OUR GIRLS TRIP TO ICELAND! | WHAT TO DO, PACK, AND SEE PART 2

Check out part one of our trip here!

With so much to share, I've split our trip into two parts. Here's part two which includes our last four days, what we ate, and lots of tips if you're planning a trip there.

Day 5:

  • Drove south to Vík and checked into our Airbnb. 
  • Saw Seljalandfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls.
  • Visited the DC-3 plane crash at Sólheimasandur Beach (aka Black Sand Beach).

Vík and the rest of the southern coast of Iceland was probably my favorite region of the whole trip. The Black Sand Beach makes this coast other-worldly and we were mesmerized by it the whole time. We were also inspired to shoot our own spoof of Dierks Bentley's music video for his song "Black" which he shot here as well as Justin Bieber's "I'll Show You." Release of this parody music video is pending the embarrassment factor of the final cut :D

And of course, the DC-3 plane crash site was just - insane. It's eerie + inspiring to see in person. I was TERRIFIED to climb on top of it, but once we had our flow of where to slip our feet into the metal and what to hold on to, it wasn't too bad.

Day 6:

  • Explored the entire southern coast, particularly Reynisfjara, Dyrhólaey, and the basalt columns.

Again, this was a magical day as we continued our exploration of the southern coast. The Dyrhólaey arch was stunning and I'm pretty sure we would've stayed perched atop those cliffs for the most of the day had the wind not been so powerful. 

Day 7:

  • Explored Jökulsálrón and Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoons.
  • Visited Hofn, the "lobster capital of Europe."

Glaciers! I had never seen one before! The bright blue stuck out amongst the mossy ground and snow surrounding it. And it was incredible to see little icebergs that broke off from the glacier. Morgan even sat on one because if you ever have the opportunity to sit on an iceberg, you take it. Our last full day was capped with one last stop to pet the horses! You should have heard our shrills, "Horses!" every time we pulled over to pet them. They're so friendly + full of personality. Can't wait to print a large photo of them to put on my wall!

Day 8:

  • Breakfast in Reykjavik then headed to the airport to fly home!

Restaurants

Half the fun of traveling is trying the local food so we had lamb, reindeer (!), langoustine, cod, arctic char, and Icelandic hotdogs. They are known for their lamb soup which was like a stew and absolutely delicious. I don't usually like lobster much, but their langoustine was incredible. One of the girls ordered a reindeer burger which we all tired and it was pretty good. I think they spiced it with nutmeg which was unique. Their seafood is obviously incredible so naturally we had fish nearly everywhere we went. The fish + chips at Sveitagrill Miu Mia's was absolutely amazing, as well as the haddock I had at the Blue Lagoon. And we couldn't visit Iceland without trying their hot dogs which apparently are big there. I never eat hot dogs here in the States, but since they aren't processed the same way there as they are here, I gave it a shot. It was amazing! They topped it with fresh onions, fried onions, mustard, and their famous "remoulade" which is mayo-based, but doesn't taste like it. It was so good! You have to visit the hot dog cart mentioned above in Reykjavik. 


Tips

  • Rent a car and explore the island instead of doing bus tours. Unless you're really into touristy bus tours, you can see everything on your own and it's a very easy country to drive in.
  • Ladies, don't bother getting a manicure before your trip. The hot springs will ruin it. We were sad about that.
  • Also ladies, your hair dryer, curling iron, etc. won't work there, even with an adapter. Buy one there or embrace the au natural hair like we did. 
  • Don't ignore the suggestion about waterproof boots! Seriously, it's a wet country even in the summer and you won't regret it!
  • Bring a waterproof phone case if you want photos in the Blue Lagoon or other hot springs.
  • Check your credit cards to see if any of them feature perks of no foreign transaction fees. My Amazon Visa did so I used that for the majority of the trip.
  • Get an international data plan with your cell phone provider. You need data to navigate with GPS and it's fun to Google each spot you're seeing to learn more about the area! Our rental car company offers wifi in the cars for an extra fee, but it was cheaper for me to add a service to my plan (I have T-Mobile.)
  • Bring snacks! Several friends told us that the food servings were small there so we all brought a ton of bars, granola, jerky, etc. We actually found the servings to be pretty substantial, but the snacks did come in handy since we were on the road so much. It also saved us money because food there is incredibly expensive...
  • ...so be prepared for expensive meals! A simple sandwhich can easily cost $20-$25.
  • Grocery stores and coffee shops open late there (at least in the ones we encountered). It isn't uncommon for a grocery store to only be open from 11am-5pm so plan accordingly.
  • Many gas stations only accept debit cards. Some of us only brought credit cards so be sure to bring both. And at many stations, you pump first, then pay inside. We had a running joke of "how many girls does it take to pump gas in Iceland?". We're smart, I swear.
  • The Blue Lagoon is close to the airport so logistically it makes sense to do it early in your trip, but I'd save it for the middle or end. It was such a relaxing day and gave us a break from the "go, go, go" rhythm we'd had for the previous days. I would also highly recommend making a reservation for it as early in the day as possible! We went at 8am so we got to watch the sunrise and enjoy the mellow lagoon. It gets incredibly busy as the day goes on.
  • If we had stayed more than 10 days, I would've done the Blue Lagoon a second time. We loved it that much! It was such an incredible experience and I already want to go back just for that!

things we would have done differently

  • I wouldn't have converted as much money before we left. I took out about $250 in króna, but would have been completely fine with $75-100. Most places take cards.
  • I would've stayed for 3-5 more days (at least). We were there for 8 but only got to see the southern half of the island. I would have loved to have been there longer to complete our tour of the northern parts!

And that's it! It was truly the trip of a lifetime that I'll remember forever. It's so rare to get to travel to another part of the world with a group of girlfriends, a couple of which I didn't even know prior to this trip! But it was the perfect dynamic of personalities and I already miss them terribly. I hope everyone gets an opportunity to experience this incredible country in their lifetime. And if you need someone to photograph you frolicking in front of a waterfall, send me an email ;)

Cheers!

Our Girls Trip to Iceland! | What to Do, Pack, and See Part 1

With so much to share, I've split our trip into two parts. Here's part one which includes travel, our itinerary, what to pack, and our first four days.

A couple weeks ago, five girlfriends and I experienced the trip of a lifetime road-tripping through the ragged terrain of Iceland and exploring every nook + cranny of the island we could manage. I urge you to purchase a flight as soon as you're done reading this!

Last year, my girl Kelsey (at Kelsey Rae Designs) noticed a new airlines, WOW Air, offering round-trip flights to Iceland for $650. We immediatley booked it and within a few short months, we had four other girls booking their flight with us. And because we're super awesome millennials, we coined ourselves the #sixchicksiniceland.

While we were there, we shot for Krochet Kids, an inspiring company that employs individuals in Uganda + Peru at fair wages to crochet scarves + beanies. Their pieces are so cute and they kept us insanely warm in the bitter cold.

I've received so many questions from friends headed to Iceland soon so I thought I'd put together a recap of our trip including photo, tips and logistics. Here we go!

**There are some iPhone photos mixed in for when the big camera wasn't around. The snorkeling photos at the Silfra Fissure were taken by our awesome tour guide, Astrid.**

 

Getting TherE

After hearing mixed reviews, we nervously booked our flights through WOW Air from Los Angeles to Reykjavik for the first week of March. We were drawn to the cheap flights they offered, though it simultaneously made us nervous that it meant we'd experience cancelled/delayed flights or poor service.

You guys! We had such a great experience with WOW! Our flights were on time, the staff was incredibly friendly, and we got the same amount of leg room as any other flight I've taken. With the airfare being so low, they do charge you for everything. You can bring one personal item on the flight for free (i.e. a purse or small backpack), but they charge for a carry-on and any checked bags. They're also pretty strict on their size and weight limits of bags. They don't offer any complimentary snacks or drinks including water. We knew all of this going into it and even with the $3 waters on the flight, we still paid much less than other airlines.

We rented cars through SAD Cars (what a name...). They picked us up from the airport and took us to their garage just a few miles from the airport. They had great service and we survived, though we did wonder if our little old cars would survive each day. They had nearly 500,000 miles on them so we gambled + said a little prayer every morning we started them. 

what to pack

 Since we went in the winter and snow was abundant, we packed warm. 

Our Itinerary

It certainly helped having Kelsey, a professional planner, coordinate our entire trip. I wouldn't have changed a single part of our itinerary! I felt it provided plenty of structure for our trip to maximize what we saw each day, while providing enough wiggle room for spontaneous stops - usually to pet the Icelanidc horses, heh. We stayed in Reykjavik for four nights, then stayed in Vík for the last three nights. If we had stayed longer to see the north part of the island, I would've probably stay in Vík for 2 nights and then moved to a more northern town for the rest of the trip. I'm so happy with the way we split up our Airbnbs! Reykjavik is an excellent basecamp for the Golden Circle so it worked out perfectly to stay there as long as we did.

Day 1:

  • Landed at 4am, grabbed our rental car.
  • Explored downtown Reykjavik + Hallgrímskirkja Church.
  • Checked into our Airbnb in Reykjavik.

Since we couldn't check into our Airbnb until 3pm, we explored Reykjavik until we were delirious (we were running on nearly 30 hours of no sleep!). We loved seeing the gorgeous Hallgrímskirkja Church whose architecture is mirrored after the basalt columns found on the southern coast of Iceland (photos of it are in part 2 of the trip).

Day 2:

  • Drove 1/2 of the Golden Circle and saw the Strokkur Geyser.
  • Snorkeled in the Silfra Fissure.
  • Saw the Bruarfoss waterfall.

Our first full day of exploring outside the city! Reykjavik is near the iconic "Golden Circle" so it was incredibly easy to drive the first half of it on this day. The Strokkur Geyser was incredible to witness. It erupts every 5-8 minutes.

Next up was snorkeling the Silfra Fissure! The Silfra fissure is the crack between the North American and Eurasian continental plates and it's the only place in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates. The crack widens by 2cm every year. It's some of the purest water in the world as it's naturally filtered through porous underground lava. You're encouraged to drink it while snorkeling, too - it was so good! The fissure is in Þingvellir National Park which is where Icelandic vikings gathered for nearly 1,000 years and ultimately formed the first parliament of Iceland. There's so much rich history there and Kelsey and I knew we had to add this venture to our list, especially after we saw The Blonde Abroad do it a few years ago. We bought our tickets quickly before we could back out. With the air temperature below freezing, the last thing we wanted to do was get in 34 degree water, which stays about the same even in the summer months.

To snorkel, you wear your own thin base layer such as leggings and a long-sleeved shirt. Then they give you a warm, puffy suit to keep in the heat, followed by a dry suit. Your hands, lips, and cheeks are the only part of you that gets wet. Despite mostly being dry and warm, it felt a bit claustrophobic and overwhelming to walk into the frigid water. My hands went numb immediately, but I adapted quickly to the environment and it was smooth sailing from there. It was unreal! I'm so glad our guide gave us those photos to remember it!

Lastly, we saw Bruarfoss waterfall which featured an incredible ribbon of bright blue icy water. It was a little tough to find, but so magical.

Day 3:

  • Drove the second half of the Golden Circle and saw Kerid Crater Lake + Gulfoss waterfall.
  • Swam in the Secret Lagoon in Flúðir.

Next up was Kerid Crater Lake, a cone volcano that erupted and then collapsed on itself revealing the water table. Pretty amazing. Then we ventured to the most touristy waterfall of the trip, Gulfoss. Worth it! Finally we headed to The Secret Lagoon in Flúðir, a natural hot springs with temps at about 100 degrees. It was so relaxing and amazing! I highly recommending making a stop there. Just behind the swimming area are mini geysers and springs with water temperates closer to 200 degrees. Amazing!

Day 4:

  • Enjoyed the Blue Lagoon!
  • Saw the Northern Lights! 

This was probably my favorite day of the trip, though it's painfully hard to choose. I didn't think I'd love the Blue Lagoon quite as much as I did because it's so touristy. But I was obsessed and am determined to go back someday! Our reservation was at 8am so we got to watch the sunrise at 8:30am while the lagoon was pretty mellow. Before getting in, you have to shower and lather your hair up in a conditioner that they provide to protect it from drying out from the concentrated minerals in the water.

Guys, we were there ALL DAY. The water temperature was cooler than The Secret Lagoon so we never got too hot. Thus, we stayed in for hours without needing to take a break from the heat (unlike the Secret Lagoon). While you're in the water, they have a mask station to swim up to and apply a silica mud mask, followed by an algae mask. It was glorious. They also have a swim-up bar and a restaurant so they provide you with a wrist band that you scan anytime you'd like to make a purchase - brilliant! And deadly. It was all too easy to order a glass of champagne at the flick of the wrist. We ate at the LAVA Restaurant on property in giant plush bath robes, then soaked again for a few more hours. And when it was time to shower off and leave, our hair was silkier than ever thanks to their amazing conditioner. It was pretty much the best spa experience of my life. I highly recommending devoting an entire day to this! 

Next up, the northern lights! We actually saw the flights from our plane coming in (talk about a way to kick off a trip!), but were determined to see it from the ground too. We drove about 20-30 minutes outside Reykjavik to get away from the city lights. The visibility was measured to be at a 6 that night on a scale from 1-9. I think my biggest regret was not bringing my tripod for it. The winter wind made it impossible to get a clear shot, but it was magical nonetheless. So photographers, don't be silly like me. Bring the tripod.

Ready for part 2? Check it out here!

2015 Ends, 2016 Begins.

san diego photographer
san diego photographer

It's hard to believe we're nearing 2016 and a full year of holidays, travels, and change is coming to an end. Holy moly, where'd it all go? Sometimes I end the year thinking, "Has really all that much changed this year?" It's far too easy to get caught up in the happenings of daily life and forget to analyze what you've done + been through in the last 365 days. If I've learned anything this year, it's to celebrate the mini success of life and to reflect and change for the better when the not-so-great moments happen. It's how you can make real, substantial alterations, not just resolutions that are forgotten my mid-March. I get giddy about reflecting and tweaking for the better so let's do it, shall we?!

Reflection

I can sum up 2015 pretty easily: it was challenging, incredible, and surreal. But most importantly, it was my best year yet. Without a doubt!

For starters, I got married! I mean, talk about life-changing! On top of that, we moved in together which in and of itself is pretty major. It's been fun and weird navigating the waters of living together but man, am I ever blessed to have a hubby that has no problem sharing in the housework! #husbandgoals

san diego photographer
san diego photographer

Most of my year was spent prepping for our wedding in May and then settling into married life and my business full-time. And although I officially launched Plum & Oak last year, it was 2015 that allowed me to leave my career in the wine industry to manage my business full-time. It's been incredible to say the least! Leaving a stable job with a consistent income is no easy feat and it is utterly surreal to say that I've been blessed to create my own business with my craft. I am thankful beyond measure to the couples, brands, and vendors that have trusted me with their vision and supported this sweet business of mine. I created Plum & Oak for several reasons which you can read about here, and every person I've met + worked wth this year has aided me in bringing this vision of mine to life. I could not be more grateful to you all for reading this blog post, for inviting me to be a part of your wedding day, or to my talented fellow business owners who trusted me to photograph their work.

san diego photographer
san diego photographer
san diego photographer
san diego photographer
san diego photographer
san diego photographer

Resolution Focus

To start, I prefer to focus on something in the New Year instead of listing specific resolutions and I think it's worked out pretty darn well! Several years ago, I made one simple focus for the New Year: to take more pictures. That's it. That was my only goal. I didn't tell myself I had to take pictures every day, nor did I feel pressured to become a professional at it (that wasn't even on my radar at that point!). I simply wanted to make a concentrated effort to take more pictures documenting my life so I could have tangible memories to look back on in the years ahead. That general concept led me to purchasing my first "fancy camera", studying photography in every free moment I had, and a few years after that, the decision to start my own business. So to say I love me a good New Years "focus" is a sincere understatement! It's specific enough to give you a clear goal, but broad enough not to encourage beating yourself up over it if you lose track midway through the year. And most importantly, it maintains the fun of the process. Had I made super specific sub-goals of mastering photography in one year, I probably would have given up before I started!

san diego photographer
san diego photographer

In 2016, I'm narrowing my focus down to one word, a trend I've been seeing a lot lately (<--didn't know this site existed, but it looks like they started it) and for good reason: it's liberating and pretty life-changing at the same time. Call it cheesy, but I love this process! My word for 2016 is "care." Specifically self-care mentally, spiritually, and physically. 2015 was a year of change for me, and when big changes happen, I tend to neglect the basics of making time for myself. Between wedding planning, moving, and transitioning to self-employment, it was all too easy to skip barre class, sleep in instead of go to church in my post-wedding day haze, and forget to take a day off. In 2016, I'm going to focus on caring for myself, much like I chose to care for my wedding planning and business this year. It's simple, but I think it'll make me a better business owner and human in the process. I can get on board with that.

Cheers friends, and thank you so, so much for making 2015 the best year yet. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm shutting down the computer an off to an afternoon barre class...

Casual Friday | December

Untitled-1
Untitled-1

Happy Casual Friday, friends! Every Friday should be casual, am I right? Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been up to lately, all iPhone because the best camera is the one you have on you.

NO. 1: READING

So much good stuff! I’ve been making a sincere effort to slow the heck down and set aside time in the morning and before bed to dive into a non-business related book every day and my soul is all the better for it. Some noteworthy ones include Wild by Cheryl Strayed (the inspiration for the movie with Reese) and You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Holy moly, guys. I put off reading Wild for purely stubborn reasons: sometimes when they make a movie out of a book, I fear the book will lack depth and leave me wishing for something a little less commercial. But Wild lacks nothing. Depth, symbolism, tears, the whole gamut. It was an emotional rollercoaster and I feel I'm a better human after swimming through Cheryl Strayed's words. She is such a literary voice, I found myself rereading several pages just so I could digest the heaviness of it and take each piece with me. Ugh. Do yourself a favor and read this beauty. It’s in my “Top Five” for sure.

You Should Have Known was incredible for entirely different reasons and highly recommended as well! It’s the fictional story of a therapist, Grace, who writes a book called You Should Have Known (so meta!), explaining her belief that women going through a divorce or huge breakup can reflect back on the relationship and pinpoint exact signs that the relationship wasn’t going to last from the get-go. Basically, “they should have known.” But in a twist, Grace discovers that her husband has a big, huge secret which turns her whole belief system (and soap box) upside down. It’s a page turner, friends! Read it!

Processed with VSCOcam with e4 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with e4 preset

NO. 2: LISTENING TO

Adele’s new album and crying like the rest of the world. River Lea and I Miss You just kill...

Processed with VSCOcam with j2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with j2 preset

NO. 3: FOCUSING ON

Quality vs. Quantity in every little bit of life. The hubby and I pretty much have this mastered with food (we’re incredibly thankful to be able to buy organic + local meat and produce 80% of the time), but I’m trying to make the shift in other parts of my life too. Starting with the most fun, of course: clothes. Has anyone else attempted the super-popular capsule wardrobe? While I’m not quite there yet, I have completely overhauled my wardrobe and got rid of almost all-the-things after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I don’t wanna state the obvious, but it’s well, life-changing! It’s made me completely rethink the items I have in my home, what it’s purpose is, and if it’s making me happy or if I’m holding onto it for other reasons (“someday I’ll find a use for it”, “I should save that just in case”, “I’ll have my mom sew that hole, heh...", etc.). And part of that process is reducing the cluttering, poor-quality items I have so that the higher quality ones stand out. I recently stocked up on a few Everlane products and can hardly wait for the mailman to arrive!

Processed with VSCOcam with e4 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with e4 preset

NO. 4: PLANNING

A super exciting launch of a project of mine coming in January! It’s been an enormous dream of mine for over a year now, but I had to wait until the timing was right. This awesome thing will fuse two big ‘ole passions of mine: photography + helping lively, sincere, and creative businesses. Stay tuned.

Processed with VSCOcam with j2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with j2 preset

NO. 5: WATCHING

Scandal, finally! I know, I like to be late to jump on bandwagons. Netflix has been my favorite editing fuel lately, which pairs well with my mainstay of three cups of coffee.

NO. 6: NEED

Some recommendations of your favorite charities. I have some things in the works and would absolutely love to hear about the organizations that you know + support. Shoot me an email at hello@plumandoakphoto and tell me all about it!

And last but not least, a quote I’ve been carrying around this week:

“If you’re living a life you can keep track of in your head, you’re living too small.” - Jay Pryor

P.S. You can follow more casual things over on my Instagram! Come find me, pretty things.

#ThePrettyProject | Oregon Travels

oregon photographer title
oregon photographer title

A couple months ago, I was one glass of Cab deep (okay, two) and strolling the interwebs when I came across an image of Saddle Mountain in Oregon. Its rocky terrain and low-laying fog gave it an eerie and otherworldly feeling which prompted me to text Kelsey immediately.

"Let's go to Oregon."

"Um, YES."

Love her.

Four weeks later, we were landing in Portland on a mission for coffee, midday fog, and all-the-donuts. We were 66% successful. Somehow we managed to visit the Beaver state during a heat wave in which it was hotter than Southern California. Portland, you are weird.

On our second day, we headed towards the coast with a stop at the incredible Saddle Mountain on the way. It. Was. Insane. Quite the hike (in dresses, no less), but worth every ridiculous + gorgeous moment.

Of course, we had to try to Voodoo Donuts, but alas, it was Blue Star Donuts that stole our sugar-coma'd hearts. On our last day, we ventured down the Columbia River to see the beauty of Multnomah Falls in person and it did not disappoint. But perhaps the best part of the trip was the 9:20pm sunset on Cannon Beach. Pure magic.

Oregon, we'll be back for you.

oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer
oregon photographer