DAY 9: ICELAND ROAD TRIP

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On our last full day in Iceland, we hopped back on Iceland’s Ring Road and headed back towards Reykjavik.  We couldn’t believe how quickly our trip had gone but thankfully, we planned a few more beautiful stops along the way at: Hraufossar WaterfallBarnafoss WaterfallDeildartunguhver and Hvalfjordur.

These two waterfalls were in the same beautiful location and the water running through them was such a bright turquoise color, I’m still dreaming of it.

Theand Deildartunguhver was a geyser we visited en route back to Reykjavik. It looked like they were building a big spa around it so I look forward to hopefully coming back to visit someday in the future.

IMG_1772 IMG_1295 Barnafoss IcelandTheand Deildartunguhver

By early afternoon, we reached an underwater bridge that was supposed to bring us back to Reykavik. Unfortunately, there had just been a car accident inside so we had to backtrack and take a 1.5 hour detor on a side road–weaving in between mountains to reach Reykavik.  
 
When we finally made it back, we were thankful to have enough time to explore this beautiful city. We were so thankful that the sun stays out pretty much 24 hours a day in Iceland during the summer because we had so much light to spare. We loved visiting the Harpa building (below). Both inside and outside, Harpa’s architecture is absolutely incredible. This building is a photographer or blogger’s dream because it looks amazing from all angles.  We also took an elevator up to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja church in the heart of Reykjavik. If you find yourself in Reykjavik, make sure you do this too because you’ll see the best view in the whole city.

Harpa Building Downtown Reykjavik    Reykjavik   hallgrimska

Throughout our journey, I had become obsessed with traditional Icelandic sweaters call “lopapeysas.”  When I saw people wearing them across the country without jackets, I couldn’t help but google where to find one of my own for an affordable cost. Reykjavik kept showing up so I waited to buy one until we got there; I couldn’t wait to find the perfect one.  I learned that these sweaters are hand-woven by women all over Iceland from local sheep’s wool.

Lopapeysas are known for their traditional “yoke design”–a wide decorative circle surrounding the neck opening. The sweater is knit in a circle so there is no difference between the front and the back, unless a zipper is added. This wool is unique because Icelandic sheep have been isolated from other breeds for centuries. All those years of exposure to the sub-Arctic climate has apparently produced wool with two distinctive fibers that are known to keep you so warm, you can apparently wear these sweaters without a coat even in the dead of winter.

Naturally, as a resident of uber-warm Los Angeles, I drank the Icelandic Koolaid and just had to have one of these sweaters.

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I dragged Phil around to tons of different local shops to see if I could find the perfect Lopapeysa to take home.  If you will be visiting Iceland soon and have end up having a similar love for these sweaters, visit the Handknitting Association of Iceland. This place is chalk-full of these sweaters in all different colors and at all different price points (most range from about $150-$200).
Remember to wear long sleeves under them because while they are super warm and cute, they are also extremely itchy. Also, ensure you try on the one you buy. There are all different types of patterns and some cuts are just too chunky to look good on everyone (trust me, I tried and looked like I was wearing an 80’s sweater from the Cosby Show–not in a cute way).
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Some other places to find sweaters are at: The Farmers MarketThorvaldsen’s BazarHandknit.is GeysirVarma and The Viking Souvenir Shop.  You can also check in the local  Red Cross Second Hand Store to see if there are any previously worn sweaters. These are usually much less expensive but they’re hard to come by. Also remember to make sure you’re buying one that is handmade by locals because these are the most unique and durable (not to mention it’s always great to support local artists). 
 
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Our last night in Iceland, we stayed at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, the same hotel we had began our journey at. We woke up bright and early the next morning to head back to Los Angeles. This had been one of the best trips of our entire lives and we can’t wait to go back. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, don’t hesitate to reach out to ask itinerary questions! My hubby and I would love to help so that we can live vicariously through you!