gaby esensten photography

Mosfellsbaer and The Arctic Circle // March 2015

Iceland was magical. Camille, Corey, Talia and I drove to our AirBnb home just outside of Reyjkavík and it was a photographer’s paradise with windows from floor to ceiling. It was the perfect place for a cozy stay of cooking and play. That night I was able to do something I had always dreamed of: witness the Northern Lights. They were spectacular and I had an especially fun time taking photos of them. The long exposure photos really reveal the depth of color of those magical wisps of particles in the sky.

The next day we hit a few spots on the famous Arctic Circle tour. We were awed and humbled by the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall. We ate at the geothermal baths of Laugarvatn Fontana, where they bake the most delicious rye bread in the hot ground. We stopped to admire the beauty of Icelandic horses and visited the mother of all geysers called Geysir. Last but not least, the Blue Lagoon was beautiful with its blue blue water against the white snow and black lava rock.

Reykjavík, Iceland // March 2015

You know when a friend posts on Facebook that they want to visit a far-off land and asks who’s with them? And you think to yourself, maybe one day I will be that friend. Well, that day happened for me earlier this year when my dear friend Talia posted about going somewhere on her Spring Break in March. Maybe Patagonia or…Iceland?! The dates she was interested in were right when I was returning from Alaska so I thought to myself, why not just continue on to Iceland as I’ll be packed for the right weather…right? So, I did. The week I spent there with Talia and her friends, Camille and Corey, were some of the most magical of my life.

We all arrived at the airport in the early morning and went straight to our hostel, KEX, which is by far the most charming and quirky hostel I have ever stayed in. It was like a well curated thrift store in a Wes Anderson movie. My next blog post will be dedicated solely to KEX because it was infinitely fun to capture its nooks and quirky vignettes.

In order to pass the few delirious hours waiting to check in, we decided to take a *free* tour of Reykjavík led by a local named Marteinn. It was an excellent tour and the perfect introduction to the city we would be exploring for the next few days. Our first meal was at one of the famous hot dog stands around the city called Baejarins Beztu and those dogs were silly delicious. Some highlights were dancing on Friday night at Prikid bar, where my friends would also brunch the next day while I nursed my hangover, shopping at the wonderfully curated Icelandic shops for souvenirs, a memorably delicious brunch at the lovely restaurant, Snaps, and exploring the Kolaportid Flea Market, where Talia purchased a wonderful Sherlock Holmes coat…look out for it in future posts! Reykjavík was friendly, clean, delicious, and easy to explore. It had the most charming Nordic aesthetic. I especially loved the bright colored buildings that popped against the white snow and buildings. A true feast for the eyes.

Fairbanks, Alaska // March 2015

While in Alaska, I went on a solo adventure to Fairbanks. One of my childhood fantasies was to take Polar Express, so I flew up to Fairbanks and planned to take the closest thing to it, the Alaska Railroad back down to Anchorage. I had a day to explore, so I decided to visit Chena Hot Springs. 2015 marks the first time I visited a natural hot spring and the experience of soaking in naturally heated water and minerals is so healing. I promised myself to visit these waters often, wherever I am, and so I found myself at Chena. It was a beautiful property and was truly a winter wonderland. I visited the kennel and said hi to the beautiful huskies bred for sledding, then to the Ice Museum and saw amazing ice sculptures, learned about the renewable geothermal power plant, explored the greenhouse and soaked in the healing waters, while it was snowing.

It was a jam-packed day, but it wasn’t over! That evening I went on a dog-sled tour and learned about mushing, the famous Iditarod dog race, and got the chance to fly through the dark woods on a sled pulled by these beautiful dogs, lit by moonlight. The only sounds were breathing dogs and the sled sliding across the snow. I was hoping to see the Northern Lights that evening but unfortunately it was cloudy…I was visiting Iceland next so I still had hope! I was dropped at my hostel in the early morning, packed my things and went to the train station for the 8-hour ride through the beautiful Alaskan landscape.

Anchorage, Alaska // March 2015

Looking back on 2015, I am proud to say that I went on so many amazing adventures. Now that work is slowing down and I have more time to edit personal photos, I’ll be sharing some images from my travels. This first round is from Anchorage, Alaska, where I visited in March with my sister-in-law, Raquel, and my cutie nugget of a nephew, Azi. We visited Raquel’s sister, Eva, and her now-husband, Dan. These photos are from the Alaska Zoo, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the Glen Alps Trailhead, and Hilltop Ski Area. My favorite animals were the muskoxen, Arctic mammals with thick coats and strong smells. My nephew had the best time sledding and skied for the first time! Those tiny snow boots and skis were absurdly adorable.

Peery // Yoga Session

One of my dearest, new friends from the past year is a wonderful artist, teacher and yogi named Peery. I stayed with her down at the Henry Miller Memorial Library last June and took some photos of her doing her yoga practice. I’m loving the Kali pose at the end! Wishing her so much love as she embarks on her next adventure in New York City.

Taylor // Bridal Session

I was able to take a few photos of my beautiful friend Taylor over her bachelorette party weekend in Big Sur. She is marrying her best friend Jordan in September and I will be there documenting the weekend. This woman is such a caring and creative soul and I am proud to call her my friend.

Tuesday Bloom // hydrangeas

My mom taught me to love flowers and that fascination with their color, shape, and beauty carries on in me. Every Tuesday I will post a photo of a new bloom that enters my life that week.

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. // Georgia O’Keeffe

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