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Not sure how we came up with the idea of going to Iceland.  Perhaps it was just one of those things...I mean, we'd never met anyone who'd been there, it sounded intriguing!  Plus, it was a short plane ride from Prague...so, why not?
As most know, Iceland is not covered in ice...its neighbor Greenland is ice...Iceland is green...go figure. Iceland was formed only 20 million years ago (compared to Eurasia at 375-325 million years old)  It is made up of many volcanoes (still active) as well as glaciers.  Almost all of their heating and electric come from hydroelectric power and geothermal water reserves.  (and this means that when you take a shower, the water smells like rotten eggs...honest to god...its so gross.  We couldn't take showers fast enough!  But, the locals told me that they don't mind...even love...the smell.  um, no.) 
There are very few trees (the locals joke "if you get lost in Iceland, just stand up" hahaha) and loads of untouched landscape, with only 320,000 people living in the whole country you can understand why.  Hot springs are everywhere along with some massive geysers.
A trip to Iceland is very different than a trip to Europe...you don't go out and wander through the streets of the town...you go on adventures!!!  Google visiting Iceland and you will see loads of excursions and day trips.  Because the girls were so little, we were limited to some of the more extreme tours.  We really wanted to hike across a glacier, but they wouldn't let us...(next time!)  Instead, Matt went diving in glacial waters!!  He said it was a cool (no pun intended) experience except there wasn't much to see...no fish in those icy waters!  
We rented a cute little apartment and then had each day scheduled with things to sightsee.  Matt had a to work a bit, so the girls and I got to do some things on our own too.  We had fun trying out different foods and Matt even ate whale..sushi style...it looked like maroon tuna.  Said it was yummy!   

 Our first tour took us to along the Golden Circle.  We saw a national park, the tectonic plates of Northern America and Europe, the famous Gullfoss waterfall, a medieval church and the Nesjavellir Geothermal field.  It was quite the day!  It was wonderfully cold too...while all my family was sweating away in Vegas, we were bundled up but good! 

see that little house?  its where the divide between Europe and North America lies

here you can see the piping that goes throughout the country to provide utilities to the residents

stunning views and goofy girls ;)

the girls and Matt are touching the lake where Matt went diving in glacial waters!  He had a special suit and Icelandic long underwear to keep him warm!  The spray from the waterfall was awfully chilly!

This geyser was so much fun to watch, it erupted often but the smell...oh the smell...rotten eggs, ick

the medieval church and more views  :)

Another excursion took us on a horseback ride (the highlight of the trip for me of course!)  Icelandic ponies make for an interesting ride, they have a 5th gait that is sort of like a fast walk.  They are trotting, but instead of posting up and down, you just sit tight and enjoy the ride!  At first they weren't going to let Lily ride (said she was too little)  I put up a fight and promised that she would be fine and they gave in...thankfully!  She did amazing and so did Sara!  I couldn't ride next to both girls, so I stayed nearer to Lily.  Other adults kept an eye on Sara (since Matt's pony took off to the front of the line and he could never get it to turn back around) and they assured me that she had a huge smile plastered on her face.  At one point, Lily's pony bucked up a bit, but she held on and didn't even get scared!  So proud!  I was in second heaven.  :D

We of course had to visit the famous (and very unique) Iceland church Hallgrímskirkja.  I think it looks a bit like an alien spaceship! Its supposed to represent the lava flows of Iceland's landscape.  hmmmm... The organ inside was incredible, I only wish we could have heard it being played.  The best part was the stunning views from the top of the tower.  I just love all the colorful houses and roofs.  

I was sure that the town deserved at least a bit of wandering around, so we headed out one afternoon.  Girls had fun with the viking gear!

The bookstore top left...people posing for my pic!  The gorgeous class building is the Harpa concert hall, the sculpture is supposed to look like a viking ship, and I just love the mural on the side of that house.

We found a park with a zip line (top left) that was so fun!  Daddy is always ready for a piggyback ride, more ice cream, and two beautiful little girls! 

A few more shots of the geysers and a gorgeous sunset

We also spent some time at Laugardalslaug Indoor and Outdoor Pools.  We never made it to the famous Blue Lagoon, but we were actually much happier with this pool...especially the girls!  I swear, they spent the better part of two hours marching up those steps to launch themselves down that slide.  And let me tell you, outside of the warm water, the air was COLD!  They didn't care one bit...it was so funny to watch them.  Somehow I've lost the pix I took, so I borrowed these from another website.  The small pool was warmer, but pretty packed with adults...and I don't think the little water pads were out then...either that or the girls didn't care and just kept themselves happy with the slide.  We went twice...once on our own and again with Matt.  It really was fun!  Oh!  And so, before you can even get in the water you have to take a shower...in the ladies locker room...and all the showers are open... there is even a lady in there to watch and make sure you bathe!  It was so weird!  LOL  First time the girls have ever seen so many naked women and girls!  At least they didn't comment!  ;)

If we ever make it back again, there are more awesome excursions and tours that we could do now that the girls are older....so, maybe sometime!  It was a great trip and really fun to see such an interesting country...but alas, the long summer of travel is over....back to the states.  First stop was Vegas to see family...then...home...to Austin.  (click the link to read about our new home.)
parting shots....a few more from the church tower and then...as we headed home, we flew over Greenland...see...not so green!  LOL  


Praha....aka Prague...what a city!

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Our dear friends in Saudi were fortunate enough to live in this incredible city for a few years, so when we told them that we were planning a trip there they were more than excited for us!  Said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, we couldn't wait to visit.
We flew out of Italy and into Prague. (August 2013) My friend helped me figure out where to rent an apartment to be near the good stuff.  The apartment was pretty cool...old, but huge. Downside was that there was no air (naturally) but also not much of a breeze...so, yeah, it was pretty warm.  But we did love the location, of course, I don't think it would have mattered, as long as you're near one of the bus stops, you're good to go. 
It is a gorgeous city...I fell in love. It's what I thought Paris would be like...but I liked it even more.  Loads of colorful old buildings, funky architecture, the river...it has it all.  The people are friendly and fun.  You just feel right at home.  I just loved wandering the streets so many things to see.  My favorite was Old Town Square.   

The famous view of the Charles Bridge, a lock bridge, and colorful buildings.  (I don't think I would ever tire of the view of the castle...sigh)

More lovely buildings, views of the Vltava river, and cool clock tower.

Loved the cobblestone streets, and what a sunset!!!

The following pix were taken when we went to visit the Prague Castle and St. Vitus cathedral.  One of my favorite parts was touring the Golden Lane with its tiny houses that were occupied up until WWI!  The girls had so much fun peeking inside each one to see how people would have lived in these small homes.  They were originally for castle servants.  The girls also loved seeing the suits of armor and the variety of swords...we didn't tell them too much about all the torture equipment we saw...totally creeped me out that humans actually used those things on each other!!  The cathedral had stunning stained glass windows...it was just beautiful!
St. Vitus, and a castle guard

Inside St. Vitus, a cool door, and a view of the cathedral from the Charles Bridge

Touring the suits of armor and weaponry, torture devices, and another shot of St. Vitus

Some of the tiny houses along the Golden Lane, some Prague beer and a hearty bowl of goulash!

Another day of sightseeing took us to see Petrin Tower...Pragues version of the Eiffel Tower. A meager 299 steps awarded us with stunning views of Prague.  (and a great way to work off the beer and goulash!)  The tower is located within this lovely park area that also had a mirror museum.  Now THAT was fun...we were laughing so hard all of us were in tears!  Plus a cool playground for the girls to kill some time.  It was a great way to spend the day.
Incredible views...sky was a bit hazy, but I still grabbed some killer pix


The girls could have stayed and played with the bubble guy for hours, they thought the spider playground was pretty cool too!

We spent another day wandering through Josefov (aka the Jewish Quarter).  The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest preserved synagogue in the world dating back to the 13th century. (pictured top right)  The old Jewish cemetery is considered to be the most remarkable of its kind in all of Europe.  I must admit, I've never seen a cemetery like that one!  

 Other highlights included funky sculptures (the girls found the naked man hilarious), the Dancing House, and of course, the famous Astronomical Clock.  (which we stuck around to watch it "do it's thing" on the hour and found that it wasn't worth waiting for...just a heads up)  

We love visiting zoo's in the different countries...this one was a visit we would never forget.  Its an amazing zoo and very beautiful, but what made it memorable was the monster thunder and lightning storm!!!  The thunder boomed so big and loud that you could feel it vibrate through your whole body (and made me cower like a baby! lol)  It made for one exciting day!

 The rest of the photos just show more amazing sites around Prague.  It was a wonderful trip and one of those places that we hope to visit again (and often!).  
views of Old Town Square from the top of the Astronomical clock, and center pic one of the towers at the end of Charles Bridge

some of my favorite pix....love the middle one  :)

More yummy beer, and a beautiful evening....

The girls are always finding ways of getting ice cream...and they found the faceless babies and their butts hilarious, they really wanted to touch the swans, but only got semi close ;)

its just a beautiful place

Always on the hunt for good sushi, (and this was good!), loved the Absintherie and their cool car too!

And now...we are off to Iceland!!!!!

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