I have just returned from my two-week holiday in Iceland and New York, and the result was exactly as expected: I left my heart in Iceland, my mind in New York.
How about my legs then?
Well, do you want to have a guess how many kilometers it’s possible to walk along the streets of Manhattan in 4–5 days? Quite many! Read on, you’ll find it out later.
Together with Daniel we first travelled to Iceland for 4 days that we spent road tripping along the South coast all the way to Vatnajökull glacier. Our road trip was followed by 5 (mostly) sunny days in New York, and for me it was the first ever trip to the Big Apple. As you might guess, there is a huge contrast between the two amazing islands, Iceland and Manhattan, and after being home for a day, all post-trip feelings and thoughts are still a sweet but huge mess inside my little brain. Not to mention the time difference between New York and Finland and loooong travelling time. It’ll get better soon.
Besides my messy thoughts I have a lot more to organize after the trip: Only during our four days in Iceland I managed to take more than 1 500 photos. And wait, there’s more – you guys really should see them ALL! If you’ve ever visited Iceland, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In case you haven’t yet been to this wonderful island of fire and ice, you should definitely start planning your trip right now! But when you do, please learn from my mistakes: four days is not even nearly enough for Iceland! I really left my heart in Iceland, and somewhere around the day three we already found ourselves dreaming of a small little farm and a cozy guesthouse in Iceland, which would be serving travellers just like us. Or at least new, a lot longer road trip to be able to drive around and explore the whole of the island.
For New York instead I think 4 to 5 days is just perfect. The busy and hectic street life made me drop my mind somewhere on the road. It will also take a few days until my legs will come back to normal. Believe or not, we have around 100 kilometers of the streets of New York City behind us. And yes, by foot!
Luggage is unpacked, photos unorganized, heart in Iceland and mind in New York, but I’ve already managed to think ahead about the stuff I’m going to tell you about on the blog during the following weeks. At this very moment I feel like I would have enough topics for the rest of the year, but here’s a little pre-taste for you about what’s coming up in the near future:
Two destinations – only one trip
As mentioned earlier, the contrast between Iceland and New York is unbelievable. It caused some issues already a lot before the take off, while planning and packing for the adventure. April in Iceland is extremely unpredictable; the weather can change in only two minutes, and the wind is strong enough to push you uphill. Therefore we had to be prepared with winter clothing (even if we live in Finland, a country that is known of its’ freezing temperatures and snowy winters).
On the day of our arrival, New York instead was treating us with sunshine and summer like temperatures for over 20 degrees. While in our first destination we wrapped ourselves in woolly clothing, for New York we should have prepared ourselves with sun lotion. Which we obviously didn’t. And now I have very red face and arms to remind me of that fact.
There’s a lot more within the differences between Iceland and New York than only weather, and especially now, when Icelandair is making an excellent effort for connecting Europe to the US with a stopover in Iceland, I truly believe similar trips as ours will become even more common. And why wouldn’t they, as you can get to visit two amazing destinations with price of one. Let me be clear on this; there are many different stopover destinations in both, in the US and Europe, besides New York and Finland.
Therefore in the next few weeks I’m going to blog about the weather and packing issues, but also the differences and similarities of my two destinations, Iceland and New York (or is there any?). And above all, I’m going to tell you what I think about which destination you should experience first during such stopover trip: Iceland or New York.
Wonderful Iceland, the land of fire and ice
So many stories to tell, so many photos to show… I have no idea where to start. That’s why I’m trusting your judgement and asking a little bit of your help. I let you choose, but I will give you a little heads-up. At least these stories I am definitely going to tell you:
– A day with a local: We started our vacation in Iceland by spending the very first full day with a local. Or actually, two locals. We took the benefit out of Icelandair’s free Stopover Buddy service where you get to spend a day with Icelandair employee showing you around. I can’t believe how lucky we were to get lovely Anna, a long-term fight attendant and a professional tour guide, as our Stopover Buddy. And you know what… it only gets better! Anna took along her husband Gretar, a real Icelandic scientist, whose company opened doors to places no ordinary traveller can visit! It feels amazing how much you get to see and learn during only one day, and I will pass this forward on this blog by writing about our day with Anna and Gretar. Perhaps more than once.
– I bet you have seen millions of pictures of the awesome waterfalls, geysers and mountains of Iceland. But how well do you know crater lakes, secret caves formed by lava flows, ‘the leaning tower of Iceland’ or glacier lagoons? How about the mysterious Icelandic folktales? Never heard of them? Well, then you just need to keep following the blog, as I will be showing them to you shortly.
– Questionable culinary experiences in the restaurants of Reykjavik. A topic that is like poking a bear. But I will risk it and write about this as well.
– Tips for a road trip in Iceland: Useful facts to be aware of before renting a car and hitting the road – free parking spots in Reykjavik, weird things to get fined for and everything in between.
– What a finding! The loveliest guesthouse ever: 110 per cent authentic and accidental guesthouse finding, paid completely with our own money (someone will doubt that anyway so it’s been said now). If you ask a Finn, nothing feels better after a road trip than private barrel sauna and geothermal hot tub on a huge, quiet terrace surrounded by Icelandic countryside landscapes.
– I didn’t go to Blue Lagoon – and I survived! Before our trip I heard too many times how I can not go to Iceland without visiting the world-famous Blue Lagoon. Guess what? I didn’t care, and I didn’t go. But the conversation left me wondering why you “have to” do something specific in your destination.
Visiting the Glacier Lagoon was one of the most amazing experiences in Iceland. I doubt visiting Blue Lagoon would have been.
New York, New York
So, what happened after Iceland, and most importantly, how did this small-town countryside girl survived the Big Apple? I already mentioned in the title of this post how I left my mind and legs in New York, but what the hell do I mean with it? Well, I lost my mind in Times Square where we stayed for five nights. If you’ve ever walked through Times Square, or if you’ve ever seen any photos from there, you most probably know how busy, hectic, noisy and crowded the everyday life in Times Square is. But we survived the flashing neon lights without an epileptic seizure, as close as we got.
Times Square is like a huge flashing billboard and always crowded with people. During the next few weeks I will also share my thoughts on whether staying in Times Square is worth the money or not.
What happened to my legs then? Well, during our 5-day visit we stepped into a subway two times, and two times only. Both of the times happened on our last full day in New York, and yet we managed to walk nearly 20 kilometers during that day. Altogether we walked for about 100 km during our visit in New York. The total number could be even larger, it’s hard to tell, as we didn’t add all exact routes in Google Maps afterwards.
You would think this much walking would compensate all burgers and pizzas we ate during our stay. But no. I still feel like a balloon, not to mention the extensive carb hangover I have. For the following weeks I will live with salads and soups only!
To stick with the actual topic, you might want to know what all those walked kilometers had to offer? Well, at least all this:
– There is a lot of nature in New York City: Earth Day in Central Park.
– Countrygirl in a big city – what did I like… what not so much? Likes and dislikes.
– The best free viewing spots for admiring the sunset / New York City skyline.
– A night above the streets of New York.
– Sitcom hunt in New York: A lunch in the restaurant that inspired MacLaren’s from How I Met Your Mother and visiting Friends’ apartment building.
– Travelling to New York? Take the High Line! An abandoned train track is exploited as a scenic route for pedestrians. Loved it! So much that we actually walked it through twice in only one day!
– First time in New York? Things you want to know prior to your trip. At least I wish I would have.
– A day walk in Brooklyn – New York is so much more than only Manhattan.
– Budget traveller’s tips to New York.
– Do I have to fall in love with New York? Country bumpkin’s thoughts of the amazing New York City.
Will we ever end up as guesthouse hosts in Iceland? We have to wait and see. Until then, the above posts will keep me busy – and this is just a fraction of the topics I have in mind. How does this list sound to you? Does any of the topics feel especially interesting? Where should I start from? All suggestions and wishes are warmly welcome – I let you decide!
By the way, what did you like about the photos on this post? They’re all shots I posted on Instagram during our trip. In case you feel like seeing more of them, just click yourself to my Instagram profile and hit follow! I promise you, there will be more of them. A lot more.
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