It's time for Iceland part deux! Our first trip to Iceland was two years ago during the depths of winter. We've learned a lot from our first visit and decided to return in summer for a completely different perspective on the country. The entire country morphed from a winter wonderland of frozen glaciers and snowcapped volcanoes to a much more accessible land of running streams, wildflowers, and midnight sun.
On this trip, we experienced a new region of the country - Northern Iceland. It's a place that gives you a sense of wonder, mystery, and fear all at once. We embarked on a full day-trip adventure with Air Iceland Connect to see the volcanic landscapes and powerful waterfalls in Iceland's northern region.
We fly from Reykjavik to Akureyri, a 45-minute flight. Aboard the short flight, we were treated to the aerial views of Iceland, which give you a sense of the magnitude and vastness of the landscape. We also wrote in the onboard journals #mynorthadventure, which felt like signing an adventure guestbook. The domestic flight is via propeller plane and we took the morning flight at 7am with a return at 6pm.
We take a full day 10 hour guided tour that includes transportation.
Our first stop is the stunning waterfall of GoÃ°afoss a semi-circle waterfall with electric blue water from the glacier.
We travel to Lake MyvatnÂ´s unique nature and pseudo-craters, followed by the Dimmuborgir lava labyrinth which was created over 2,300 years ago.
Dimmuborgir is filled with archways, peaks, and caves all carved by mother nature. The dramatic structures are some of the most unique in the world.
Next, we reach a desolate landscape that looks like mars. Red sand covers the ground with not a spec of vegetation in sight. The air smells of sulfur gas (rotten eggs). As we walk across the landscape we notice bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles hissing and brewing from below the earth's surface. This bubbling area is known as Hverarond (aka Hverir), a geothermal area that is a sight to be seen and explored.
Now it's time for one of the main highlights, which we hear before we can see. The sound of plummeting water fills the atmosphere as we trek across a rugged wet terrain of boulders and basalt columns.
âFinally, we look below and realize we are on a cliff. Below us is Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You might recognize it from the science fiction movie Prometheus.
Every 1 second, 500 cubic meters (of over 130K gallons) of water plummets to the edge. The river that flows to the waterfall's edge rushes and swirls forward. We were left breathless.
Next, we visit the volcanic wonderlands of Vatnajokull National Park, Jokulsargljufur canyon, Hljodaklettar (Echo cliffs), Asbyrgi a horse-shoe-shaped cliff formation.
âWe finish our tour in the quaint Husavik fishing town. Lastly, we head to Akureyri to fly back to Reykjavik! ââ
On this weekend trip, we visited one of the USA's most central locations, Kansas City. Located smack dab in the center of the USA, Kansas City is as American as it gets with its legendary BBQ, baseball team, and site of Walt Disney's childhood home. Aside from the delicious eats and sports culture, I didn't know what to expect in the classic midwestern city. What I came to find out is that the city is compact enough to explore on a weekend and large enough to pack in international quality museums and historic sights.
Kansas City Weekend Guide - Vlog:
There are direct flights from 56+ cities across the US, Canada, Mexico and Iceland. We flew Southwest from LAX on Friday night with a return on Sunday evening which was plenty of time to explore.
Most of the downtown is walkable or scootable, however some points of interest are located on the outskirts of town and will require either a rental car or Uber.
1. Arthur Bryant's BBQ
You can't say Kansas City without mentioning the BBQ in the same breath. The smell of the smokey BBQ permeates the air in Kansas City, so be sure to arrive hungry. We visited one of the top rated restaurants called Arthur Bryant's, known for their charred "burnt ends" and for serving famous customers like Barak Obama.
Did you know that Kansas City boasts more BBQ joints per capita than any other city in the USA? If you want to bring the Kansas City flavor home with you, buy the famous vinegar-based BBQ sauce on Amazon.
2. WW1 Memorial and Museum
This is the museum I wish I had access to when I was studying World History in school. The museum distills the complex history into interactive exhibits and theatrical displays where you can learn why WW1 wasn't the last. I came away with a better understanding of the events that redrew borders and changed the face of the world.
Inside, you will find a replica of the WW1 trenches that comes alive when you enter with reenactment stories. The museum also displayed WW1 memorabilia including the swords that were used at the onset of the war. The exhibits take you through the 4 years of combat and the quest for peace. The museum exterior grounds are covered in an art installation of the red armistice poppy, a symbol of commemoration for WW1.
3. Liberty Tower
Attached to the WW1 Memorial and Museum is the Liberty Tower, which stands 20 stories tall and offers the best bird's eye view of the city. The tower is accessible via a combination of stairs and elevator with an open-air observation deck.
4. Truman Library
The Kansas City metro area was home to 33rd President Harry S Truman and his library is located about 25 minutes from downtown in Independence. The museum takes you on a journey through Truman's presidency with thought provoking interactive exhibits that explain the tough decisions he made including the atomic bomb in Japan, Cold War, and entering Korea. You can even step into a recreation of his 1950's Oval Office.
The ground level showcases Truman's life in Missouri, from his humble beginnings working on a farm, to enlisting in WW1, to becoming president, and even his travels to places like Key West. Truman and his wife Bess are buried in the courtyard where you will find a memorial garden.
5. Nelson Atkins Museum
This museum offers free admission and houses over 40,000 works of art from ancient to contemporary. The interior of the museum has a stunning central colonnade of columns and a restaurant in an atrium with fountains. Outside the museum is a sculpture garden with an art installation of shuttlecocks which caused a stir when they were first introduced.
6. Union Station
Kansas City's Union Station is considered the hub of the city, located in a 100 year old building. Union Station is an architectural gem and features a grand hall with chandeliers and also has numerous family-friendly exhibitions including the Science City.
7. Street Art
Kansas City is known for its jazz history and you will find these jazzy murals outside of Arthur Bryant's BBQ.
What are your favorite places to visit in Kansas City for a weekend trip? Comment below!
This summer we visited the Florida Keys, an archipelago at the southernmost tip of the continental USA. The Florida Keys are a unique destination with 800+ islands (or keys) stretching over 180 miles connected by bridges and highway. The journey to The Keys is one of the best parts of the trip, as you travel across the ocean landscape on the Overseas Highway. Once you reach the southernmost key of Key West, you will want to stay the entire weekend to soak up the sights.
Here are the top places to visit on a Florida Keys road trip:
1. Islamorada - Halfway to Key West, you will find many isles including including Islamorada. Be sure to plan for a few hours at this mid-point to enjoy the sights. Here, you can see the Theater of the Sea which offers a dolphin adventure, a historic steam boat called the African Queen, fishing and water-sports activities, and a local craft brewery!
2. Seven Mile Bridge - Continue the journey to The Florida Keys along a car-commercial-worthy highway that includes the Seven Mile Bridge. The open expansiveness of the highway makes you feel like you are driving on the ocean surface. Every few miles, you will pass through another key surrounded by mangrove trees. It makes the three hour drive from Miami feel much shorter since the entire ride is scenic.
3. Duval Street - The heart of Key West is Duval Street, which is filled with island vibes, bars, art stores, bed and breakfasts, and key lime everything.
4. Southernmost Point - This buoy is the demarkation of the Southernmost Point in the Continental USA with only 90 miles to Cuba! The line for a photo here stretches down the street for the most iconic photo on the Florida Keys.
5. Hemingway House - Author Ernest Hemingway is one of Key West's most famous past residents. He lived on 907 Whitehead Street in the heart of Old Town Key West, where he spent about 10 years on the island enjoying the local bars and writings his most prolific works. His home is an unmistakable two story structure built in 1851 with key lime yellow shutters, surrounded by palm gardens and roaming six-toed cats.
Don't miss a tour of this historic gem!
6. Little White House - Located in a gated neighborhood filled with quaint wooden homes with shutters and double portico balconies, we came across US President Harry Truman's Key West home "The Little White House", built in 1890. Truman used it as his winter home during his presidency and spent 175 days here. It previously served as the naval station headquarters and a government leader retreat. Tour this historic landmark for a slice of history.
7. Lighthouse - The Key West Lighthouse offers a Keepers Quarters museum and one of the best views of Key West.
8. Key Lime Pie - Key limes are native to The Florida Keys and are punchier and more acidic than regular limes. In this region, you will find numerous treats made from the limes, from ice cream, smoothies, margaritas, and of course... key lime pies!
You can even participate in a Key Lime Pie making class! Check out the Key Lime Pie Co: âhttps://www.keylimepieco.com
9. Sloppy Joes Bar - Grab a drink at the historic bar and famous haunt of Ernest Hemingway.
10. Key West Sunset - What better way to end a trip in the Florida Keys than with the sunset views. The most iconic natural sight in Key West is undoubtably the 360 view of the sunset. One of the best ways to enjoy it is via a sunset cruise.
Book one of the sunset tours and don't forget to use our Viator discount!
What are your favorite sights to see in the Florida Keys? Comment below!
Published Travel Articles
Welcome to Run The Atlas!
We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.