your post, my mouth dropped open. They are so beautiful and magical! Danny captured some gorgeous pictures… WOW. The Blue Lagoon looks AMAZING, too. Now I must go to Iceland!

    • mara February 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Something to note about the Northern Lights (which I meant to write in the post) – they actually look LESS green in the sky when you are looking at them (sometimes they look white, sometimes they have a bit of a green color). But then if you take a photo, you will then see that crazy vibrant green. Anyway, it was still amazing – but not quite what we expected.

  13. Anonymous February 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    what do you mean you showered with others naked????? you really took a shower naked with other people? how does that work???

    • mara February 14, 2014 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      haha. Well, they just have open showers (separate areas for men and women). It's very common in Europe to have everything open and most people could care less about privacy. It's probably a little less common in the U.S. (at least in my experience) – but in Europe it's seriously no big deal. Also, the lagoon facility requests that you do actually take a shower-without your swimsuit- prior to entering the water. I guess they want everyone nice and clean before entering as there are no chemicals in the water.

  14. Anonymous February 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks again for Monday night – you guys did a great job! Hope you enjoy Ísland. KGM

    • mara February 14, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      XOXO Thank you!!! We LOVED that night. It was such a highlight for us.

  15. Anonymous February 13, 2014 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Love your photos – am planning to visit Iceland in March and have a few quick questions: how long would you recommend allotting for the Blue Lagoon (and thanks for the tips…) and how far outside of Reykjavik did you have to drive to spot the northern lights?


    • mara February 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      Hello! I would allot 1/2 day. You could do it in less. But it's nice to take your time and unwind. I liked not feeling rushed and just taking it all in. We loved going there right after our flight landed (as it is near the airport) and it was a GREAT way to relax and rejuvenate even though we didn't have much sleep. Somehow we still felt quite refreshed afterward.

      For the northern lights, we didn't have to drive far AT ALL. I mean, maybe 10 minutes down a little road? All you need is for the city lights to be reduced (and you need a non-cloudy evening, which we lucked out on!) They do have lots of jeep tours that take people out and they have high tech GPS to help them find the lights. But they still have to rely on a clear night. Since we had a rental car, we didn't want to pay additionally for a tour and I'm so glad that we didn't need to.

      I'm so happy that you are able to go to Iceland! It's worth ALL the hype. It really is amazing. Also, go to this very small hole in the wall called the Sea Baron (on the harbor in Reykjavek) for lobster soup and fish kebobs. So charming.

    • Anonymous February 15, 2014 at 11:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks, SO much for your feedback, Mara – enjoy the rest of your trip!!

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