Tell us a little bit about yourselves. How did you meet? What do you do? What’s your travel style?
Biff and I met at a community brunch, of all places. It turns out we had some friends in common, and they hosted a brunch for all their friends. And we met there! It was love at first sight for me, but not for him, so I had to take my time and let him get to know me (and become single!) before asking him on a date. Eventually, his relationship came to an end and by then we had established a friendship, so it was easy to make the transition to dating.
Trystan and Biff with their three beautiful children.
We are parents to three young children, and Biff stays home with them full time. I work for Family Equality, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ families. Usually, we travel with all the kids, taking them on simple trips like the Oregon coast, camping in the woods, visiting my parents in Victoria, BC (Canada), or day trips to waterfalls near Portland (where we live). We rarely get to travel on our own, but when we do we like a mix of adventure and relaxation. We aren’t that rugged, nor are we luxury– we’re somewhere in between… which is why Iceland called to us.
We actually had a random layover at the major Icelandic airport last year, while we were heading to Paris for a television interview with our baby. It was so unique and charming, and while we were there we were inundated with gorgeous images of Iceland– rainbows and waterfalls and geysers and icebergs. Biff mentioned that he would love to go to Iceland one day, so I began planning a trip. Between the flights and hotel and mapping everything out, it took around three months to plan the trip.
I had wanted it to be a surprise but ended up telling him so he could weigh in on some of the details. While researching our journey, I truly fell in love with the country. The history and geography are fascinating, and it’s one of the few places on Earth where we knew we wouldn’t face discrimination as a gay couple traveling alone. It seemed like a perfect mix of outdoor adventures and cozy couple time… and that’s exactly what it ended up being.
What surprised you the most about Iceland? What was your favorite part?
I honestly wasn’t sure how much of the beauty we saw in videos and photos was just marketing and how much would turn out to be real… and it was shocking how truly gorgeous everything was. Hotel Rangá was a true highlight for us – we just felt so valued as guests there, from the custom-made vegetarian meals to the staff remembering our names – we get to travel alone so rarely that it was really special to be somewhere so lovely.
As we pulled up, we were totally blown away by how cozy and cabin-like it was. It wasn’t like a major chain hotel, it was homey and warm and friendly, while being completely luxurious at the same time. It’s in an area without many other hotels, so the view was spectacular. We were so excited to be there!
What was your favorite part about your room?
The bathtub was like our own mini-hot tub! We loved that the hot water comes straight out of the ground, so we never felt guilty taking long, hot baths or showers.
The little details were so special… bath tea and champagne and so many pillows. We stayed in a room that had South American accents and loved how unique and stylish it was. Not like any other hotel we’ve ever stayed in.
What was your favorite meal during your stay?
I’m vegetarian and there weren’t a lot of veggie options on the dinner menu. So, imagine my surprise when the waiter told me that the chef had prepared a special pasta meal just for me! In addition to the fact that it was delicious, I just appreciated being treated so well!
The owner of the hotel came to our table at dinner to see how our experience at Hotel Rangá had been so far, and of course we gushed about his amazing property and attentive staff. He then returned a few minutes later to tell us that the aurora was visible, so we ran outside to see it. I hadn’t expected it to be so clear and so breathtaking, nor had I expected the staff (the owner, no less!) to be so wonderful about sharing when we could see it!
Where you seeing the aurora for the first time? What did it feel like?
Yes – we have never been anywhere that features the aurora before. And it was… breathtaking! It truly made me wonder what it must have seemed like for the ancient peoples, to view something so mysterious and beautiful. Liquid green waves in the night sky. I cried when I saw it… it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What recommendations do you have for other travelers? Do’s and don’ts?
We loved going on the off season! It wasn’t as cold as we feared it might be, and there were so few tourists even at the really touristy spots. We got amazing photos and had some truly blissful moments.
One recommendation we received was to try not to plan every moment, and that’s a great one. Traveling around and allowing for time to pull off at a beautiful church off the main road, to ask other travelers what they’ve done that was fun, to stay an extra day in Reykjavik (if you love it as much as we did), to have a walking tour of an area you end up liking… allow for spontaneity! Don’t over-plan!