Iceland with The Manchiks
May 16, 2013
Iceland has long been on my list of top travel destinations. There's just something about the sheer, raw, beauty found every which way you look; the dramatic landscape and the wild, long haired horses (oh the wild, long haired horses!) that simply calls out to me. After making my way through Julia & Yuriy's photos documenting their most recent vacation, I find myself googling flights to Reykjavik more often than I should probably admit. These photos? They literally take my breath away.
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From Julia... Iceland had been on our list since we had a layover in Reykjavík while flying to Europe for our honeymoon. The photos in the airport alone are enough to convince you to come back. Every time we saw another photographer travel to Iceland, it confirmed to us that there are few places as beautiful as Iceland.

We certainly weren't disappointed and the photos were true. We spent 10 days driving around the island and exploring with the excitement levels of small children. I have never been so amazed at our planet -- volcanoes, glaciers, icebergs, bubbling mud pots, geysers erupting every few minutes, hot springs of milky white water, steam rising from cracks in the earth. We pulled over a ridiculous number of times. At times to snap a photo, at times to pet the Icelandic horses, and sometimes just to run on the spongy moss that covers every surface of the lumpy volcanic rocks. There were few cars on the main highway and we were completely isolated on many hikes. I've never felt so close to nature and to God.

We drove from Reykjavík to Höfn and back over the course of about a week, so we saw just the southern coast of Iceland. Here are some highlights:

- Snorkeling in a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates
- Searching for a crashed plane site in the middle of nowhere
- Riding Icelandic horses at sunrise
- Watching the waves crash on the rocks below us and getting rocked by the insane wind in our tiny car
- Spending a night at a farm guesthouse and getting a home cooked fish meal prepared by our host (best meal we had in Iceland)
- Renting a Land Rover Defender for a day and driving around the Golden Circle
- Hiking around the largest glacier in Europe (there are multiple spots along the main road where you can turn off and hike to get good views)
- Seeing blue icebergs for the very first time and almost crying
- Soaking for a few hours in milky white hot springs before our flight home (most relaxing way to fly!)

We also spent a few days exploring Reykjavík at the beginning and end of our trip. In the city, we loved checking out the well-curated shops (many with local Icelandic designs), spending chilly mornings tucked inside a cafe with coffee and a pastry, and looking for live music in the evenings (which is not hard to find, especially Thur-Sat). Some favorite spots:

- Kiosk - fashion boutique co-owned by a handful of local designers
- Mál og Menning Bookstore - ideal bookstore with killer cake in the cafe upstairs (open late too)
- Kron Kron - colorful, funky Icelandic brand (with incredible tights)
- Stopan Cafe & Bakari Sandholt -- we got pastries and coffee at both spots more than once
- Hallgrímskirkja Church -- climb to the top to get the best view of Rekjavik's colorful rooftops
- Aurum Design & Lifestyle -- serious eye candy, colorful gifts, and modern home decor
- Icelandic Fish & Chips -- gourmet fish and chips with lots of dipping sauce options, and I love sauce

Photography by: Julia & Yuriy Manchik