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Ice, Ice, baby: A trip of a lifetime for lovers and friends


One drive from STL to Chicago, one stop at our friend's Lincoln Park Apartment for New Years Eve night, one Uber to Logan Square CTA station, one train ride to O'Hare, one 6-hour WOW Airlines flight, one car rental car and about 9 cups of coffee were all it took to get my boyfriend and I to the Land of Fire and Ice. What happened over the next week was one incredibly unreal road trip in Iceland where we each had about 100 “pinch me” moments that will stick with us forever. I still can’t believe I went there, and since so many clients and friends have asked for our trip itinerary, I thought I’d write a blog post to share the goods! PHOTOS BY M.P. Wilson Photo


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

“Why Iceland, and why in the winter?” Was what everyone was asking as my boyfriend and I were planning the trip of a lifetime. We had so many reasons to visit this gorgeous place - we had seen beautiful photos and so badly wanted to experience the place other tourists have explained as “like being on another planet”, we had the potential to see the Northern Lights, flight prices were dropping, and I had never been on vacation anywhere cold before. Plus, a friend of mine from college was originally from Iceland and is now living there again. Sigrun was a godsend and helped us with so much of the planning (and we got to hang out with her on our last night which was so much fun)!

Planners gotta plan, so of course I created a detailed itinerary for our 8-day trip with the help of my good friends The Internet and Sigrun. Our flight went great. WOW has pretty mixed reviews, but after having experienced it myself, I chalk that up to people not doing their research before traveling. We brought our own snacks and water because neither are complimentary on the plane, heavily researched our bag restrictions, and reserved XXL seats for an extra cost because Matt’s a tall glass o- water at 6 foot 7.

When we arrived, we rented a car - a 4x4 Suzuki Ventura to be exact. And thank goodness we did. The roads were pretty bad on a few of the days and we would not have made it driving a regular sedan. No joke - we saw plenty stuck on the side of the road. DO be sure to get all insurance possible on your rental and have at least one designated driver with you who is not only good at driving but also confident in their ability to drive in tougher circumstances if you’re not traveling on a tour bus. We were thankful to have gotten “wind insurance” because the door hinges to our car were weakened by the huge gusts of wind when we got in and out of our car. The wind’s no joke.

And that reminds me, I’d like to thank my sweetheart for the best trip of my life. My travel buddy, personal photographer, driver of icy roads through sleet, snow, complete darkness and the most intense winds I've ever encountered, Matthew Wilson. I'm lucky to be livin' alongside you my love!

Below is our itinerary for days 1-4 along with photos captured by Matt. For those who might not know, the sun rises late and sets early with only about 5 hours of daylight each day in the winter in Iceland. We planned for the worst and it ended up being gorgeous. While the sun rising late was a bit strange, the sunset lasted about an hour or more each afternoon and the light in between was just beautiful. We utilized the dark hours in the mornings to beat other tourists to beautiful locations and we had about an hour alone on average until a flood of people arrived each day. Not to mention, the sun sets pretty early at home these days, too!

DAY 1

  • Arrive to Keflavík airport

  • Purchase alcohol at the airport - seriously do this is you plan on drinking at all. It’s immensely cheaper. We saw people filling Duffel bags and while that might sound crazy, we don’t blame them after seeing the pricing at Vinbuðin (the state-run alcohol store). Six packs of beer were $30!

  • Rent Hotspot from Truwireless - $10/day and so helpful to have!

  • Get cash out to avoid foreign transaction credit card fees, unless you’re absolutely sure you won’t be hit with those

  • Pick up rental car (we used Bluecar rental)

  • Check into AIRBNB in Reykjavik, walk around the city center, eat at Bakeris (why are European sandwiches SO good?!)

DAY 2

The Golden Circle, Waterfalls and Solheimasandur

SUNRISE: 11:17 AM

SUNSET: 3:48 PM

  • Þinveller National Park

  • Brauerfoss waterfall:


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

  • Gullfoss waterfall

  • Kerið Crater Lake

  • Check into Hotel Borealis

  • This place was great. The hot pot (hot tub) was broken though, so we went to a nearby swimming pool and paid $6 entry fee. There were 3 pools, all different levels of hot ranging from lukewarm to too hot for even me, who takes scalding hot showers.

DAY 3

SUNRISE: 11:00 AM

SUNSET: 3:50 PM

  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall

  • Gljufrabui (this was closed due to ice but it's worth a shot - right next to Seljalandfoss)

  • Skogarfoss waterfall:


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

  • Solheimasandur airplane wreckage:


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

  • Check into Hotel Laki

  • Loved this hotel! They have a courtesy call you can sign up for to be alerted of the Northern Lights showing. Breakfast was also amazing.

DAY 4

SUNRISE: 10:51 AM

SUNSET: 3:30 PM

  • Svartifoss waterfall:


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

  • Skaftafell waterfall

  • Svinafellsjokull glacier

  • Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon:


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

  • Black sand beach:


Photo by M.P. Wilson Photo

Matt will be selling prints of some of these gorgeous images, so please contact me directly if interested at savinggraceoccasions@gmail.com

On the next blog post, I’ll be finishing out the itinerary and then Matt and I will do a vlog (we'll discuss what we’re glad we planned for, what we wish we knew, and the highlights of the trip) to top it all off! Happy (vacation) Planning!

XO, SGO

#Iceland #weddingplanning #travel #travelblog #travelideas #travelitinerary #weddingplanner #StLouistoIceland

HI, I'M GRACE!

When you’re constantly talking about, planning, Pinning or otherwise dreaming up gorgeous events and how to make them the absolute best they can possibly be, you find yourself wanting to write about them, too! The SGO blog is your hotspot for wedding and events inspiration...here you’ll find tips, tricks, recipes, motivational quotes [for those drab days when it seems NOTHING can possibly get you going], and everything in-between. Enjoy!

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