Iceland 2019

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland during winter

I took an extended weekend last week and went to Iceland for the second time. It was short but sweet! If you’re new to my blog, I went to Iceland on a 2 week adventure in May 2016. You can read about it here.

My trip to Iceland is actually the reason I wanted to start Passportunities: I loved reading blogs about other people’s travels and tips while I was researching for my own and, after Iceland, I wanted to share my experience.

Day one: Travel, Reykjavik, Settlement Museum, Blue Lagoon
Day two: Arctic Adventures Excursion (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Vik, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, Hotel Adventure)
Day three: Arctic Adventures Excursion (Ice Cave, Reykjavik)
Day four: Reykjavik, Travel home

Day one: Travel, Reykjavik, Settlement Museum, Blue Lagoon

I left home around 12 pm on Saturday to pick up my friend and drive to Montreal. WOWair (the cheap Icelandic airline) only flies from Montreal and Toronto so we drove and parked at the airport. Since we were gone for such a short time, parking wasn’t outrageous and was cheaper than us both getting a bus to the city.

We made good time (I really need to update the music on my iPhone) and decided to have lunch at the airport. We wanted to get through security and settle in: that way I don’t have to worry about long security lines or missing a flight. We had about 2 hours before boarding so we took our time.

I didn’t sleep AT ALL on the flight. It was a 5 hour flight and I was hoping to take a nap to be ready to go in Reykjavik but I could not get comfortable and I wasn’t tired enough. By the time we got to our hostel (about 6 AM Iceland time) my friend and I decided to take a nap on the couches and head out for breakfast after catching some shut eye. We woke up to people coming down for breakfast around 8:30 so we got up and went to Sandholt for some food.

It was just as expensive as I remember it! I still cannot get over the fact that it costs more for a cup of tea (my drink of choice) than a latte! The food was great and much needed at that point.

We then wandered down Laugavegur (a great shopping street) and to Hallgrímskirkja (unfortunately closed Sunday so we couldn’t go up) before wandering to my favourite museum: the Settlement Exhibition. It’s a museum that was built around an archaeological dig that uncovered a longhouse in the City. The museum is very interactive and gives a great overview of the settlement of the vikings in Iceland.

Next, we wandered down to the harbour. I remember the view like it was yesterday!

Check-in at the hostel (and therefore a bed to nap in) was creeping up so we walked back down Laugavegur and stopped at the Iceland Street Food restaurant to grab something to eat. Their menu is all-you-can-eat with free unlimited coffee/tea and treats. YES PLEASE. I got the lamb soup and filled up on bread, desserts and tea.

Finally, we checked in at Kex Hostel and took a nap before our bus to Blue Lagoon was scheduled to pick us up. (The tickets for Blue Lagoon went from ‎€60 in 2016 to ‎€107 for the Premium package). Included in our package were masks and a drink so, after getting dressed we wandered out to the lagoon. It was unbelievable how blue the lagoon was when we first got there and how quickly the sun set, making it quite dark!

I had a waterproof case so we were able to take some pictures on my phone (the quality was not great because it was so dark but it’s fun). After a few hours, we went inside for our dinner reservations at Lava Restaurant and enjoyed the cod (it was seriously amazing) and sparkling wine. We jumped onto the shuttle around 10:15 PM and gladly went to bed at the hostel around 11:30 pm.

Day two: Arctic Adventures Excursion (Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Vik, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, Hotel Adventure)

We started with an early morning so we could grab some coffee/tea and breakfast at the Brass Restaurant before our scheduled pick-up between 9-9:30 AM to start our excursion.

We spent almost an hour picking people up, and one couple didn’t show. (HOW? I don’t understand that because there’s no way to catch up with the bus once we left the city and it’s not cheap.) I have a hard time staying awake in a moving vehicle (unless I’m driving) and passed out in a hot minute. I woke up in time for our first stop: Seljalandsfoss. We got to spent 30 minutes at the waterfall to take some pictures and check out the views.

I asked the bus driver, Trigger, about the Gljúfrabúi waterfall but he said it was far too icy and I would definitely slip and fall into the water and be soaked for the rest of the day. Not my ideal way to travel so we just stuck around Seljalandsfoss. The wind is NUTS in Iceland! The bus driver called it a “Window Weather Day”: the sun is shining and it looks like a beautiful day but the wind is so strong it’s better to enjoy the sun from your window. (Trigger was filled with information like this and it was wonderful).

We piled back on the bus and stopped at Skogafoss. There are almost 500 stairs to trek to the top of the waterfall: Trigger’s record is just over 4 minutes and my record is that I didn’t stop to take a break (probably took me 10-15 minutes). I was winded at the top though (get it? #punsfordays).

We spent almost 45 minutes at this waterfall: it truly is spectacular and the rainbow adds a magical touch. Legend has it that a viking (Þrasi Þórólfsson) put his treasure in a chest behind the waterfall. Later on, three men at Skógar decided to retrieve the chest and eventually got a hook on the chest ring and, when they pulled, the ring detached and is can be found in the Skógar Museum. The chest can still be found at the bottom of the rainbow.

Back on the bus we went and were driving to Vik to stop for lunch. Trigger also pulled us over to check out the lava fields: an eruption in the late 1800s has left a lava field of over 560 km2. (This is one good thing about the tours: on my road trip in 2016 I didn’t know any of this).

Finally, we made our way to catch the sunset at the Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. There were so many more ice chunks on the beach this time of year and the lagoon was beautiful with many seals swimming around. BE CAREFUL though, the walkways and parking lots are glare ice and very slippery. I watched someone almost slip and fall into the water!!

Next, we made our way to our Hotel (included in the price of the excursion) to check in and have dinner as a group. My friend and I ended up staying and chatting with some of the other tourists after, sharing a drink and a laugh (too corny??).

Up until this point, I hadn’t even thought about the Northern Lights: of course I would love to see them but I didn’t get my hopes up. UNTIL, Trigger told us we would definitely see them if we walked out of the hotel at around midnight: there was supposed to be ton of light activity. When we got out of the hotel around midnight, the cloud coverage didn’t seem to end. Unfortunately we had no change of seeing them so off to bed we went!

Day three: Arctic Adventures Excursion (Ice Cave, Reykjavik)

We slept in and went down for breakfast around 8:30 AM (included in the price of the excursion) before heading back to the glacier lagoon where we switched vehicles to go to the ice cave. The vehicles have huge tires that are definitely required for driving on a glacier!

The ice cave was SO COOL! I was expecting it to be a light blue but it was almost black. Turns out, the light blue caves are new ice and the black ice that we saw was because of the ash that is in the ice (makes sense of course!)

I got caught at the back of the group at one point without a headlamp and could hardly see my hand in front of my face, let alone where to put my feet!! Needless to say, I didn’t end up at the back of the group after that. (I always manage to be one of the last people in a group because I’m so busy taking pictures. Oops!)

Next, we jumped back in the giant truck and went to see some newer, blue ice that I was expecting. It was a crack in the glacier ice that has continued to separate over the winter and by the spring will be gone. #IceMelt

We then made our way back to Reykjavík, trying to beat a storm that was coming. But, trigger still made one stop at the black sand beach and Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. It was SO windy that at one point, I had to stop walking and the sand blowing against my legs hurt a lot!

When we got back to the bus, trigger couldn’t open the door for us because the wind was so strong it would’ve pulled the door off the bus!! The wind is not a joke.

We cleaned up at the hostel and then went for dinner & drinks around the city. It was a great end to an amazing trip!

Day four: Reykjavik, Travel home

We spent the morning wandering around doing some shopping before heading back to the airport.

Overall, it was an amazing quick visit back to where my travel itch really started to grow. Iceland is an amazing country and I can’t wait to go back! I’d love to snorkel between the tectonic plates and do some hiking through the mountains.

Have you been? Leave some thoughts on Iceland below in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Iceland 2019

  1. Wow, those ice cave pics and glacier lagoon pics are SOOO stunning! Can’t believe Iceland is a real place, so gorgeous haha.
    Next time I travel there, I’ll definitely be taking a bus trip like this one – sounds like the bus driver’s knowledge and insights were invaluable/super interesting!
    Awesome trip, awesome pics, awesome post! 👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love to read your blog and like vicariously through you! I definitely need to visit this magical place they call Iceland. So many amazing things to see and you ladies saw so much in a short time! Loved seeing more photos from your trip and learning about the sites. Very inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

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