About 2 weeks before our Montenegro/Croatia trip I got an email from my crazy cousin with a the subject “Spa weekend? haha”. Inside the email was a link to the website gotoday.com with a flash deal to go to Iceland. It was for a four night stay in a hotel, roundtrip airfare out of New York, Blue Lagoon entrance fee, Golden Circle tour, and Northern Lights tour for like… $1,200. Absolutely insane deal considering we already looked into flights to go to Iceland before and they were $1,600 or more and that didn’t include anything. I checked out the site and I replied to her… “Yea, we’re definitely doing that.” We booked it later that night but decided that since we were already going to be over there we might as well extend the trip a few more nights. Hey, why not! For some reason I have always wanted to go to Iceland. It is so enchantingly beautiful and mysterious and I’ve always felt such a strong desire to go. I must have been Icelandic in my last life. We booked a really cute apartment on airbnb.com and we were all set for an Icelandic adventure.
We landed in Reykjavik around 6 am and hopped in a bus to take us to our hotel. Sitting in the cold bus looking out was a surreal experience. All around the only thing you see are lava rocks covered in this beautiful green moss. No trees in sight. It’s almost like being on a different planet. Very strange for a little Florida girl who is used to seeing palm trees everywhere. Just looking around you get a mystical feeling that indescribable. There is so much natural beauty everywhere you look whether it is the lava rocks, or beautiful fields filled with Icelandic Horses, or the distant waterfalls in the background, or maybe it is that they keep it so incredibly clean. We arrived to our hotel, Hotel Natura, checked in, and decided to take a shower and relax for a little bit. We took a quick nap and woke up around 11 and decided to go explore. Our hotel was nice enough to give us a complimentary bus pass while we stayed there so we hopped on the bus and headed into downtown Reykjavik. Everything is so colorful, quaint, and very Nordic. We noticed that there were barely any people out which we found a bit strange. We later found out that basically no one leaves their houses on Sunday because they’re all recovering from intense hangovers. I’m actually glad that we had that Sunday free because we walked around and got to explore so much of the city. We walked to the gorgeous Harpa Concert Hall, then saw the famous Sun Voyager statue, and went to the top of the famous Hallgrímskirkja church. The views from the top of the church were breathtaking. You could see all of Reykjavik and the colorful houses and boats out on the water. It was a very cold day so we decided to walk down to the main road of Laugavegur and shop. All of the shops and restaurants are basically on this road. It’s beyond charming. We walked around in our raincoats and decided to stop and get some socks because our poor little toes were icicles! We went in and bought the most amazing pair of Angora socks, put them on, and headed out. We decided to have a beer at a small little pub on a side street and when we walked in we quickly realized we were the only women. This place was hilarious. All the men in there were hammered and talking to us in Icelandic. We quickly grabbed our beer and headed for a table outside. Even though it was 20 degrees outside it was better than sitting inside with those drunken fools! They quickly all made their way outside to chat with us of course. After a while of chatting with our new drunken fisherman friends we headed off for an early dinner. We were pooped from traveling and exploring all day. I’ve seen a lot of travel shows about Iceland, and on almost every one they have showed this little shack on the water called the ‘Seabaron’ that has their “famous lobster soup”. We walked into the little restaurant, ordered two lobster soups and some grilled Icelandic cod. Both completely lived up to the hype in my opinion. The soup was so delicious, yet light at the same time. Full of flavor but not overpowering. They served it with crusty bread to dip in it and that is always a winning combination for me. The Icelandic Cod was brilliant. So clean and mild. We squeezed a little lemon on it and devoured the whole thing. After dinner we decided that we would have a night cap before heading back to the hotel so we walked down Laugavegur and found a whisky bar that we decided to go in. There was no one in there except for this extremely intoxicated fisherman half asleep at a table alone, another bald older man covered in tattoos with a long beard that was braided, and a girl that was the bartender. We sat down and the man with a braided beard came over and asked us what we wanted to drink. We put in a drink order and sat there waiting for it. We watched him go to the bar and order the drink from the bartender. Oh no… he doesn’t work here! He comes back over with our drinks and sits at our table and his very drunk friend follows. Great, here we are getting hit on by the Sons of Anarchy in Iceland. How does this always happen to us? The drunk one proceeds to tell us how much he loves Lionel Richie and asks what our favorite song is because he wants to sing it to us. We respond with the obvious choice of “Hello” to which he attempts to sing. Actually, the only part of the song he knew was…. ” HELLOOOOO!” After he
screamed sang that a few times we decided it was time to hit the road. As we were leaving the waitress comes over to us and says “You shouldn’t be talking to them.” Yea, no shit lady. We headed home and went right to bed, we had a very busy day ahead of us.
The next morning we got up and went downstairs to have some breakfast before jumping on our bus. They had quite the spread for a hotel breakfast and we loaded up because we were starving! We got on the bus and headed to their national park called Þingvellir in southwestern Iceland. Þingvellir is so special because it was where the Icelandic Parliament was founded in 930 and it lasted there until 1798. It is a very special place to the Icelandic people and not to mention absolutely gorgeous. The fall colors were in full bloom, making the view spectacular. We spent some time there walking around and exploring before heading off to Gullfoss Waterfall. It was a very cold and damp day but we decided to brave the freezing water and head over as close as we could. We got soaking wet standing next to it. I mean, soaked. Good thing we had rain jackets and boots on. I think that might have been the coldest I’ve ever been in my life to be honest. It was worth it though, it was a gorgeous sight. The things I do for a good picture! After a million ridiculous selfies of Jesse and me making our freezing faces in front of the waterfall we ran back to the top of the hill to have a quick lunch of lamb stew. Iceland is know around the world for their quality of lamb and I would have to agree that it is amazing. A nice hearty lamb stew (and beer) was exactly what we needed to warm up. We got back on the bus and we were off to see Strokkur Geyser. We sat there waiting for it to erupt in the rain. Waiting…waiting…BOOM! Finally happened. It was awesome to see. We sat there and watched it erupt one more time before heading back to the bus. We were freezing and soaking wet and completely beat. We stopped at one more place which was this old church out in the middle of nowhere which was really gorgeous. Plus, right next door they had the most adorable sod roof house. We snapped a bunch of pictures and hopped back on the bus to go home. We decided to just relax for a little and have a few drinks in the room (thanks duty-free store in the airport!) because later that night we were going to go hunting for the Northern Lights! We were to leave around around 9 and take a 1 1/2 hour drive out to the middle of nowhere where there is almost no light pollution so you can really see them. We went down there a little early thinking we would grab something quick for dinner. We walked around downtown trying to find something to eat quick. We found a little pizza place and sat down and ordered right away. We sat there…waiting…and waiting…and waiting. We looked down at the time and realized that we had to be on the bus in 10 minutes in order to make it. We told our server just to put the pizza in a to-go box, paid for the bill, and started running. We looked like a bunch of idiots running down the streets of Reykjavik shoving pizza down our throats and getting it all over us. We got to the bus just in time and of course the driver saw us running like idiots eating so he was laughing at us. We got on the bus and we were off to see the Northern Lights. We got on the bus, had a few sips of our “coke” that we brought with us… ok, it was actually half coke and half bourbon. Don’t judge us we were on vacation. After 30 minutes of sitting in a dark bus driving us to the middle of nowhere we both passed out. We woke up about an hour later absolutely freezing. They kept the bus cold so the windows wouldn’t fog up in case we happened to see the lights. I mean, it was really cold in there. We stopped at a place where there were no lights are were all told to get off of the bus and go outside. It was cold… I mean, really cold…and windy. Jesse and I stood together, huddling together trying to stay warm. We stayed out there for an hour like this. Once in a while the guide would point somewhere saying he would see them coming but they were no where in sight for me. We finally got a glimmer of them but it was very faint and only slightly visible to the eye. I took a picture with my camera and left the shutter open for quite some time and got a picture but even in the picture it wasn’t what I expected. I wanted the lights to dance around in the sky damnit! I want huge waves of green and blue and whatever else color happens dancing over my head. Do I get that? No. I get some piddly faint green streak off in the distance. Not a happy camper, not a happy camper at all. It was 3 am, I was tired from the day, the bus was freezing, and I was out of my bourbon and coke. We all got on the bus and headed back to our hotel. We finally got home and passed out. Good thing we didn’t have to wake up early the next morning.
The next morning we got up, packed a bag with a bathing suit, and headed downstairs for breakfast. We were headed to the famous blue lagoon for the day! If you’re not familiar with the Blue Lagoon it is a geothermal spa located on a lava field in Grindavík. The warm water is rich in minerals like silica and sulphur and it is known for being very good for your skin. People come from all over the world to bathe in the natural spa. The minerals also give it the most beautiful blue. Walking up it is hard to believe that such a place exists. You have the dark lava rocks covered in this beautiful green moss, then white mineral mud, and then the beautiful naturally warm blue water with steam rising. We were so excited to get in we could hardly take it! We stood in line inside to get a key to a locker so we could change into our bathing suits. After we changed we headed for the water. We opened the door and literally ran for the water because it was so cold outside but when we got in the water temperature was perfection. We noticed a perfectly situated little bar next to the water selling beer and we giggled as we swam over and ordered a round. We looked around and laughed at everyone covered in the white mud. People had it all over their faces, bodies, and anywhere else they could put it. We decided to join the crowd and put on the white mud everywhere. Boy did we look sexy! As soon as we put the mud on I could feel it making everything tingle. Maybe I found the fountain of youth in Iceland!! Everyone there is ridiculously good looking… maybe this is their secret? No, I’m convinced they’re all Elves… beautiful blonde Elves. Such a blow to one’s ego going there and seeing there is an entire country filled with beautiful people. Welp, maybe I can marry one. Anyway, we swam around with our white mud on our face, drinking some beer, and giggling at all the Asians that were posing for pictures covered in the mud. Life was good. I never wanted to leave but my pruney skin was ready to get out. We got out, showered, and hopped back on the bus and headed back to the hotel. That night we headed to a place that was recommended to us by a couple at the hotel called Tapas Barinn on Vesturgötu street. Yes, a tapas place in Iceland. We go in and look at the menu. It’s tapas, but all Icelandic style! Very cool. I told our waitress to order us the most Icelandic tapas they have. As soon as I said that I immediately regretted it. We sat there sipping on wine and waited for our scary tapas. This was what she brought: Smoked PUFFIN with a blueberry “brennivin” sauce, Icelandic Sea Trout with a pepper salsa, Icelandic Langostino, grilled Icelandic lam, and… (please do not judge me) Minke Whale with a cranberry sauce. Yes, I ate puffin and whale. I’m not going to lie the puffin was absolutely terrible. The initial bite wasn’t terrible but it was super chewy and fishy. It. Was. Nasty. Everything else was so delicious, even the whale was good! It was a steak consistency with not a bad flavor but the only thing I didn’t like was the fishy aftertaste. All in all a delicious meal. After that we stopped at another place for one more drink before heading home. The next day we had to pack up and move to our new apartment downtown.