Land of Ice and Snow

February 26, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I've come from the land of the ice and snow and the experience was just as incredible as I had been told.

I wrote that line after returning from my first trip to Iceland in early 2019, with the full intention of writing about my trip. But then life got in the way and writing became a distant memory. I’ve since come back from my 2nd trip to Iceland (and several other amazing trips) and I’ve renewed my excitement for writing and sharing. So I’m going to do my best to remember this trip that was almost 3 years ago.

Day 1 - Reyjavik

My good friend Sarah convinced me we should go to Iceland so after long months of planning, we were off on Iceland Air. This would be her fourth trip and my first. We arrived at Keflavik Airport at 7 am on a Monday morning. This was my first overnight flight since I was a kid and I was too excited to sleep any of the 7 hours. We were greeted by a large puffin coming down from the ceiling in baggage claim! Sarah had arranged a ride to Reykjavik so we avoided a taxi and the large shuttle buses. We knew we couldn’t check into our hotel but they were able to lock our bags up and were still early enough to have the continental breakfast of cold meats, cheeses, hardboiled eggs and yogurt. With a bit more energy, we started wandering downtown.

Taryn and Sarah wearing glasses and siting in Iceland Air coach seats.Icelandair Flight Large puffin sculpture that appears he has broken through the ceiling above baggage claim.airport puffin Display case showing a gray bone approximately 6 inches with "Icelandic Trolll written beneath it.Icelandic troll penis 5 foot sperm whale penis in a glass container on a stand with Sarah, who is about 5'5" standing next to it.Sperm whale penis and Sarah

Most shops weren’t open yet but they time we arrived at the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Seriously every type of penis you could imagine and then some! There was a sperm whale, a cast of the Icelandic National Handball team from the 2008 Olympics, a Nordic troll, an Icelandic troll, Rustic elf.

Lunch was burgers and beers at the Lebowski Bar which was everything I wanted it to be! Even the bathroom was cool. We wandered, shopped, had a Guinness at the Drunken Rabbit across from our hotel for dinner and finally got checked in to relax.

Lebowski bar napkin with the Big Lebowski likeness on it.Lebowski bar napkin Pint of Gull Icelandic beerPint of Gull Icelandic beer Women's bathroom with Vikings holding bowling balls on the stall doors.womens bathroom Sarah and Taryn with a pint of Guinness.Guinness time

Day 2 - Not the Tour We Expected

We grabbed a taxi to the Reykjavik Regional Airport. We had a day trip that consisted of flying up to Akureyri, then going to Goðafoss (waterfall), Lake Myvatn, Ludentsborgir Crater Row, Lava field hike and then the Lofthellir Ice Cave with GeoIceland tours

Unfortunately, there were high winds and after our flight was delayed 2 hours, we cut our losses, got a refund for the tour (since we were already going to miss the first 2 stops) and headed back downtown. We wandered some more and enjoyed the local art. We went in and up Hallgrímskirkja for a view of downtown and found a delicious vegan restaurant. We decided to spend our afternoon whale watching. That was the worst idea ever. Never ever ever go whale watching where there are such high winds that planes cannot take off or land. The seas are going to be ROUGH! I’m pretty sure most of the ship got sick or was at least very green. We did not see a single whale but saw a dolphin.

Hallgrímskirkja, the famous volcano church.Hallgrímskirkja Downtown Reyjaik from the top of Hallgrímskirkja churchDowntown Reykjavik Colorful artwork of a mermaid on a city wallColorful artwork of a mermaid on a city wall Colourful squiggly path painted on the cobblestoneColourful squiggly path painted on the cobblestone View of the sea and skyline and railing of a boat.View of the sea and skyline and railing of a boat. Sarah and Taryn bundled up on a boatSarah and Taryn bundled up on a boat

We settled our stomachs with an Irish coffee and then found a bar called Bastard doing Taco Tuesday! I had duck and brisket, Sarah had the cauliflower and mushrooms. They were unique and delish along with a Bastard Mule (vodka, lime, ginger beer, red grapefruit juice). We wondered some more and found Dillon Whiskey Bar, which was hoppin’ and ordered an Icelandic Fire and Ice.

Duck and brisket tacosDuck and brisket tacos Bastard mule and Norm, a tiny gnome in an Icelandic wool sweater.Bastard mule E39A404A-AB06-4B75-BEDB-EEA575F309D5_1_105_cE39A404A-AB06-4B75-BEDB-EEA575F309D5_1_105_c

Day 3 - South Coast Tour

Today was the South Coast tour with Your Day Tours and our driver Almar. It’s a small family-run company. There might have been 16 of us, it’s hard to remember. The first stop was Vik’s Black Sand Beach and the giant warning about sneaker waves since there are no significant land masses between this spot and Antartica! We went up to the Dryhólaey Peninsula where the winds almost knocked several of us down the hill!

Black sand beach with waves crashes. In the distance sea stacks. In the foreground people walking dangerously close to the waves.Black sand beach Taryn and Sarah selfie with the blacks and beach and waves in the far distanceTaryn and Sarah on the black sand beach Danger sneaker wave signn warning people to stay way from the waterline due to the dangerous sea currents and a recent tourist death.danger sneaker waves

Black Sand Trolls sea stacks in the far distance, surrounded by rough waves. In the foreground moss covered lava rocks.Black Sand TrollsReynisfjara, Iceland

Sunlight beams through a break in the sky between the dark stormy skies. Sea stacks are in the distance and the waves have a white foam.storms breakKirkjufjara Beach, Iceland  

Our next stop was a 20-minute hike to Myrdalsjökull glacier. This is where we truly experienced Iceland’s weather! In our hour stop it poured, sleeted, snowed, and was so windy we were pelted in the face with ice while trying to get a picture. We gave up and turned our backs to the camera! On the walk back the sun came out and got so warm we had to peel off layers! And then the weather changed again!

Taryn and Sarah with out backs turned to the camera, looking at the glacier. Sleet can be seen flying towards us.Glacier Close up of a glacierGlacier

Then it was off to the waterfalls, Skógafoss (Forest Falls),  Seljanlandsfoss (Selling the Land of Waterfalls) and what the locals call Steamer falls.  It was too windy go behind Seljalandfoss without getting drenched and possibly ruing my camera. Steamer falls was a unique stop, Almar had never seen it go completely upwards like that due to the wind!

Skogafoss waterfall with the wind pushing the waterfall up and overSkogafoss Seljanlandsfoss waterfall being blown by strong windsSeljanlandsfoss Skógafoss waterfall with a pale rainbow in front of it.Skógafoss   A tall skinny waterfall but the water only goes done about 1/4 of the way and then is blown back up above the falls.steamer falls

Dinner was at Bryggjan Brugghús for local brews and in true Icelandic fashion, we got ice cream from Valois and walked back to our hotel in the snow. That night black sand was falling out of our hair after being embedded in our scalps from the crazy wind!

A cup of ice cream in a cup that says Valdis. In the distance there is snow on the groundValdis icecream

Day 4 - The Bubble tour!

Today was probably our most anticipated day. We had breakfast at Café Bablú and then off to Mink Viking Portraits! We had limited time, but he worked with us so we got our awesome pictures!

Close up of Taryn, with half her face out of frame. She's holding a Viking sword.Taryn with swoard Sarah pulling back an arrow with a Viking bow.Sarah with bow and arrow

Then we went back to our hotel to meet our Bubble Tour driver, Egill, who picked us up in a Suburban for the Golden Circle Tour. We were able to keep our hotel for our luggage (we were only allowed 1 small bag per person) because it was cheaper to book for the 6 nights than to break it up into 3 nights and then 2 nights. He picked up a 2nd couple from Malaysia and we were off. The third couple who was meant to join us was flying in on WOW Air that morning and it happened to be the day they went under. Our first spot was Þingvellir National Park (Assembly Fields). Then Geyser Hotsprings and my favorite stop, Gullfoss (Golden Falls). Gullfoss was breathtaking with the fresh snowfall. I could have stayed there for hours, despite the cold. We warmed up in the Secret Lagoon, although it was a very cold walk from the locker rooms to the hot springs!

Landscape view of Thingvellir National Park with the parliament buildings in the distanced, all covered with snow.Thingvellir National Park Teal waters tumble into smooth white streams surrounded by a snow-covered landscapeIced GullfossGolden Circle, Iceland

We had dinner and of course beers at Myka Restaurant and asked for a group photo. 2 of the other drivers decided to take one of themselves instead! One of my favorite pictures of the trip! Then we were off to see our bubble! There was a tiny chance of lights so we stood outside in the road for at least 2 hours hoping for a show. We got the tiniest glimpse and that was that. We finally gave up and went back to the warmth of our bubble. Just as we were going to bed, the clouds parted and I snapped a shot of the stars and then just as quickly, the stars were covered again.

Two middle aged men sticking their tongues out at the cameraOther bubble drivers Two Mylasian people, our Icelandic guide Egill, Taryn and Sarah standing in the snow.Mika group photo A single bubble that looks like a clear igloo amongst the leafless trees in the fading sunlight.Bubble at sunset Sarah looks up inside the bubble, You can clearly see the evergreens behind her through the clear plastic.Sarah in the bubble The light has faded and a small lamp lights up the igloo like bubble. There are sillouettes of trees nearbyBubble at night Taryn and Sarah bundled up in the dark. Taryn is wearing a headlamp.Taryn and Sarah

Day 5 - Downtown Reykjavik

We drove back to Reykjavik and spent another day exploring and drinking. I had an Icelandic Hotdog and later we got chips on a stick. Then off to Skúli Craft Bar for a beer flight. This is where we discovered Leifur Nordic Saison. It was so delicious we each bought some at the airport to bring home. We finally made it to the craft bar near our hotel, Loftid, and tried so many delicious cocktails!

Taryn taking a bite of an Icelandic hotdog in front of the famous standdowntown A pink cocktail with egg white foam floating on top and a light yellow cocktail in a coupe glass.2 craft cocktails

Day 6 - Blue Lagoon

Spa day at the Blue Lagoon!  We got on the bus at about 8 so we could have a full day soaking. We upgraded our package for robes, extra masks and drinks and a reservation at Lava Restaurant with complimentary champagne. It seemed a waste to get dressed for lunch so like many others, we dinned in our robes! The food was incredible. I opted for the Icelandic Gourmet meal with Arctic char, lamb and a chocolate caramel dessert. Sarah was equally happy with her vegetarian meal.

Icelandic Gourmet Menu: Birch and juniper cured arctic char, lamb filet and shoulder of lam and caramel chocolate mouse with vanilla ice cream.Menu Fresh bread with fluffy butter on a volcanic stone.Blue lagoon Lava Beet saladBlue lagoon lava Arctic char with cumbers and white sauceBlue lagoon Cauliflower dishBlue lagoon - cauliflower Tender lamb dish with greens and carrotsLamb dish Caramel and ice cream dessert.Blue lagoon caramel dessert Strawberry dessert with cream Blue lagoon Teal water in the foreground, with steam coming off it. In the distance, a bridge, mountains in the background and a dark stormy sky.Blue lagoon Taryn and Sarah submerged in the blue lagoon with our face covered in a black volcanic mask.Blue lagoon - with lava mask
We went back to Loftid for more cocktails and finally took a shot of Brennavin. It was as gross as I expected. It reminded me way too much of Aquavit.

Norm the travel gnome in front of an orange cocktailNorm and an orange cocktail Pink cocktail on a loftid napkinpink cocktail Taryn, eyes shut and mouth in a grimace, holding an empty shot glass.Taryn drinking brennavin Sarah with her eyes closed and tough out in disgust holding an empty shot glass.Sarah and Brennevin

Day 7 - Last Day

Our last day it poured on us! We had to keep ducking in shops to not get socked. We had a leisurely day wandering and then got to the airport. We made a mistake here and after getting through security, sat down for a drink. We had no idea there was a 2nd security line! Sarah got pulled out for a TSA check and I was told I was not allowed to wait for her and hod to go to the gate. Luckily we had wifi at the airport, so I texted her when we started boarding. I wanted to wait, but again the gate agents urged me to get on the plane. So I walked down the jet bridge and onto the tarmac only to climb on to a bus!  We were then driving to our plane a ways out. Too far for the wifi to reach! I was sure Sarah’s husband was going to kill me if I came home from Iceland without her! Meanwhile, Sarah was getting patted down and questioned (like many people from our flight). It seemed like they questioned one person per party! She had already decided if she missed her flight, she was spending the night at the blue lagoon! Luckily they held the plane and eventually she arrived to take her seat next to me. I have never felt so relieved! Especially since she had driven us to the airport!

Northern lights Iceland Air plane sitting at the gateNorthern lights iceland airplane Chocolate egg with a chick on topChocolate egg with a chick on top

I even finally got to see then Northern Lights! It just happened to be on our Iceland Air plane.  We made it home safe and sound 7 hours later and even got a chocolate egg for easter!  I immediately started looking for a flight back to Iceland!




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