Our last day in Iceland was more time in Reykjavik and then an evening at the Blue Lagoon, including dinner at the Lava Restaurant. Reykjavik is such an interesting and colorful city. It’s the capital of Iceland and the country’s largest city, at only around 123,000 people. There are museums, fantastic restaurants, a booming nightlife, galleries, and shops. It is ranked as one of the safest, greenest, and cleanest cities in the world. The word Reykjavik translates to “smoky bay”, referring to the steam that rises from the hot springs and geothermal vents. It is the only Western European capital without a McDonald’s or a Starbucks (another reason I love this place).

Our Airbnb near the airport and Blue Lagoon was perfect. We chose it to be close to everything our last couple of days and have a quick trip to the airport the morning we flew out. For breakfast, we went right back to Braud and Co bakery for the best cinnamon rolls ever. The ones we make at home don’t even compare. Sorry Pioneer Woman. We walked the city just taking it all in and wishing we had more time in this country. I went to the top of the famous Hallgrimskirkja church to get a fantastic view of the city.

Most of the street art in Reykjavik is part of a project called Wall Poetry. The project was organized in 2015/2016 and was a collaboration between music festival Iceland Airwaves and Urban Nation. It pairs together street artists from around the world with musicians who are playing at the festival. The artists are tasked with creating a mural inspired by one of the musician’s songs. My favorite is of a girl playing a cello, surrounded by birds and a music partition. The words read, “Isn’t it Our Job as Humans to be Collecting Great Moments.” The artist, Herakut collaborated with Kronos Quartet, an American string quartet based in San Francisco. The detail is incredible.

In the evening, we had reservations for the Blue Lagoon, which is home to one of the 25 wonders of the world. Yes- the water is as blue as the pictures show. We treated ourselves to dinner at the Lava Restaurant, overlooking the lagoon, and it was excellent. They even serve you rye bread that is baked by geothermal heat.

The warm seawater in the lagoon is rich with minerals such as silica, which do wonders for the skin. Since water is continually streaming into the lagoon, all of the water renews itself every 48 ours. We enjoyed complimentary silica mud masks and spent about 2 hours relaxing in the waters. It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Iceland. Of course, Iceland treated us with a pretty grand sunset to finish our time there. On the way back to our Airbnb, we had to pull off because the colors were stunning! Check out those mossy lava fields.

*** I have so many things I could write to sum up this adventure we took as a family. I wanted to share some last minute thoughts. I’m not really sure how to put it all in words, but I’ll try. Brian has spent 24 years on active duty in the Navy. In less than a year, he will retire and we will begin a new phase of life for our family. I never could have imagined when I was a young 23 year old bride from Michigan marrying a Navy guy that our lives would be filled with this much adventure and opportunity to see the world. I was raised in a small town in Southwest Michigan and never moved once as a child. I had the same address all through elementary, middle, high school, and college. Our kids, on the other hand, have moved many times, changed schools, and have lived in a foreign country. I’m not saying either way is better, but definitely drastically different.

So in the early years of our marriage, travel became something that we both realized was a healthy and beautiful benefit to this military life. When the kids came along, we moved stateside to many different places form the east coast to the west coast, but it wasn’t until we were relocated to Yokosuka, Japan that we truly started embracing the opportunity to travel and see so many different places in the world. We agreed early on that traveling as a family would become a priority for us, and no matter how crazy or busy our lives would get, we would always save time and money for travel and new experiences. We’ve learned that if you want to go somewhere or experience something, you can always make it happen. It may take some time and planning, but if your heart is in it, go for it, and you will be rewarded.

Our hope is that we instill in them a love for adventure, different cultures, and different beliefs. We’ve never wanted fear to get in the way of them experiencing something new. I believe the only way we can strive for a more peaceful world is to recognize differences and embrace those differences. Seeing new sights and exploring new places widens our perspective past daily routine and pushes us to realize that the world is so much bigger than our backyard. Traveling has helped us see how others live, how we can live better, and how leaving the comforts of home is good for the soul. It also gives us quality time together, which doesn’t really happen back at home amidst the rush of our daily lives. When we travel, we spend A LOT of time together. No matter where we go, we always come away with some great stories and memories- not always perfect and pretty, but memories nonetheless.

As the Navy chapter closes, we certainly look forward to new adventures and continuing to explore new places, even though for the time being, we won’t be moving away from our little peaceful part of New England.

After all…. “Isn’t is our job as humans to be collecting great moments?”