Laney and I are off to a great start.
Iceland was amazing!
Let me step back a minute though.
Packing was STRESSFUL. As expected. HA. I managed to fit it all into a checked bag and a carry on backpack. I was pretty proud of myself. Until I got to the airport. YIKES.
As Jenni and Abs will tell you, I was kinda nervous on the way to the airport. I couldn’t even hold a conversation, hardly. I was excited too. I was overwhelmed with emotions for sure.
Once we checked in at the airport (and paid the overweight fee for the bag, because I misinterpreted the baggage limit), as we sat at the gate, I thought I would have an anxiety attack. I breathed through it and felt better once we were on the plane. I slept a couple hours of the 4.5 hour flight. Laney didn’t. 🙂 too excited.
We arrived in Iceland at 6am and cruised through passport control. I expected a separate customs inspection but there was none. YAY! In an hour we were dropped in Reykjavik by bus to the BSI station. We locked up our luggage in a big locker and started to wander.
Unfortunately, it being about 730 am and on a Sunday, hardly anything was open. And we literally had no idea where we were going. Google maps was not working. We simply started wandering toward the big church we could see above all the buildings, which I knew to be a ‘destination’.
We managed to stumble on a convenience store and got coffee and yogurt, which came with a tiny spoon folded into the lid. Very cool. It’s the little things that excite us. 🙂
We continued to wander literally with no clue where we were going. Everything was so clean and so quiet. Danger was the furthest thing from our minds.(not intended to sound ominous, but I guess it does).
We climbed a hill with a statue. Later we found out that’s what they call that. The hill. Lol. From the top, Laney spotted a city bike rental kiosk and suggested we do that. She was tired of walking. Already. Lol.
We stumbled onto a body of water and ride around on a bike path. Found a spot with a nice slope to the water on black stone and sand and dipped our feet in the water. VERY COLD! There were tiny red bugs (or crabs?) – they freaked Laney out a little. LOL
Then we rode to the center of town and found a bakery! Thank goodness! Real food! We were lucky it had outside seating in a courtyard because we had no locks for our bikes. I found out later we needn’t have worried. People in Iceland generally don’t lock up bikes. I had eggs and bread and salad. Laney had an Icelandic donut.
From there we decided to find our apartment and when we did we learned we could check in early. WHOO hoo nap time!!
First we had to retrieve our very heavy bags from the bus station. Knowing how far it is and how heavy the bags were, we splurged on a taxi. I napped, Laney did not.
Settled, napped and out the door at 230 for a 3 pm walking tour. Laney grumbled a bit but it ended up being AWESOME. We learned so much and our guide was very amusing. Like “Free the Nipple Day”. How Iceland became independent. And how Iceland had the first democratically-elected female national leader, from 1980 to 1996. It’s a very feminist country. And a country with no military! Iceland has universal healthcare. Also, school is free through the University level, but taxes are VERY high. 37% plus for income. and 19% for VAT, if I remember correctly. So, the locals don’t say it’s free, they say it’s ‘pre-paid’. LOL accurate I think.
After that we returned to a small flea market where Laney bought a necklace with volcano rock and we went to a restaurant the guide suggested called Tapas Barrin. We had beef, whale and kangaroo. No I’m not kidding. Don’t judge. I wanted to try them. They were all AMAZING. Beef and many many sheep (twice as many sheep as people in Iceland) are all free range. Laney liked the beef best. Of course.
Before she fell asleep at the table. Like 5 times. Lol.
A long walk home to bed and we crashed. And I woke up an hour later at 11 pm with the sun shining in my eyes. It never really gets dark in Iceland at this time of year and the sun hadn’t set yet. I took this pic at midnight.
Laney slept like the dead. For, like, 15 hours, lol.
The next day we needed to get to the grocery store. We had spent a TON of money on food that first day. So, off we went. It was a bit of a walk to the Bonus. That’s the less expensive grocery store. Where a dozen eggs cost almost $7. We got enough food for a couple days for $65 or so. Much better!! NO, I’m not kidding.
On the way home I spotted a nice courtyard that was empty so I chilled there for a bit while Laney rode her skateboard.
We decided to take a hike on our own so we went home to see if we could do it that day – turns out we could not. So we hit a couple tourist spots. Top of the Hallgrímskirkja (no I don’t know how to pronounce that) Church for some pictures. And the settlement museum which was not too great. After that Laney was beat so we headed home to make dinner and turn in.
From the top of the church.
Organ pipes inside the church. The pew backs flip to allow them to view EITHER the alter OR the organ pipes. They are that impressive.
The next day was our Glacier walk tour. Getting to the bus stop by 7 am was a challenge! That’s 3 am back home and we hadn’t quite adjusted yet.
The glacier walk was great. The glaciers in Iceland are somewhat ‘black’ and dusty because of the volcanic ash. But we saw some cool ice caves and got to wear crampons and carry an ice axe, so that was cool.
After the Glacier hike we saw some waterfalls. One from the bottom (like most people do)
The next one we wanted to see from a different angle. No, really we wanted to climb the big hill (nearly vertical, I think) to the cave, and then decided to keep going. Like we weren’t tired enough from the Glacier hike. LOL.
In the photo just above, Laney is the tiny person on the far right bottom corner. Yes, it’s THAT big. And she wasn’t even right next to it. It’s very wet.
This is the hill to the cave.
This is inside the cave.
This is Laney at the top, above the cave.
This is the waterfall from above.
This is what feeds the waterfall.
SO much fun.
But the Glacier walk and waterfall adventure was not as great as the next day – when we made our own adventure. We decided to ‘live like a local’ and take a public bus to a small town south east of Reykjavík (Hveragerði)and find a hiking path to some natural hot springs where we can take a dip!!Ok so that trip all turned out ok but it didn’t start that way. First, buses. Which I don’t have any experience with in the US let alone Iceland. Then, can’t even begin to pronounce names of things like Hveragerði (town) and Reykjadalur Valley.
The bus station the tourist information center told us to go to wasn’t in the best part of town. But Iceland is insanely safe. Like no crime at all. The citizens kind of joke about how little the police have to do. In fact, the police in Iceland have the most popular Instagram account in Iceland!! – where it seems they sort of make fun of themselves by posting everything but policing. Like working out. Cooking. Etc. it’s a joke!
Anyway, the bus station is under construction so it was a little hard to determine where to get the bus. I erred toward the line of people. Laney thought the little hut. She was right ( there, I said it). We took a short ride to the bigger and open bus station where a lovely lady sold us tickets. But we had just missed the bus we needed that heads out of town. So we had to wait an hour. Meantime we did some people watching. We never did find out what the large group of 35 or so people were doing when they gathered, shook hands and hugged and then prayed outside the bus station. It was good fodder for the ‘theory’ game though. Reunion? AA meeting? Business Meeting? Funeral/Memorial Service?
The ride out to Hveragardi was uneventful. When we got there we knew the general direction to go but not exactly. So we wandered off. Found the hotel where we had read the hike would start but, long story short, 3+ km and a golf course detour later, we were ready to start the hike. Exhausted.
The hike was mostly uphill for 3.5 km. Torturous at times. Eventually we got to the hot springs. Some were 100 degrees Celsius. Boiling. Don’t swim there. HA. A little further up that hot water combined with a cold river and we were ready for a hot soak!! Heaven!!
The hike back was so much easier. Mostly down hill. Laney got bored and had to run up and around a few cliffs.
Within the town was this beautiful little waterfall and these beautiful flowers that were EVERYWHERE in Iceland.
We met this cat on the way. We named him Oreo.
There was crazy beautiful scenery on the hike, though it was a LOT of uphill.
Then, the HOT springs. A sign to tell you this water is boiling, don’t swim here.
We reached the area where you can swim, as (thankfully) indicated by the changing areas and ‘boardwalk’
The hot water was GLORIOUS!
This is the view from our soaking spot (one of them)
And this is Laney’s stone stacking. Pretty impressive.
We had some soup at the cafe then begged for a ride back to town where we had hot dogs and ice cream and wifi in a shell gas station while we waited an hour and a half for the next bus. Because yes, we just missed it on this side too. Lol.
Back to the apartment to pack. Up at 245 am and here we are in the airport. Ready for 🇨🇭 Switzerland!
Some other interesting photos from around Iceland/Reykjavik:
View across the lake. (not the bay, or the ocean, this is fresh/brackish)