Pack Your Bags: The Perfect Iceland Itinerary


I'll be honest: When we first added Iceland as a trip in our semester, I was really overwhelmed at the idea. Basically, because I had NO previous knowledge about the country. Nor could I even begin to guess how I to pronounce them either. (So many letters. So few vowels!)  Luckily, my boss hooked us up with an amazing company to do the thinking for us, Iceland Private Tours. They created us an amazing itinerary for our time there and took all the thinking out of the equation for us.

Their work is my gain. And now yours, too, because I'm taking our three trips and merging them into an itinerary for five solid days in Iceland. 

 

DAY ONE | ARRIVAL 

Welcome to Iceland! Grab your bags and pick up your rent car to get this adventure started. Your trip to Iceland begins with a journey to the famous Golden Circle. First stop is Thingvellir National Park- the site of the first Icelandic parliament in 930 AD and where the North American + Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Don't forget to stare into the gorgeously clear pools at the end of the park. They're amazing. Next, you're off to Geysir, where you'll see loads of geysirs and where we get our word English. Wander around the large site for a chance to watch Geysir spurt frequently, and grab lunch at the cafeteria inside. (It's decent food, promise!) From here, head on to Hestheimar Horse Farm for your first night in Iceland. Plan to get a sunset ride on their horses before dinner at the farm. They cook great food, and you'll never feel so homey. It's the perfect place to rest your jet-lagged body.

Recommended Hotel: Hestheimar Horse Farm (tiny cabins, horses, Free wifi, Endless homemade bread, and a great breakfast!) 


DAY TWO | THE SOUTH SHORE (SKOGAFOSS + GLACIER)

If you're going to head out to Iceland, you'll need to see some waterfalls. It's a mandatory stop, and Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss are two of my favorites. Both give you the chance to hike up and around to get some great views of the cascading falls. Afterwards, head to the Dryholaey peninsula for stunning views of the coast. (Not to miss!) After that, grab lunch at the little gas station in Vik and stop at the wool mill next door to pick up some souvenirs. When you've had your fill, head out to the amazing black sand beaches of Reynisdrangar, just outside of town. Famous for it's amazing colors, huge waves, basalt rock formations and huge lava formations in the surrounding water- it's not a stop to skip. You can also get some pictures in front of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, that famously erupted in 2010. They also have a small museum with a video that, if you have the time to spare, is nice to watch. 

Recommended hotel: Islandia Nupar Hotel (Restaurant on-site, free wifi, and a good spot for seeing the Northern Lights.)

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DAY THREE | THE SOUTH SHORE (SKAFTAFELL + JOKULSARLON)

Start out the day with a cruise around a Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon- full of icebergs that have broken off from the large glacier above. You'll take some of the most unreal photos of your life, and maybe even spot a seal or two swimming alongside you. (Boat rides should be booked in advance.) Afterwards, head to the gorgeous national park, Skaftafell, for an afternoon of hiking to some of the most photogenic spots in the country. Discover the hidden waterfall, Svartifoss, who's waters cascade down a backdrop of a black cliff.

Recommended hotel: Islandia Nupar Hotel (Restaurant on-site, free wifi, and a good spot for seeing the Northern Lights.)


 

DAY FOUR | REKYJAVIK 

After breakfast, make your way back to the capital city of Iceland, Reyjkavik. With two-thirds of the country living in this city, you'll notice that it's considerably more populated than all of the other places you have been. Drop off your goodies at the hotel, and head out for the day. Since the city isn't huge, you'll have plenty of time to see lots of the sites. If you're staying at Hotel Odinsve, you can start at the Hallgrimskirkja and work your way down the main street to the harbor. Check out my more extensive guide to Reykjavik for more ideas on how to spend your day. Have your hotel book you a table at Sjavargrilld ("Seafood Grill") for a special night to end your trip. It's so, so good. Fresh fish and amazingly cooked. It's a great date spot.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Odinsve (Located in Downtown Reykjavik near loads of good restaurants, free wifi, breakfast at the hotel or across the street at my favorite cafe- C is For Cookie.)


DAY FIVE | BLUE LAGOON + DEPARTURE

You can't come to Iceland and miss out on the famous Blue Lagoon. End your trip to Iceland with a relaxed morning, coffee and cake from C is For Cookie, and lounging in the healing waters of this geothermal wonder. It's amazingly. warm. Give yourself a couple of hours. (I'd max out at three, personally.) If you are up for a real treat, try to get a in-water relaxing massage. It won't have deep-tissue work, but it will be, without a doubt, one of the most relaxing things you've ever done. Booking in advance is mandatory. After that, you're only about 15 minutes from the airport. Take your car back, make sure you have all tax-free receipts over 5000ISK stamped by customs BEFORE going through security, and head on up to fly out. Safe travels!

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Looking for a itinerary for Iceland that is crafted just for you? I recommend working with Iceland Explore. They've done great things for us, and I have no doubt they'll get you set up with a dream vacation to Iceland, too! Also, I am happy to help with my (less-than-local, but still pretty good) knowledge. Contact lauren@aspiringkennedy.com for travel consult information.

 

Still want more? Tyler & I tried to make it easy on you but tagging all of our trip photos on Instagram with the same hashtag, #icelandknights. You'll find all our favorite sites geotagged there!

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 29, 2014 and filed under iceland, travel.

And on the Seventh Day, (s)he Rested.

My first week of life, work + classes are finished. Man, it was such a great week, but I am pooped.

Tomorrow we are going to walk the market. And after that?   NOTHING.

I love that. People often assume that I'm highly extroverted and love to be out.... but, surprise! Not entirely true. I actually love to be in my house hiding away from the world a bit. I need time away from people to balance out. I may be a bit of a camel, socially, with the ability to go for long-stretches of time away from my energy-source (read: my bed with the TV on), but eventually.... I'll either die or freak out without it. :)

I know most people have some photogenic morning ritual cooking Scandinavian pancakes drizzled with a berry compote that was their grandmother's prize recipe, but my grandmother was from Childress, Texas and she isn't know for her cooking. So our ritual is coffee and a pastry from the Saturday market along Portobello Road. (Which if you ask me- is the total winner because less work and no dishes. To each their own, I suppose.)

Happy Weekend People. Make it a good one. You earned it.


Do you have any weekend "rituals?" Breakfast, running, hanging out with family, baking?  Go on and list them below. It's an easy shot at looking far more exciting than us!

Posted on September 27, 2014 and filed under life.

Over the Moon: LUNAFEST.

 

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Thanks for reading, clicking and supporting LUNAFEST. It's a pretty awesome thing.

 

Right now, Luna Bar is hosting a film fest around the country that focuses on women "game changers." It's called LUNA FEST. Have you heard about it? I feel like I've seen so many tweets chatting about it, and I love that! Not only does the film fest celebrate women filmmakers, but it also has raised $2.5m for breast cancer research. 

I was invited to attend part of LUNAFEST hooplah, but unfortunately- the old Atlantic is keeping me away. (It looked pretty fun, too.) The event was focused on game changers.... and I couldn't help think of how many women have stepped into my life at just the right moment. Maybe they didn't change the game for me, but they flipped my world upside- in the best way.

Friends, Mom. Aunts. Camp Counselors. Professors. Co-workers. Bloggers. Midwives. Expats. 

They're the women that cheered me on through good times. Awkward times. Exciting times. Tough times. Normal times.

I'd like to thank many of you, too, for being there in life for me at those needed moments. You've changed the game for me, too, but your kindness and friendship. Maybe it sounds silly 

And thanks to LUNA Bars. As silly as these corporate events may sometimes sound, I really do love them for their ability to fund people doing something worthwhile together. Thanks to them for sponsoring LUNAFEST. (Maybe next years invite will come with a plane ticket.) :)

Check out the event page site for your local LUNAFEST. You're invited and they want you there. Go for it. Or just watch their happy video trailer below. It'll pump you up.


Okay... my mushy time is over. Now it's yours.

Leave a women who was a game changer for you below. Let's hear it.  ... and if you, too, lived on the lemon Luna Bars in college. I was addicted!

 

 

 

*image via. video original to LUNAFEST by LUNA Bars.

Posted on September 25, 2014 and filed under blog world, photography, life.

EURODISNEY: Worth the Trip?

 

When we were in Paris this spring, my sister & her husband came to visit. As it wasn't their first time to Paris, they were a bit more relaxed in what they wanted to see. In fact, the only place they really cared about getting to during their week in France was Disneyland Paris- or "Eurodisney" as it was once known.

I had been 10 years before while backpacking through Europe, and the golden memory I have of my unbathed nineteen year-old self stumbling into that slice of Americanized heaven was enough to charm me into the idea of going back. We used the excuse of going for the sake of our kid, and headed out to make the trek to Disneyland. And of course, once we got there we reused that same excuse when making the leap into season passes.

We went out to Disney three more times during our time there, which more than paid for our season passes. We tried the park out on a number of different days: midweek, rainy, sunny and on in the early days of peak season. As you can imagine, the lines are better earlier in the year and on the weekdays. However, you'll also miss out on many of the rides and restaurants being closed as the park operates on a slimmer staff. For us, that was a small price to pay as we were stroller-laden and visiting with a baby. We, literally, could stay on It's a Small World and loop it as much as we liked. 

Even though the park is smaller, it has many of the Disney essentials you'll hope to experience (Madhatter's Tea Cups, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pinocchio, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, Main Street, It's a Small World, Space Mountain, etc). You'll see all the characters and there are daily parades. 

Also, sitting next door to the Disneyland Paris is the Walt Disney Studios Park. You'll need a ticket that allows for both parks. These are about €10 more per day, but you can access a slew of more rides and attractions like The Tower of Terror and the newly opened Ratatouille ride.

 



Here are few tips & thoughts that can help your visiting Disneyland Paris be a bit easier:

GETTING THERE: Eurodisney is easily reached by the RER. Literally, you're dumped out by the gates of the park at the Marne-la-Vallee stop. Just take the RER Line A from Central Paris all the way there. It'll take you about 45 minutes. Read more on how to access the park here on the Disneyland Paris website. The round-trip RER ticket price to the park is roughly €15 per person. These are available for purchase at any metro or RER station.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST: The standard day passes can give you a bit of the sticker shock that you might expect. However, there are few ways to work around the normal pricing. First, check the offers page on the site. They are typically family passes or other seasonal promotions. With a valid student ID, you can get a daily ticket for €41 for both parks. Most of the must be purchased in advance, so do this before arriving at the park. The basic ticket for one park is around €79 per day.

The season pass start at around €120, but you can't use it for a second day until 5 days have passed from having your card issued. (It's a tricky system that makes it really hard to use unless you're living locally or in Paris for an extended time.) The general pricing page can be found here.

EATING AT THE PARK: The park has various restaurant options available. Some are hilariously overpriced in the seated options (around €75 per person!), but if you grab lunch or dinner you can typically get a LOT of food for around  €10 per person. At the various restaurants, they have a standard menu of items... but the value comes in the meal deals. You can get a main item, fries or salad, yogurt, dessert and a drink for a few euros more. With all the various sides, we easily shared a couple of meals between three people. You can find a full list of eateries on the property here.

We would pack snacks for the morning and the train ride back at the end of the day. It's fine to bring food into the park, if you'd like. Either way- I'd recommend bringing a bottled drink for your day at the park. You'll be glad you grabbed one at the grocery store when you see them for €4 at the park.

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So, overall, would I recommend going out to Disneyland Paris? Sure! Maybe not if it's your first time to Paris, or if you're time there is rushed, but if you're a repeat visitor to the City of Lights or you're traveling for a longer stretch of time? Why not?

 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under france, kids, travel, viola.

Back to Cool... Or Not.

 

I definitely was not cool in high school. On the flip side, I wasn't really uncool either. I was just... there. Having a great time with my friends. We were all generally well-liked by everyone and, yet, totally ignored by guys. (You know what I mean?) Everyone else was going on dates while we were hiding in the bushes throwing M&Ms at cars that drove by (rebels!) and dressing up in old ball gowns to go to grocery store at midnight. 

And while I was sitting blissfully in the kingdom of "Let's Just Be Friends," I also wore a uniform. Every day for twelve years, I slapped on an oxford button-up and a plaid skirt. I loved it, but it made me really pent-up to get to college and wear "real" clothes to classes. Jeans! Dresses! Open toed shoes?! My seventeen year-old self could hardly imagine.

The summer before college, I spent all the income from my summer job to stock up on A&F tees, embellished skirts from Express and Reef sandals. I was totally just a laid-back girl channeling those coastal vibes... complete with a Quicksilver bumper sticker on my car. 

I can't even type that out without cackling. What? Quicksilver? I had (and to this day, have not) EVER surfed in my life. I blame the movie Blue Crush for influencing me way too heavily at way too impressionable of an age.

Now that I've reached the point of proving that I have absolutely no business or authority on style... I present to you a style board for the classroom. Maybe it's how I see myself dressing these days. Maybe it's how I wish I dressed. Or maybe I'm just floating somewhere back in that not-cool... but not-uncool territory again. And if so? Fine. I do well there. Those are my people.

 

ONE. Warby Parker | TWO Halogen  | THREE. Marc Jacobs | FOUR. Kate Spade | FIVE. Graphic Image | SIX. Gap | SEVEN. Kiehls | EIGHT. Kate Spade | NINE. Sam Edelman 

 

 

 

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

*affiliate links are used in the post. opinions are my own.

Posted on September 23, 2014 and filed under school, fashion.