To mix it up a bit, we are starting a category called #Throwback. Why not? #TBT or #ThrowbackThursdays are so popular that we might as well cash in on them by doing my own throwback! Plus it gives me a good excuse to write and reminisce about our older trips.
If you are big Games of Thrones fan (Winter is Coming!), you should be familiar with Iceland as the land “Beyond the Wall”. This is our second trip to the country, with the first time as a 5-day layover on our way back home from Amsterdam in November 2012 (Iceland Air offers a 7-day layover without additional cost). We really loved Iceland that we decided we must take our friends and see it during the summer. We spent 8 days split between Reykjavik and the Westfjords (not quite the “wall”) in June 2015. Iceland has their summer solstice in the month of June, where the sun sets by skimming the horizon around midnight and rises again just before 3am. Give me some MIDNIGHT SUN!
It was a surreal experience hanging out at all hours of the day/night especially with Reykjavik’s popping nightlife! And if nightlife is what you’re after, make sure you are in Reykjavik on Friday and Saturday night since it was a lot less busy the other night’s of the week. Most people like to hop around from place to place and tends to get lively right around midnight all the way to 3am or later. Getting out of a dance club around 2:30am, the streets were packed full of Icelanders and tourists alike just wanting to have a good time, or hungry for some grub like the famous Icelandic hotdog Baejarins Beztu Pyslur or sandwiches from Nonnabiti Subs.
Having an extended day also allowed us to do so much more activities like the full-day Thorsmork Valley hike (via Artic Adventures), an evening caving tour from 8pm to midnight (via Extreme Iceland), or kayaking in the Westfjords (via Ogur Travel). They also offer “midnight sun” tours of Iceland’s Golden Circle (via Grayline), consisting of the national park of Thingvellir, the Gullfoss waterfalls, and the geothermal valley of Haukadalur which contains the geyser called “Geysir” (it’s the original one!!). Oh… and let’s not forget the delicious lamb stew at the restaurant right next to the Gullfoss waterfall (TripAdvisor is all over it!).
Most hotels and apartments in Iceland have “blackout” blinds or curtains to keep out the sun to help you sleep. Although if you are very sensitive to light, I highly suggest using an eye mask. We stayed at a lovely 75 square meter 2bedroom/1bath apartment (called Mengi Apartments) down the block from Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja church and within a stone’s throw distance to the main shopping street of Laugavegur (not to be mistaken with the 49-mile hiking trail in the south-west of Iceland).
No trip to Iceland is complete without visiting the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. Granted it is very touristy and not exactly cheap, especially compared to other geothermal pools in Iceland. But how could you not go – it’s the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa!! My recommendation is to spend at least half the day at the spa and go as early as possible to avoid the crowds, especially during the summer. If you can swing it, make a lunch reservation at Blue Lagoon’s award winning Lava Restaurant. Our friends and I all partook of the 3-course set menu – choice between the Seafood, Icelandic Gourmet, or the Vegetarian menu (see the Blue Lagoon’s website for more details).
Bottom line: Iceland should be on everyone’s bucket list, especially if you live in the East Coast as it is only a 5-hour flight to the land of fire and ice. If you need more convincing, go watch The Bieb’s (as in Justin Bieber if you didn’t know) “I’ll Show You” music video shot entirely in Iceland. Fine! You can turn down the music and just watch the scenery as it cinematically unfolds… I know… you can’t avoid seeing The Bieb’s in it but at least he’s good eye candy.
More to come as I have plenty more Iceland stories, both from our 2012 and 2015 trip, along with foodie experiences such as eating puffin and minke whale. Also, watch out for a future post of our 3day/2night drive around the Westfjords, which was just plain G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S along with the best meal I had in Iceland. To view our itinerary including cost, click on this link.