Iceland: When Sisters Travel Together

Hi! I’m Julie, WBE’s awesome, wise, big sister. I’m incredibly honored to be a contributor to Wandering Boston Eater. I’d like to say that I’ve inspired Brenda in her pursuit of all things travel and food. But really, we have our mom to thank for that for the both of us (see post on egg rolls). I’m an honest & hungry explorer of my backyard, the world and occasionally the kitchen in between my day job as a super planner (aka executive assistant) and as wifey/friend/sister & daughter!

As a full time millennial worker bee, I’ve got to be resourceful in how I manage my money, calories and free time through

  • cooking at home to balance out those street tacos & multi-course tastings

  • the occasional date night in to save for those awesome trips & wine purchases and

  • connecting with the genuine people in my life through the weekenders & long-haul adventures i organize


Everyone I meet has and continues to inspire my next plan...and “I love it when a plan comes together.” Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team. (1983)

Brenda and I have traveled together here and there before, but our Iceland adventure was truly our first adult sister trip. What do I mean by this? We have a 6-year age gap. So needless to say, it wasn’t always easy bonding since we were at different milestones in our lives. Funny enough, once Brenda reached her early 20s, the world was our oyster. We connected more and more over our food adventures. We could actually share a drink together. I kept talking about seeing the world and when I had the opportunity, I decided to take my sister on an adventure we’d never forget!

Why Iceland? We both had never been. After my time in LA and falling in love with outdoor weekender trips, I wanted to expose Brenda to the awesomeness that is Mother Nature. Iceland seemed like a pretty cool way to do that. I wanted to check something off my own bucket list with my sister, memories only we could share & relive together. Something just for us.

Kerið, a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland, along the Golden Circle.

Thanks to some extensive TripAdvisor research, I found an agency that would help me make a trip happen with less than two months notice - did I mention this was a spontaneous adventure? GuidetoIceland booked our car rental and accommodations based on our budget preference. Brenda and I had watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty and knew the namesake itinerary would be perfect us, because who wouldn’t want to follow in Ben Stiller’s footsteps? A self-drive itinerary gave us the flexibility to spend as much or little time as we wanted at attractions. It also gave me the option to leave my sister on a glacier whenever we needed space (just kidding).

A Shared Mission. During our drive, Brenda was reading through our guidebook and pointed out Kerið. Our rented TomTom kept navigating us through the fields and to our surprise, we would have either gotten stuck off roading or fallen into the crater, ha! After an hour of going around in circles, wasting precious roaming data service getting our Google Maps to work, we eventually followed cars and discovered this gorgeous crater. We were so determined to find it and we were rewarded with these gorgeous photos. When I look back at these images, I can’t help but smile because we really united together to find this one Icelandic site.

The only two  puffins  we saw.

The only two puffins we saw.

Bucket List Sightings. Puffins. Oh puffins. We really wanted to see these famous Icelandic puffins. We took a detour to catch a ferry to head over to Vestmannaeyjar, aka puffin colony. We found ourselves freezing our butts off on this boat tour with the guide pointing out the very few that were perched waayyyyy above on the cliffs. Brenda and I sourly made our way to the back of the boat to sulk when I magically caught two puffins flying right by me. Luck was on my side as I somehow had my camera ready for the action shot, not the prettiest photo but PROOF that we completed our puffin viewing mission. We’ll never forget about puffins again. And how about those Iceland horses? Enough said.

A Common Interest. Iceland is a gorgeous backdrop and can help any beginning photographer work magic. We each have our own unique style and eye for imagery, which is awesome because the end results of our journey turned out pretty nice. Not bad for iPhone photos! The black sand beach of Reynisfjara at Vik made for a dramatic scene. We successfully captured the active Strokkur in Geysir Hot Spring bursting into the sky. It was also joy to watch my sister soak in mother nature at its finest, especially as the glaciers of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon floated on by in front of us.

Sibling Rivalry. It’s not all gooey and sweet though. Not gonna lie, a road trip can be intense. Try doing a road trip abroad deciphering Icelandic highway names and missing your exits. Your patience for each other truly gets tested. You get annoyed with each other, bicker about silly things, get mad about taking bad photos and angles…the list can go on. But don’t worry...take a dip in the Blue Lagoon and soak up all that steam goodness. It’ll be kumbaya in no time. Another approach is to find a serene lake like Lake Raudavatn and have an all out screaming match. No one would hear you guys and then you can proceed to take awesome selfies together once you’ve calmed down.

rams  crossing the road…or are they?

rams crossing the road…or are they?

Somewhere Only We Know. Iceland will forever be the Brenda & Julie adventure. Having shared memories of places no one else can share with us - truly does help make the sisterhood grow stronger. Selfies inside the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall? Check. Glacier trekking at Skaftafellsjokull with crampons (not tampons)? That’s us! Laughing at rams crossing the road? Will never forget it. Brenda’s first fancy tasting meal? Delicious. These memories have earned me the right to call myself Wandering Boston Eater’s big sister. I shared Brenda’s first experience in all of this and it’s an awesome feeling. Our schedules may not always align, but we’ll always have Iceland!

If you’re going to learn one thing, remember this: we survived traveling with each other and you guys can too! Make memories, break bread, and go wander together!

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