12 Months in Iceland By The Numbers

Today’s post is celebrating a big milestone in my expat life. I have survived my first year in Iceland! I already shared with you all my amazing day at the Blue Lagoon to celebrate my milestone, but my entire 12 month in Iceland was full of wonderful things and in need of a recap.

With that lets get to by 12 month in Iceland and all the wonderful things I got up to.

Three hours being wined and dined at the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Iceland This year I am on the committee for our works annual ball and we are planning on having it at the Blue Lagoon and where invited to sample the menu for our event. During our dining experience I felt like I was VIP, a new wine to match each dish, the chef coming out to explain everything we were eating, the most beautiful dishes I have seen, ya it was basically amazing!

One sunny fall afternoon playing tourist

Tourist DayH and I took full advantage of the perfect fall weather and spent a Saturday afternoon exploring Reykjavik like tourists. There are so many wonderful spots in the city that are popular stops for tourist but the locals tend to never visit, it is a shame because they are all so beautiful. Always makes me appreciate my city a bit more when I get out and view it with different eyes.

Weekly Friday work breakfasts spent stuffing my face

Friday morning breakfastOkay not the prettiest picture but this event is a highlight every week. On Friday mornings we have a breakfast club at work where a group brings in goodies for us to enjoy. The picture above is from when my group was responsible for bringing in breakfast, the homemade breads and tasty treats are always amazing. It is such a great way to start a Friday, delicious breakfast, chats with your co-workers, basically a mini party to kick off the weekend!

Two runs on my favorite path by the sea

Iceland SeaI knew the snow and ice was on its way so I took advantage of any decent day we had to get out and run on my favorite path.

Iceland SeaUnfortunately the ongoing volcanic eruption happening here in Iceland sent gas our way that kept me exercising indoors for the past few weeks. And now the snow is here, sigh. At least I got a few more runs in before winter.

Five day trip to Amsterdam booked!

Amsterdam-The-Netherlandsvia
Living in Iceland makes traveling to other European countries much more difficult (and expensive) than living in mainland Europe. So when we see a good flight deal we jump on it and this is how we ended up booking a trip to Amsterdam over Easter. I can’t wait to stroll the canals and hopefully visit some tulip fields.

One chilly morning exploring Þingvellir

thingvellirWhile I was not prepared for the snow our morning at þingvellir was beautiful. If you missed it you can find the whole recap here.

thingvellir_0029thingvellir_0028thingvellir_0035 Stunning right? I already am looking forward to returning to Þingvellir next fall, hopefully without snow.

Countless smiles when I walk pass this sign

Cafe signI see this sign every time I walk downtown and it always makes me smile. I love the attitude here in Reykjavik!

Twelve months living in Iceland celebrated

FlowersDid I mention my Viking is a keeper? Not only was I spoiled with a weekend full of pampering but I also came home from work on my expativersary to be treated to these beautiful flowers.

Two hours soaking in the Blue Lagoon

Blue LagoonI know I have talked about this like a dozen times but hey a one year expativersary is a big deal and the Blue Lagoon is too pretty to not post constant pictures of!

Blue LagoonBlue LagoonBlue Lagoon

Through all the challenges that this year has brought my way I am happy to be ending the year on a high note and I am proud of the way I have grown. I have put myself out there more times than I can count, dealt with many feelings of homesickness, and taken several risks that have both paid off and failed. I have started to learn a new language, experienced Icelandic traditions and can now navigate my way around the city with ease. While I know that there will be many more difficult things that come my way I am finally feeling at home here in Iceland.

Previous by the numbers month recaps:
First Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Second Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Third Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Fourth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Fifth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Sixth Month in Iceland by the Numbers
Seventh Month in Iceland by the Numbers
8th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
9th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
10th Month in Iceland by the Numbers
11th Month in Iceland by the Numbers

Just Another Day in Paradise

You know those days that everything just seems to go wrong? Those days where you should really just stay in bed because everything you try and do just won’t go your way?

This was my Tuesday.

My morning began with an irritating message about my car back home (seriously this car is a big pain in the ass!). Anything to do with my car lately stresses me out so this message instantly out me in a grumpy mood. Attempting to shake it off with some delicious coffee I headed to the kitchen only to look out the window to see our first snow of winter had arrived.

First Snow in IcelandFirst Snow in Iceland

Awesome.

As I have yet to put winter tires on my bike (because it is still October and I am protesting snow until November!)I opted to leave my bike at home and take the bus to work. This meant that instead of the usual hour I have to get ready I now had 20 minutes to be out the door. Enter in panic mode with me rushing around dropping everything I touched and cursing the fact that the bus leaves so early.

I swear it doesn’t matter how much time I give myself to get ready, when I have to catch the bus I always find myself running to make it in time. This morning was no different, and running to the bus after the first snow with icy sidewalks is not fun. Add in the fact that I grabbed H’s hat, which is much larger than mine and with every step crept further over my eyes, I was a sight to be seen.

Thankfully I arrived to the bus stop with not one fall (success) and patiently wait for the bus to arrive. Of course the bus arrived ten minutes late which meant I missed my connecting bus to get to work. This particular bus only goes every 30 minutes so instead of fueling my anger while I sat in the freezing bus stop I angry power walked my ass to work.

As I made the final leg of my never ending work commute my annoyance at the day began to slowly faded away as I took in the pretty sites along the way. Looking around at the winter wonderland around me I debated, how early is too early to decorate for Christmas??

First Snow in IcelandFirst Snow in IcelandFirst Snow in IcelandFirst Snow in IcelandFirst Snow in IcelandFirst Snow in Iceland
A beautiful yet annoying surprise to wake up to.

Once I had finally arrived to work I laughed off the whole morning and joked with my co-workers about my rotten luck. Right after I said this I opened my backpack to discover my lunch had exploded and was all over my bag. My lunch was salmon, let that smell sink in.

Just another day in paradise.

Question of the Day?
Do you ever have those days when nothing seems to go your way? When do you decorate for Christmas?

5 Hikes in Iceland for Those Short on Time

5 hikes from Reykjavik Welcome to Iceland! Most likely you are staying in the capital city, Reykjavik and are loving the quirky vibe the city has. But you didn’t come to Iceland for the city life, no you came for the stunning Icelandic nature. The options are endless when it comes to places to visit in Iceland, but for those short on time that still want to get a taste of the Icelandic nature this post is for you.

The 5 hikes below are all around an hour away from Reykjavik making them the perfect half day or less hiking excursion. If time allows I recommend doing all 5, but just one hike will have you falling in love with the Icelandic nature!

1. Esjan
Hiking EsjanHiking EsjanHiking EsjanEsjan is less than a 30 minute drive from Reykjavik making it the perfect destination for those with only a day in the city but still want to get an Icelandic hike in. You can chose how long you hike for, make it a short hike under two hours or spend an afternoon exploring all over the mountainside. And the views of Reykjavik from the top, amazing! If you can only fit one hike into your Icelandic itinerary I highly recommend making it a hike at Esjan.

2. Glymur
Iceland - http://unlockingkiki.comGlymur - http://unlockingkiki.comA hike back to the second tallest waterfall in Iceland, Glymur, will more than satisfy your hiking needs. One of my favorite hikes I have done in Iceland, the views alone make this hike a must do! Reaching the waterfall is like an added bonus to your hike. This trip has it all, Icelandic horses and sheep, waterfalls and stunning landscapes, and a surprise challenge that just adds to the Icelandic experience, but I will let you discover that for yourself.

3. Hveragerði
Hveragerði - http://unlockingkiki.comFancy a true Icelandic style adventure? Take a short hike just outside of Hveragerði to the hot spring called Rekjadalur. Complete your hike with a soak in the hot spring, preferably with an Icelandic beer and under the midnight sun. Hveragerði is a 45 minute drive from Reykjavik making it the perfect place for a half day adventure.

4. Gjáin
Gjáin - http://unlockingkiki.comGjáin - http://unlockingkiki.com Described to me as “the most beautiful place in Iceland”, Gjáin is a hidden Icelandic gem. Very few tourist ever visit Gjáin, I myself didn’t even know this place existed until a few months ago! When you arrive you will feel like you have stepped into a fairytale. A short and easy hike, Gjáin is a perfect place for a picnic break during a day of exploring Iceland.

5. Seljavallalaug
Hiking in IcelandHiking in IcelandIf you have a bit more time to spend this hike is perfect for you. In the south of Iceland you can treat yourself to two stunning waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss , before heading off for this hike. A 20 minute walk back towards the mountains will bring you to one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland. Treat yourself to a dip in the pool before leaving and you will leave Iceland with one unforgettable memory.

And so you can be sure to not miss any of these places here is a map to save for when you make the wise decision to visit Iceland.

Question of the Day?
Are you a fan of hiking? What would you want to do if you visited Iceland?

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Boy Meets Pumpkin

H and I have been together for almost four years, and for the majority of the time I totally forget that we are from different countries. Those times when I do realize that I am in fact dating a man from Iceland and not America are often surrounding cultural traditions that he has never experienced. One such tradition, carving pumpkins.

One of my favorite things about our relationship is being able to share traditions from our culture with each other so when we walked into the store this weekend and I saw a box of pumpkins I knew what our Sunday afternoon plans would be.

Pumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandStraight from the USA, Grasker, translation:pumkpkins! And in case you have never seen a carved pumpkin the store left an example for us to follow.

Pumpkins in IcelandAs we were picking out our pumpkin H started asking questions about how the whole pumpkin carving process works.Our conversation went something like this…

H: How do we carve it?
K: With the little carving tools from the pumpkin kit
H: I don’t think they have these kits your talking about
K: They have to, they probably were shipped with the pumpkins

5 minutes later

H: Looks like your precious pumpkin kit isn’t here. You Americans and all your extra gadgets, I am sure we can figure it out.
K: (completely annoyed) I guess so
H: What kind of picture do you like to carve?
K: I don’t know, I always use the sketches that come in the pumpkin kit.

Point of story, while pumpkins have arrived finally in Iceland my beloved pumpkin kits were no where to be found. So off we went with our pumpkin in tow and H reaching the conclusion that I have never carved a pumpkin in my life (only partially true, I get bored of carving after a bit). Regardless of this fact I think H was more than excited to have a pumpkin to carve, he couldn’t help but play like the little kids in the pumpkin patch on the walk home.

Pumpkins in Iceland

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Just a boy and his pumpkin

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H decided he would handle all the carving duties and I would deal with the cleaning of the pumpkin. Fine by me. As soon as we walked in the door H’s got right to carving his first pumpkin.

Pumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandWhile H was carving the pumpkin open he asked me what the inside of the pumpkin was like. My answer, messy. Once H got the pumpkin open he gave his own opinion on the inside of the pumpkin. Apparently the inside of the pumpkin reminded him of a shriveled up brain, because he has so much experience with dealing with brains.

Pumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandIMG_4730No matter what I always seem to make a mess when cleaning the pumpkin. Part of the experience, as I told H as my excuse to why the pumpkin was all over the kitchen floor:)

Once the pumpkin was cleaned I passed the project back to H where his design side came out and he got to work drawing a photo he found online. Sometimes I don’t know who I’m dating, my drawing skills end at stick figures. H was out to prove a point to me, you don’t need silly pumpkin kits to make an awesome pumpkin.

Pumpkins in IcelandYes, H wore his orange pants to match the pumpkin, he went all in for his first pumpkin carving experience:)

Pumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandPumpkins in IcelandOnce his pumpkin was complete the countdown was on for it to be dark enough to light up his jack-o-lantern. While we waited I had to treat him to pumpkin seeds, another important part of the pumpkin carving experience.

Pumpkins in IcelandThe verdict, he was not a fan of the pumpkin seeds, but the boy has skills when it comes to carving pumpkins.

Pumpkins in IcelandHe proved his point that he doesn’t need a pumpkin carving kit to create his jack-o-lantern master piece. I proved my point that I most definitely do. Just another fun filled night in this international household.

Question of the Day?
Do you use a pumpkin carving kit or just a plain ole knife? Are you a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds?