This year we got to go to Iceland. And, all I can say is AAAHhhhhmazing. I apologize ahead of time for this long post.. but you can’t sum up Iceland with a quick one!
This trip we (*I*) decided to do kind of a two part trip. Half was booked with a tour and the other half we booked on our own. We figured this would give us a chance to do some things on our own but also hit all the “Must See” touristy spots. Links and tips are at the bottom of this post!
BTW: Iceland is the second most expensive country in the world. I think second only to Switzerland? That was some statistic I saw somewhere, and so, gas for a rental car and taxi’s are beyond ridiculously priced.
We arrived early because there are a limited number of flights going into Iceland. I had previously read about the crazy prices for Taxi’s and the lack of public transportation. Another thing I was on the fence about when planning this trip was The Blue Lagoon, because well, it’s man made, at the base of a Geothermal plant and just commercialized to hell. However, during my research I decided that the price for tickets to the lagoon (which included a bus ride from the airport to the lagoon and then from the lagoon to your hotel) was worth it just for the transportation, but bonus, we get to go to the lagoon too.
So some of the rumors about this place are you have to shower naked(Yes you do, but you don’t have to do it communally. There are individual shower stalls with curtains you can go into). Also, there is a place to store your luggage so if you do visit coming or going to the airport no worries (small fee involved)! The buses leave from the airport and the lagoon about every hour as well. So you are free to spend as long as you want and just hop on the next available bus.
Commercialized or not, this place was cool and I’m really glad we went. I think we all enjoyed it! We bought the slightly upgraded tickets which included a robe, slippers, and a couple of drink and face masks.
After that, we got our stuff, took our bus ride to our hotel and wandered around Reykjavik a bit. One of the iconic buildings downtown is Hallgrímskirkja and the statue out front is of explorer Lief Erikkson.
Walking around Iceland at the end of winter is a bit slippery! Lots of icy sidewalks.
Our next stop was to see and take our token photos in front of the viking ship the Sun Voyager “Solfar”.
First day of our 3 day tour with Extreme Iceland! Today they drove us through the “Golden Circle” . Our first stop was Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park.
Then Glossfuss Falls.. It was freezing!! We couldn’t even keep our hands out of our pockets for the 5 seconds to take the pictures without great pain.
If you don’t know me..let me just tell you. I am a tad bit waterfall obsessed. In fact, I loooove waterfalls.. and Iceland did not disappoint!
Did I mention I love waterfalls? I was in HEAVEN here.. how could it get better than this?
Lots to see! Strokkur Geyser was next. It’s the only active geyser they have and reliably goes off ever 8-10 minutes.
Obviously..my timing sucks with the my friend in the picture =p
Mother nature here is fickle. They told us the weather could change in an instant and they weren’t lying. It was a beautiful sunny day and then all of a sudden we were in the middle of a blizzard having to wait it out for the tractors to come plow the roads. ( I think it only took about 45 minutes to pass and we had an impromptu snowball fight on the side of the road ).
Our hotel for the night
Next day of the tour. This was more driving along the southern coast.. enjoying more of the Iceland’s natural beauty.
Our next stop was Diamond Beach. The icebergs break off of (calve) Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and drift out to sea. Pretty magical watching the chunks of ice float away into the waves and seeing the gorgeous crystal clear ice on the black sand beach.
Glacier lake was next and then we were on our way for our Ice Caving adventure! This is what the icebergs break off into before they make their way out to the sea nearby. This lake is both a mixture of fresh and salt water.
Look at the size of those wheels on that jeep!
Such a cool experience and the beautiful blue glow was amazing! We barely made it on this adventure as we were coming at the end of winter/beginning of spring. The cave was already starting to melt. If you want to do this tour you have to brave the cold Iceland winter!
Soo…you’d think that was the end of day 3 right? How could it get better??… Well, the most EPIC of all moments of this trip happened this same evening. The Auerora Borealis!! Yes, we’d been keeping an eye out for it the whole trip but as you can see from the pictures it was pretty overcast most of the time. Tonight we had perfect conditions.. and they were amazing. Ok, so disclaimer for those who haven’t ever seen it.. it is NOT green in the sky, those colors come out with good cameras that can be put on a slow shutter speed(ie probably not your phone). We sat outside waiting and it started pretty slow. It was kind of like seeing a cloud in the sky glow. We weren’t sure if that was it at first, but then when it started to move and grow there was no doubt. Eventually it became really large and moved and danced across the sky, it was fantastic!!
Glacier hiking day. We showed up to get our gear (assuming all we were getting was spikes for our shoes so we wouldn’t slip on icy ground ) We were a little unsure of what was going to happen when they handed us helmets and pick axes LOL!
Off we went and started our hike..we got to put the axes to use after all..climbing around crevices a bit. Trystan decided to go all out and climb a wall….
One more stop on our tour… Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Beautiful beach with really interesting rock formations and basalt columns.
And we had to be typical tourists and climb on things and do tricky poses..
On our drive back.. we stopped at another beautiful waterfall.
Well this was the end of our guided tour… and also where things started to go south quick ! We had arranged with our bus driver to be dropped off at our car rental. They were really nice being willing to do this..and they dropped us off in the parking lot where our car rental was supposed to be (however, we were about 2 hours late for our reservation).. annnd the car rental place was closed and we were abandoned in the middle of the night in the freezing cold LOL!! Soo we placed our bags on the sidewalk and started searching on our phones for a hotel or taxi service. (We had an airbnb booked but it was 30 minutes away from where we were). Well we found a hotel about a mile away so off we went. Still smiling!! Even the wall has a smiley face 🙂
We got to the hotel ..and they were booked =\ .. So they called us a Taxi ( ok this is a $160ish taxi ride for 30 minutes because *Iceland*. Which means we get to also pay that in the morning to get BACK to our car rental..Wheee! ) Well.. we decided to split the cost between us.. however, when we got in the taxi we discovered Juli didn’t have her wallet or her passport or her backpack!! In a frenzy we begged the taxi driver to take us back to the car rental doorstep to see if we left it there. THANKFULLY it was still there. (one plus about it being the middle of the night I guess). So..we made it to our Airbnb at around 2 am but they were SOOO sweet and didn’t seem to mind at all helping us get into our room at the wheee hours of the morning.
We got a taxi back to our car rental in the morning only to find out I didn’t even have my License with me this whole trip. Well this is why you travel with a buddy right? Juli had hers and we just rented it under her name instead. She was NOT happy with me. She hates driving and especially hates roundabouts Angry Juli paying close attention to a roundabout below:
Now we were running late to our next excursion. ( I TOLD you things kept going south.. but it all worked out ). We had booked a snorkel in Silfra. And yep..we were late and our tour company was nowhere in sight… Luckily there was another tour company going to the same place and they knew who our company was. They gave us a ride to meet up with them. LOL. What a mess..
Ok..well we made it ! And it was amazing.. If you don’t know Silfra is a rift formed in the divergent tectonic boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates. So basically we got to snorkel with North America on one side and Europe on the other. Super clear blue waters (pictures didn’t do it justice.. I think my gopro was frozen and foggy)
And.. FREEZING. The water is 2-4°Celsius all year round (35-39°Fahrenheit) . Which means we got to get decked out in dry suits. I about threw up when they stuck a tiny rubber band around my throat to seal off my clothes. Yes.. I was gagging and tearing up… but I survived.. barely.. it was worth it. We might have had frost bite in our fingers.
Then we went back to our Airbnb and relaxed. Did I mention how amazing our hosts were and the location? Dagmar and his family had made us fresh granola bars and had fresh eggs in the fridge for us to use.
Also.. if you didn’t know the winds in Iceland are CRAZY strong. We totally dinged their car when the wind ripped our car door out of our hands and flung it into their car next to us =( .. They were soo gracious about it and told us not to worry about anything and just enjoy our vacation.
We took our time this morning.. We made breakfast in our loft.. and enjoyed the view from our airbnb. It was a beautiful view and they have the furry Iceland ponies on their land!
After this..we did some exploring on our own. We drove out to see one of the Game of Thrones filming locations (The cave where John Snow and his wildling g/f got it on).
We also attempted a hike. There was supposed to be a hot springs at the top of this mountain that you can bathe in (about a 3 mile hike) but the snow and ice made it pretty difficult to traverse. Slightly afraid of slipping on the snow and falling off a cliff. We made it about halfway and had to turn around but the view was still pretty awesome.
(I might need to explain the cap and gown .. this trip was booked because my son was graduating this year.. Happy Graduation kiddo!)
This was shopping day before we had to head home. We had heard that Iceland hotdogs were something you HAD to try so we gave them a go (yes they were good..but i’m not sure what all the hype was about). And icelandic humor is pretty amusing…
Time to go home! Thank you Iceland you were amazing!
Woohoo, We are getting good at this once a year trip planning thing.. Hopefully we can keep it going !
OK guys!! I’ve gone on and on… this was a heck of a long post so I apologize but hopefully you enjoyed !