For two summers in a row, we did not leave Canada, and how it generally works with us is that the longer we don’t travel long distances, the more land we want to cover once we actually do have an opportunity to travel. Our children left for Croatia at the end of June, and when Rick and I started planning our itinerary, we had only one given to think about: we had to go to Croatia to pick up the kids, and eventually come home with them.
This being the only given, we had gave a great deal of itinerary flexibility as we could get to Croatia any possible way as long as that led to another place that was closer to Croatia. We had never been to Iceland, and with Icelandair currently offering amazing deals on flights, we could just not resist coming to see what Iceland was like.
We bought Icelandair tickets to Brussels with a two-day stopover in Reykjavik; we rented an apartment in downtown Reykjavik on Airbnb; and we also got a car so that we could roam around the island freely.
We have been here only for two days, and it has already been quite an experience. People of Iceland have to deal with very harsh weather, extreme day/night conditions, and chill winds, and all this forces them to be strong and resilient. A great deal of how they live is conditioned by the geographic location and the natural composition of the island. Their pride in the raw and natural beauty of their island, its history, and the not-so-kind weather conditions is noticeable at every corner, as is their sense of humour. No point of complaining about it, right?!
So, what are some of the fun things have done so far? Below, we cover some of our top adventures.
As soon as we flew in early on Thursday morning, and settled in our sweet apartment, we went for a delicious breakfast at The Laundromat Cafe. This cafe actually still provides laundromat services in the basement, but you would not know this if you just visited the colourful space on the main floor, had your scrumptious meal, and left. We were encouraged by the staff to take a peek downstairs, and were surprised to find red washing machines and dryers working at full speed, a kids’ play area, and tons of Lego to play with. What a brilliant concept!
After a quick nap (as Icelandair kept us well entertained, and we pretty much had no sleep all night), we spent a couple of hours exploring the city, aimlessly walking the streets of Reykjavik, and enjoying the pedestrian-friendly streetscape. We were pleasantly surprised as one of the bakeries put out their warm and delicious apple cinnamon buns just as we were passing by. It was the end of their working day, and they didn’t want the buns to go to waste, so the passers-by (us included) happily scooped them up.
Yesterday evening at 9 pm was our scheduled time to visit the Blue Lagoon. The visit to the Blue Lagoon was highly recommended by one of my friends (thank you, Jelena), and even though we debated for a while whether to go (the cost was the greatest deterrent), we are really glad we went. It is a geothermal spa built next to the Svartsengi Power Station, a geothermal power plant that generates electrical power and hot water for the district. The water in the Bláa lónið (the Blue Lagoon) is actually the runoff water from the power plant, but minerals in the water are the product of the geological layers of the lava field that holds the pool. Geothermal seawater is very high in sulfur, silica, other minerals and algae. Named as one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic (the designation that has been questioned by some), the spa is worth the visit. Protected by winds and high velocity rain drops, you can soak in the turquoise waters, roam around the large pool, enjoy the views of the surrounding lava field, dare to apply silica and algae mud masks, grab a drink and/or just relax. Everything is apparently “really good for you.”
Today, we decided to attempt to make it to at least parts of the Golden Circle, a 300-km loop that leaves from Reykjavik and leads to some of the best-known sights of Iceland. We completed the loop, but stopped to explore at only two sights. The first stop was at Geysir, the impressive location of the Great Geysir, the hot-water spout that became the source of the term “geyser,” and the surrounding spouts – some of them still active (such as Strokkur). The second stop was at Gullfoss Waterfall, definitely one of Iceland’s most popular destinations, and the best-known waterfall, where River Hvítá falls first in two stages, and then drops into a deep canyon creating water walls as high as 70 meters. Here, nature’s full force and strength is at display, and the place is a great final destination for the long drive from Reykjavik.
Here are some photos from our two-day adventures: