Travel Tales: Iceland 2016, Day One

My trip to Iceland was nearly six months ago at this point, and I have done precious little to blog about the experience.  This was partially because, directly from Iceland I went straight to Vermont to spend some time with the family and partially because this blog just wasn’t that much of a priority in 2016.  This is something I hope to rectify as we start 2017, by creating some more interesting content, or at least something a little more focused.  But for now, I’m saying better late than never, pulling out my journal from the trip, and getting started on the blogging.

The days leading up to Iceland were shockingly anxiety-free.  In fact, I was more concerned with making sure I packed correctly than with the fact that I was about to embark on a 5 day journey in a foreign country with six strangers.  I was looking forward to the experience, finally feeling like I was doing something really interesting with myself rather than sitting around my apartment.

Mom drove me to the airport, and I went through the customary lines, excited that I was img_5767actually going to be able to use my passport.  I had it renewed a few years ago with no travel plans in sight and have yet to be able to use it.  Despite my attempts to figure out how to do this all with just a carry on, going to the warm Vermont climate (I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but it does actually get warm there in the summer) directly from chillier Iceland proved a packing challenge and I ended up with my giant purple duffle bag.  That duffle bag has served me well over the years.  I bought it when I was first traveling to Paris back in 2003, and have used it on many trips, both in and out of the country, since.

Once in the airport, I met up with the tour guide and one of the girls.  The other four girls were booked on a different flight, and we planned to meet them in the morning once we arrived in Reykjavik.  The airport wait was it’s usual uneventful passing of the time, aside from the fact that a friend was actually in the same terminal on the same day.  We had hoped to meet for a drink but got sidetracked with a luggage snafu and missed each other.  All that was left to do was board the plan and head off to Iceland.

Most people are surprised that the trip to Iceland is so short.  The flight was a breeze – five and a half hours, and if you give me those direct t.v. screens, I’m gold.   Because I don’t sleep on planes, I immerse myself in movies I haven’t seen or old classics guaranteed to distract me from the fact that I’m flying (not a huge fan of flying, but I accept it as a necessity to get from one place to another).   I believe I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding II and then put on Jurassic Park, at which point I managed to snooze for approximately forty minutes.

We arrived at the Reykjavik airport at 7:15 a.m. and met up with our other four traveling companions.   While we waited for our tour guide to get the rental car, we chatted about our trip expectations and various other things, as we had only met one – and very briefly at that – before coming on the trip.  When the rental car arrived, we learned that it was the wrong car, and we would have to have it switched in the morning.  Thankfully it would serve it’s purpose for the day as we set off to our first location, the Blue Lagoon.

While venturing toward the Lagoon, I got my first true look at the country of Iceland.  I had tried peering out the window of the plane, and did see the landscape, but this was the first up close and personal look I got.  Much of the makeup of the landscape is from volcanic rock, and then as we got closer to the lagoon, the icy blue water starkly contrasted with it.  We had barely seen everything and I had already decided that everything in Iceland was gorgeous, despite the cloudy skies.

img_5770When we arrived at the Blue Lagoon, rain had started to steadily, but not heavily, fall.  We quickly made our way inside, where we got our blue bands which you use to pay for things on credit while you’re in the water (and then you pay on the way out).  Then it was off to the locker rooms, where you are required to shower and change before going into the water.  The lagoon is actually  a man-made geothermal spa powered by a neighboring geothermal plant.  The water is full of silica and sulphur (you can definitely smell the sulphur in a lot of spots!).  While you bathe in it, you can order drinks, get a massage or use the free facial mask mud.

You would think that on a chilly, rainy day, the last thing you want to do it go into some water.  However, stepping into the lagoon is like getting into a really nice bath.  It was insanely relaxing, particularly since it was so chilly outside of the water.  We spent the first half hour or so just exploring the various coves and trying the face masks and, of course, taking pictures.  I needed the iconic “standing in the blue lagoon photo:”


After a little while of just enjoying the warm water, we headed over to the bar to enjoy some Prosecco.  Standing in the blue lagoon enjoying prosecco is probably one of the most luxurious things you could ever do (however, I do not recommend doing so when you’ve had very little sleep and very little water – it was awesome while it lasted but about an hour later I had a splitting headache!).  We learned that Iceland has become a very popular spot for bachelor parties, and we came upon at least three different groups of them.

I must admit, while the initial hour in the Blue Lagoon was extremely relaxing, after that I started to get antsy.  I wasn’t the only one – all the girls seemed eager to get to the house we were staying in and recoup after a long night on the flight.  We headed out of the water, back to change and spent a little while in the gift shop before we loaded ourselves back into the car and headed for the rental house.

The house was an Air BnB situation in a suburban part of Reykjavik.  It is normally occupied by a family with a number of children (we were never able to guess just how many from the pictures on the wall).  I loved seeing all the Icelandic books on the shelves, even though I wasn’t able to decipher a single word in them.  The house was comfortable, however, and had plenty of space for all of us.

Everyone set about to taking naps or running errands (such as picking up food for our breakfasts and lunch throughout the week).  I chose not to nap, trying to stay up so that I could really reset my jet lag that evening.  This was around the time that the headache started to get really bad, but I powered through, took a shower and felt somewhat renewed for the evening’s journey into Reykjavik.

All day long I had been looking forward to going into the city.  We were going to spend so much time out and about and driving to different locations, I knew this was our chance to see the city.  We headed in together and went straight for the famous church that sits at the top of the main strip.  The church itself was impressive, and the interior was beautiful.  We even got to go to the very top and take pictures of the city.


From the church, we walked down the main street, stopping into shops and to take pictures along the way.  I didn’t get as many pictures as I wanted, but I did manage to get a few here and there of the buildings.  Reykjavik is charming and adorable, and I would definitely like to spent more time there.

Dinner that night was at Vegamot, which had very American food (at least to me).  However, I had a burger with camembert and spicy mustard and it was pretty awesome.  We lingered at dinner talking, me fading quickly as I was the only person who hadn’t taken a nap that day, and then headed back to the house to prepare for our first day of nature walks.


And a brief note before signing off one day one: the above picture was taken at 10:45 p.m.  I basically never saw dark while we were there – it never got truly dark, dark even the night we were up really late, and I was usually asleep before the darkness set it and awake by the time the sun had risen.

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