I must apologize again for the long pause between posts. As I explained in my IWSG post this month, my day job has been putting me through sheer helllllll. However, I finally, FINALLY think there might be a return to normalcy in my life, and while I’m still working a lot I actually get *gasp!* days off now, and a sorta-consistent schedule. I know it sounds awful but it’s also a temporary situation due to several people leaving the company and me being the only one left with the training/knowledge to get us through until the replacements are settled in. This is why they tell you to never be too useful. 😉 Hey, at least the pay is good?!
ANYWAY, as you might remember, I DID get a break when I went to Iceland for five wonderful days at the end of July! It was truly a dream vacation and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. It was everything I’d ever expected it to be and so, so much more. There is truly nowhere I’ve ever seen in my life that compares to Iceland–the landscape, the people, the culture, all of it. Would you like to see a whole bunch of pictures? By the way, if you click on any of these pictures you’ll get the full size so you can see all the details!
I went with my best friend, and it was a direct flight from where I live (Cleveland) to Reykjavik. Six LONG, grueling hours on a plane. Oy. It was worth it, though. TRUST me.
WARNING: This post is VERY image-heavy.
I’m on the right. I’m just going to call her BFF for the sake of this post because she’s a private person and doesn’t want to be in the “spotlight” (I promise I’m not so famous she has to worry, though!). So no names.
We arrived in Iceland on Wednesday, July 25th, which was my 43rd birthday! We had this trip quite planned out day by day, so the first thing we did after we landed was go to the Blue Lagoon. On the way there (via bus) I got my first taste of Iceland and was thoroughly dazzled. It’s like another planet.
We got our first glimpse of the Blue Lagoon after this amazing ride through the desolate countryside. You’ll hear people scoffing at the Blue Lagoon for being a “tourist trap” and “not natural” (it’s the result of an industrial accident, not a natural hot spring) but you should tell those people to take the stick out of their behind and enjoy life.
The Blue Lagoon was AMAZING. We got silica and seaweed facials, but I failed to take pictures of it. Still, I’ll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves.
We spent about three hours in the lagoon, and then had dinner in their AMAZING restaurant, called Lava, which looks out on the lagoon.
This was only OUR FIRST DAY in Iceland, and we then took a bus trip after the lagoon to Reykjavik where our hotel was. We stayed in a place with apartments that vary in size/amenities based on required length of stay. Ours had a cute little kitchen that we swore we were gonna use to save money but instead we ate out every night. 😀 We saw more amazing landscape on the way:
Our hotel (these are actually pictures from right before we left on the last day (apart from the outside shot) when it was clean and we were packed, because I don’t want you to see what unholy slobs we are with our stuff everywhere:
Although it was late in the evening and we’d been awake nearly 24 hours at that point, we simply HAD to go out and explore the city a bit. In the summer there’s no nighttime in Iceland, so this is what midnight looked like (this was also from another day). People asked if we had trouble sleeping. I assure you we did so much stuff every day we had no problem, also as you can see above our hotel room had thick curtains.
We went out and saw Hallgrímskirkja, which was near our hotel (I even learned how to say it properly before the end of the trip), the tallest structure in Iceland. A few of these pictures are from the next day, because I feel I got much better pictures of it in the full light (also interior pictures).
I think we fell into bed sometime around midnight Reykjavik time, thoroughly exhausted. But my God, it was the BEST birthday of my life, and one I’ll never forget.
We had a tour of Reykjavik planned the next day (we both love cities) but first we walked down to the bay by our hotel. Reykjavik is a VERY small city, by the way. We honestly probably could have walked around it and seen most of the stuff. What it lacks in size it makes up for in majesty, though. The day was bright and sunny and the views were unbelievable.
As I said, we went on our city tour after that and for some reason we were very happy to be on a dock. Also as you can see, the weather was VERY changeable as we started the day with sun and blue skies. It also rained A LOT, every day.
Our tour guide took us to this small, amazing, out-of-the-way park as a treat and it was wonderful!
So, after our tour that day, I had plans. I was so excited because one of my FAVORITE Icelandic singers, Hreimur Örn Heimisson, was supposed to play at American Bar that night in downtown Reykjavik (yes, American Bar!) and I thought never in my life would I get to see him play…well, I didn’t, because he couldn’t make it. However, one of his fellow musicians who I ALSO love, Matthías Matthíasson, played instead and I was still pretty damn happy about it. Please do listen to his amazing voice in this video (the guy in the hat on the right is the guy I HOPED to see, but that’s okay). He even asked me for a request and I asked him to sing the song in the video–and he did!
The next day was a “free” day for us as we had nothing planned, so we decided to walk around Reykjavik and shop. We were a WEE bit hungover from the American Bar and the strenuous bar tab we rang up (booze in Iceland is outrageously expensive–take my advice and don’t drink there) so we went and had this amazing meat soup in a bread bowl.
We then went to the top of Hallgrímskirkja and saw Reykjavik from above!
We then went and had some authentic Icelandic food, including hákarl, which is an Icelandic delicacy–fermented shark, and supposedly one of the worst things you can put in your mouth, so of course I had to try it. I’m disappointed to say it did not live up to the hype. It has a strong ammonia smell if you put it REALLY close to your nose (like almost up your nostril), but the taste is unremarkable. The server made a big deal of it when she brought it but I suspect she was playing it up for us tourists. I was too polite to tell her we didn’t think much of it, in case she was offended.
We spent some of the rest of the evening at The Lebowski Bar, which we were already becoming regulars at. Posting these pictures on Facebook made many people on my friends list freak out, but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen The Big Lebowski. (Remember what I said about their obsession with American culture? They also have a Chuck Norris bar.)
We managed to become regulars at not one, but two bars while we were there. This place was called Koffin (caffeine) because they also sold coffee and we hung out there several times. Also it’s after 10pm in this picture!
Street hot dogs (pylsur) are very popular there too. They’re usually served with onions but I despise the very existence of onions so I got mine without. They’re not quite like American hot dogs as they’re made of lamb and much heartier.
The next day was hands down the best day of the trip. We took a tour of the Golden Circle and south coast that lasted all day! Incoming is a million pictures (and some video) with explanations:
As you see BFF showing off here:
And then we saw a GLACIER and I’m still so stupidly excited about this. The white bit above the mountains isn’t part of the sky but a glacier (do click on these and look at them in full size!). I also learned something that day when I posted the picture on Facebook and one of my friends asked if there was audio of it. I was like “It’s a glacier, it doesn’t have sound?” Turns out glaciers DO make noise, as they crack and shift. But we weren’t close enough to hear it, sadly. Also they do glacier tours in Iceland where you can hike across them. Reasons to go back…
We visited Goðafoss next. “Foss” is the Icelandic word for “waterfall” so you’re going to be seeing it come up a lot:
Next were the thermal pools and geysers. One of the most awful/hilarious facts about the huge geysers is that one of them is blocked because humans kept throwing rocks in them trying to get it to erupt, and now it’s clogged. Isn’t that just us?
We continued along the south coast and I couldn’t get enough of the scenery.
We went to Skogafoss next, which is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. You need a video to appreciate it.
Our next stop was Reynisfjara, the black sand beach. It was the #1 thing I went to see and it didn’t disappoint even slightly despite the fact it was raining. I ended up taking a volcanic rock home from the sand. This led to BFF telling me the elves were going to follow me home and demand their rock back.
The last stop was Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall you can actually walk behind. It was a treacherous climb but–I’ve honestly never had a more amazing experience in my life. It was nearly holy. I can’t even tell you how exhilarating it was.
It was an AMAZING day. The next day, our last day there, we didn’t do anything too remarkable before going to the airport, but we had some good food:
Me saying goodbye to Iceland as we waited for our ride to the airport!
It was such an astounding trip.
If you have any questions for me about the trip/the culture/what it’s like there, feel free to ask! And thank you for sitting through ALL this!