How To Feel Alive: Face & Conquer

“I would never be able to do something like that.”

I think more than anything, this phrase really annoys the shit out of me.  The second I know that I am terrified of doing something, that it’s going to push me outside of my comfort zone, when I start to feel those anxious butterflies going wild; that’s when I know I have to do it. Whatever it is.

I realize that not everything thrives on adrenaline or likes being pushed outside their comfort zone. But the thing is, neither did I for the longest time. I grew up an indoor kid, happy to stay on a couch watching T.V. and terrified to my core anytime my cousins did something daring or against the rules.

So it just makes me kind of angry when people out there won’t even open their mind to doing something that will change their outlook, their attitude, their entire life perspective because they “could like, literally never do something like that.” And I know I am supposed to be accepting of everything and love everyone because that’s the persona I portray, but this attitude makes me want to shake people and scream at them: “Don’t you know what you’re missing?! LIFE is out there!” 

The reason I fell so in love with traveling is because, while every time I travel I learn so much, I also realize how much more there is to know and to do.

The more I see, the less I know. – Michael Franti (got it right.)

So I’m recapping my South Africa trip not from the beginning of the trip but at the moment I was sitting on a bench, in a harness, with my legs wrapped tightly in a velcro wrap, on top of the world’s highest bungee bridge, the Bloukran’s Bridge.  Oh not to mention, laugh crying. Not because something was funny, because I was panic-stricken and very emotionally confused by the fact that there was house music blasting around me, people were dancing, everyone was a hype-man… and the fact that I was 15 seconds from going against every natural preservation instinct I had and jumping off this bridge.  In that last thirty seconds, my inner anxiety finally physically manifested itself in the form of big fat tears that I just couldn’t stop.

The calm and helpful bungee guys put my arms around their shoulders and helped me shuffle my constrained feet to the edge, toes sticking out over the side. Though I don’t remember much at this point, the video footage shows me with a very concerned look on my face and taking deep breaths. Fairly certain I blacked out for the first 5 seconds (or however long it took to hit the bottom) of the fall and the first thing I remember is as soon as I started to recoil and slowly bounce back up and down, I was sobbing full fledge tears streaming down my face. Well I was upside down, so they were more like streaming up my face. This time though, the tears were more like holy shit I just did it tears. How beautiful is this life tears. For someone who spent a solid portion of their life dealing with depression and anxiety, this moment brought a rush of exhilaration, disbelief, and pure awe at how much humans can do and how much we can feel and how beautiful these mountains and the ocean were around me. Why would I ever worry about anything when I can experience feelings like this?

Post-jump I was elated, and while I may not be a bungee jump junkie just yet, I absolutely can appreciate how alive I felt and how awake I was every moment of that experience. I will now pursue feeling this alive for the rest of my days and I shall accept nothing, and no one that makes me feel less.

An Icelandic Adventure

A common stopover country, Iceland’s popularity with tourism has been on the rise for the past couple years. And if you’re looking for a unique and breathtaking getaway (and you have a decent chunk of change to spend) Iceland is absolutely your place.

Being an island, just about everything in Iceland is imported, so prepare yourself for a pricey vacation. I don’t want it to take you by surprise when you see beers ranging from $12-$20 USD, cocktails around $24, and a decent meal being at a bare minimum $25.

Given that, though, there are amazing things to do in Iceland, especially if you’re an adventurous and outdoor-loving person. Here are my top suggestions for a quick trip to the Land of Fire & Ice:

P.S. As always, visit my Instagram for more reasons to go to Iceland!

 

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Outdoors

  • Frost And Fire (Hveragerði) – Notably nicknamed the land of Fire & Ice for it’s varied landscapes, Iceland has numerous hikes that take you around some of the natural geothermal hot spas. There are ropes that block you from getting too close to the hot spot but if you decide to get a little closer anyway, be cautious as these natural hot spots can get up to 250 degrees Celsius ( 392 Farenheit!)

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Golden Circle- The Golden Circle tours which are offered by tour guide companies many times everyday, takes you through three of the main tourist spots in Iceland: Gullfoss, Geysir and Þingvellir. The Gullfoss waterfall is a breathtaking site and an immense waterfall. Wear a raincoat for that one! The Geysir is an incredulous geysir that goes off approximately every 7 minutes or so. Þingvellir is a national park with huge significance in history and geology. There are two submerging rifts which you can even scuba dive between (if you’re certified)!IMG_4357

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Bars

  • The American Bar
  • Icelandic Bar – a low key local spot, this bar doesn’t attract many tourists and you won’t find the typical raging young crew here. Instead you’ll get a taste for the locals and it’s also a great spot to try out the black death shot.

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  • English Pub (are you noticing a trend?) Icelanders tend to be straight forward, and this goes for their bar names as well.
  • The Big Lebowski– A fun, disco-like bar, this is where you want to go for groovy lights and music and a yummy breakfast reminiscent snack (drink). Live out your favorite movie with the famous white russian cocktail with cocoa pebbles on top. Yummm.
  • Kex Hostel. Yes I realize this says ‘hostel’ which typically means 100% tourists. However, the bar in the lobby of this ultra hipster hostel is a hot spot with the locals as well. There is plenty of space to work, meet new people, and get a few local Icelandic beers.
  • Austur– Now this is place you want to end your night. Since Icelanders party hard and late, you want to head to this night club around 3 or 4 am and ride out the rest of the night dancing in a crowd full of sweaty people while probably getting alcohol spilled on you.

Food & Drink

  • Fermented Shark. While it’s not a real staple of an Icelandic diet, it is something that basically all locals have tried. It’s honestly pretty putrid, so you should really have a shot of black death ready to wash it down with.

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  • Black Death. Exactly what the name sounds like, this clear liquid will surely lead to the demise of your evening. I hope you have a high tolerance if you take more than one of these shots.
  • As you can imagine, fish a huge part of the Icelandic diet. Dried fish (think fish jerky) is a must when trying the local seafood.
  •  Skyr is a type of yogurt that is famous in the country. It is similar to Greek yogurt, and with the plethora of dairy farms and cows in Iceland, it is quite possible to get it seriously fresh! If you want to have a legitimate dairy farm experience visit the Erpsstaðir creamery, detailed below.
  • For an affordable breakfast, try bergesson mathus a small hidden cafe where you can get a smörgåsbord of a European breakfast. For a cool $24 USD, you can get a hardboiled egg, bacon, potatoes, melon, pineapple, proscuitto, cheese, bread, and yogurt with granola.

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Other Tourist-y Things

  • The Erpsstaðir creamery is a dairy farm in Northwest Iceland, run by farmer Thorgrimur Einar Gudbjartsson and his family. You can see the cows and try lots of fresh whey protein, Skyr, and ice cream!

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  • Blue Lagoon- perhaps the most famous tourist spot in all of Iceland the Blue Lagoon is a natural hot spa that is massive in size and attracts around 700,000 visitors every year. Cure your hangover from the night before by getting a algae or clay mask from the Mud Bar and then heading over to the swim up bar for a refreshing vitamin packed juice smoothie – or a Bloody Mary if you’re ready for that kind of commitment.