Hello, hello, it has been a small while. If you follow any of my social medias, it won’t be a secret that I’ve been making myself poor once again and spending all my funds in Iceland!
My best friend of far too long and I had never been abroad together, slightly strange, so last September we decided upon a mini expedition in Iceland was how we were going to start the new year (because after exams, the new year technically starts in February, right? Right).
We flew with Icelandair, which I would 11/10 recommend. The flight from Manchester was just over two hours, which isn’t long at all but Icelandair offered complimentary drinks and in flight entertainment- something I’ve never experienced for a short haul flight.
Iceland is just wonderful- a complete winter wonderland! We stayed in Hotel Cabin which was pretty much on the waterfront, and we were lucky enough to be staying on the top floor so our views of the mountains were pretty crazy. Actually though, I would recommend this hotel to anyone. If you’ve been to Iceland or plan on going then be prepared that food is very expensive. Understandably so because nearly everything has to be imported, but Hotel Cabin do offer a breakfast service for guests which is one huge plus! I tend to travel on the cheap so a service like that is beyond appreciated. We also flew over some noodle pots and snacks to make life a little easier, which if you’re cheap like me, I’d suggest that also.
We booked on a lot of tours including the Golden Circle, Northern Lights, the Blue Lagoon- all through Reykjavik Excursions and a Whale Watching tour through Elding. All of whom, I would recommend. However, if we were in Iceland for longer, we would have rented a car but for a shorter stay, it was easier to do it this way.
All in all though, Iceland is stunning country! I don’t know if I have been anywhere so scenic. Once you get out of Reykjavik, there’s just views for miles. Iceland doesn’t have a huge population and it’s something you definitely notice when driving to the attractions (and I imagine more so if you rented a car and explored the whole island). The snow was pretty surreal as well. Coming from England, we have
snow slush occaisionally, and the pictures won’t even do the beauty of the place any justice.
But onto the pictures, I know that’s certainly the best part! And this is certainly going to be a very picture heavy post.
So the Golden Circle consists of three major attractions, including Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir and Gullfoss, and we saw them in that order.
First, Thingvellir National Park was so cool and if you Google it, I personally think it looks a lot better in the snow. But this park is pretty insane, it’s where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Even driving through Iceland you can see where the plates meet and where coves and valleys have formed in their moving. Of the Golden Circle, this was the one were weren’t particularly bothered or clued up about, but after seeing and walking around the park for a bit, I’m pretty glad we didn’t miss it!
Part two of the Golden Circle was the geysir. From what I remember being told, it’s pretty active, every seven minutes or so it goes up. I’m not 100% clued up on the science behind, or under it but there’s water channeling into the geysir that’s hotter than what’s already in there, eventually too much of the hotter water mixes in and causes it to errupt. That’s a layman explanation but its something along those lines. The pictures of the erruption are actually stills from a video I recorded- one you can see on my instagram. This was so cool though. It also smelt like the showers. Which I’m aware sounds very bizzare, but before we got to Iceland we were informed that the water smells like egg due to the sulphur content being so high. But honestly, I found the smell grew on me, and I really liked it around the geysir.
I’ll stop being a weirdo.
And finally, Gullfoss! This was the one I was most excited to see and in real life, it’s far more impressive than photos allow. It’s huge and apparently not even the biggest waterfall in Iceland! It was stunning, and being around that much water is so calming for me- I LOVE that. We also made a few ‘white water rafting anyone??’ which a few passerbys loved. I don’t think others caught on the joke, but. We actually couldn’t get too close to Gullfoss, which I know sounds slightly strange, but it was so icy under the snow and usually, you walk down the hill to be right next to it! White water rafting really could have been on the cards. I was also having a bit of a fight with the HDR and exposure settings so some of these are well, blue. Kinda like the juxtaposition myself but..
We saw the northern lights. Can we just take a minute. Or five. Or all of them. All the minutes. The real northern lights with our our eyes. Madness. I still actually can’t get over that to be honest. We were super lucky!
We drove out to an old car park behind an army base and as soon as we stepped off the coach, the lights were right above our head and for a couple of minutes they put on a right show. They were dancing around and we even managed to see a bit of a pinky/orange. It was unbelievable. We did try to take a few pictures but soon gave up- turns out you need a DSLR and GUESS WHAT.. we actually had a DSLR and that was the one night we didn’t take it because yano Tweedledum as Tweedle does. Although in a weird way, I’m kind of glad the pictures are slightly shite because it’s an entirely different experience with your own eyes. It’s difficult to explain but if you’ve seen the Northern lights, you’ll know what I’m on about. They’re also not the colours you see in photos, well they are, but our eyes can’t pick up on it and only through a camera lens can we then see them.
So you go to Iceland, you have to visit the Blue Lagoon, right? To be honest, I’m glad I went but I probably wouldn’t go again. It was pretty expensive and super touristy. Okay, we were the tourists also but Iceland has a lot of lagoons exactly like this that are 1) free and 2) far less busy. But it was an experience. It’s freezing as well. You’re stood pretty much naked in minus temperatures and until you’re in that water, my god, you soon realise how cold Iceland is haha! I’ve also got to give credit to B for some of these pictures as we only had my phone between us. I purchased this waterproof phone case and I’d recommend. Mine was fine but it comes with a lifetime guarantee should yours not be waterproof/have a leak, they’ll replace it.
Soooo, Reykjavik, you’ve not had a mention yet. We stayed in Reykjavik only a 20 minute walk from the city centre, which in my opnion is often better because you see so much more! The street art around Reykjavik is INSANE. Also Hallgrimskirkja was stunning! If you know my love for architecture, this expressionist masterpiece is marvellous. Looks like a rocket ship, organ hybrid and it’s wonderful. Unfortunately we didn’t go up it. It has 360 views of Reykjavik but it always looked closed when we saw it, even though apparently it wasn’t. Slightly unfortunate but with the time of year being Iceland’s Lights Festival, we had plenty of other things to see and do.
Obviously we stumbled upon the Hard Rock Cafe. The thought never even occured to me that Reykjavik would have one, but it’s me and I always stumble upon some sort of rock n roll bar (cc: punk bar above) wherever in the world I may be. The huge Jim Morrison mural was definitely the best thing in that place, beyond all the memorabillia, Morrison is always the winner. The bar inhibited a straight on photo of it, that was the only downside. I like to take all the pictures, I’m
In retrospect, the whale watching tour we perhaps would have swapped for some horse riding because whale sightings are relatively rare in winter. If we’d have realised this prior to booking, this would have been the only thing we’d have changed. Equally, it does exhibit how stupid I am. I’m writing my discetacean on cetaceans and somehow whale migration did not even occur to me, always a dreamer eh. We were pretty lucky to see some dolphins though, that was cool! You can see pictures of the dolphins here because although we saw them, we didn’t take pictures. No idea what we do to be honest.
This made me CRY. If ever you were to ask what it is that I breathe, CO2 rum is the answer. Thank you, boat, this was a very unexpected highlight.
Keep yer head in the clouds ey, til next time