iceland was (in one word) Breathtaking. i never expected it to creep up and steal my heart like it did. sure, the landscape was a blur of pure whites, stunning blues, lush greens and earthy browns but all this combined gave me a deep feeling of serenity and peace.
our initial plan was to see the Northern Lights, or better known as the Aurora Borealis but unfortunately Mother Nature herself did not cooperate and the weather was cloudy, gloomy and rainy 95% of the time we were there- as evidenced from the pictures. i wish i had a better shot of Blue Lagoon to show you.
that aside, i had such a great experience travelling to this little spot in iceland they call reykjavik. i mean, where else would i be able to walk between the Eurasian and North American Plates (which are still moving apart every year, by the way), watch in real-time a geyser erupt every 4-8 minutes to heights of 15-40 metres, and soak myself in geothermal seawaters that were wonderfully inviting at 37-39 celcius whilst it was howling wind and pouring rain in single digit weather all around us?
where else would i have been able to view in all its stunning glory a half-frozen lake, or even better- a frozen lava crater? we also paid a visit to the understandably secluded man-made geothermal beach and tried whale meat! no, contrary to what everyone says about everything tasting like chicken, i would like to refute that whale meat does NOT indeed taste like chicken.
adding to the list of icelandic wonders- we gobbled down tasty lamb hot dogs served with crunchy garlic (a specialty!) and were treated to a sample of sweetened rye bread topped with generous lashings of butter, the way it’s meant to be eaten. eating out in iceland is quite expensive, but i wouldn’t have it any other way, having had the chance to try egg & herring on rye bread, finished with rye bread ice-cream (delicious, if you were wondering!) and skyr cake with cream and rhubarb syrup. mmm.
as for the northern lights? well we’ll just have to chance it again next time! 😀
tips for iceland:
– i recommend renting a car to drive around iceland, this way you can do the golden circle tour at your own leisurely pace. the golden circle tour covers the Þingvellir national park -where you can check out the mid-atlantic ridge, gulfoss waterfall and the geysir and strokkur geysers.
– buy some sandwiches, snacks, fruits from bonus supermarket and take them with you in the car so you can have lunch and snack along the way. we stopped at a restaurant opposite the geysirs for lunch but found the food lacking and very expensive for simple things like soup, burgers, sandwiches….
– the blue lagoon is touristy, but you have to do it! bring your own bathrobes and towels so you don’t have to rent them for exorbitant prices
– as for the viewing of the northern lights, if you have a car and know which spots to go to you can drive out on your own, but i’d rather leave this for the experts! research a couple of the smaller tours and book with them. due to their expertise, they don’t run the tours if there’s low to no chance of seeing the lights. we found that the buses ran everyday regardless of whether you could see the lights or not. they all sell you the same story, ‘we don’t run unless we know there’s a chance of seeing the lights.’ -_-
– book with a northern lights tour on your first day in iceland. they operate on a ‘no go, no payment’ basis so if they don’t run you aren’t charged at all. booking with a tour on your first day also increases your chances of seeing the lights as you are usually reserved a spot on the tour for the remainder of your stay and if you don’t get to see the lights on the first day, you can try again on the second day, third day and so on.
– if you’re game enough, try the following icelandic specialities- whale, puffin, fermented shark, sweetened rye bread, boiled sheep’s head, wind-dried fish, skyr, lamb hotdog, meat soup. i’ve only listed a handful and am pretty sure there’s much more out there! check this out for starters: Þorramatur