The next morning, we were ready for our 4 day tour around Southwest Iceland with Extreme Iceland tours. One of the reasons we hired a tour company was because I had read a few horror stories about driving around Iceland in the winter and how fast the weather can change. Being from California, and not having much experience driving around in ice and snow, we decided on the safe bet of having an experienced tour guide do it for us.
We were picked up around 9am to begin our journey and had beautiful views of countryside on our way to our first stop. (see below)
We also learned a few fun facts about Iceland from our awesome tour guide - Didi.
After the Blue Lagoon, we decided to explore the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, before we started our tour around Iceland the following day. The first landmark we strolled past was the Harpa Concert Hall. This is one of Reykjavik's iconic landmarks and sits right on the water. It was designed between Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, and the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects and opened in 2011.
Looking up into the geometric windows and the different colors glimmering off from the reflection of the sun was quite stunning and a pretty cool design for a building.
Iceland - the land of fire and ice! This has been on our bucket list for a long time and was one of three countries on our arctic adventure. Our goal was to see the elusive, majestic Northern Lights and see some of the beauty of the arctic.
After WOW canceled our flight 3 weeks before we were supposed to leave, we got a great deal on Norwegian Air (thank god!). After our layover in London, we had a quick 3 hour flight to Iceland. We got our bags and decided to brave the icy roads with our rental car. As soon as the airport doors opened, a gush of freezing air hit smacked us in the face. As Californians, we were not prepared but we needed to man up! This was the first day of our 2 week trip! Luckily, after an uneventful drive into the capitol of Reykjaví, we checked into our hotel and began walking around downtown to look for some grub.
For our last full day in Fukuoka, and since I didn't feel like Nate had the full Japanese baseball experience, we headed over to the Yahuoku! Dome to see if we could score last minute tickets to the Softbank Hawks.
Another day trip from Fukuoka, we went to go check out Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡, Takachiho-kyō). I had seen pictures of this place and it looked beautiful. Only a short 3 hour drive away from Fukuoka! The drive up in the mountains reminded me of Northern California. It was a little rainy but so green and luscious.
On a very rainy day we drove from Fukuoka out to Nagasaki. Although we knew the day would be emotional visiting the atomic bomb museum, we knew it was important for us to see the devastation caused by America during WWII.
Nagasaki began in 1571 as a shipping port. In it's 374 history before the bomb was dropped, this town surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, and drew a wealth of knowledge from Western civilization.
For one of our last trips in Japan, Nate and I decided to head down to South Japan - the area of Fukuoka. One of the top sights I wanted to see was the Kawachi Wisteria Garden, and has been listed as one of Japan's most beautiful places (#nolie) These flowers only bloom for 2-3 weeks during the year, end of April to mid May. You also have to purchase tickets before you're allowed in due to its popularity (see more details in our "Follow in our Footsteps" section.)
So what else is there to do on Ie Island besides the Lily Festival? Lots of beautiful sites!
Our first stop was Waji, which means spring, is located on the north side of the island, not far from the lily fields. Spring water is produced here and back in the day people used to come here to fetch water. But after the war, water pipes were installed by the US forces which made things convenient (people didn't have to come grab water everyday) and solved the water shortage problem on the island.
The main draw here is the view! The 60 meter bluff right along the gorgeous ocean is a wonderful site.
Living in Japan made me love flower festivals. I learned to stop and see the beauty in nature. One of the many flower festivals / blooms in Okinawa is the Lily Festival on Ie Island, which happens every April.
An excuse to go explore another island around Okinawa AND see beautiful flowers? I'm in!
In April, a few months before we were scheduled to leave our beautiful island home, Nate's Aunt, Uncle, and cousins came out to visit for their spring break! We love visitors and were excited to show them around the island!
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!