ILLUMINE COLLECT BLOG

The Euro Journal: Chapter 9

Day 20- Leaving Rome, Next Stop Iceland

We woke up that morning, packed our bags, and grabbed breakfast before hugging our host goodbye at the door. Today was going to be a long one filled with tons of traveling. We walked to the station and hopped the train to the airport. Things sailed smoothly as we boarded our flight without a hitch and landed in Barcelona for a layover. As we ate lunch we looked out the windows of the airport and thought about making Spain our next destination, but that would have to wait for another time. Today we had our eyes on the green fields of Iceland. We boarded our next flight and touched down in Reykjavik at 8 pm. At the airport we waited around for our rental car service to pick us up and frankly we were excited. This was our first time we had a vehicle this entire trip! It would be nice to get back behind the wheel again.

Jeremy asleep on plane

Our ride was a humble stick shift Fiat. Not exactly the car you think of when traversing across Iceland, but hey we wanted to be economical. Finally, we were off to our Air BnB for the night. By the time we reached the place it was already 10 pm, not that we could tell though because the sun never truly sets in the rugged Icelandic summer. Even at 10 at night the skies looked as if it were only dusk. We sneaked into our room without waking the host, drew the shades, and passed out the moment our heads hit the pillow.

Day 21- Iceland Continued

Next morning, we bundled up and headed out the door for some breakfast. Not exactly authentic Icelandic cuisine, but we found a Subway chain restaurant close by which was good enough for us. As we ate we planned our next moves. It looked like the Golden Circle would be the best route to take the next few days. The Golden Circle by the way is a famous 300-kilometer-long tourist route through southern Iceland that winds through many beautiful geysers, waterfalls, and landscapes. We originally wanted to visit a geothermal spa until we saw the price tag of admission. No thanks! Who knew a spa would cost so much? Oh well.

Reagan and Jeremy at Icelandic Waterfall

After grabbing snacks at a grocery store our first stop was a park trail filled with waterfalls. It was an absolutely serene and beautiful sight. The stroll put our minds at ease. Next stop was the Strokkur Geyser. The moment we pulled into the park we watched the mighty geyser spout a crazy 50-foot eruption! We couldn’t wait to get a closer look.

Strokkur Geyser

As we walked we noticed all sorts of warning signs about not touching the boiling water. Bubbles came up from the ground as we walked. Finally, we got to the geyser. It was dormant at the time so we were able to peak down the geyser’s spout. The water was as crystal clear as can be and we could stare straight down into it. That’s when we saw the bubbles ripping through the water. Okay, probably time to step back! A few minutes later a larger bubble surfaced and then boom! The geyser erupted with super-heated water!

Strokkur Geyser

Everyone craned their necks up to the sky to see the 50-foot jet rocket into the air. Another 10 minutes and the geyser erupted again, and again, and again, just like clockwork. After the geyser we made our way to the Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, waterfall, which was enormous. It looked like something out of Lord of the Rings! After a long day of exploring we worked up a huge appetite. We found a nice restaurant on the way to the campsite we were staying. But no joke, Iceland is expensive! Our food easily cost double what it would’ve cost back in the States.

Gullfoss

Before we knew it was time for bed. Despite the sun never setting the weather was still a cold 30 degrees. We roughed it a little bit in that tent of ours. Though we had some nice air mattresses, extra blankets, and sleeping bags, we still doubled up on layers and made it work. From our tent we could hear the gurgle and rush of the waterfall nearby, like nature’s sound machine. We did our best to get a good night’s rest despite the perpetual sunlight shining through our tent. Iceland is so otherworldly.

Campsite in Iceland with Fiat

Day 22- Iceland Continued 

That next morning, we packed up our campsite and faced the day. First on the list was breakfast, followed by more sightseeing, then stopping by Skalholt cathedral. Afterwards we went to Fridheimar, a ginormous greenhouse that only grows tomatoes. Inside was an immediate temperature difference. There were plants everywhere we looked while honey bees buzzed busily around. We treated ourselves to their all-you-can-eat tomato soup buffet and delicious homemade bread. In fact, everything on the menu was made from tomatoes, even the ice cream!

Skalholt cathedral

After lunch we decided to take a visit to Slakki, a local petting zoo because, well, why not? It was like stepping on to Noah’s cute and cuddly ark. There were puppies, kittens, rabbits, cows, horses, birds, and everything else one could imagine. We gave our fair share of pets and tummy scratches because who were we kidding? We absolutely missed our dogs back home! Before leaving I challenged Reagan to a putt-putt match, which they had on site. Probably best if we don’t discuss who won though!

Kerio Volcano

Next stop was Kerio, a volcanic crater lake 180 feet deep. Apparently 3,000 years ago Kerio was a cone volcano which erupted spectacularly, emptying all its magma and eventually collapsing into itself. Needless to say, its massive. After Kerio we were off to our final Air BnB of the trip in the fishing village of Eyrarbakki. The plan was to get there, shower, then find grub. We get there and I instantly face palm. “Oh, so that’s what a half bath is!” I groan aloud. Hey, you got to learn sometime. Yup, I totally thought that I had booked us a place with a shower. Whoops. Only a slight problem because we hadn’t showered since we left Rome a few days ago and we still had another two and a half days to get before heading back to the States.

The Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Iceland

After shaking off that mistake we headed into town for some food. In hopes of saving some cash from the Icelandic markup we opted for KFC which surprisingly didn’t taste any different from back home. Only thing different is that it cost us $30 each for a meal! Yikes. We headed back to Eyrarbakki and took in some views of the Atlantic before heading back to our place for the night. We had room for one more adventure before our flight the next day.

Day 23- The Last Day of Our Euro Adventure

Here it was. The final day of our trip. Even though we were tired and shower-less, we were determined to make this last day count as much as the other 22. The night before, we read about a hike to the Reykjadalur Hot Springs. Good news was that these springs were completely free. The bad news was it was a four-mile hike there and back. Our online resource said the trail wasn’t too bad but once we got there we discovered the terrain was little rougher than expected.

Reagan hiking to Reykjadalur Hot Springs

The trail started with a long and winding walk up the steep incline of a small mountain. By the time we reached the top of that mount it started to rain, then we trudged down the other side. Since the trail was so windy and not a straight shot it took us one hour to traverse the two miles, all the while we dodged other hikers and horseback riders along the way. Finally, miraculously, we arrived at the hot springs, which was the only thing keeping us moving that entire time!

Sheep on Reykjadalur Hot Springs hike

We peeled off our soaking wet layers and hiking boots and into our swimsuits. The cold air stung our skin before we plunged ourselves into the hot steaming pools of water. Ah the relief! The springs were well worth the walk after all. Honestly, it was the perfect place to sit and reflect upon our entire trip; the places we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, and the lifetime of memories we’ve made along the way. From the gentle waters of Venice to the chilly plains of Iceland.

Enjoying Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Before long it was time to go. We bolted from the warm springs to the freezing air and jumped into our clothes. We made the two mile walk back up and then down the mountain, to the car, and off to the airport. In no time we were on our seven-hour flight back home to Missouri. What a truly amazing journey.

The End!

We still can’t believe the fantastic trip we’ve had! Seven countries and twelve cities in only 23 days. Believe me, it was as exciting, tiring, and wonderful as it sounds. Oh! And over 165 miles walked but who’s counting, right? Touring Europe was something we could’ve only dreamed of but we were so fortunate enough to make it a reality. For those who’ve always wanted to see the world but have always been kind of on the fence, do it! Leave the country, find yourself, do enough traveling for two lifetimes! Life is fleeting but the world is filled with adventures and colorful people just waiting to be experienced. Europe especially is a place filled with wonder.

As for our readers, we’d also like to give a big thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to follow our Euro Journal entries over these past couple months. We certainly hope that our stories have inspired you to break the mold and find your next adventure! Ignite that spirit in you and blaze your own trail across the globe.

With love,

Jeremy and Reagan Lux

Story by: Jeremy Lux

Written by: Eric Gasa

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