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
One of the most essential sights to visit in the Pittsburgh area is not found in the city itself, but in an unassuming location an hour and a half from the city.
We take a day trip from Pittsburgh and venture to rural Pennsylvania to visit Fallingwater, one of the greatest works of American architecture, built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the mid 1930s.
Fallingwater was built for Edgar Kaufmann, a successful businessman who owned the Kaufmann Department Store chain with its flagship store in downtown Pittsburgh. He commissioned famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to build his family's weekend residence as a getaway from the bustling city.
The property is designed in modern style and includes multiple bedrooms, balconies, and terraces. It is now regarded as the "best all-time work of American architecture" by the American Institute of Architects and one of the most impressive designs.
We rented a car and drove an hour and a half from the city to reach Fallingwater. Be sure to bring $12 for the toll roads along the way. On the road to Fallingwater, we pass by corn fields, barns, and cows until we reach the Fallingwater estate, which appears like a mirage through a forest of trees.
Best Part of the Visit:
Walking up to the house, we were surrounded by the peaceful sounds of the waterfall. The pathway was lush and green, as if we were in a rainforest. The house was perched atop a waterfall with stunning modern architecture style, unusual for its day. Frank Lloyd Wright used a cantilever design that allows the home to integrate into its natural surroundings, with multi-layered terraces, glass windows and skylights around the exterior.
Even in today's standards it would be considered architecturally daring, but it was built in the 1930s.
We took a one hour tour of the house, which showcased the home's interior, exterior, and history.
Have you been to Fallingwater yet? What is your favorite part of Frank Lloyd Wright's design? Comment below!
Aside from the wine region of Tualatin Valley, Portland offers a world of nature and adventure activities outside of the city. Here, we discovered our top three places to visit outside of the Portland downtown.
1. Cascade Locks -
This region is a 45 minute drive from downtown Portland and is at the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. We visited for the Bridge of the Gods half marathon and 10K , which offers scenic views of the forests, gorge, and an epic cross-over the bridge.
Sign up for the race here: https://bridgeofthegodsrun.com/
The Cascade Locks region is known for its many waterfalls, including Multnomah - the second highest year-round waterfall in the USA. We visited at about noon, and the sun was just peaking over the top of the mountain ridge. The area also features a bridge hike to get a closer look at the waterfall.
2. Seaside Beach -
Known for its rugged beach landscapes, adventurous hikes, and plentiful beach volleyball activities, this beach is about a two hour drive from Portland.
3. Portland Japanese Garden
Perched like an oasis overlooking the Portland downtown, the Japanese garden features teahouses, sweeping views, forest trails, and delicious cuisine at Umami restuarant.
Japanese Garden Admission: https://japanesegarden.org/
Plan on spending at least an hour or two at this expansive Japanese garden.
What is your favorite city retreat in Portland? Comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.