Fire and Ice and Everything Nice – Exploring the Wonders of Iceland

Waterfall

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.

IMG_1322IMG_0238 IMG_0236   IMG_0312 IMG_0230

The view from the hostel wasn’t too bad either! Helloooooo mountains!  There are mountains all over this stunning country.

IMG_0309

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.

IMG_1264

IMG_1268

IMG_1276IMG_1290IMG_1293IMG_1295IMG_1296IMG_1299IMG_1301

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).

IMG_1302IMG_1304IMG_1308

That evening we grabbed some delicious fish and chips from “Icelandic Fish and Chips” along with “Skyr” a traditional Icelandic dessert.

IMG_1315

IMG_1316

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.

IMG_1357 IMG_1361 IMG_1364 IMG_1370 IMG_1374 IMG_1378

IMG_1429

IMG_1390

IMG_1434

IMG_1442

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.

IMG_0253

On Tuesday, after a delicious breakfast at an adorable cafe called “Grai Kotturinn,”

IMG_0244

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.

IMG_1454

The second spot we saw was the road to the Bloody Gate.

IMG_1462 IMG_1464

The third spot was a waterfall that Arya Stark rides by in season 4.IMG_1469

The last spot was the Settlement Era Viking Lodge in Þjórsárdalur valley where scenes from the Red Wedding were shot.  IMG_1475 IMG_1477 IMG_1484

Our guides took us to one extra spot on the way back to Reykjavik, Hjálparfoss waterfall.IMG_1488

Just before we got to Reykjavik we stopped to see some Icelandic horses.

IMG_0279

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.

IMG_0256 IMG_0257

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.

IMG_1495 IMG_1498 P1050202 P1050205

We had dinner at a place called “Cafe Loki,” a place known for offering traditional Icelandic food so we had Icelandic meat soup

IMG_0292

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!

IMG_0293

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.

IMG_1348

IMG_1505 IMG_1508 IMG_1512

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.

IMG_1520

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.

IMG_1531

IMG_1528

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!)

IMG_1534

From here I meandered around the city taking photos of amazing murals and buildings.

I just thought this was funny haha
I just thought this was funny haha
Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler in Reykjavík
Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler in Reykjavík
Parliament House
Parliament House

IMG_1319 IMG_1320 IMG_1323

IMG_1541

Old Harbour
Old Harbour
Old Harbour
Old Harbour
IMG_1330
Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa Concert Hall
IMG_1552
City Hall. The front of this building is covered in moss with water trickling down.

IMG_1445IMG_1546IMG_1545IMG_1544IMG_1542IMG_1313

IMG_1516
This neighbourhood has streets named after the Norse Gods.
This neighbourhood has streets named after the Norse Gods.
This neighbourhood has streets named after the Norse Gods.

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!!)

IMG_1450 IMG_1449 IMG_1448 IMG_1447 IMG_1446  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.

IMG_0301

IMG_1556

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.

IMG_1563 IMG_1565

Next stop was this absolutely stunning waterfall known as Skógafoss.

IMG_1595 IMG_1577IMG_1588

Next up, hiking on Sólheimajökull glacier!

IMG_1599IMG_0340 IMG_0326 IMG_0321 IMG_0319

Afterwards we stopped at a place for lunch that also had some pretty astounding views.

IMG_1604 IMG_1603 IMG_1601  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).IMG_1628 IMG_1614 IMG_1611 IMG_1607

Our last stop of the day was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall which we were able to walk behind!

IMG_1637IMG_1667IMG_1657IMG_1660

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).

IMG_0373

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!

♥ JS

One thought on “Fire and Ice and Everything Nice – Exploring the Wonders of Iceland

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: