Iceland - Rekjavick & Golden Circle

11 April




Another well overdue blog post! In January we travelled to a place we have wanted to go to for a long time, we thought Iceland looked like an amazing place and now we know a few people that have gone and loved it we wanted to go all the more so I surprised Pete for Christmas and booked us on a short trip. 

We travelled via Luton on easyJet and it was actually very pleasant, it is a small (but not tiny) airport with everything we needed and the budget flight was pretty smooth going. Arriving at Keflavik airport we then had a pre-booked coach transfer to Rekjavick which was well organised and easy to figure out.

We actually amended our plans as soon as we got there, we were last drop at the hotel and by the time we were checked in ready to go back out it was later than we expected. It meant we didn’t see Rekjavick in the evening (which I’ve heard is brilliant) but it was something we were happy to be flexible with. Instead, our first port of call was food at a restaurant near our hotel. The hotel (Arctic Comfort) wasn’t anything special but they looked after us, we had everything we needed and we were very comfortable.

We went to Eldsmiõjan which was a wood fired pizza restaurant. It was busy when we arrrived but we didn’t have to wait too long, the food was lovely, the service friendly and a lovely setting. 



After food it was off to the local geothermal pools. It felt crazy walking there in all our winter gear surrounded by snow and ice and we were going to an outdoor pool! It was a great experience though (especially as we weren’t going to have time to do Blue Lagoon), there was an Olympic pool, a smaller pool with slides and the hot pools. The worst bit was getting from the changing room (which was an experience in itself as it is the norm in Iceland to have a nude shower before you go in the pool - walked into the changing room which was really busy and was thinking ‘that’s a lot of naked ladies!’ but nobody is paying any attention to each other because it’s so standard) to the pool which was freezing in swimwear! We aimed for the small pool for a swim first which was warm but we didn’t fancy staying in it for long, we decided the people going on the slides were lunatics as it was so cold outside of the water. We moved into the hotter pools which was blissful (only thing missing was a cocktail I thought!) so we stayed in there for a while. Pete said he struggled with his ears getting cold but I had my swimming cap on so didn’t notice so much. We were pretty relaxed after so headed back to the hotel ready for our busy day the following day. 

 

We were up early of day 2 for a golden circle tour. When planning we were deciding between golden circle and blue lagoon. We opted for golden circle as it looked like we would get more out of it and it had come highly recommended. The whole tour was fantastic, as well as the stops we had the guide had loads of interesting facts and the scenery was spectacular. We drove past snowy snowy mountains with plumes of steam, volcanoes (including the one that stopped me going to Rome a few years ago...), towns, ice glaciers and lakes. We were worried it would be a bit too touristy but it was perfect for our short trip, it wasn’t too busy, we found out loads we wouldn’t have otherwise known and we both got to admire the views rather than one person having to concentrate on the road. 

Our first stop was at a tomato farm where we learnt more about how they grow tomatoes all year round, despite the weather and low light conditions. It’s all done with clean energy (as is the case with everything on the island), the water is naturally heated by the volcanoes and the electricity is generated using the steam plumes we had seen when driving around. The farm was impressive and we tried some of the tomato soup which was lovely. I was in my element as I love growing my own veg in the garden (something I’ll write about some time). 

  



From the farm we moved onto the geysers. We parked up by the centre and crossed the road to walk to the two main geysers which was an interesting walk in itself, there were lots of plumes everywhere and hot water running in mini streams. There are two main geysers, one dormant but huge and one which was still a reasonable size but very much active! We stood for quite a while watching and getting pictures, it really was a spectacular sight. As we moved around you could get fairly close and was fascinating watching the geyser, the water was rippling and motioning the whole time and right before it burst into the air there was such a swell of water that it formed a large dome. The burst itself went so high and loved the way it misted off. Because it was so cold there was such a temperate variance between the boiling water coming out of the ground but it instantly froze when the moisture reached the ground. Even though I know it was coming every burst made me jump!





When it was time to move on we headed towards the Gulfoss waterfalls. I’d expected the geysers to be my favourite but as spectacular as they were the waterfall was even more so. It was so unassuming when you park up, you don’t expect to see much but once you reach the ravine it is breath taking, the ravine itself is pretty impressive and the waterfall is indescribably beautiful, the pictures really don’t do it justice. It was across multiple levels and the scenery at the time of year we went added to it not only with the snowy landscape but with parts of the waterfall being made up of ice. We spent a good bit of time walking around different vantage points watching the falls. It was probably the coldest day time temperate, we were glad of our many winter layers but you could feel just how cold it was on you face and if you took your hands out of your gloves they were numb very quickly. A small price to pay to see the falls though.





Our final part of the golden circle was the Þingvellir National Park which is a national heritage site based across two different tectonic plates (Eurasian & North-American). It again was a beautiful area and with a very interesting background and natural history. At one point experts thought Iceland would become two islands but it is now known that at the rate the plates are moving apart there is enough magma to ‘fill in’ so that the island will not separate.



The day had been cold but beautifully clear but typically as the evening rolled in it got cloudier, reducing our chances of seeing northern lights.

Before we went out on our next tour we went to Askur Brasserie for dinner which was somewhere we had picked because it was close to the hotel but it was lovely. I had the fish of the day which I throughly enjoyed and the service was very friendly and welcoming. 



We were collected from our hotel for the northern lights tour but we were highly doubting at this point that we would see anything with the clouds. You could see the moon so it wasn’t ruled out but as we got into a good sighting spot it was clear that we weren’t going to see anything, the cloud was getting thicker. We persevered though and after a little while moved to another spot. After a while of looking we moved back onto the coach but the tour guide was determined, staying outside to spot for those of us too tired and cold to stay standing out. Whilst we’d have loved to have seen the lights the day had been so brilliant we didn’t feel too disappointed. 



On our final day we decided to see a bit of the city and caught the bus to Old Reykjavík. We saw Tjörnin from the bus which was all frozen over. It started snowing as we arrived and our first stop was actually for breakfast at The Laundromat Cafe which had been recommended to us by a family member and it didn’t disappoint us. We had a lovey breakfast (actually we were a bit greedy and ordered three breakfasts between two of us...) which set us up for the day. We headed over to the Old Harbour after to have a look around. It was lovely to see, love harbours but it was mostly whale watching tours which we were out of season for. We then walked round to the Harpa concert hall, there wasn’t anything on whilst we were there but it was an impressive building that we wanted to see and we are glad we saw it although it was closed off to be able to look out to see the see and mountains from the inside of the building. 

 

We then walked to the Sun Voyager, the walk to which was a challenge with the snow and extreme side winds! It was great to see it and we were able to move on from there to Laugavegur for a drink and a nose around the shops. There were some interesting places, a good combination of shops for locals a good touristy shops. 



We took a walk back to the hotel and it’s the first time we’d done the section in daylight, and we hadn’t realised how close our hotel was to a stunning mountainous backdrop. We stopped for a drink with he mountains on view before having to get back to the hotel and home. 

We were very impressed by Iceland, so much to do and see, we’d happily go back and whilst I’d do everything again we could easily fill our time with things we hadn’t done on this trip. It is a stunning and fascinating place and we loved our time there.

Dawn x

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