Hello my fellow travellers!
So today I wanted to write about my visit to Iceland last year in March. Iceland is so beautiful! Its natural beauty including mountains, volcanoes, black sand beaches and green valleys stand out in today’s fast paced world and make it magical. So I was really excited for this trip last year!
After a three hour flight from London Gatwick to Keflavik Airport, we finally arrived in Iceland at about 11 pm and the first thing we did was to take a bus outside the airport to our hostel we booked for one night in Reykjavik. We travelled with flybus and paid ISK 2500 ( approx. £12) one way. The hostel we stayed in was called BUS Hostel Reykjavik and was very clean, pretty and cheap!! I think we each paid only £5 for the night and we were also lucky because we had a whole room to ourselves!!
The next day we got ready and had a nice brunch nearby the hotel, before someone from Procar Car Rental picked us up from the hostel to take us to their office to hire a car for the next few days in Iceland. We got a little white Toyota Yaris and I was really excited to drive it although a bit scared too due to the icy roads in Iceland and the left hand drive!! Although I am used to the left hand drive from living in Germany, I have never actually driven a car in Germany..Anyway I knew that it would be interesting!
Our destination from there was to go to the south of Iceland which was about an 1.5 hours drive away. We booked a cottage beforehand via homeandaway in Laugarvatn, South Iceland and let me tell you the cottage was amazing! Although we had trouble finding it at the beginning because it was in a private road with many other cottages around and also they don’t really have house numbers in Iceland?! Garmin, our SatNav, also didn’t help very much in that situation but after a call to the owners of the cottage who described us the driveway etc we found it eventually!! YAY!
The cottage was so beautiful and warm and in the middle of nowhere! We each had a bedroom, a beautiful kitchen, bathroom, dinning room, spacious living room, balcony and driveway. I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves!
The next day was interesting… After a quick breakfast at our place ( we also went to a nearby supermarket the day before and stocked up on food for the next few days in the cottage), we wanted to drive to see the Gullfoss Waterfall and Strokkur in Geysir, which were only about 30-45 minutes away by car from where we stayed.
However, overnight it had snowed and when we got to our car, half of it was snowed it and we couldn’t get it out of the driveway for some time!!! It was annoying but also funny! How often does that happen to people in Europe? Also I have to point out that maybe our choice of car for exploring the rural south of Iceland was maybe not the best. Anyway the main thing is that we finally got out after 30 minutes or so…
On our drive we saw beautiful horses and other treasures of Iceland’s nature.
Gullfoss waterfall was truly inspiring to see. We properly stood there quietly for a few minutes just to take in its beauty!
Strokkur was just as amazing! It shoots a column of water up to 20m into the air every 4-8 minutes and there is a lot of space surrounding the geysir that allows for good picture and video taking.
Both Gullfoss and Strokkur were easily accessible by car. At both places there was a nearby free car park and also entry to the sights was free.
Ok you wont believe it but the day after we got out of the driveway ok however we got stuck in the private road as my friend reversed out a bit too much and one of the rear tyres got stuck!! This time we really had a hard time getting out and even using hot water to dissolve the ice or using tree sticks under the tyre as Google suggested didn’t help!! Thankfully a nice woman was driving past us and came to our rescue! She towed us out with her jeep! I have to say everyone in Iceland is so friendly and helpful and we did see the woman in the supermarket the day after and gave her Merci chocolate.
Anyway after probably an hour or longer, we got out and made our way to Skogafoss Waterfall, which was a 2 hours drive.
Skogafoss is yet another beautiful waterfall, and this time you could get really close and walk along the paths which take you right behind the waterfall. This meant that it got so cold to the point where you fingers swell up despite wearing thermal gloves. Near Skogafoss there is also a black sand beach which we drove by.
For dinner that day we made chicken breast with vegetables. It was really good and we also saw the Northern Lights for a bit!! It was a magical night.
The next day without any problems (!!!) we drove to Hveragerði, a town that is built above a hot-spring field. Hveragerði surroundings are a paradise for hikers as it is covered in hot springs and good hiking trails which we followed up to a specific height before it go to snowy and difficult to follow. Nevertheless the views were breathtaking!
After all this driving around to explore Iceland, we thought it was time to relax a bit and what better way to do that than in the hot springs in Iceland. Thankfully there was a Spa nearby in Laugarvatn called Fontana Spa Geothermal Baths. An adult ticket cost 3200 ISK ( around £16) and I cant put into words the feeling you get when you are relaxing in a hot pool outside while overlooking Laugarvatn lake. My friend and I also felt brave at one point and took a quick dip in the freezing lake!! It was really cold, no surprise there!Overall, we had a lovely afternoon experience, it wasn’t too crowded and there was a sauna, steam room and pools with different temperatures so you could find the one that was right for you. It was also more of an authentic experience as some of the hot pools were source with the natural springs.
This was our last day in our beautiful cottage in the middle of nowhere in Iceland! We were really sad to leave the next day…
The next day it was time to drive back to Reykjavik and also to drop off our car. Sad times!
We left early in the morning as we wanted to visit the Blue Lagoon before dropping off our car.
In case you wondered why it was called the Blue Lagoon is because the water really looks baby blue white. Its beautiful! At the desk you can choose between different spa packages. We were deciding between the Standard and Comfort package.
TIP: As you can see the main difference between the two are the fact that they give you a towel for hire, moisturising cream, algae mask and a drink for free which you can claim at the “bar” in the main pool outside. I chose the Standard package, as I already had a towel, bathrobe and moisturising cream with me. Also there are little pots with clay mask all around the main pool area which is free to use so I didn’t feel the need for the algae mask.
After deciding on the package you are given a wristband (with which you also claim your free drink) and you can make your way to the changing rooms. The locker rooms were clean and there were staff around constantly mopping and cleaning the floors. We arrived around 10 am and we spent around 2/3 hours relaxing in the warm pools and exploring the different saunas and steam rooms.
- Make sure to leave your towel and bathrobe nearby the pool as it is very cold when you leave the pools and step outside!!
- Bring your best conditioner and shampoo and use a lot of them because the water is very harsh on your hair and your hair will be a mess afterwards!! My hair didn’t feel normal until another deep conditioner wash at our hotel afterwards.
- Pack a hairbrush to deal with the messy hair afterwards.
Overall it was an incredible experience although the Blue Lagoon is a bit more pricey and touristy.
After our relaxation time at the Blue Lagoon, we made our way to Reykjavik to drop off our car, get some lunch and then to check in at Arctic Comfort Hotel.
The day before we booked ourselves in for Snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Silfra fissure in the National Park of Thingvellir via http://www.DIVE.IS and let me tell you it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!! We were picked up from our hotel around 10 am and my friends and I plus another tourist were the only passengers on the bus to Þingvellir as a lot of people probably drove to Þingvellir on their own. During our bus journey we were given disclaimers to sign and we were nervously awaiting our snorkelling experience. We were all afraid of the cold water!
When we finally arrived, we meet some other tourists too and were all given a short security briefing before it was time to put on the dry suits. This is were the fun begins. The dry suits can be hard to put on especially because it was so cold and your fingers are frozen. But what really irritated me was wearing a neck brace which they did put on really tight on me and so I felt like was slowly being choked!! Our guide Chris ( also British and very nice) told me that he couldn’t loosen the neck brace without the risk of getting me wet once in the water so I decided to put up with it although one of my eyes went a bit red due to the lack of oxygen!!? We were then given more equipment and all the guides helped to put them on.
- Remember to wear your thermals and wear at least two pairs of sock.
- A change of clothes in case you do get wet is also advisable. And bring your gloves, scarfs and hats for while you getting changed into your snorkelling attire.
- Also lip balm for your lips to protect them in the cold water.
Once everyone was ready the group of people were split up and taken by groups into the water.
When it was my group’s turn to go snorkelling we were taken near the entrance to the rift. This is where we were given our snorkel, fins and mask. And as I said I had trouble with my breathing due to the tight neck brace and when I put on my mask which was also really tight around my head, I fainted!!I was only gone for a few seconds and apparently my friend had to hold onto my legs because when I fell she was scared that I might fall into the water. Immediately they took the mask off me and loosened the neck brace! Thank you!! It was actually really funny and I did decide to go into the water afterwards but with a more loose neck brace this time and the risk of getting wet.
I have done snorkelling before in Turkey but let me tell you this is a complete new experience because it was so cold! But the moment you put your head into the water you forget it all and you are amazed by the underwater scenery. The water was so clear and you could see the algae which looked beautiful in the blue light. More importunity being able to snorkel between two tectonic plates was magical. I have to say it was a truly breathtaking experience with the only downside being that it was so cold which you really felt once you left the water on the walk back to the bus and our lips were frozen so that you had trouble speaking. LOL
I am glad to say that in the end I didn’t even get wet and we hurried to take the equipment and dry suits off to get back into the bus where a hot drink and biscuits were awaiting us.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience although it was a bit dramatic and I am thankful for Chris and the other staff for their assistance and advice! I would definitely recommend this snorkelling tour as I am sure that you will get a good story out of it!!:D
After the bus dropped us back to our hotel at around 5 pm, we had a shower and then fell asleep until 10 pm because it was all very exhausting too! We then got ready for a late dinner at Cafe Paris in the city.
I had a nice hot chocolate and a burger and of course some cake! Very yummy.
This was our last day in Iceland and we started it with breakfast at Cafe Loki! We had rye bread with egg and it was so delicious! You should definitely check it out even if you are not a marvel fan like us:P We then walked around the city, bought some souvenirs ( I bought a mug with a puffin on it), saw some puffin swimming in the sea and just explored Reykjavik in general.
We then went back to our hotel to check out and went to Reykjavik bus terminal where we locked our luggage away and would take the flybus the next morning to get to the airport.
For dinner on our last day we went to this restaurant where my friend and I tried whale and I have to say I didn’t like it that much maybe also because of the guilt I was feeling.
Anyway that night we then went to a pub where we met some locals and then left with them to this club where we partied the night away before it was time to go back to London the next morning.
I would definitely go back to visit Iceland again but maybe next time in the summer to see a different side of this beautiful country!
Thanks for reading.
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