Iceland

Iceland

ICELAND

 

This summer, my husband and I decided to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary with a trip to Iceland.  We have been wanting to visit for about 10 years so we decided to stop talking about it and just go already! I booked our flight in January on a day that was 20 degrees in Houston - figuring, it's cold now but I would miss it come July.  So, we didn't mind leaving the 100 degree weather behind in Houston.

In + around Reykjavík

Our flight landed in Reykjavík at 8am. We were already pretty exhausted from our flight there, but we were determined to power through and adjust to the time change. We spent the day exploring the town and checking everything out. The weather was pretty nice - sunny, temperature in the 60s. First stop was Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland and one of the more iconic structures in Reykjavík. This Lutheran church was designed to resemble Iceland's landscape.  

After Hallgrímskirkja, we walked around a bit more and found ourselves at the Icelandic Phallological Museum. I've never been in a place with so many different species of penises! But seriously, it was fun and interesting and everyone in the place had snickering grins on their faces. After the museum we walked along one of the main tourist-y strips as it was pretty much a straight shot to where we were staying. We were at a point where we couldn't check in right away so we took our time and soaked it all in. Once we got settled in, we went out and explored some more. Everything is pretty pricey in Iceland so we made decisions of where to splurge and where to save. We found the grocery store and stocked up on some food so we had snacks and meal options when we didn't feel like dining out. This worked out pretty well, since we found a lot of our favorite foods and even tried other things we wouldn't have otherwise thought of. Another thing, Iceland has some of the best tap water EVER. We saved our big water bottles and just filled them up with tap water everyday. There really is no point in buying bottled water here because the pure Icelandic tap water is where it's at! Our dinner on the first day was an Icelandic hotdog "with everything" {onion, fried onion, spicy mustard}. Seriously tasty and a MUST HAVE if you're visiting! After dinner we were pretty exhausted. We had been up for over 30 hours, so early to bed we went!

Blue Lagoon

The next day we headed over to The Blue Lagoon Spa, located in a lava field in Grindavík. Before our dip in the lagoon, we had lunch at Lava Restaurant which was amazing! Then we got into our swimsuits, soaked our hair in conditioner and enjoyed the geothermal pool. We tried the silica and algae masks, the steam bath, sauna and explored the entire pool. It's full of rich minerals and you leave feeling refreshed and with softer skin. Just don't put your hair in the water or you will regret it. We put a ton of conditioner in our hair to avoid messing it up.

South Iceland

One of our favorite parts of our trip was getting outside of the city and seeing the incredible landscape of Iceland. We splurged on a Defender and headed south along "Ring Road" toward Vík. Along the way we stopped to see Skógafoss - one of the many waterfalls. We also climbed to the top and hiked along the Skógá River.

After Skógafoss, we went further south to check out the Sólheimasandur plane crash. This was quite a hike - a 2.5 mile walk to the crash site. In 1973, a US Navy plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach. Fortunately, everyone on board survived the crash and the plane was abandoned.  

From Sólheimasandur we headed to the southern most tip of Iceland. We went a long way on foot this day. I track 24,000 steps and 10 miles! I have some legit blisters on my feet with some aching muscles. ;)

The Golden Circle

There are so many things we wanted to see, but knowing we wouldn't get it all in on this trip, we opted to go inland to see more of the magical landscapes Iceland had to offer. We headed east and drove through the Þingvellir National Park and on to Gullfoss - another big waterfall. Along the way, it was apparent we were going to be needing to fuel up the Defender. But petrol stations in Iceland are not exactly on every corner, especially inland where it's more remote. When you do find a petrol station, they are mostly self serve kiosks. This would normally be fine, but in Iceland they have what they call chip & PIN credit cards. Where you have to enter a PIN when using self serve credit card kiosks. Unfortunately for us, the U.S. has only three types of credit cards with this type of system and we do not have any of these cards. We knew we needed an Olís station where there is an attendant who can swipe our card. We calculated our distance until we would be out of fuel and were very mindful of our route. We did eventually make it to Selfoss to fuel up and just in the nick of time too! The gas light came on as we were pulling into town. We fueled up - for the low low price of $8 a gallon - and headed back to Reykjavík.

We returned the Defender, visited the National Gallery - which was really cool, and went to rest up and get ready for dinner. Our Airbnb hosts invited us for dinner and drinks. We hit it off with them so easily and enjoyed their company for the evening. It's easy to lose track of time when it's light outside 24 hours a day, by the time we realized the time we called it a night!

Land of Fire + Ice

Basically this trip was one of my favorites ever! Iceland's landscape is magical and surreal and nothing else on earth is like it. We do plan on going again to see the places we didn't have time to see. I know this post was a bit rambling and not to mention I had to write it twice since my browser froze and didn't save my work. Doh! So, I'm pretty sure this second version is not nearly as in depth as the first. However, I'm including a few helpful links below if you ever decide to take a trip to the "land of fire and ice!"

Links:

Defender Rental - Geysir Car Rental {located at the Harpa Concert Hall - a very cool building!}

The Blue Lagoon - must pre-purchase tickets. We got the Premium tickets which we felt was the best value for us.

Shuttle services - Reykjavík Excursions - helpful for airport and Blue Lagoon transfer if you don't rent a car.

National Gallery - a really great art museum and a little bit of history. There is a fee but your ticket includes admission to other museums in town.

Icelandic Phallological Museum - so many penises!

Grocery Stores - Bónus and KRÓNAN