The Seaside Calls

One girl's mission to escape monotony

Stone Church Ruins | Eleroy, Illinois

The Old Eleroy Stone Church

You know the best thing about road trips? Besides snacking on beef jerky and slurpees? Finding weird things on the side of the road. Especially abandoned things. If it looks like it’s been forgotten by society, I’m in love. This was one of those discoveries that was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

We were driving from Galena, IL back to my aunt’s home in Chicago, when I noticed this stone church¬†without a roof, and very clear signs of fire damage. Obviously I made my aunt pull over, and I went in to explore. The caution tape did not deter me… in fact, it made my rebellious side come out. I wouldn’t say I break the law often, but I’ve definitely done my fair share of trespassing. I think most photographers have a tendency to do things like that, but it’s totally fine because it’s all in the name of art ūüėČ


After doing¬†a little research, I found out that this building actually hadn’t served as a church for a couple decades, and had recently been utilized as¬†an antique shop. The owner lived inside, so unfortunately he lost both his shop and his home… and possibly his cat, from what the locals¬†were saying on Facebook. The fire had taken place a few weeks before I stumbled upon it.

I tried to go in, but I didn’t get far. From wall to wall, the building was completely full of fallen beams, chairs, and other debris.

The stained glass windows had fallen out and were still laying in small fragments on the ground below. The strong scent of fire still lingered in the air.

I don’t know what is to become of this building, or how long it will sit there in this condition, but getting to explore it in its abandoned splendor was exactly the kind of thing¬†I live for.


The Road Trip Along The Southern Coast | Iceland

Day 5 In Iceland

The Day Trip Down The Southern Coast

The day started out with me going to pick up my rental car and meeting up with my Icelandic friend Teresa. After we had picked up the car, we grabbed a quick snack and then headed out on the road towards Vik, a small town about three hours away. The whole way there, everything was gorgeous (including us, of course)!

Me & Teresa!
Me & Teresa!


About halfway to Vik, we stopped to see this waterfall, Seljalandsfoss.



Teresa told me that children will often eat these weeds because they taste like sour apples... I forget the exact name but it translates to something like "sour piss", because dogs like to pee on weeds... which she waited to tell me until AFTER she made me eat some.
Teresa made me eat a leaf of this weed and told me that children like to eat them because they taste like sour apples. It’s called “hundas√ļra”, which translates to “dog sour”. When I asked her what the significance of the name was, she laughed and said, “it’s because dogs like to pee on them!” It would have been nice if she had told me that BEFORE I ate it.Seljalandsfoss




Okay. If I had to choose one place that truly captures the full essence of Iceland, it would be¬†Dyrh√≥laey. I could see so many natural wonders surrounding me. The beautiful and mysterious basalt columns of¬†Reynisfjall Mountain to the East. The black sand beach to the South. The iconic¬†Dyrh√≥laey cliffs to the West.¬†M√Ĺrdalsj√∂kull glacier to the North. Absolutely breathtaking.



Reynisfjall Mountain
This set of three jagged rocks is known as Reynisdrangar. In Icelandic folklore, it is said that these were three trolls who were turned to stone when the morning sunlight shone down on them over Reynisfjall Mountain. Does that remind anyone else of Lord of the Rings?
Dyrh√≥laey means, “the hill island with the door hole”, referring to the hole in the arch of this cliff. This location has been used in several films, including Noah¬†(2014).
M√Ĺrdalsj√∂kull glacier

Dyrhólaey Cemetery and Church

We accidentally stumbled upon this¬†cute little church with a cemetery, and, because I’m obsessed with cemeteries, we spent some time there. I did quite a bit of research on it, and though I did find a few other people who had found it, they all seemed to have mistaken it for Vik Church, which is located a few kilometers away… So I’m going to call it the¬†Dyrh√≥laey Cemetery and Church.


Dyrhólaey cemetery


Hallgrímskirkja | Iceland

Day 1 In Iceland

Feels Like Home

I finally landed in beautiful Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland! I had booked a room in an idyllic apartment which I found through Airbnb (I ONLY use Airbnb when I travel, and I strongly recommend it to everyone). I reached my apartment on August 1st, after roughly 13 hours of traveling, and I slept all day! When I woke up around 7pm, it appeared to me  that that’s kind of what you’re supposed to do in Iceland! It seems like everyone sleeps in the daytime and then hits the city around midnight and stays out until the bars close at 5 am. All night, from my window, I could hear loud music playing and see people taking walks, and then at 6am, it all stopped and the city was completely silent. A night owl like myself could definitely get used to living in such a city!

This is my roommate’s friend singing from our balcony… Don’t ask me why.

My street (Laugavegur)
My neighborhood
My neighborhood


The next day around noon, I ventured down to Hallgr√≠mskirkja, Reykjavik‚Äôs iconic church. It can be seen throughout most of the city, and my apartment was no exception. Feeling confident in my navigational skills, I decided to just walk towards it until I got there, no map or anything. So what if I got lost? There is no safer city in the world to get lost in! So I grabbed my walking shoes, my lucky scarf, and my camera bag and started walking. One thing I have noticed every time I’ve visited Europe is that people WALK differently than they do in the States. No one ever seems to be in a rush; while we Americans love to speed walk, Europeans love to stroll. So, when in Rome… Even at my leisurely European walking pace, it only took me about 20 minutes to get¬†there, and when I did, it was as breathtaking as I had imagined.

A shot taken about halfway down Sk√≥lav√∂r√įust√≠gur, which intersects Laugavegur about 100 feet away from my apartment.
A shot taken about halfway down Sk√≥lav√∂r√įust√≠gur.


A statue of Lief Erikson, the famous Icelandic explorer
This statue of Lief Erikson, the famous Icelandic explorer, stands in front of the church
The back of the church. I wanted to get some shots of the chapel, but there was a wedding going on.
The back of the church.

After basking in its glory for a few minutes, I went inside and bought my ticket for the elevator (I wanted to get some shots of the chapel first, but there was a wedding going on). Once I reached the top, I waited for the other tourists to clear out of the room, and then I rushed to¬†a vacant window from which I could photograph the beautiful rooftops of Reykjavik. It was a pretty high window, and I’m a pretty short girl, so even though I¬†stood on the stool they had provided, I wouldn’t have been able to see out the window if I hadn’t had my camera on me. For someone who loves color as much as I do, this was truly a wonder to behold. As I stared in awe at the beautiful city, I was rudely awakened from my deep thought by a loud “BONG…BONG…BONG…”, which caused me to fall off of my stool. Turns out the church had a functioning bell tower, which was located directly above where I stood. I took that as the church’s way of saying “give the other tourists a chance, Nena! You’ve been hogging the window for 20 minutes!”

The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja
The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja


I honestly could have stayed there all day, taking in the beauty of the city and the cool ocean breeze, but it was time to start making my way to the next location