Hello again, this time from the cold and very frequently wet country of Iceland! I made a big oopsie and we ended up staying a day longer in Reykjavik than I had originally planned, but we got it mostly fixed.
We’re staying in a VRBO studio apartment this week. It’s in a separate building behind a main apartment building on Leifsgata, the road directly behind the landmark church Hallgrimskirkja.
I’m in love with this studio and its location. We have a kitchen with a fridge and a freezer plus a shower where you can control the temperature! It turned out to be a great pick.
I left Dublin this morning and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I flew with WOW air on a 3 hour flight to Keflavik airport. From the airport I took a Gray Line bus to Reykjavik, about an hour away. The bus dropped me off at Hallgrimskirkja and the studio was easy to find.
Once I was settled in I went to the closest supermarket and got food to make dinner and breakfast.
To be honest I didn’t do a whole lot today. I was in and out of the apartment periodically throughout the day. I went out in the morning but nothing was open so I made lunch in the apartment then forced myself outside again long after I was done.
I walked downtown and by a stroke of luck got to the square right as a free tour was about to kick off. 90 minutes later I was full of fun Iceland tidbits and heading back to the apartment to get ready for Scott’s arrival.
Scott flew all night and arrived on the bus here in Reykjavik at 8ish. He’ll be with me for two weeks, one here and one in Barcelona!
When Scott got here we had leftover pasta for dinner with some mushrooms I had sautéed (Blue Apron what have you turned me into).
The first of our three excursions was today! The bus picked us up at Hallgrimskirkja at 8 AM and we headed south along the coast. Our first stop was Skógafoss, or the forest waterfall. We hiked the several hundred steps to the top of it and got back to the bus right on time.
Next, the bus stopped at the most dangerous beach in Iceland, the black sand beach Reynisfjara. It’s rogue waves have killed many tourists over the years and even though the tide was out, its huge violent waves made it easy to see how one could get swept away. It also had some very impressive basalt columns of all different sizes.
The main event of the day was a 2 hour, 6 km hike on Sólheimajökull, the sun home glacier. It rained all the way up, but the sun came out when we reached the highest we were going to go and it was gorgeous. Still, we were still soaked when we got home that night.
After the glacier, we made one last stop at Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall where you keep your sheep so they don’t get eaten by the foxes – legit what it means, isn’t Icelandic a fun language? Scott went behind it but I was wet and cold and opted not to. It was a long day but we saw some beautiful things.
We got moving pretty slowly this morning. We started the day by going in and up Hallgrimskirkja to see Reykjavik from above. It’s a fascinating church because it’s so new and nothing like the cathedrals I’m used to seeing. It doesn’t have any decoration inside and is incredibly open and light.
We then went down to Reykjavik 871 +/- 2, a little museum with the ruins of an original Viking building. We stopped by Harpa concert hall to get show tickets on our way back to the apartment.
The bus for our evening excursion picked us up at 5:30 and took us to Laugarvatn Fontana, a hot springs with a buffet. We had dinner there then lounged in the hot springs for a few hours before changing and getting back on the bus for part two of the excursion, chasing the Northern Lights.
We were expecting to do a bit of driving to find the lights but when we got in the bus they told us that the lights were already out (tonight was a 6 out of 9 for lights viewing) so we headed away from the light pollution and stopped at the first pull off we got to.
I didn’t really know what to expect (especially since I had convinced myself that we weren’t going to see them) but they were fascinating. In real life they’re way lighter than in a photo because your eyes can’t take long exposure shots. We could see them dancing slowly across the sky and in photos they came out really green. Scott and I were incredibly lucky that he has a Samsung phone, because he was able to set it to do long exposure pictures and we got some great shots of them, and us with them. The tour guide also had a nice camera on a tripod and took amazing pictures of everyone that asked, so those will be on Facebook soon. I can’t get over how incredibly lucky we were. The guide kept saying this was a great night too, and from looking at other photos on Facebook from the company I have to agree. Despite all the rain yesterday Iceland really came through and we had an unforgettable night.
I think it’s the cold, but for some reason we just aren’t moving very quickly here. We didn’t get out until noon and started the day with the same free walking tour I took the first day I was here. I was so full of fun facts and interesting stories that Scott wanted to take it too. Despite getting out so late, we were able to squeeze in the National Gallery of Iceland (modern art, and unfortunately half of it was closed), National Museum of Iceland (a fun walk through Icelandic history), and the Iceland Phallological Museum (exactly what you think it is).
Today we took a tour of the famous Golden Circle. It was only three stops, and turned out to be a pretty relaxed day. The first stop was Thingvellir National Park, the location of the continental rift where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are pulling apart. Next, we headed to Gullfoss (golden waterfall) which was by far the most impressive waterfall we’ve seen here. Finally, we stopped at Geysir Hot Springs where the geyser Strokkur goes off every couple minutes. This hot springs is also the home of Geysir, the geyser to give all others their name.
Luckily for us, it was only really freezing at Gullfoss and hasn’t rained since our day on the glacier.
This was our last full day in Reykjavik, and we’re really running out of things to do. We walked up to Perlan first, which is an observatory with a great view of the city, but not much else. Then, we headed downtown and went to the National Maritime Museum.
After the maritime museum we did some souvenir shopping then dropped them in the room before dinner. We had pizza for dinner on our way to Harpa Concert Hall for the comedy show “How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes.”
A lot of today it was really nice out, even to the point where we didn’t really need our heavy coats and gloves. Thank goodness, I would have been quite put out if we had a week of rain.
I realized this morning that I made a mistake when booking our hotels and that our flight is actually tomorrow night not tonight. So, we had to spend a good bit of time moving our bus tickets and our tickets for Sagrada Familia as well as adding a night to our apartment here. Once we had that all sorted we headed out to see the Höfdi House, where Reagan met with Gorbachev to kick off the end of the Cold War.
Since we had an extra day, we decided to check out the zoo here. It was a little place with a family park in the back (that was closed because it’s the off season). The zoo had seals, chickens, cows, sheep, goats, pigs (plus some piglets!), Icelandic horses, reindeer, foxes, reptiles, and some pets like rabbits and guinea pigs. It was a little place with not a lot out of the norm but there was hardly anyone there so we had a relaxing time.
On the way back we stopped at the Solfarid sculpture, a pretty Viking ship.
On to Barcelona tonight! For real this time!
The bus will pick us up at 4 at Hallgrimskirkja to take us to the airport and we’ll arrive in Barcelona at 1:30 AM.
Until then we’re wandering around downtown spending the last of our Krona and killing time.