Sooo, on our second full day in Iceland, we left Reykjavík and headed South to the town of Hveragerði....only about an hour's drive - but a drive filled with SUCH dramatic landscapes, as all Icelandic drives are! Hveragerði is considered the "gateway to the South" and conveniently located for a number of sights/adventures, but our main draw was the Frost and Fire hotel (Frost og Funi) and the geothermally heated river (the Varma River) that runs right behind it. Much of the hotel's food was prepared using geothermal heat, as well (see the picture, below, of Ted cooking an egg one morning using this technique, right beside the big pots of soups and whatever else was on the menu for that night's dinner).
We stayed at the Frost and Fire for 3 nights and on the first full day in Hveragerði, we hiked through the Reykjadalur Valley to the hot springs - which was as amazing as it sounds. The spring was SO hot at the top, towards the source and cooled off as it flowed further down. - felt like hot bath water. The hike wasn't too difficult (about 2 miles each way) - more amazing landscapes (geysers, cliffs, waterfalls, lots of grazing sheep...a beautiful sunset) and if we were to go back, I'd pack picnic lunches and some beer and plan on staying at the hot springs much longer. It was so, so nice....
On our second full day in Hveragerði, we drove northeast 45 minutes to the nearby town of Reykholt to Friðheimar, the largest tomato producing greenhouse in Iceland! They literally harvest a ton of tomatoes every single day at this place - over 370 tons a year. This region is one of the most fertile for growing in the entire country. The greenhouses are all geothermally heated (seeing a theme here?), the water is super pure, and the space-saving pully system they use for the tomato vines was amazing to witness (we got a tour). Only the most efficient breed of bees are used for pollinating and they are brought in, in cardboard boxes (see picture above, taken through the clear plastic window into one of the boxes that was on display). Annnnd, there is a restaurant within the greenhouse that is off-the-charts delicious - a small lunch menu with everything on it having some sort of tomato aspect to it - and delicious tomato cocktails (I had a Happy Mary, gin + green tomato juice : ) and Ted got a shot of tomato schnapps served in a hollowed out cherry tomato!) This was hands-down one of my very favorite meals we ate in the two weeks we spent in Iceland. Later that evening, we hiked around the hills near the hotel, had a grocery store picnic in bed, and sat in the hot tub that night hoping to see a glimpse of the northern lights (but it was overcast). The next morning we had plans for an all day horseback ride to the beach - one of the biggest days of my life!!
More to come in the next Iceland Installment : )
Soooooo, back in September, Ted and I went on an incredible two week adventure in Iceland.....with way too many pictures for just one post, here are pictures from our first few days in Reykjavik ....
And a little narration:
Leaving the Carolina's/flying into Keflavík, stopping by the Blue Lagoon (we assumed we could stop by for a soak on our way to Reykjavík from the airport, but were wrong since the place books up weeks in advance, so we made a reservation and ended up stopping again at the very end of our trip).
Next stop: Reykjavik. We camped out at a cafe with croissants, beer and (most importantly) wifi, while we waited on our Airbnb host to get in touch, and for the apartment to be ready - delirious after the red eye ..... we spent the afternoon walking along Laugavegur, the main shopping street, down to the harbor - eating a delicious dinner of mussels and langoustine (= small lobster) soup at Höfnin and watching the sun set on the water. We wandered the city again the next morning, stopping for coffee, having hot dogs for lunch at Bæjarins beztu (a super popular hot dog stand in central Reykjavík), and checking out a few landmarks along the way: Reykjavík City Hall, an impressive building on the northern shore of the Lake Tjörnin and Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland.
Reykjavík is such a fun, friendly, walkable city - a lot like Charleston - I wished we had planned for another day or two there, but I knew we would be back for at least a day and night at the end of the trip.
Next up ----> Part 2: Hveragerði and the Southwest coming soon.....
If interested in buying a art gift certificate for someone special this year, I've set up $50, $100, $150 and $200 certificate amounts, available for purchase in my online shop - and if there is another $dollar$ amount you'd like to purchase, just shoot me a message and I can set up a custom listing in my shop for that amount, you pay via credit card and i'll ship the gift certificate to you (or if time is an issue - for all the last minute shoppers out there - i can email you one.)
Gift certificates can be used towards a custom pet portrait OR towards any art in my online shop!
*All gift certificates are good for two years from date of purchase.
A wedding gift for my brother and now sister-in-law : )
A pen & ink (and watercolor, and gouche) of the Gadsden House, their wedding venue in downtown Charleston.
If you're interested in commissioning an architectural drawing like this, shoot me an email and we can work out the details - currently, I charge $195 for an 8x10 (on paper/unframed), including shipping.
Some Tuesday Inspo:
Next Friday, August 19th from 3-8pm at my Studio Sale, (1244 Marvin Ave - Charleston, SC 29407) I will have (unframed) watercolor paintings for sale in 2 sizes: 4"x 6" (for $15) and 5" x 7" (for $20). These are watercolors I've created during my Carolina travels over the past year or two.
A few of the settings: Linville Gorge, Beech Mountain, and Topsail Island in North Carolina, John's Island, Rockville and the Congaree Swamp in South Carolina...
Here's a preview of the available assortment:
...at 1244 Marvin Avenue, Charleston, South Carolina 29407
where I will be turning my house into an art shop for a day!
Cleaning out the studio and all of the art that has accumulated!
Need art for empty walls in your house? Looking for a few early Christmas pressies? I'll be selling everything from (unframed) mini watercolor drawings (lots under $20) and greeting cards with my art printed on them ($5) to large abstract pieces - everything will be priced to sell!
Follow me on instagram ( ----> gretmackintosh) to see pics of the pieces i'll be selling with prices of each - posting a different one every day until the sale!
As Ted and I gear up for a trip to Iceland in September(!!), I've been doing a bit of research and stumbled upon this Bon Iver video that was filmed in Iceland - those landscapes! Bon Iver is one of my go-to's when I paint, all of their albums feel so calm and introspective. Very grounding for hectic days.
Note to self:
Came across this quote this morning and it's too good not to share:
"The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it"
-Robert Swan, OBE
and then this one:
HAPPY WEEKEND PEOPLE!
This image I stumbled across on the world wide web.
I took some watercolors and water soluble crayons on our canoe adventures in the Congaree Forest the other weekend and created some swamp-inspired tiny landscapes….
Did you know that the Congaree National Park is South Carolina's only National Park?
Located about thirty minutes outside of Columbia, "the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest left in North America is found in this swampy national park" - over 22,000 Acres of preserve on the Congaree River.
Ted and Lou and I drove up for the day last year to do a 10 mile hike to the river and knew we wanted to come back with the canoe asap. So this year, for our annual April camping adventure with Douglas and Ashley, we spent the weekend at the campground located in the Congaree National Park with canoes and dogs in tow.
The campground was great - wooded and natural - the campsites weren't on top of each other. There isn't any running water and you have to tote your stuff about 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the campsite, but it's worth it not to be in a parking lot atmosphere. We only got reprimanded by the ranger once (dogs off leash rule, per the usual - and we had three dogs with us) I'd definitely give the place the thumbs up - just don't go during mosquito-season because that would be uber miserable.
We canoed both days - about 7 miles one day and 10 the next - down Cedar Creek and into the Congaree River. The water level was a about 3 feet down and there were a lot of portages to get through but nothing too crazy (a lot of trees down due to the october floods) but it was certainly some of the more challenging canoeing I've ever done, minus some tide/current moments in the ocean. We saw loads of wildlife: Barred Owls, American Goldfinch, Pileated Woodpeckers, Osprey, a beaver, TONS of King Snakes (most snakes i've ever seen in a two day period, for sure), alligator gar…the list goes on. I highly recommend checking the park out - even better if you can do it by water.
A trip to the NC mountains, multiple nights of amazing live music, lots of scrumptious Charleston meals, celebrating so many April birthdays, backyard gatherings.....and camping on the Congaree River this coming weekend - April is always a fun-filled month.