Tiny Iceland—A year filled with memories
Today we celebrate Tiny Iceland’s 2nd birthday! Tiny Iceland was an idea first, which lead to a Twitter account on April 7th 2012 and after that evolved into a website.
For the past two years we have promoted Iceland using all kinds of stories, photos, videos, articles, trips, travelers and more. So the accomplishment is big and I just want to say TAKK // thank you for being part of this community. This is not my diary of last year but more a recap of the highlights. Enjoy and hope to see you in Iceland one day. Cheers, Inga
I met up with Naomi Doyle, her sister Rebecca and mother Annette in March 2013. Naomi has traveled to Iceland before but on this trip she was on a mission to see the northern lights. I helped them plan their trip, we did a golden circle tour, and enjoyed few evenings in Reykjavik with them. Naomi has been writing guest blogs for Tiny Iceland since the website launched in 2012 so I recommend you check them out.
Last spring I met up with a few Texans and we did a one-day road trip around west Iceland. A few of my favorite places to stop while driving around the Snæfellsnes peninsula are: Búðir, Arnarstapi, Dritvík beach, Djúpalón, Lóndrangar, Kirkjufell and Snæfellsjökull. Did you know in the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, he talks about a volcano crater underneath Snæfellsjökull glacier being the pathway to the center of the earth? I highly recommend you explore west Iceland–it’s only 2 hours from Reykjavik. It can easily be a day trip!
One of my dearest friends today is Nicole Hay-Chapman. We connected early on after Tiny Iceland was created and I love how social media brings people together from all over the world. Nicole, alongside her husband Dylan, have visited Iceland seven times over the last few years and I was fortunate to meet them in April 2013. We recently met up in March and did a little road trip around south Iceland. I always get more inspired to promote my country when meeting travelers and hearing their Trip in Iceland stories.
In May last year I met up with Micah and Jenna Kvidt who run the blog Wander The Map. I helped them plan their stay in Iceland and we had some great times together as well. The highlight was exploring Reykjanes peninsula; I recommend doing the drive especially for travelers arriving early in the day or departing late from Keflavik airport. You only need 2-3 hours to explore the loop by car. Must sees: Krísuvík geothermal area, Reykjanes lighthouse, Gunnuhver hot spring, statue of the Geirfugl, Blue Lagoon and walk over the bridge between the two continents. Jenna wrote some great posts about their trip so I recommend you check them out and below is Micah’s video.
Now on to the summer adventuress – Let’s just say last summer was epic so it’s hard to recap it in few lines!
The lovely people behind Pure Adirondacks, Evan & Hilary Williams contacted me to help them plan an 8-day road trip around Iceland. They drove around the island, hiked mountains, explored, and took some amazing footage. After the guys had roamed around Iceland we celebrated with dinner and enjoyed Reykjavik nightlife.
My next meet up was with Dave Clark and Karlie Marrazzo who drove around Iceland’s ring road in 10 days. You can read about their story on Karlie’s blog and Dave’s blog here. I was fortunate enough to celebrate Iceland’s independence day (June 17th) with them and we had a blast enjoying the parade, food tasting, and sipping Icelandic beer while listening to some great Icelandic artists perform on Arnarhóll hill. We had another traveler joining us, Dave Ursillo and in honor of 17.Júní– Þjóðhátíðardagur, (Iceland’s Independence Day)–we took a photo in front of the statue of the first settler of Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson.
I did many road trips with my friend Tara last year. My favorite memory with her is when we decided to show Rachel Peters, Canadian photographer from PEI, the south coast of Iceland. It all started when Rachel tweeted to Tiny Iceland a hot dog photo which led to a long conversation about her wanting to explore outside of the city. It was a spontaneous trip and we embarked early in the AM and were able to drive all the way to Jökulsárlón from Reykjavik (4-5hrs) and then did sightseeing on the way back. It was very eventful, but my favorite memory from that day was meeting a 70 year old solo woman traveler in VÍK where we had a rest stop. The elderly woman was exploring Iceland on her own for a month. Quite the inspiration I got from meeting her!
I don’t recommend doing this route in one day because it’s very long – but I have done the South coast tour with Iceland Excursions so if you only have 2-4 days in Iceland and want to see as much as possible then DO IT.
Tiny Iceland grew from one person to two last summer when I had Laura Hundersmarck as an intern. Let’s just say she came at the right time since I had a packed schedule throughout the summer. Our first adventure was a one day trip to Iceland’s highlands, Landamannalaugar. The highlands are only accessible from June-August and it’s a popular spot for hiking & camping. The landscape is so surreal and photos don’t even do the area justice.
Icelanders enjoy summertime especially because it’s daylight 24/7 and there’s always something going on. The two biggest festival weekends are the first weekends of July & August. Half the population of Iceland goes traveling around our tiny island and for the first weekend of this past July, I attended the Volcano festival (Goslokahátíð) in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar). It was a great weekend spent with my family and I recommend if you have time when visiting Iceland to take a day trip there. They are known for the puffin colony, 15 islands surrounding the big island, Heimaey, the volcano Eldfell and more.
In mid-July I met up with the travel blogger Ashley and her husband Jeff Chalmers who had one week to explore Iceland. They spent two days in Reykjavik and we made sure to make the most out of it. I enjoyed showing them the city and you can read all about it in Ashley’s post here. I think my favorite thing was when we drove to the president of Iceland’s house and I dared them to knock on his door. Good times we had and I saw them again on their last day in Iceland when we spent a day at Laugarvatn Fontana Spa.
My biggest trip last summer was the Iceland Challenge. I had teamed up with Liz from Young Adventures and her friend Marika Paz to test how much you could do with Icelandair’s free stopover in Iceland. After weeks of planning routes, places to see, what to skip and where to stay we started the trip July 18th. 4 girls. 1 island. 7 days. Iceland Challenge was filled with adventure, surprises and many great memories. Have a look at my previous posts from the trip here. Final night of Iceland challenge we had dinner at Vegamót and enjoyed drinks at Den Danske Kro. We were lucky to be accompanied by two traveler bloggers, Nicole Blaess-Smith and Dylan Lowe, who happened to be visiting Iceland.
The first weekend of August is one of the biggest weekends for Icelanders to pack their bags and hit the road. There are many festivals going on around the whole island and I decided to spend the weekend with friends in the Westfjords (Vestfirðir). For the last few years the town Ísafjörður has been known for hosting Mýrarbolti (Mud soccer festival) and I’m so glad I went. A perfect weekend and so many memories.
In late August, Icelandair and Jessica Zollman hosted an Instameet at Harpa in Reykjavik. Jessica, who worked previously at Instagram, had left her job to fulfill her passion for photography. She traveled around Iceland with her boyfriend, and he later proposed to her at Skógafoss waterfall. How romantic is he?! It was a fun event with people who share the same passion as myself and I’m working on planning a few of these this summer. Stay tuned for more details in May.
Image by Roman Gerasyemnko, via Reykjavik.com
After an eventful summer it was time to step back for a bit and focus on myself plus sort through all the footage and stories the summer brought. Later that fall I met up with a lovely couple from Canada in October. Chelle Wootten Bowes has been following Tiny Iceland for a long time so we enjoyed few nights in Reykjavik talking and exchanging stories about Iceland. Chelle is a photographer and she has some amazing Iceland’s photos here.
The next big event I attended was Iceland Airwaves. If you haven’t heard about this festival I recommend you check it out. Not only is it held at the perfect time of the year, “off-season” (beginning of November, so it’s budget friendly), it brings people together in a way I can’t describe. The range of artists both foreign and native is huge, so there’s something for every music lover. I was accompanied by two awesome girls from the States, Lindsey and Drew. We roamed around Reykjavik and enjoyed the music to the fullest.
Throughout the winter I gained more experience following my passion for hunting and photographing the Northern Lights. Witnessing nature’s own spectacular light show is something I never get tired of and I feel humble to be able to view them in my country.
I took a break over the holidays to visit friends I had met through Tiny Iceland, for example Nicole & Dylan, Karen and my friends from A Six Pack of Stories. I embarked on a tiny journey to the United States and I admit this break was much needed! I came home more inspired and ready to start the New Year (2014) building up Tiny Iceland.
In January I did a two day road trip around South Iceland with Tara and our mission was to find the US Navy plane wreck on Sólheimasandur and do an ice cave tour. The south coast has been my favorite part to explore over the last two years, especially because it’s so perfect for 1-2 day road trips. Endless waterfalls, surreal landscapes, and an easy route are just a few great things about the south.
February came and went by quickly, but I will never forget the night the northern lights put on the most amazing show I have ever witnessed! Photo here says it all and I’m sad that the season is almost over. Aurora Borealis can be seen in Iceland from Sept-April.
Recently I helped Lauren, Tawny and Chris plan there epic Viking Challenge in Iceland. They are all travel bloggers and run the sites Where in the world is Lola — Captain & Clark. With only a week to explore the country they roamed around the south and east coasts of Iceland. I met up with them a few times and we had a great time talking about Iceland, exchanging travel stories, sightseeing around the city and of course I dared them to do few challenges, for example: jump in a freezing lake & taste the famous rotten shark. Super excited to see their footage from the trip and in the meantime enjoy the teaser below.
I want to thank everyone that has helped Tiny Iceland build this community! I have been promoting Iceland for the last 2 years and I’m grateful for all the followers, meet ups, blogs, photos and more. I would love to have you continue to help me share the beauty of Iceland and the joy it brings. And remember to tag #TripInIceland while you visit!
All the best,
Inga Kristjansdottir – Founder of Tiny Iceland