Happy 2017 from Iceland! What a year it has been. We rang in the New Year from Reykjavik, where we stayed right downtown in the middle of all the action. The people of Iceland are firework fanatics- you can buy them legally from fire departments and shoot them off from your backyard, in the middle of the streets, wherever really. I used to think a 30-minute firework show was long, but these guys light them off for hours (for multiple days leading up to NYE and from ~5pm-4am the day of.) We could even watch them from our apartment’s window. Very magical.
If you follow my Instagram, you can see that Iceland is quite a beautiful place. Let’s start off with the Blue Lagoon, one of the 25 Wonders of the World. It’s probably the most popular attraction here, so make reservations online at least a month beforehand if you want to secure a spot. Despite it being full of tourists, they do a nice job of not letting it get too crowded. We stayed at the spa from sunrise to sunset, which isn’t actually thaaat long given that daylight only lasts for 5 hours in the winter. There’s plenty to enjoy, ranging from saunas, in-water massages, lounges for naps in the sun, bars inside the pool (with the best green juice I’ve tasted!), and all the silica mud masks you desire. Oh, and we also witnessed a marriage proposal- pretty neat!
So what’s Icelandic food like? Honestly, I didn’t find their specialties too tasty. It’s a lot of lamb (already not a fan), pickled food (bleh), and fish (you can only eat so much). Restaurants are extremely expensive, so we ended up stocking up on groceries from discount stores like Bonus to pack sandwiches for the day. Two things we loved: this really dense rye bread called rúgbrauð and Skyr yogurt (which is actually cheese).
Oh, and I can’t forget Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, the best hot dog stand in Reykjavik. During the trip, my friend Audrey messaged me:
A: “You MUST try the lamb hot dogs!”
M: “Ugh I hate lamb, but I’ll tell Tyler…”
A: “It doesn’t even taste like lamb- here’s the place:”
M: “… oh. Went there twice already. Now I feel tricked!”
Now aside from the Blue Lagoon and the hot dogs, you definitely come to Iceland to admire the nature. Driving through the countryside is breathtaking.
During our 4-day (free!) layover to Iceland, we rented a car for 2 days (via SAD rentals) and then relied on a day tour and shuttles for the remaining transportation. Especially if you visit during other times of the year, I recommend renting a car for a few days so you can explore on your own time. Unfortunately, the weather was “the worst we’ve seen all year” (said our airbnb host) and the 50mph wind gusts forced us to turn back on our drive around the Golden Circle. Tyler’s on a mission to find warehouse contract work in Iceland so we can return again to see Gullfoss, wild horses, and the Aurora Borealis 😉
The day tour we took with Goecco (thanks Charles for the tip!) was the highlight of the trip. Although the bad weather caused us to miss a few stops (including the bigger ice caves), it was still worth the 16-hour round-trip to Jökulsárlón, the Glacier Lagoon. Melting glaciers from the Atlantic Ocean break off into large chunks of ice here and you can just watch them float on the lake. Absolutely gorgeous scenery.
I wish you all a happy new year and look forward to 2017 being just as full of adventure, learning, friendship, and love. Cheers!