Ok so nice should actually say AMAZING!!!!
My traveller friend Nathan and I arrived bright and early to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, at 6am Sunday morning. Although we couldn’t check into our hostel until 2pm we luckily were able to drop our bags off. Kex hostel was a former biscuit factory, with the name KEX literally meaning “biscuit” in Icelandic. It definitely had a cool vibe, with very unique decor.
The view from the hostel wasn’t too bad either! Helloooooo mountains! There are mountains all over this stunning country.
I had only one complaint about this hostel which can be summed up in two words…communal showers.
After dropping our bags off, we grabbed a ferry over to Viðey Island for a morning of hiking, photography and exploration. Quite the nice stroll along the water to catch the ferry I must say, we even made a quick stop to see the Sun Voyageur sculpture.
On the island we also saw the Imagine Peace Tower. This is a memorial from Yoko Ono in memory of her late husband John Lennon and has the words “Imagine Peace” in 24 languages. The tower is lit every year from Lennon’s birthday (October 9), until the date he was shot (December 8).
That evening we grabbed some delicious fish and chips from “Icelandic Fish and Chips” along with “Skyr” a traditional Icelandic dessert.
Monday began the first of 4 day trips that we did with “Greyline Iceland” http://grayline.is/
On the first day we visited þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the geyser Strokkur.
We finished this day off with a delicious dinner at “Íslenski barinn” (Islandic bar) and some deeeeeeeeelicious mini donuts from Don’s Donuts (the #1 bakery in Iceland). They were freshly made and had quite a few different toppings that you could choose from, I had caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar.
On Tuesday, after a delicious breakfast at an adorable cafe called “Grai Kotturinn,”
we headed on our “Game of Thrones” tour, visiting spots where they filmed parts of the TV show.
The first spot was a scene where Khaleesi was filmed with her dragons.
The second spot we saw was the road to the Bloody Gate.
The third spot was a waterfall that Arya Stark rides by in season 4.
The last spot was the Settlement Era Viking Lodge in Þjórsárdalur valley where scenes from the Red Wedding were shot.
Our guides took us to one extra spot on the way back to Reykjavik, Hjálparfoss waterfall.
Just before we got to Reykjavik we stopped to see some Icelandic horses.
Wednesday was Blue Lagoon day! After a delicious breakfast at a 50’s style cafe called the “Laundromat Cafe,” we took our tour bus on a 45 minute ride to the Geothermal Spa.
This was probably my favorite spot to visit in Iceland. The pool here was huge and so warm with some pretty hot areas. They even had buckets of Silica Mud that you could put on your face while you bathed. The cool thing about this place was that they gave you a bracelet that locked and unlocked your locker. You could also use it as a tab to purchase drinks from in the pool.
We had dinner at a place called “Cafe Loki,” a place known for offering traditional Icelandic food so we had Icelandic meat soup
along with SHARK!!! The tradition in Iceland is to eat it with a shot of their signature liquor “Brennivin.” I can honestly saw that shark was unlike anything I have ever tasted before in my life, the most pungent, and disgusting taste I have ever experienced!
As I didn’t have a tour booked on Thursday it was Reykjavik discovery day! I first headed to Hallgrímskirkja, the largest Church in Iceland (also a huge tourist spot). For $6 I was able to take the elevator up to the top of the tower for some amazing views of the city.
Afterwards I headed over to the National Museum. I was a little disappointed as I was really hoping that this museum would be all about vikings! However it mainly featured settlement artifacts as well as alot of religious artifacts as Iceland went from Paganism to Catholicism to Lutheranism.
From here I strolled on over to Perlan, a building that has huge hot water tanks and a very nice viewing deck with great views of the city.
They have some hiking trails around here which I took down to the geothermal beach (definitely a temperature difference between the water here and the water beyond the rocks!)
From here I meandered around the city taking photos of amazing murals and buildings.
After feeling like my feet were going to fall off, I made one last stop to see The Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden (it was free!!)
For dinner I stopped at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a popular hot dog stand. I got the works, which seemed to include a bean paste, dijon mustard, ketchup and chopped onions.
Friday was my final day in Iceland. I headed on down to do a tour of the South Coast and glacier hike! Our first stop was to see the volcano that erupted in 2010 releasing a huge ash cloud that cancelled hundreds of flights.
Next stop was this absolutely stunning waterfall known as Skógafoss.
Next up, hiking on Sólheimajökull glacier!
Afterwards we stopped at a place for lunch that also had some pretty astounding views.
Our second last stop was Reynisfjara Halsanefshellir, black sand beach. The southernmost beach in Iceland that has a sea cave. The current here is so dangerous that our guide warned us many times not to get to close to the water as big waves can come out of nowhere and sweep you away (apparently a lady on a tour in the past was not so lucky and was never seen again).
Our last stop of the day was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall which we were able to walk behind!
This country absolutely took my breath away. I’m already wanting to go back and do a road trip of the ring road (the road that goes around the entire country), so that I can discover more mountains, hot springs and waterfalls that this country has to offer.
On the flight home we got a glimpse of Greenland (it looks very cold there).
Before I end this post, I just wanted to share one more thing. On one of my tours, one of our guides shared a motto that Icelander’s live by, “þetta reddast” which translates to “it will all work out okay.” I think this is a fantastic motto to live by, and probably the reason why Icelander’s seem to be so content.
Till my next trip!
Amazing, great pictures Julie. I was already jealous now you say there is a Game of Thrones tour?? I need to get there.