When Ohio photographer Sarah came across this island of 320,000 people while researching honeymoons, she became "fixated on it -- even obsessed," she says. "It looked magical!" So there was no question that she and husband Theodore, an attorney, would vacay there following their May 2011 wedding. The verdict? Everything they'd hoped for and more: "It was otherworldly," Sarah says, "like a dream."
Trip Length: 6 nights
Airline: Icelandic Air
Flight Time: 5 hours from New York
Tech Support: "I found a ton of obscure and cool places by typing 'Iceland' into Facebook's search bar," says Sarah.
Here, black lava rocks surround the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa and the country's biggest claim to fame.
With soothing silica on their faces, the newlyweds soaked up Iceland's famous hot spot. "The Blue Lagoon is totally worth the hype," Sarah says. "I've never seen Theodore happier! It whisks you away to this place that's peaceful and warm, and yet you're outside looking at surreal lava formations all around you. Bring an underwater camera!"
"A friend of a friend is Icelandic and recommended the Hotel Budir, near the Snaefellsjokull glacier," says Sarah. "We thought a place where the locals vacation would be exquisite -- and it was. You could see plateaus, mountains, and waterfalls stretching out in one direction and the sea in the other."
This striking church was near the Hotel Budir.
"I discovered clothing designer Rakel Hafberg's boutique, where I got a fantastic skirt and gift for my maid of honor," says Sarah. "And Theo and I had a blast at the local grocery store, Bonus, where we bought some waffle and pudding mix with funky packaging to bring back."
Another set of souvenirs they carried home? Theo and Sarah picked up his-and-hers wool sweaters at The Handknitting Association of Iceland in Reykjavik (pictured).
The outdoor cafes in Reykjavik called Austurvollur were one of Theo and Sarah's favorite hangouts. "In Reykjavik, we definitely recommend the Baejarins Beztu hot-dog stand and the various waffle carts for snacks," says Theo. "And the tap water is some of the purest and best-tasting on earth. Plus, it's free!" says Sarah.
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