A few weeks back we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a year already, although in some respects it feels like ages ago that we were stood by that glacier and worrying about transporting our cake. After all in the year that’s passed, we’ve been to the top of the World, on five other trips, completely renovated our house (whilst living in it, hashtag never again), bought home Hekla the British Shorthair and are now expecting a new arrival of the non-furry variety. It’s been quite a year!
Staying On For Our Honeymoon
A few days after our wedding, our family and friends left us to either go home or spend a few days on holiday in Iceland doing their own thing. We set off on our honeymoon, but I have to admit something about it felt really weird. Nothing could possibly ever beat the wedding day and we were completely knackered. I don’t think I’ve ever felt less like being on holiday and even though a honeymoon is supposed to be romantic, we both felt lonely without the rest of the party.
If I had my time again, I wouldn’t have bothered going on honeymoon until much later in the year. When I look back at the photos, I have so many fond memories from that trip but at the time it was an effort to stay in the moment and cheerful at times.
On the last day of our honeymoon, the fire alarm in our hotel went off in the middle of the night. It’s hard to articulate now but it was absolutely terrifying. We were so completely exhausted from the wedding and then two weeks of traveling, it caught us in a deep sleep. At no point did my tired brain register it was likely a false alarm and I responded as such.
I remember not knowing where I was when I woke up and the piercing noise of the industrial fire alarm in our room. I was shaking with fear and remember looking at the window and desperately hoping that wouldn’t be the only way out. We both got dressed in a matter of seconds and ran as fast as we could down about 8 flights of stairs.
In our panic we ran past the actual fire escape, I’ve since made a mental note in every hotel I’ve been in of the escape route as when panicked, my only thought was getting out of the building. As we ran down each flight I kept expecting to see smoke or flames but thankfully it never came. In a hotel of 300 guests we were the first out by about a minute, I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast.
I appreciate a fire alarm doesn’t sound terrifying but it was so unexpected, it sent my anxiety through the roof. For the level of cortisol swishing around in my bloodstream my bed may as well have been on fire. It was a horrible end to the honeymoon and I have to admit I couldn’t get home fast enough after that.
Going Back To Iceland
I’ve always felt sad that I didn’t enjoy the honeymoon more. I wish I could have been more in the moment but in retrospect a few days at home or somewhere local to just take it all in would have been far better. I wanted to go back to Iceland because it’s a special place to us and it felt as though I left it on a bit of a bad note.
I’ve also thought so many times about returning for our to the spot where we got married. One negative about getting married abroad is that special place feels so far away.
However with that said, we’ve been to Iceland on five occasions and there are so many places still to see on my travel bucket-list. Having started trying for a baby, I knew on some level this may be our last big trip for a while and so I wanted to make it count. We talked about finally going to Canada, or an American road trip, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. For the best possible reason. Our small person was well on their way by the time our anniversary rolled around.
Deciding to stick closer to home and get away for just a few days, Iceland was the logical destination for our anniversary trip. We know it well, it’s only a four hour flight away and I knew we could adapt our plans to be suitable.
I love Reykjavik, it’s such a cool city if it wasn’t surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring nature in the World it would make a great city break. As we always hire a car, we stay outside of the city. On our road trip around the country we did spend two nights but our anniversary weekend would be the first time we spent our whole visit in the city.
Everywhere you look in Reykjavik, a new hotel is appearing. After the recession, construction projects stopped but with so much tourism it’s now a case of trying to make room for the hoards of tourists pouring in.
Our hotel was in Downtown Reykjavik which is right by all the shops and restaurants. I enjoyed wandering around seeing some of the sights in the city we’ve previously overlooked.
Despite having been to the Blue Lagoon before and it being a bit of a tourist trap, I was beyond looking forward to it. Scalding baths and the hot tub are out of bounds whilst pregnant and I’ve been craving Iceland’s many geothermal pools. Several are too hot but the Blue Lagoon is within safe temperatures.
The weather was uncharacteristically hot -19°C!- and I have to admit I found it too hot after a while. I made the most of relaxing before hand though and left wishing I had a big geothermal pool near my house.
We’ve pretty extensively covered the South of Iceland’s sights, but decided to spend one day visiting some of our favourite spots. We watched the geysers at Geysir, smelled the sulphur at Seltun and stopped to marvel at many a beautiful landscape.
Going Back To Sólheimajökull – Our Wedding ‘Venue’
The most important day of our trip was our anniversary itself. We decided we would drive to Sólheimajökull, the glacier where we got married. The weather was grim and I couldn’t help but pinch myself at the luck we had on our wedding day.
Sólheimajökull is known as ‘the shrinking glacier’. It’s a glacier which retreats faster than it advances and it’s disappearing at an alarming rate. I knew the spot where we got married would no longer be there, but what I wasn’t prepared for at all was the huge difference in just a year.
The glacier has retreated and melted so much, the lagoon which previously was just at the foot now surrounds the side. A new sign has been placed which actually prevented us from going anywhere near the spot where we got married.
I found it so sad. I know global warming in the Arctic is a huge issue, when we visited Svalbard in Winter it should have been 20°C and at times it was just 0°C. There was no snow in Tromsø when it should have been covered. I’ve seen it with my own eyes over the past few years but nothing demonstrated it as vividly as this.
I wasn’t sad we couldn’t get to the glacier. I have such huge respect for these raw unforgiving pieces of nature and have woken up from many a nightmare about slipping into crevasses. There was no way we would ever risk it for something as pointless as a photo. I was sad because one day, in the not-so-distant future Sólheimajökull won’t be there.
Our Anniversary Meal At Grimsborgir
Later that day, after driving back towards Reykjavik -and making a pitstop in the Fontana geothermal spa- we returned to our wedding hotel Grimsborgir. We had booked a table and to my surprise the hotel manager who helped us so much with the wedding remembered us instantly.
The food on our wedding day was incredible, people still talk about it. Although if I’m being honest I can’t remember it at all. I was so tired by that point, details like that alluded me. As my wedding dress didn’t have pockets, for once I wasn’t photographing my dinner and I have little recollection of it besides the fact it was good.
Whilst getting to sample their amazing food again was a treat, I found the experience strange. I actually burst into tears when I walked in, which completely surprised me. Whilst no doubt pregnancy hormones were working their magic, I found it very emotional. Besides it being the most vivid reminder of our wedding day I’d yet had, something was missing. The last time we were here, we were there with our loved ones. Getting ready nervously for our big day or looking back on it, as a married couple.
What I realised on our anniversary trip is that sometimes trying to relive such a huge day is impossible. The more you try, the more you’re reminded that the day is gone and can’t be redone. I think that’s what upset me, the childish realisation that nothing could ever bring back those feelings or that experience. In some ways, by getting physically closer to the place where we got married, the memories felt further away.
Going back to Iceland for our anniversary felt like closure in a way. It pushed me to my limits whilst battling first trimester symptoms and I realised that until next year, travel is pretty much off the cards.
It also helped me realise that the day we experienced a year ago isn’t waiting for us in Iceland. Instead of pining to go back and relive it, I’ll enjoy the memories we have. Nothing stays the same forever and Iceland is no exception.