Browsing Category


Europe Iceland

Iceland Tips and Itinerary

13th February 2016 - 9 min read

I just literally got back this morning from my journey in Iceland. Actually, our journey.. My boyfriend and his 2 siblings came along to make the experience merrier, better, and more memorable. As much as how exhausted I am at the moment, I cannot wait to share the amazing experience we all went through in Iceland. Before I forgot the little details, I might as well just jot down everything in writing, hoping that someone reads it and getting inspired.

It started years back when I set Iceland as a must-go destination. I want to witness the phenomenon of Aurora Borealis with my bare eyes. That’s all! Why Iceland? A lot of my friends have been there to catch Aurora, and besides I think the island is no-mainstream at that moment, unlike Norway and Finland. When I looked up about this Island/country on the internet, it captivated me even more with the hidden gems it has. Everywhere is about nature and it was its volcanic activity that is thought to have created Iceland. The pocket of magma that sits beneath Iceland is thought to be what created the island, as hot lava rose to the surface of the ocean, where it cooled and gradually accumulated into an island beginning about 70 million years ago.

Below is some general tips per our experience:

  • Ticket: I bought the flight ticket back in September with WOW air  for 200 eur/return. It’s considered as a normal price but I guess you don’t have to buy far in advance. Because in the winter time, the price will approximately be the same. Damar and fam bought the ticket on January and the price is fairly the same. 
  • Extra luggage: We bought one baggage (30 eur/ 20 kg/ one way) and split the expense to 4 of us, as we’d stay for a week in Iceland. I suggest to bring some convenient food (rice, indomie, tea, coffee, etc) from the Netherlands to cut down some expense and to ease the journey because we did road trip and it was a long long quite road, you could not find a supermarket/store that easily. So it’s good to always have snacks and food with you. As Asian, we always demand rice 😛 and proper meal. This way we do not have to worry to get hungry and get ill by the freezing weather. For 4 people, it was worth the expense. They say cabin maximum is 5 kg, but you can bring up to 7 kg. But not more than that. For luggage, it can be up to 21-22 kg.
  • Packing: It’s not necessary to change or dress up everyday in the cold weather (-4), you will not be sweating. Trust me, nobody would care what we were wearing. So, for a week, I just brought
    • 1 ski pant and 1 jogger (for the flight, don’t ask, but I always wear jogger/training on board)
    • Couple of sweaters
    • Socks for at home and outside, underwear, and did not forget my body thermal for beneath pants and tops, gloves, beanies
    • Toiletries: Moisturizer is a must and so is lipbalm! otherwise the skin and lips will get dry and itchy. The rests are usually as complimentary in the stay
    • Swimsuit: Because I stayed at the places with hot tub in their front yard and because we went to Blue Lagoon (which is a must)
    • Food/spices/ingredients
    • Lunch box and water bottle, for having lunch on the way. We always cooked in the stay and brought our lunch in the lunch box. Trust me! I did not regret the effort, because it is really uneasy to find a stop place in the road especially for us who has our preferences what to eat to be considered full during the day aka eating rice! 😛
    • Medicines
  • Exchange to Icelandic Krona? I don’t think it’s necessary. They all accept maestro debit card and credit card. You will be good to go!
  • Rent a car: Damar got his driving license recently. Thank God!! I am glad he did and I am glad we could rent a car. With car, there’s no time constrain, everything is at your convenient. Especially, when you wanted to stay at the remote area (like us) to be in the nature and catch aurora at night. The car is not pricey, gas price is fair, and we never payed any parking lot fee. Just make sure that in the stay, there’s an easily accessible and free parking lot. All the attraction places we went have free parking lot as well. Also they accept national driving license. Most of the rental car company requires at least 1 year validity of your driving license except Thrifty (a company where we rented the car from 😛 since Damar only received his like a week before our trip). A tip: A lot of people wonder about getting the two-wheeled or four-wheeled drive. If you want to go off road or go to a rough terrain, you should go get the four-wheeled especially in the winter. But we decided to get the two-wheeled considering our destinations. Price is 200 eur different for a week! 

It is handy to check on the for the traffic, maps and the weather as well. Travellers should prepare well for each trip               and know its trail and route conditions. Often, the nature would give a tricky condition, like snow storm, slippery road, etc,             this can be anticipated by checking the road.

  • Itinerary and expenses for a week: We made the itinerary via  Tripomatic. I am thankful to know this trip planner website from my dear Turkish friend of mine, Cansu. It’s user friendly and you could see the map easily as well also the place/Lenmarc where you can choose, you can enter the hotel also and see it as a big overview so you know what to expect in regards to the duration, distance, etc.  However, I will break it down anyway as follows along with the expenses. We chose the route of the famous GOLDEN CIRCLE, so we only stayed in the south and did not go to the North. It’s one way or the other, for a week time, Golden Circle route is just perfect.


                So it’s around 600 euro per person including the plane ticket for a week. It’s money well-spent!!!



AuC-tpdbXM-B83kqtr-BvY506H063mVg71Rs5NUS16wa AsVZjBO3D6LPHSHubZ5p5JJX1uNHOQaQJHwoN6UE5R3d AtwujwkOftCCv60V433FFJQOmKisU5fGR5uDNHua5pgL

Dreams Europe Iceland

Day by Day in Iceland

13th February 2016 - 15 min read

Day 1

We arrived at 14.30 pm local time Iceland and pick up the car in he airport. First time the plane landed in the airport and saw outside, I felt like in the other planet. Everywhere was white, there were no trees, and the area seemed really quite. I sat down in the plane next to 2 American people. Yes, I did not sit next to Damar nor his siblings as we checked in pretty late. Apparently, now there’s a stop over from or to the States. That explains why there are a lot of Americans in the flight. A tip also for WOW air, they do not have online check in, but you can reserve the seat online when you book the ticket. Else, you need to come early for the check in to have a nice seat as wished.

We drove to our stay in the centre of Reykjavijk. It took approximately 40-45 minutes driving. We arrived and took a rest.. I cooked dinner and we all stayed in bed until the next day.

Day 2

We checked out before 10 am and drove to the National Park in Thingevellir. In the summer of 2000, two severe earthquakes occurred in South Iceland. Though their source lay 40-50 kilometres southeast of Þingvellir, stones fell from the ravine walls and water splashed up from the rifts. The water in the Flosagjá rift, normally crystal clear, became so murky that you couldn’t see the coins lying on the bottom. The earthquakes were a result of movement of the Eurasian and North-American plate boundaries that run through Iceland. In the south, the plates inch past each other, but at Þingvellir, they break apart and the land between subsides. In here, divers can go to the plates of 2 continents at the same time. The view there was also amazing. It’s just the weather was freezing up to minus 4.


Then, we continued to Geysir. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 metres in the air. However, eruptions may be infrequent, and have in the past stopped altogether for years at a time. The explosion was every 5-8 minutes. Just wait there and you will get the moment 🙂

Ahi_zDodUDfin1zQ1K-ic-5_6t6jPneArZKDALy94L6z (1)

We had a little coffee break in Geysir, so far Geysir has the most convenient waiting/break place with huge store and cafetaria, and proper toilet. Afterwards, we continued to Gulfoss. Gulfoss means Golden Waterfall. It was really cold, the wind was killing. I felt like if I did not properly wear hiking shoes, I would have flown away by the wind.



We did not stay that long in Gulfoss, because of the cold. We just stayed for 15-20 mins and we came back to the car. We drove away to our next airbnb stay, the owner’s name was Magnus. He prepared some fishes at home, that’s what we ate for Dinner. Iceland is very rich with its seafood, thus we were pretty sure the salmon was something he randomly caught. We were honored! This place also has hot tub at the back of the house, Magnus said that we did not have to be careful using the water because it’s unlimited and they have plenty of water. I believe it’s because of the geothermal power that Iceland is rich with. We were enjoying the hot tub until dinner time. Feeling soooooo good! Oh btw, do not mind the smelly water, especially the hot water as it is full with sulfur. This is not drinkable, but the cold water is.

That night we saw the aurora and this is the night where I was proposed 🙂 See the story and picture here

Day 3

We moved on to the next place. We drove towards Kerid Creter Lake. It is a volcanic crater lake located in the Grimsnese area in south Iceland. Again, the wind was pretty scary for a little girl for me. The trail was a little slippery too. The timberland shoes I borrowed from a friend has a proper grip to the ground, it helped a lot to walk. Damar wore just vans and he slipped a few times, more over when the canvas caught the snow, it would absorb and his feet would get freezing.




There was literally nothing in this place, but a person who manages entrance fee and the lake itself. No toilet nor cafetaria, so you better have your break before this or prepare to have it after. Almost all the places in Iceland precaution the visitors to visit at our own risks, and hospital is usually far from all these attractions. So, better be careful. Better safe than sorry!

We had lunch on the way facing the good view and continued to Selandjafoss


Satisfied with what we saw, we drove to our stay in Hvollsvollur for like an 1/2 hour. This night is the night where we saw the dancing light in the sky and second time we saw aurora. We woke up at 2 am and drove to a quite place where there were no lights disturbing our sights.

Day 4

We drove from our stay in Hvollsvollur to the Sulfoss waterfall for an hour.  We spent around 1 hour and took some pictures.


We then continued to Black beach which is located in the village Vik. The black sands in the side street greeted us, then we knew we were nearby the place.In 1991, the US journal Islands Magazine counted this beach as one of the ten most beautiful beaches on Earth. Its stretch of black basalt sand is one of the wettest places in Iceland. The cliffs west of the beach are home to many seabirds, most notably puffins which burrow into the shallow soils during the nesting season (source: Wikipedia).

AiIFDmyUWq8_W-x3QTJpEYQhVWl_AtVd_p3N76zrr7EZ AgU51IG_nYMDzXpC8QumumSD8KIsPqK4slmtCz-_u6tx

Here Damar bought me a postcard, as I have been collecting for sometimes. You could see little cafetaria and toilet, please please optimize the toilet when you see it, because it’s not easy to find a toilet in the street. Or you have to stop and pee in the snow, it’s obviously no problem for boys, but it’s difficult for me.

After we did the routine in the stop, took pictures etc, we went to Skaftafell. We did not go to the national park, we went to Svinafellsjokull glacier instead. The Svinafellsjokull ( ” Pigs Mountain Glacier “) is a small glacier tongue of the huge Vatnajökull in the south of Iceland. The Svinafellsjokull sandwiched east of the Hafrafell and west of the mountains Svínafellsfjall . The melt water via the Svínafellsá and then Skeiðará discharged to sea . This Skeiðará flows with very many arms by the huge Skeiðarársandur. (Source: wikipedia). I suggested to arrive there before getting dark because of the quite place and the slippery mountain. When  we were there, we saw a plate commemoration of 2 young people of age 23 who went missing after climbing the Vatnajokul mountain and saw the last time around the glacier area. Goosebumps got into me quickly..

We were there until sunset, it was beautiful. Not so many tourists in the area, no toilet, nothing, just the beauty of nature itself and a little parking lot.



On the way back was a little scary, because the wind was really hard and I could feel the car moved by the wind to the other side. Moreover, the snow particles that were blown to our car direction made the sight radius was not more than 3 meters. It was super dark already and it was only our car in the long road, sometimes we would see another car passing us and then gone with the darkness by the split second. I was getting sensitive thinking that anything could have happened and would be difficult especially if you were alone so a few times when we saw a car pulled over and started their hazard, we would come over and asked if they were okay. Because that’s what we would have expected to be asked if we were in a problem. I think strangers don’t matter, because in the wild road, there’s no citizenship or shame, but humanity. Luckily, we could arrive in Hofn town safe and sound at 20.30.

Day 5

We had to drive back to Reykavijk and it was 4 hours distance. We had to entertain ourselves in that long journey, thankfully the road or traffic was far away from stress because the road was in a good condition and not so many cars. So Damar could enjoy the drive with his automatic engine car. We played a lot of things from charade to words guess to english dictionary. It helped quiet a bit to get us out from boredom and killed the time.  On our way to Reykavijk, we made a stop over at Jokulsarlon glacier, just half an hour from our stay in Hofn. 

We could see the seals swimming and we could see some frozen plates in the see surface. Very beautiful 


And we continued driving and dancing in the car……………….

Until we finally arrived to the most beautiful place we have ever stayed so far. It’s in the remote area, in the middle nowhere, but nature (mountain, sea where you can see the seals in the side playing). It is highly recommended! Because of its remote area, not so many human life there, hence not so many lights. It was really dark after the sunset.. Very peaceful. And you could easily find aurora without having to drive somewhere else. You could just jump outside and witness the powerful earth beauty. That is what we did in the midnight….. Damar made a beautiful timelapse that we will share in our wedding invitation video 🙂

Here is the link of the airbnb place click

Day 6

The next day, we just relaxed and did nothing in the stay. In the morning,  Damar and I went to the supermarket (20 mins from our place) to buy some groceries for Barbeque night as the stay is equipped with proper electric grill in their veranda. We went back and enjoy the hot tub until the sun was set. What a relaxing last day.


Day 7

We get ready to go to the Blue Lagoon, a must go place in between the airport and Reykavijk. We had to drive like an hour to get us to the lagoon. We got the timeslot at 10 in the morning, just when it’s open. Note: Always book the entrance ticket far away in advance, don’t risk and buy it there, the chance for sold out is incredibly high. The price is 55 euro, I just noticed I did not put this on the expenses. Oops! We took the comfort package contains towel, a drink, complimentary silica mud and algea masks. While standard was really only the ticket to get in. Comfort package is definitely worth it!

Reserve the ticket here

Another tip is to not wear lenses as the sea salt water could melt the lenses and got you a sever eye irritation. I read this before I went there, and it was worth to know, because even with bare eyes it very hurts to have a contact with the water. Also, bring a bottle of water for drinks to prevent from dehydration.

Blue Lagoon is the best way to close this trip, we went off happily and relaxed!

AkHGE3dOqq3q5HAUzSgeIyV1abMGLbq26KXU3r3PNcbo AqQUiKAnz_KJ16jtqgQCnXMYedwW28bET9HEPZIrHn_T

Day 8

Off we go home!!!! For me, this is a very memorable trip. Not only because I came back engaged, but also because everything I experienced in Iceland was like no others.Up until recently, Iceland had been off the radar! With tourism on the rise, GO NOW before too many travelers find out about it! All weather are amazing! What is also fantastic about Iceland is connecting with other nationalities from all over the world, which gives Iceland a true international flavor.. It is one safe and convenient travel where everybody speaks english properly. Do not worry for a thing, Iceland is very developed and rich.

Read a nice Huffington Post 12 Things I love about Iceland article

Europe Iceland Love life Milestone Resolutions

Aurora Tips

12th February 2016 - 6 min read

Seeing aurora is the main purpose why I wanted to go to Iceland. Everything that has been written on my journal as a bucket list or resolution has a special place in my heart. This journey I planned with Damar couple of months ago as we shared the same dream: witnessing aurora with our bare eyes. It was even better when in between the day of buying the ticket and the departure day, we decided to date. Nice to know that my partner and I are in the same direction and has the same wish.

We are really lucky that in the 2nd day of our stay we can already witness the aurora even just a little. The tricky part of seeing aurora is that ones’ eyes have to be really sensitive and someone needs to really into it and keep on checking the forecast. Fortunately, we have Damar in our group 🙂 He is really concerned and did a lot of research until he could see where was the aurora even if it’s not that visible with our eyes. Aurora can be visible only in the darkness and around midnight and after. If it was not because of Damar, I am not sure we could have this wonderful experience. Although, there is of course Northern light tour in Iceland that will guide you in seeing the aurora, but we did not want that.

The aurora activity when we were there was only in level 2-4 out of 9. This is already good, the scientists who predict the aurora activity are very coutious about their predictions. Most of the year it never go up above 4. It was an incredible experience. Something that I will always remember, even thought it could not be captured by camera.

Here are some tips from Damar, at least how he prepared for it:

  • Check  for the forecast, what you need to see from this is the aurora activity and the cloud coverage (see below). The one on the right is the aurora activity and the map is the cloud coverage. Bear in mind that the aurora activity shown here is per day. So we actually didn’t know whether the activity was 5 in early Sunday 01:00 AM or late night 11:00 PM. You can scroll below the map to see the cloud on your location within a  certain period of time. You can also see the moon phase, of course dead moon is better than a full moon. Full moon will hinder your sight of the aurora. We saw the biggest activity when it was level 4, we had no cloud above us, and it was on a dead moon. Although we also saw it when it was just level 2.Aurora forecast
  • He downloaded 2 apps in his iphone which basically do the same thing. They are called Aurora Forecast and Aurora (I downloaded the free version, it is enough). What these two apps provided but not the is the exact aurora activity per 15 minutes for the next 1 hour. This was very convenient, we went out looking when the aurora activity is above 2 for the next hour.
  • This is perhaps the most important tip, just go out! The chance of you seeing the aurora is significantly higher outside than inside a house. We drove to somewhere where there are very little city lights if the aurora activity is above 2 and the sky is clear. Then just look north because the aurora should be there.
  • There is cctv outdoor (earth cam), where you can see from inside what the sky looks like outside. But it’s limited and no freedom to see the surroundings. Damar did not end up using this that much
  • Have your clothes ready in case you need to get out of the house to catch the aurora in the midnight
  • Prepare your camera, we used DSLR which capture more light so it’s more visible in the camera than with eyes. If you understand a little bit on how to use the DSLR camera, Damar used manual mode with high aperture of f4.5 and long exposure of 25 seconds, and of course a tripod to make your camera steady during those 25 seconds. I tried with my Iphone and it failed big time
  • Oh and you might want to plan something special for your loved one like how Damar did to me…….. Go on to the Aurora story

AsETbgVgo5jBsVWaK8L_tP6xbiyQF_z5f39H8loz9NqIAs8HQfBthsU0zywKjDV-wTfBMpDlvzfmQP67akRbZUvsIMG_7990IMG_7768 Av4K9-ID5i_zZRTMYPUIPX-ZOFnOkJveSbMZ5mcHhVdI

Dreams Europe Iceland Love life Milestone Wedding Series

And under the Aurora he bended knee

12th February 2016 - 4 min read

It was the second day of our trip when Damar set up his tripod and camera outside to create a timelapse.  I was waiting and falling asleep on the couch while he was busy with his camera, so did his siblings.

1 hour later, he got hysterical when he discovered his camera caught the aurora passing by the sky. He knew that in midnight it would appear again. He got me all excited in my exhaustion and sleepiness. It was 23.00 pm.

I went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, cleaned up and changed to pajamas, got ready to sleep. Couple of minutes after, Damar was coming and half screaming saying that the Aurora appeared again and asked me to change and get ready to go out. I was super lazy, but then I remembered why I came to Iceland, this might be the only chance. So I quickly wore my socks and winter gears. We tried to wake Damar’s siblings but they did not move, so we took the car and went out to the quite field, just 5 mins from our stay.

The aurora was there, not that strong but I could see a little bit of the lights. I knew it was not a normal cloud or sky. It was the spectacular show of the earth, it was THE aurora. While Damar was busy setting up his tripod and camera, I was busy admiring the sky. He set the timer and came to me, we took picture together facing the aurora. What a dream comes true!!

He went to the camera and set the timer again while I was still busy facing the sky. He came next to me…. and all of the sudden, there he was bending on his knee…………………… I looked at his face, he was looking at me with his usual loving sight, haltingly making his promise to me through his beautiful speech. I could not say anything, but cried.

Did not see that coming..

And the questions came, he asked ‘will you marry me?’. I said firmly ‘YES’.

And yes, we are engaged. We are getting married. This year.

I am very grateful that I am going to marry a man of my dream. Someone who never is selfish, care about my opinion, and ultimately about my dreams. He apparently planned this for quite a while. The ring he chose was also something that I always wanted, 3 stones vintage art deco ring from 30-40s. I am one lucky woman 🙂

The happiness is beyond measure. Alhamdulillah…

It’s the start of our journey. I cannot wait to start the life with him.