Halló my sweet friends!
I’m writing today’s post in the back of an Opel Mokka, driving down highway 1 on Iceland’s Ring Road. Iceland is the most epic and magical place I’ve ever seen. My current view is of expansive green fields littered with sheep and Flock of Seagulls horses. Out the left window I can see the sun rising over the water. Out the right window there are rolling hills and snow capped mountains. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve somehow stumbled into a fairytale so sell my belongings – I’m never coming home.
My fancy hiking boots have gifted me two brutal blisters on the back of both heels. It makes me feel a little “Cheryl Strayed in Wild” except I don’t remember the part in Wild where Cheryl’s best friend finds her band aid floating around in the hot tub. We’re all on our own journey Cheryl! But seriously these boots are badass and I’m already trying to figure out how to repurpose giant, tan hiking boots when I get back to NYC. I toyed around with the idea of starting an urban hiking club where we mostly just walk over that one big boulder in Central Park and then drink a lot of beer after. TBD.
We spent our first day in Reykjavik and are now staying in a picturesque cabin in South Iceland near Hella. Everywhere you look there’s a waterfall or a red roofed church or a handsome, bearded Viking. Almost everyone we’ve encountered in Iceland speaks English which is great because the Icelandic language looks like someone dropped a bag of scrabble letters, LOL’d, and threw in a couple extra vowels. Somehow the general confusion adds to the majesty and the fact that every time I turn around there’s a mega babe Irish tourist doesn’t hurt either. Did I mention that I love it here?
This is maybe the first vacation I’ve ever been on where I’ve tried to be aware of my activity level and food consumption. As you can probably guess based on my somewhat plagued sugar free experiment, I haven’t been working out daily and eating only whole foods. I did buy two hot dogs in one day and threw out half of the second one. I’m health conscious!
Here’s a little breakdown of my consumption thus far.
Instead of my normal candy/cracker sugar fest at the airport I opted for an egg sandwich and grapefruit juice with no extra sugar. As a result I never had to do the awkward step over your seat mate on the plane/apologize profusely while trying not to pee your pants/make an enemy for life.
Mikkeller & Friends pizza. Throw some egg, white cheese, and bacon on a pizza and I’m happy. It was reminiscent of my often discussed Stella Barra fav so I was in heaven.
A friend recommended we check out Hotel Rangá. We showed up unshowered and in hiking boots to one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever been to and had an incredible meal. I ate some combination of reindeer and duck and definitely didn’t think about how close we are to Christmas and how Jewish I am and how cute Rudolph was. Nope, not even once.
Our Airbnb host left us some Icelandic candy and even though everything had raisins in it, I was into it. Also it was my first candy in probably a month so I immediately got a sugar high then crashed.
Icelandic yogurt is the best yogurt I’ve ever had. Dairy is also my worst enemy but I popped some Lactaid and went to town. I’m single y’all!
My first Icelandic meal was a caprese sandwich on white bread. It was soaked in mayonnaise which is my nightmare and it made me feel like a garbage human.
So many hot dogs. Apparently Bill Clinton is very into this tiny hot dog stand called Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur so we indulged. This was just hours after my friend got food poisoning from another hot dog stand so I was weary. Plus Bill Clinton is vegan now so can we really trust him at all?
Catfish. This was honestly the most disgusting catfish I’ve ever experienced and I’ve watched at least 12 episodes of that MTV show. It smelled like a fish tank and tasted even worse. Imagine a beef jerky made of pungent fish, plastered in flaky fish food, and slathered in butter. #Iceland.
So I tried puffin. It looked like liver, tasted like fish, and smelled like smoke. I’m still not sure if I liked it.
After my near death experience atop a glacier (more on that later) we ended up at an almost empty diner near our cabin. I polished off a pile of French fries, a burger I suspect was made of horse meat with a giant almost raw egg floating on top, and two pieces of white bread for #health. To be fair I had almost just died so I deserved a little white bread. I immediately felt sick after but it was worth it.
Coffee! That’s the shit I do like. I had a really good cappuccino with oat milk from Reykjavik Roasters and it was delicious. There was a cat running around the cafe. The cat doesn’t have anything to do with the coffee – it was just weird.
Two of the best Manhattans I’ve ever had at Hotel Rangá. I hadn’t had a Manhattan since I went through a pretty destructive Southern Comfort phase a few years ago. I ended that by drinking a giant glass of SoCo with my ex-boyfriends Mom and then throwing up for 8 hours so this was a nice reintroduction into the Manhattan world.
Some incredibly sugary strawberry champagne concoction. Best served while floating in the Blue Lagoon.
Drinking whiskey in a hot tub while watching the northern lights was probably one of the greatest moments of my life. I highly recommend it. This is just straight up bragging at this point and I don’t care.
The best White Russian I’ve ever had in my life from the Big Lebowski bar in Reykjavik. I put this in the bad because the sugar + dairy + alcohol tried to kill me. But alas, the dude abides.
The water in Iceland is straight up delicious. At one point on our glacier hike we had the option to get into a plank position and drink fresh glacier run off. After watching seven people shove their face into a freezing cold glacier, I decided to kneel down and drink some with my hand. It was incredibly refreshing. Also shout out to my BFF Angela who was the only person to gracefully drink from the plank position. You go girl.
I haven’t done one actual push-up or squat since I landed but I am averaging about 13,000 steps a day.
Swimming in the blue lagoon and a hidden thermal pool in the mountains definitely counts. It’s not technically cardio but getting from warm building to freezing outdoors to warm pool definitely gets your heart rate up. And your nipples.
Lots and lots of driving. Iceland is huge and spread out so we’ve logged a lot of car miles. Occasionally I pick up my phone to take a picture so that has to be burning at least 10 calories after a 2 hour car ride, right?
Well my sweet friends, here’s where I tell you about my near death experience. On Tuesday my friends and I scheduled a three hour glacier walk. We showed up completely unprepared: no snow pants, no waterproof clothes, and I forgot my gloves at the cabin. Yes, we went to hike a glacier and I forgot gloves. So after purchasing a pair of $20 wool mittens from a cafe, we talked to our tour guide who assured us he had plenty of waterproof pants and we’d be fine. We strapped on our FUPA-highlighting harnesses and headed up to the glacier. Twenty minutes later we had crampons strapped to our feet and were expertly clunking up a giant ice cube in Iceland.
As a generally non-active human I knew I’d probably struggle a little but this shit was hard. You basically have to hammer your feet into solid ice and run up an uneven surface in a single file line, trying not to slip into a crevasse and ultimately an icy death. Our guide was awesome but as a 19 year old, 115 pound man I highly doubt he could have rescued me if I slipped down one of the hundreds of giant holes on either side of the path.
At the top of the glacier we stopped at a sinkhole to take some pictures. At this point I was exhausted, freezing, and hungry (my own personal Eat, Pray, Love) so my friends and I opted out of strapping ourselves to a rope to peek down a sinkhole. While our tour’s resident teacher’s pet (there’s always one asshole) took approximately 937 pictures of himself clowning around the hole, we snapchatted and waited get off the damn glacier. As we started our descent, I tripped.
A fun fact you may not know about me is that I am perhaps one of the clumsier adult humans in existence. I have almost no spacial awareness and will fall over a smooth sidewalk if I just look at it the wrong way. So when my crampon caught the side of my borrowed rain pants, I stumbled, landed on my elbow and ice pick, ripped a hole in my jacket, and proceeded to slide down a sizable chunk of glacier much to the horror of my friends and tour guide. I tried to laugh it off and noticed that I had tripped about ten feet from the aforementioned sink hole that had I fallen down, would have resulted in my untimely death. I still have life to live! I’ve never been to Australia and I haven’t watched The Wire!
It was terrifying and definitely gave me some perspective. I’m quitting advertising and becoming a rabbi. No, I’m definitely not doing that (sorry my Jewish God) but I need to get in better shape. Had I not been sloppily dragging my feet, I probably wouldn’t have slipped. Also my jacket probably wouldn’t have a rip in the side that allows me to leave behind a trail of feathers every time I walk, sit, or breath. I really scared a guy in a cafe this morning when I plopped down and showered him in a plume of feathers and north face jacket stuffing. What a time to be alive!
I’m currently en route to the airport where I’ll be boarding a plane to Copenhagen. I’ll update in a few days when I’ve stuffed my face with as much local Denmark fare as possible. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions on must-sees in Denmark, Prague, or London.