Visiting Iceland

It feels like it happened months ago, but on the 17th January 2018, Simon and I flew out of Gatwick airport on an evening flight and arrived three hours later in Keflavík airport, Iceland.  I’d organised this as a wee birthday trip for Simon.  Once we’d gathered our things we boarded a bus to take us to Reykjavík.  I wasn’t particularly excited about this trip until we were actually on the plane!  The joy of landing somewhere snowy and incredibly chilly was wonderfully exciting, I felt like a big kid at Christmas.

I had booked a cosy one bed apartment through Airbnb (if you’ve not registered, you can with this link and we both get money off) and thankfully it was really simple to get into the flat, we were both a bit knackered at this point, it was about 11pm.  The flat was just a few minutes away from Hallgrímskirkja church – handy for all of our tour pickups. I attempted my first ever star lapse at Hallgrímskirkja church – which I’m sure would’ve worked much better had I left the camera running for more than 20minutes.  It’s an incredible building, I only wish we’d visited inside.  Next time.

Something worth noting, eating is very expensive.  We learnt an expensive lesson on the first night.  We bought some ham, cheese, butter, mayo,  gluten free bread, juice and some crisps, it came to £30.  The gluten free bread was £8!  After that I just ate the gluten and was grateful I wasn’t allergic and that I had stretchy jeans!  To be fair it was a 24hour shop and we were so tired at that point, that we just wanted the food.  After that we always went to Bonus and lived of various noodles, cheap pizzas and stuck to basics.  It was much cheaper.

Day One | The Northern Lights

We spent our first full day we pottering around Reykjavík, I’ve never seen so many woolly shops in one place!  There were jumpers, shawls, gloves, hats and all sorts! We also went wandering around the Saga museum, definitely worth a visit, the history of the Iceland is fascinating.  It was because of visiting this museum that I went and bought the Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and devoured it in a matter of days!  Sadly, I managed to delete those photos, as well as the vlog footage.  I can only blame my sleep deprived brain.

That night I had booked a Northern Lights tour and we were very lucky.  They put on one hell of a show.  Green was clearly visible, with a touch of purple and red.  Did you know you can’t see the lights with the naked eye?  It’s only with pictures that they’re visible.  I did have a play with the exposure length and iso, I’m quite pleased with the results.  We even got a silhouette against them.  The temperature dropped to -11 at certain points! Thankfully I had thermal tights on under my jeans, plus socks and thermal top and plenty of layers.  I had fingerless mittens and when I took my fingers out to take the photos, I very quickly lost feeling in the tips!  So you can imagine, lots of dancing around between shots to keep warm.  Worth it.

This was a bucket list item, so to be so lucky to have 2 hours of the lights dance across the sky.  We could see them move across the sky, they looked like a grey dust trail, almost as if Santa’s sleigh had just whizzed pass.  We climbed into bed about 1am, with big grins on our faces.

Day Two | The Golden Circle

I decided to book a half day Golden Circle tour after speaking to a few friends.  I’m so glad we did.  It was amazing and actually went on a wee bit longer than intended. We started at the Þingvellir National Park, which had a large lake called Þingvallavatn and it’s also where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and where Iceland’s parliament first started.

As you can see it was a glorious day, even if I was concerned that my nose was going to freeze right off!  The landscape of Iceland just sucked me right in.  I fell in love.  The snow glistened as the sun hung low in the sky.  Mixed with the volcanic rocky outcrops and the silver birch that grew like bushes.  It was just breathtaking.  I was in awe.

We were able to walk down a rift that had formed.  It was fascinating to see, I felt as if I was walking into a Christmas card.

Erupting Geysir

Our next stop was the Geysir area.  Seeing the steam rising from the ground was both eerie and calming all at once.  The landscape felt as though it was constantly shifting.  I felt as though we were on a different planet, with the shifting fog of steam and the muffled silence, it was just glorious.

The Geysir itself was a sight to behold.  It erupted almost like clockwork, every 6 minutes or so.  It was a bit of a thrill, to be so close as it built to a head of steam and then spew a fountain of boiling hot water into the sky.

The smell of sulphur that hung in the air was rather pungent to say the least but we’d adjusted a wee bit.  It was strongest, right beside the Geysir, as you might expect.

After lunch we then headed off to Gullfoss waterfall.  I’ve never seen a waterfall half frozen.  I wish my hands weren’t shaking so much and I could’ve taken closer pictures, but they mostly came out blurry, the wind had really picked up at this point and it was incredibly cold.  You can probably get the gist from the photos though.  It was so powerful, majestic and other descriptive words that explain the sheer awesomeness.

Our last stop of the day was to Kerid crater, we arrived just as the sun was starting to set.  The colours in the sky were a wonderful palette of pastels, it was the perfect end to our day.  From seeing a half frozen waterfall to fully frozen lake at the bottom of the crater.  People were having all the fun sliding around on the ice, one loon was even starfished out under a drone!  Sadly we only had 15minutes at the end, so we didn’t get down to the lake, but if I’m honest we were both exhausted and were happy to walk along the top and take in the views.

Kerid Crater

Day Three | Blue Lagoon

On our last day I thought it would be nice to do some relaxing.So I booked us a trip to the Blue Lagoon.  It was such a good decision.
Blue LagoonIt was very busy when we arrived, but the constant cloud of steam enveloped us, leaving us feeling that we were often alone.

The odd time a passing person would ask directions to the mud bar, or the actual bar.  We slowly navigated our way around the lagoon, applying mud to out faces, or having a little tipple.  I discovered an english cider which I actually love.  Will definitely be searching for it in future!

Blue Lagoon 2

After two hours of marinading in the lagoon, we poured ourselves into our clothes and caught the bus to the airport.  A wonderful few days well spent.  I cannot recommend it enough.  It is expensive, however, entirely worth it.

I would love to return in the spring or summer, to see the huge change in the seasons.  I’d also like to be able to hire a car and not worry about driving in the snow.   To be able to stop and take photos, rather than whizzing by on a bus – the below photo makes me both very happy and very sad, look at the beauty of the horses in such a barren landscape, but the smudges on the bus window interfere – even after a bit of a clean up!

So that was our trip to Iceland.  Go.  Go now.  Book flights.  Life is there for the living, if you’ve always wanted to go, then you should get on.  I was able to book flights quite cheaply, then saved up and booked a few trips in the months before we went.   I created a wee vlog of it, which you can check out below.  Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep up with the weekly vlogs that I don’t share on my blog.

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