October 22, 2017

Five Space-Saving Travel Beauty Tricks

Travel is a learning process, and more times than not, the area I struggle in most is beauty. It's not that I don't know what to take; there are just so many products that I love and so many "what if" scenarios that I create in my head that it can be hard to streamline. 

During my recent trip to Iceland (see part 1 and 2 of my itinerary, if you're interested), I started thinking about all the products I was using and all the products that I brought and didn't really need. It was then that I realized there are so many great ways to use daily favorites as multi-taskers, which will undoubtedly save you loads of space. 

Here are some of the top tips I learned from testing out the theory myself...
1) Powdered Clay Masks are Multi-Taskers: Powders are always more practical than liquids when traveling, and clay masks tend to work just as well in this form. I brought a small container filled with my favorite May Lindstrom The Problem Solver, as it can be used for everything from a deep cleansing mask to set skin straight, to an overnight spot treatment, and even an exfoliator. That means one product in place of three, without sacrificing on results.

2) Hand Cream as Body Cream: This may sound silly, but hear me out. Creams ultimately eat up the majority of our toiletry space, and hand creams typically are no different from body creams. In fact, they can be even more nourishing than the latter, and are already packaged in a TSA-sized bottle. This Diptyque option smells like fresh roses and works wonders on both hands and limbs. 

3) Swap Liquid Shampoo for a Bar: I'm not typically one to sacrifice on haircare, but when I discovered Christophe Robin's Hydrating Shampoo Bar I know I had found something special. Of course, this bar works just as wonderfully as any liquid shampoo, and I'd even go so far as to say it results in bouncier hair with less buildup. What's more is that is can also be used as ultra-hydrating body soap; who doesn't love a good two-in-one?

4) Double Up On Brushes: I understand the struggle is real when it comes to narrowing down brushes, but in reality, all you need are a few. I brought one for applying both concealer and foundation, one for powders, and one for eyeshadow. The good thing is that you can always wash them and let dry overnight if you use a color that you don't want transferring. More isn't always more!

5) Bring a Liquid Moisturizer: In reality, you can go a week without your entire skincare arsenal at the ready. So many of my serums are actually just hydrating serums, and most of my moisturizers perform the same task; so why bring both? Opt for something like Tatcha's The Water Gel, which has a lightweight fluid texture that manages to pack some serious hydration punch. By doing this, you're saving both time and space in your beauty routine.
Are there any travel beauty tips you abide by when jetting off? Share in the comments below!


October 17, 2017

My Autumn Iceland Itinerary: Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 of my Autumn Iceland itinerary yet, click here to see what we got up to. It was such an amazing trip; truly one for the books!

Day 5: Midway through our trip on Wednesday, we had planned a day trip to the South of Iceland to see the Jökulsárlón Lagoon. Of course, it's a long trip from Reykjavik to this area, so we made quite a few stops in between, making sure to see many sights of note while we were in the area, even in the pouring rain. The first stop was Skogafoss, one of Iceland's most well-known waterfalls. It's such a beautiful spot and the waterfall is a real life example of climate change, as the cliff where the water pours over the ledge is actual the former coastline of Iceland. 

After exploring the beautiful falls, we journeyed further south to Katla, the famous volcano which is expected to erupt at any time. The drive to the glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón was quite stunning; passing waterfalls, lava fields and black deserts were nothing out of the norm on this trip. Once we finally reached our destination, we headed out onto what we'd typically call a "duck" boat, as it has wheels and can drive on land as well. It was quite an experience, being loaded onto this boat with full lifevests and parkas in the rain only to come across these majestic icebergs in the middle of a lake that leads right into the Atlantic. Such an unforgettable experience, watching the seals and birds play and hunt in this crystal waters. It's sad to think that this beautiful area is at such risk currently, and is expected to fully open into the ocean within the next century. 

After our visit to the lagoon, we made our way to Vík, the village famous for its black sand beaches and rugged coastline. It's really a sight not to be missed, just look at the images below. On our way back north to Reykjavik, we stopped to see Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is popular as you are able to walk behind the falls. It's so incredible that around every corner in this magical country you can see another natural wonder such as this. 
Day 6: After a long journey the day before, we wanted to spend the day locally in Reykjavik, so we decided to book a whale watching boat trip into Flaxafloi and the Flaxa bay area. Before heading to our boat, we stopped at Reykjavvik Röst for a coffee, which I would highly recommend. 

During the autumn, you're not typically expected to see much whale activity because many of the local species migrate once the temperatures drop, but we were lucky enough to see quite a few Minke whale and some beautiful Gannets diving for fish. It was quite chilly during our ride, so we even wore full "Arctic overalls" for the duration, and warmed up in a pub called Sæta Svínid afterward with a drink. For dinner that night before venturing out to see the Northern Lights, we went to an Italian restaurant called Caruso, which was surprisingly delicious, and the owner even called us all outside when he caught a glimpse of the lights right there in the city. It was really beautiful!

I have to say I wasn't quite expecting to see the lights on this trip to Iceland, as many people say that while you may see them beginning in September, you shouldn't expect it. We waited until we saw the forecast on Thursday and booked a trip that night to go outside the city and see the lights. It was the clearest day out of the whole week, and we ended up seeing quite a spectacular display. I can't believe that I got to experience them so vividly, as they were a 6/10 that night which is extremely rare in this area.
Day 7: Exhausted after a late night of Northern Lights spotting, we headed for Langjökull Glacier, which is the second largest in Iceland. We arrived at the foot of the glacier and hopped an old missile transport bus that drove us to the top of the glacier. There, we got out and explored the area a bit (#beyondthewall, for all you GOT fans) and then headed down into the glacier via a tunnel that was carved right into the ice. It was so incredible to see the true blue of the ice and the underground caverns and icicles that were formed by thousands of years of snow. 

On the way back from the glacier, we stopped at Barnafoss and Hruanfossar falls to see the gorgeous "children's falls" and the "lava falls", which are both incredibly unique. I've really never seen anything quite like these falls, and the autumn colors really popped against the lava rock and turquoise blue waters. 

When we returned to the city we stopped into Laundromat Café for a drink before heading back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We ate at Tapas Barinn, which was surprisingly delicious and offered quite large portions compared to traditional Spanish tapas. 
Day 8: After a tiring week of sightseeing and hikes, we decided to truly take it easy on our last full day in Iceland. We strolled around the city and walked the pedestrian bridge along the harbor in Reykjavik. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sun was shining, so we lucked out in our choice to take a leisurely walk that day. For lunch, we headed to Reykjavik Fish Restaurant for fish and chips, which I have to say, was absolutely delicious and certainly not low calorie. 

After lunch, we walked the city again and did some shopping before heading to dinner at Le Bistro downtown. It was a great, easygoing dinner to end our wonderful trip to this beautiful country.
Have you ever visited Iceland? Share your experiences if so!

October 08, 2017

My Autumn Iceland Itinerary: Part 1

Iceland is truly a unique place to visit. I had heard that before going there last week, but now I fully understand what that means. Driving through Iceland feels as though you are driving between planets; the landscape changes rapidly and so does the weather. There is nothing quite like it, and you have to be prepared for pretty much anything. The country is a magical place filled with waterfalls, mountains, fjords, valleys, Icelandic ponies, rainbows, hot springs, lava fields, glaciers, volcanos, geysirs and pretty much any other natural phenomena you can think up.

That being said, I thought I would share my autumn trip itinerary for Iceland, as it was something I was looking for when doing my research and finding more scarce than those written about summer or winter itineraries.  
Day 1: When we landed in Reykjavik we immediately headed into the city and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Radisson Blu 1919, but I found it harder to choose a hotel in Reykjavik than I typically do. There are not a lot of luxury hotel choices in the city center, but I did find the Radisson to be clean, spacious and centrally located to all of the city sights, waterfront restaurants, and main shopping streets, which was perfect for our stay. 

Once we were settled in (it took a bit of time because we had a mishap and misplaced our backpack, which had our passports and electronics in it. Luckily, Reykjavik Excursions, the bus company that took us from the airport to the hotel had great customer service and saved it for us in lost and found!) we headed out to explore the city. We had breakfast at Café Paris, which had delicious waffles with berries and a great cappuccino - much needed at that point, as I hadn't slept in at least 24 hours.

 As I'm sure you've heard, Reykjavik is a small city with only a few main sights and a shopping area with some restaurants. We ventured out to Laugavegur and explored some of the shops, then walked to the city's most famous church, Hallgrímskirkja, where we took the elevator to the top for a view of the city. To be honest, the church was much more barren inside than I had imagined, but there was something unique about the open space and choir echoing throughout the space. The view from the top itself was worth a ticket though, you really can see the entire city from up there, and you realize just how much it looks like a town built out of legos! 

After visiting the church, we ended up grabbing a drink and a bite to eat at Primo Ristorante, which was right on the main road coming back down the hill from the church. We shared a small pizza, as we were still quite full from breakfast, but we did have to try the Viking beer there - it was delicious!

We headed back to our hotel to rest and then out to the harbor, to explore the area and really get a lay of the city. We ate dinner reasonably early, as we were exhausted and wanted to get some rest. We went to Höfnin, which had great food and the cutest, coziest interiors and a view of the waterfront. I am not typically a fan of fish, but I tried the fish balls, which were actually delicious. 
Day 2: We woke up feeling refreshed and ate breakfast at our hotel (the skyr was a favorite!) before heading out to do a bit more sightseeing. We had a few hours to spare before our reservations at the Blue Lagoon, which I'll admit I was extremely excited for. We walked further along the harbor and down to the Harpa building, which is a concert hall and conference center with unique architecture. It initially wasn't something I was thinking I'd be super impressed by - as it's a modern building which we certainly aren't deprived of in New York - but it exceeded expectation for its otherworldly appearance from inside. If you look up, you feel as though you've entered some futuristic building - plus the view of Flaxaflói Bay was beautiful.

After our walk we headed back to our hotel and took a bus to the Blue Lagoon. I was super impressed with how organized the process of entry was to the Lagoon. For a major tourist destination, it wasn't overcrowded in the middle of the day as they seem to do a great job of limiting the number of people allowed in at any given time. The lagoon itself was much larger than I had imagined, and was filled with more private nooks and crannies if you're someone who doesn't like to be too close to others. We got the Comfort Tickets, which proved useful as they provided you with towels, a free drink of choice, and both the Silica and Algae masks.  

After showering off (they make all visitors do this, it seems odd at first but it's actually for your own good - the water would be much dirtier without this step) we headed into the lagoon and got our Silica masks. If you have longer hair, I recommend putting a bit of the conditioner from the showers through the ends and tying it up to prevent the silica from drying out your hair. I thought the mask felt great and really made my skin feel soft and poreless after using. We then headed to get our drinks and did a second mask. Altogether we spent about two and a half hours in the Lagoon, which left me feeling perfectly refreshed and rejuvenated. I really enjoyed my experience there; I know many people say it's a tourist trap, but I found it to be really well managed and such a cool experience. Don't miss it if you're headed to Iceland!

When we returned to our hotel, we showered off and got ready for dinner. We were in the mood for Italian food, so we went down the street from our hotel to Jaime's Italian.
Day 3: We woke up early on day three, as we had pre-booked a bus tour of the Golden Circle. I know this can be driven by car as well, but it was a short distance by bus from Reykjavik, so it still gave us plenty of time at each sight and left us to enjoy the scenery. Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park, which is where Icelandic Parliament used to meet and where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates divide and are visible above ground. It's truly a unique sight, as this is the only place you can see these plates rising above the Earth's crust. The landscape surrounding the park is beautiful and filled with waterfalls and rolling hills - if you're doing this trip by car yourself I'd recommend carving out some time to take an easy hike through the park. We walked around for about an hour and a half and it was 

Our next stop was Gullfoss, which is a massive glacial waterfall located in the Southwest of Iceland. I was super impressed by this "foss" because of how it ran between a valley and created a massive mist which completely engulfs you as you descend to see it up close. Make sure you're wearing appropriate clothing for this; I'd recommend a raincoat with a hood and waterproof shoes with grips, as it can be slippery on the rocks on the path. 

The last stop on our tour that day was the Geysir Hot Springs park which is a geothermal field with active geysirs. The main erupting geysir used to be Geysir (original name, I know), but since the last major earthquake, it's now Strokkur that is the main attraction. It erupts about every 15 minutes and is quite powerful; if you're standing on the side opposite the main pathway, you'll surely get soaked when it goes off, so beware of you're cameras if they're not waterproof. Also, be sure to explore all the pools and smaller geysirs in the field, some are bright blue and some milky blue from the high concentration of silica. It's such a cool experience!

When we returned from our trip, we headed to the English Pub for another Viking beer, and then back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. That night we went to Apotek, which was one of my favorite meals of the trip. We did the tasting menu and they brought a great variety of tasty fresh fish and meat, and a super delicious skyr cheesecake for dessert. It's definitely on the pricey side (all food in Iceland is - extremely!), but was worth it as the quality was great and the decor was dreamy. 
Day 4: Tired from our previous day packed with sightseeing, we decided to rent a car and drive around a bit to explore the countryside at our own pace - on our way to Glymur. Glymur is a great hiking trail for those who like a bit of adventure, and it's nestled at the end of a beautiful fjord called Hvarfjordur. On our way, we stopped at many farms to socialize with the gorgeous and friendly Icelandic ponies. Most of them are super friendly, and seem to love having their photo taken - so cute! We also stopped to see Fossarrett, and the viking settlement ruins located at the foot of the waterfall. 

We arrived at the trailhead for Glymur via a questionable road that seems as though you're headed in the wrong direction at first. The four-hour trail starts out easy but begins to wind through many streams and rocky, muddy areas until you reach a set of stone stairs that lead you into a cave and down toward a river, which runs off the main falls. The hike is labeled as 'intermediate', but without appropriate gear, the hike can get difficult, as you have to cross the rushing river on a log and then hike vertically up a dried up riverbed to the top of the canyon. It is, however, beautiful and there are endless waterfalls streaming down from all directions. We ended up not crossing the log, and instead, hiked the lefthand side, which is not a marked trail, but you're able to get the same views without having to risk it all. I really enjoyed this hike, the sun was out, the air was crisp and it really left me feeling refreshed. 

When we got back to the city, we stopped into Sæta Svínid for a beer, and then headed back to our hotel where we cleaned up for dinner at 101 Harbor.
I'll be sharing the remainder of our trip shortly. What did you see on your trip to Iceland? Are you planning on visiting soon?
Blogger Template by pipdig