On the 5th January, as we waited to board our flight, (as anxious about flying as always), we could not quite imagine the experiences that lay in wait for us in the Winter Wonderland that is Iceland.
Known for its beauty, tourism and, of course, the Northern Lights to say we were completely overwhelmed on arrival would be a huge understatement. From the moment we landed to the day before departure we were lucky enough to have snow flurries on and off throughout the very short lived day and everlasting night.
Prior to leaving, the trip was planned with military precision ensuring we could do as much as humanly possible in 4 short days. We had a list of attractions and places we each wanted to see, plus the trips we had booked in advance. First stop, was to the guesthouse we booked…and then read the reviews about. If I am honest, this is the part I dreaded the most, after reading reviews of a dingy, dilapidated house in need of a lot of TLC to the overly friendly, drunk house manager we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a lovely lady and shown to our room which, although basic, was perfect for 3 girls, and it had its own bathroom which was a bonus.
Staying in the heart of Reykjavik I expected we would drop our bags in the room and head into the city to see the perfect pastel houses before the ever dwindling sunlight disappeared. It turns out if you have been up since 2.30am with a lot of driving and flying, 3 pm is the perfect time for a nap! By the time we all awoke, the sun had already set so we turned our attentions to finding somewhere to eat and drink for the rest of the evening.
We stumbled across a rock bar, which due to the weather, was deserted. The bar lady told us there was a comedian downstairs performing in both English and Icelandic so after a couple of very expensive vodka and lemonades we headed downstairs. Now I am not sure what any of us expected but it wasn’t the very unwelcome welcome we received or the non-jokes being made at our expense, either the Icelandic people have a strange sense of humour…or the comedian just didn’t like us! After a lot of laughter at us, not with us, we swiftly finished our drinks and decided to find somewhere else, Kiki’s Queer bar to be exact. The welcome we had here was the complete opposite and has to be one of the most memorable nights I have had in another country.
Day 2 in wonderland was the place I had was most excited to see, The Blue Lagoon. We have all seen photos on Instagram of people looking oh so glamorous in the steaming water with the Icelandic mountains in the background, I thought it would never live up to my expectations. It did and so much more. It was such an amazing experience and not nearly as busy as I thought it would be.
The only downside, walking outside in a bikini whilst it was -2 degrees but as soon as we entered the geothermal water we soon forgot about the cold! Half walking and half swimming we decided to explore the vast amount of water in search of the face mask hut, there we tried the silicon face mask first, then the algae, both were included in our package as well as our complimentary glasses of prosecco. The whole experience itself was magical and was made even more so when the skies opened and it snowed heavily whilst we swam in the 40-degree water.
After our 2 and a half hour long swim, we got out all super pruned and got ready for our meal at the Lava Restaurant where we had the most delicious steak and more bubbles. I was confused when the waiter didn’t switch out our knives for steak knives however after cutting the steak in a manner which can only be described as a warm knife going through butter it was obvious your normal steak knife was not needed.
On our last full day, we were ready for our coach trip around the outskirts of the Iceland where firstly we visited Pingvellir, the oldest functioning parliament in the world which had some spectacular views. Then onto Geysir where we saw a huge geysir shoot into the air, I have never seen so many people stare so hard at a large puddle in all my life! But so worth it to see such a natural event.
We then visited Gulfoss, a large waterfall surrounded by ice and snow. Along the way, we were given the grand history of Iceland from our brilliant tour guide Swann, we heard a lot about Vikings so we decided to hop on the local bus after the tour had ended and headed to The Viking Village for our final meal of the trip. The Viking Village was decked out to the nines with authentic decor and we were even serenaded by a man with a guitar singing old Icelandic songs. That was an experience itself!
Overall, if you couldn’t have already guessed, Iceland has got to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and the company was pretty great too. We didn’t get to see the Northern Lights due to the clouds and lack of visibilty but that’s something I hope to see on my next visit. And next time the prices of everything will not be so much of a shock!