Sunday, October 23, 2016

ICELAND: The Golden Circle | Part 1

Iceland's Golden Circle is a popular tour of some of the most incredible natural attractions nearby Reykjavik. We would recommend going clockwise from the city as this will allow you to see the main attractions first. The entire trip can be driven within about 4 hours, but you should plan a day to complete the sights if you enjoy photography. In addition to the main 3 stops (Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss), we also added on some stops to some lesser-traveled destinations - which was super rewarding.

We began our tour early in the morning. As we opted to rent a car for our week in Iceland, we were not constrained by having to meet the timing of a tour bus. We would highly recommend doing the Golden Circle in this way if possible, in order to have the best opportunity to get photos without a bunch of tourists and to add on other destinations at your discretion.

Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park, which is located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Thingvellir is also the location for the formation of the Icelandic parliament. This park has a lot of history and geological beauty, and it's therefore a very popular destination. We arrived at the park around 8am, an hour before the info shop officially opens and tour buses arrive. This allowed us to get in many shots without having the nuance of many people in our photos and to get the best light possible for early morning.

Our second stop was Geysir - the geyser for which all others are named. There are several geysers in the area, but the most notable attractions are Geysir and Strokkur. While Geysir itself is rather inactive, Strokkur Geyser is only a few feet away and erupts every few minutes. It was really incredible to spend some time in this hot springs area, where you can hear the ground boiling beneath your feet! We did not spend much time here but there were a few trails that meandered through the area.

This is part of a series of posts about the Golden Circle in Iceland.
Check out the other posts here.

Did you tour the Golden Circle? Which was your favorite part?

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

FLORIDA: Butterfly World Photography Date

Before our trip to Iceland, we wanted to practice our photography skills, so we decided to plan a photography date at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek. Butterfly World brags that it is the largest Butterfly park in the world. It is certainly a great spot for anyone that enjoys insects, birds, and flowers. You could easily spend hours here taking photos and bird watching, although admission is pretty pricey (always check groupon!). It's a good place to practice photography, especially if you enjoy shooting nature or wildlife. In addition to the butterflies all around the park, there is also a museum section full of pinned insects and some spookier species (spiders, scorpions, beetles and centipedes) in aquariums. Plus, there are a ton of colorful bird species, some of which you can feed for a more interactive experience. Overall it was a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon. 

Do you have a park like this near you? What are some of your favorite things to photograph?

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

ICELAND: Exploring Reykjavik - The Smoky Bay

We flew into Iceland overnight (and with a 4-hour time change) it was around 7 am when we landed. After going through customs and picking up our rental car we were on our journey through what seemed like a pre-historic wonderland on an overcast day. Our first day was to be spent in Reykjavik exploring what the city has to offer. The city, which is home to 2/3 of the islands population is located 40 minutes from the airport. We got there early enough to get a great parking spot next to our first location, Hallgrímskirkja.

Hallgrímskirkja is the center point of the city and an amazing piece of architecture that is hard to miss. It was opened in 1986 as a Lutheran Parish church and is the tallest structure in Iceland. The architecture of the building was inspired by the basalt formations which can be found in other parts of the island. After paying a small fee for a ticket, we were able to use the small elevator to visit the top floor. The top of the church provides the best view of the city below, and is a great stop for photos or to see the colorful rooftops of the city.

Sun Voyager statue 
The Sun Voyager Statue is a stainless steel structure near the ocean. The steel reflects the sky's colors, providing an excellent focal point for sunset photos (although we stopped by while it was quite overcast). 

The main shopping street of downtown Reykjavik is located within a short walk from Hallgrímskirkja. The street is also home to most of the bars and nightlife of the city. While we don't typically do much shopping while traveling, one of the best parts of wandering through Reykjavik is spotting all of the great street art along the way (and the local cats!).

Harpa is the concert hall, and is recognizable due to the geometric glass designs that texture the entire building like a beehive. Harpa is hard to miss, and inside you can find some info on display about Iceland. 

Food & Drink
In Iceland, it is a little difficult to find affordable food. We ended up eating at The Noodle Station, and having a drink at the Lebowski Bar - a Big Lebowski themed bar with craft beer and a menu full of white Russians. Due to the cost, we didn't eat much local food within the city, and we only went out that first night. 

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