An Icelandic Adventure

I’ll start by saying this. Nothing can prepare you for the level of cold you’ll experience in Iceland.

NOTHING.

Most days I had a billion layers on and I was still freezing. One day, a bit of my own dribble actually froze into a tiny icicle on my scarf.

I’m not kidding.

To be fair it was -12, which is probably the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced in my life, but in a place as stunning as Iceland you can’t really complain. It’s so beautiful and remote that it almost doesn’t feel real.

Reykjavik in particular reminded me of a Christmas toy town, and I could’ve easily spent the whole day exploring it. With a tiny population of just 200,000, it’s mostly made up of colourful little houses, cafes and shops, and it looks even more like a winter wonderland when it snows.

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Sunrise at 11am

We stayed at Hotel Fron which is pretty central, so we had several bars and restaurants right on our doorstep and eating out wasn’t a problem. Even for a vegetarian like me there was a lot of choice, and I wish could’ve sampled it all.

There’s also some really amazing street art in Reykjavik, so if you’re into that sort of thing, don’t forget to take a walk with your camera.

Also, in the winter months sunrise is usually at about 10 or 11am, which feels very, very weird.

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Reykjavik street art

Now, let me mention why I was in Iceland in the first place. Basically, I was filling in for my cousin’s boyfriend who couldn’t go due work issues, so I stepped in instead.

I know, what a hero.

We were also travelling with another couple, so there were 4 of us in total. Our 2 day itinerary was planned beforehand by my cuz’s absent bf, and it included activities like exploring glaciers, snowmobiling, seeing the Northern Lights and visiting the geysers and waterfall.

Little tip, check that the Blue Lagoon isn’t closed for refurbishment before you book. This happened to us, and I won’t lie, I was DEVASTATED. Like, really devastated.

I even packed my bikini. How tragic.

Another little tip, the Northern Lights are not a guaranteed thing. Ours was cancelled due to bad weather. I know, please excuse me while I cry into my icy spit scarf.

However, despite this turn of events, I did some pretty cool shit.

Firstly, let me tell you about Into The Glacier.

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Our transport for the day

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After driving in our rental car to the pick-up point, we were bundled into a giant snow truck with the rest of the tour to make our way into the wilderness.

It literally felt like we were on the edge of nowhere, with pure whiteness being the only thing visible for miles and miles. After about an hour or so, we had arrived. We stepped out of the truck into the snow and climbed through a hole in the ground.

I know, pretty cool right.

The hole took us down into the glacier, which is made up of man-made tunnels and caves in one of Europe‘s largest glaciers, Langjökull, which is where all of Reykjavik’s water comes from.

Inside it was like a movie set, with the sculpted tunnels all lit up with blue and white lights.

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The entrance to the glacier

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As you can see, it was an amazing place to explore, and there’s one room that’s been sculpted in the style of a church. Definitely worth a visit.

Once we had explored, we headed back down the hills in the truck and began driving back to Reykjavik in our rental car.

I’ll be honest, driving in Iceland in the winter isn’t for the faint-hearted. You’ve got the wonderful combination of snowstorms and slippery roads to deal with, plus everywhere looks the same (white), so good luck finding stuff. Thankfully though, we had a babe of a driver in our group so we managed just fine, apart from a few terrifying moments.

Also, heated seats. I have never been more grateful for heated seats.

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It was actually one of those snowstorms that resulted in our Northern Lights tour being cancelled that night. Curse you, weather. Still, you can’t say no to a glass or two of red wine in a cosy Icelandic bar, so I was pretty haps in the end.

The following day we had another early start to see the Geysers.

Again, we drove in our rental car, but there are loads of day tours that you can take you in a coach if you’re not up for driving.

I’d been looking forward to the Geysers so much, and luckily I got to see two eruptions.

For those who don’t know, the Geysers are little mini hot springs that randomly bubble up and blow hot water and steam into the air. They’re really quite incredible, so definitely make time to see them if you can.

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We also managed to swing by the Gulfoss waterfall to enjoy the pretty view and catch a little bit of sunshine.

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To my relief, there was a nice big cafe next to the waterfall area. So, it was time for a quick hot chocolate to warm our frozen fingers and faces before getting into another giant truck for our snowmobiling tour.

Yes, snowmobiling.

I can 100% guarantee that I wouldn’t have booked this myself, but I’m so glad I did it. Purely for the experience and the amazing surroundings.

After getting in the truck, we drove for about 90 minutes up into the wilderness. It was a bit of bumpy ride, but the scenery was so beautiful I hardly noticed. I felt like I was in the Arctic.

When we arrived, in the middle of nowhere, we got kitted out in some sexy snow suits and balaclavas and had a quick safety lesson. After that, we paired up and headed out on our snowmobiles as a group, following the guide.

Not gonna lie, as much as it was great experience, I won’t be getting on a snowmobile ever again. I’m still slightly traumatised to be honest. Those things are FAST.

Please leave me to my sun lounger in future? Thanks.

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I really wish I’d taken more photos of our ride, but I was too busy clinging on for dear life.

We booked with Mountaineers, and I fully recommend this to any adrenaline junkies out there.

So….very sore and on the verge of hypothermia, we headed back to the hotel for a much-needed rest and some drinks to celebrate our last night in Reykjavik.

All in all, I wish I’d had longer in Iceland because there’s so much to explore, but I’m sure I’ll be back again one day. I’m determined to catch those pesky Northern Lights and boil myself in the Blue Lagoon.

Who wants to take me?

Rebecca

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8 thoughts on “An Icelandic Adventure

  1. stevemctravel

    Great article! Iceland is amazing, is it not? I’ll have to check out Into The Glacier when I inevitably go back some day. The Blue Lagoon is awesome, by the way. Sorry you missed it. Apparently there are natural hot springs out there that are free but you have to find them first. Also I missed the Northern Lights too so don’t feel too bad. Know you are not alone.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Travel Highlights of 2016 – Blue Window

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