|View of Reykjavik|
A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a Living Social coupon for a 4 day trip to Iceland. Since it included flights and looked like an incredible deal, I booked it. That morning, I was chatting online with my friend and told her about it. Within moments, she wrote back saying that she and her boyfriend wanted to go too. The next day, all four of us were confirmed and heading to Iceland! I like to consider myself a online coupon connoisseur; however, I never booked an entire trip with a coupon like that! I had my doubts on how it would go, but we received all of our travel information on time and had plenty of time to plan our free day activities with a small tour company called GoEcco. We were set to go! (this is my plug for Living Social because they were incredibly efficient and reliable the entire trip)
Day 1 - Exploring Reykjavik
|Shopping in Reykjavik|
|Sun Voyager Sculpture|
|Lobster Soup at Saegreifinn|
|Separation of North American and Eurasian Plates|
Day 2 - Golden Circle Tour
|Famous Hot Dogs of Iceland|
Before getting back on the bus, I detoured for a quick lunch at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur for the best hot dog in town. I am not typically a fan of hot dogs, but since this place was both advertised for on the IcelandAir flight and pointed out by our guide the day before, I decided to try it. After eating this famous frank, I can still say that I am not a fan of hot dogs. I heard that hot dogs are the Icelandic national food. That makes me very sad for them, because this is not something I would proudly claim. The dog costs about $2 USD and comes with an untoasted bun, ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. My biggest problem is that it is just a boiled hot dog. It is not plump, juicy, or grilled. You can put the most wonderful condiments on a burger patty from McDonalds, but it will still be a greasy mess.
|Me by one of the streams caused by moving plates|
The next stop was the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir was the first geyser known to modern Europeans! This is where the English word geyser came from. Geysir has not erupted for a while, but the more reliable Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes or so. There are also plenty of other "inactive" geysers in the area that are just pools are hot water waiting for the next earthquake to wake it up. There are signs everywhere warning tourists not to touch the water because it is incredibly hot, but I did it anyways because I am a rebel. It's true, it is hot.
We all napped on the bus ride back since it was too cloudy for the northern lights and were ready for a night out on the town! After a quick change, we walked along the main road in search for some nightlife. The first stop was definitely a local bar because as we walked in, no one paid any attention to us. In fact, there all appeared somewhere out of it and quite possibly on drugs. We did not stay there very long before deciding to move on... The next stop was The Lebowski Bar on Laugarvegur . I was told by a friend to come here, so I knew this was more promising than the first place. Though I am not a fan of the movie, I do really enjoy white russians and ordered myself one within moments of entering the bowling themed bar. In fact, they had an entire drink menu of variations on the White Russian, too bad there were all nearly $15.
Day 3 - Private Tour to Jökulsárlón
|Moss Covered Lava Field|
The first official stop was Skogafoss, a waterfall off of Ring Road in southern Iceland. This is a pretty classic waterfall and drops about 60m. Again, it was very cool seeing this waterfall in action in the winter. All of the snow and frozen water was piled up on one side from where the wind would blow the mist. Also, there was a path and a small staircase (only 400 steps or so) leading to the very top so that you could look at the waterfall from the top down.
Further along the way, we drove through the largest lava field in the world. It was very weird to look at as it went on for what seemed like miles in every direction. On top of the lava rocks, a thick moss has been growing for years making it seem very "the hills have eyes" creepy.
|Black sand desert|
Several miles later and well into the highlands in Iceland, the moss covered lava fields completely transformed into the incredible black sand Desert of Skeidarasandur. The highlands are situated above 400–500 meters and are mostly an uninhabitable volcanic desert. At this point, I was convinced we had traveled through at least 3 countries because the landscape changes so drastically from one stop to the next. The weather also changed at each stop from sun to rain to wind to hail... Our guide said there is a saying about Iceland that if you don't like the weather, you should wait 10 minutes. I definitely experienced that first hand.
I apparently didn't take good notes because I know that at some point we also went to a nearby beach where the waves were scary big and the wind was blowing like crazy, so I refused to bring my camera. Out in the water there were these large basalt columns sticking up like black water sculptures. At this point, I started to get more annoyed with our tour guides as they were not telling us anything. They would drop us off from site to site without much background information and then walk away from us. I should have bought myself a book on Iceland; lesson learned.
Before leaving the site, our party stood at the edge of the glacial basking in it's wonder when we all heard a big roar and cracking noise from something breaking off somewhere... We did not stay around to figure out exactly what it was. This is one of the stops where I was very glad we had a guide. I don't think any of us would have had the courage to walk out on the glacier alone, and if we had it most likely would have been one of us falling through that crack and not the boulder.
On the long ride home, we were able to stop at Seljalandsfoss. Typically, the highlight of this stop is that you can actually hike behind the waterfall. Unfortunately, we didn't get there until well after dark and only stayed for a moment and a quick picture. I would have liked to come here in the day and would probably make that adjustment to any future itinerary
|Glacier pieces on the sand|
|Aurora Borealis lighting up the night sky!|
Day 4 - The Blue Lagoon and Airport
|The Blue Lagoon|
Overall, we had a wonderful trip! The weather was perfect and we really saw a lot. The Living Social part of the tour was well organized and punctual. The GoEcco part left a lot to be desired from the guides, but we did get the see everything we wanted to see and I wouldn't trade that for anything! If you're interested in any in depth reviews, you cannot look at my Yelp page because Iceland does not have Yelp! They do have TripAdvisor, so I may have to setup an account there.