Adventures of a teenage author...

This is Marta, author of the Darkwoods series and of Marta's Blog. I created this blog specifically for blogging about my 2015 study abroad adventures in Europe, but it's becoming the blog for all my travels. I hope you enjoy all the pictures and stories!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Once we hiked through the snow, and got down into the volcano - no words.

The first few are from the elevator down:

This is the ceiling from the elevator, right as it started to get colorful

People on the ground

And from the floor...

Here's the entrance. See the water falling down?

Just look at all these colors:

I mean, wow.

When I was wandering around inside, I kept thinking of a conversation a writer friend and I had back when I was a senior in high school and he was a freshman in college. The result of that conversation was a poem that talked about how some parts of God's creation are just beyond human words. I think Thrihnukagigur pretty much defines that.

(And yes, I am copy-and-pasting every time you see Thrihnukagigur.) 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thrihnukagigur - The Hike Out

The bus driver took us up to a lodge, and then we had to hike 45 minutes out to the base camp (where, incidentally, they served all-you-can-eat lamb stew. Yummy!) The hike went through some mountains, across a snow-covered lava field. Let me say that one more time - a snow-covered lava field. How epic does that sound? Because to me, the phrase sounds pretty epic.

Anyway, when we arrived, they offered us these bright yellow wind coats for the hike, and because I learned my lesson from the whaling trip, I snatched one up right away.

Anyway, here's the snow-covered lava field:

Admit it - that looks pretty awesome. The trouble is, though, that it was hard to see the path. It was marked by some red flags, and of course people who had been there before, but when you have your eyes on the snow to make sure you're stepping on snow you won't sink into, it can be easy to look up and realize you're off the path. But nobody got lost, because the guides were really good.

We were really glad to find these paths, because walking on snow can be tricky.

Anyway, then we reached the base camp, warmed up on delicious lamb stew, and then got fitted out to descend a window-cleaning elevator into the mouth of a dormant volcano.

You can see I'm not wearing my yellow anti-wind coat. That's because the harness around my waist has to be clear to clip to a cable in the elevator in case I lost my footing. 

This is from right outside the entrance.

And, this is the bridge out to the elevator.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Thrihnukagigur - Elf Houses

No, I don't know how to pronounce that.

Thrihnukagigur is a dormant volcano where all the lava receded deeper into the earth before it cooled. As a result, all the beautiful minerals are still visible, and the inside of the volcano is glorious.

But before we got to descend into the most beautiful stones you will ever see, we had to first drive out to the site, and then hike out to the base camp. On the drive, we passed places that our bus driver said elves lived in:

Can you kind of see, especially in this picture, how the ground looks like it's covered in tiny little Hobbit-holes? Elves are supposed to live underneath them.

By the way - volcanoes, whale-watching, hiking... can you kind of see how my adventures in Iceland are a little different than the rest of Europe?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Reykjavik - Morning 2

I don't know if it was the fact that I'd been rising early to make my planes the last few days, or I had been an hour ahead of Reykjavik before, or that the sun rises really early in Reykjavik, or all three, but I was waking up pretty early while in Reykjavik. I did a lot of walking around and enjoying things while waiting for my tours to start. Here are the pictures from my second morning:

4:45 AM. Notice the sun is already above the mountains.

For as long as Iceland's been around, of course there's a lot of history in Iceland. Some of it's really old, like the Althing, but some of it was pretty recent. One recent piece of history from Iceland is the meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev; this was during the Cold War, and the hot topic (no pun intended) was how to safely discontinue both country's nuclear program, or arms control. It turns out that my hostel was very close to the house they had their talks in:

That picture is the house from the back. Nice little place, isn't it?

By the way, in spite of their countries being at odds during their time in office, Gorbachev showed up at Reagan's funeral.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Wrapping Up Day 1 in Reykjavik - Laugavegur

Laugavegur is the main shopping street in Reykjavik, pretty close to Hallgrimskirkje. Up and down the street are stores where you can buy Icelandic wool sweaters, some of which are very beautiful.

(And by the way, yes, this is still the first day. It's about 8 PM when the stores closed.)

Yes, there's a Guinness pub in Reykjavik! (Actually, I think there were three.)

Trying on an Icelandic sweater

Here's another one. The long sleeves are my shirt.

And that, readers, closed out my first day in Reykjavik. Lots done, and I still have four more days of pictures to post!