Joseph and I embarked on a whirlwind of a trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary. First up: two days in Iceland!
Of the 5 European cities we were visiting throughout our trip, I was most excited about this stop. And it totally lived up to (even exceeded!) my expectations. It was incredible experience after incredible experience.
We landed at 6am in Iceland, which was midnight at our departure location. We were exhausted, but we had to stay up all day. The sun is only up for around 4 hours in Iceland at this time of the year, and I wasn’t going to let us miss any of that precious daylight! So we headed off to one of the most amazing places we’ve ever been…
We went straight from the airport to Blue Lagoon, a large geothermal pool that stays between 95-105°F. We got there when it opened at 8am, and we stayed until just after 11. At first it was pitch black, but we slowly watched the sunrise while in the water. The outside temperature was around 30°F, and it was sprinkling outside. We had small bits of ice frozen to our hair, but we felt nothing but warm!
We even got out of the pool a few times to try out the other amenities, like the sauna and the steam bath. Final verdict: I love the sauna and felt SO relaxes, which is incredibly rare for me.
The pool was amazing. I definitely recommend a visit, even though it’s pricey! It’s totally worth it and didn’t feel as touristy as the internet led me to believe it would be. It was absolutely beautiful, and you can’t get an experience like this anywhere else (not even at the other geothermal pools in Iceland). It’s a perfect stop between the airport and Reykjavik city, and it’s a great way to relax before or after a long flight. This is probably our favorite thing we did during our entire 18 day trip.
It seemed like nearly everyone around us was swimming while holding their cell phone above the water the entire time. We didn’t do that! But shortly before we left I got my cell phone from my locker, and we snapped a selfie.
City of Reykjavik
We stayed at Reykjavik Residence Hotel, which we recommend! It was really cozy yet spacious, and having a kitchenette helped us save some money. There was also plenty of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate – we definitely took advantage of that on the cold, windy days!
We visited Icewear in Reykjavik. I was so excited to “sign” their guestbook – a big knitting project. Guests are encouraged to pick up the needles and contribute. Couldn’t resist that!
I also admired some of the knit goods in the store, like the sweater below. Way out of my price range, but I took some mental notes ;)
One thing you should know about Iceland: it’s super expensive. This coffee cost $8!
Siteseeing around town: Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran church in Reykjavik.
The beautiful Harpa concert hall. We walked around the interior. At night it’s all lit up and looks stunning! Notice how slight different colored glass panels are spaced throughout randomly.
Favorite picture of me ever! Good job, Joseph!
That night we waited at the bus stop (across from this cute building) to go on a Northern Lights tour.
Then more waiting… outside in the cold, looking upwards to try to see the lights….
And we were successful!!!
It was incredible. We saw the lights dancing – green and blue and white and purple and pink, shifting in and out of the sky. It looked like a computer screensaver. I didn’t capture photos of the multi-colored lights dancing. I was focusing too much on absorbing everything in front of me. No time for fiddling with a camera. And that’s okay, because Joseph and I remember exactly what we saw.
We went into this experience assuming we wouldn’t see the lights. We just knew we would regret it if we didn’t try. But we got very, very lucky and saw them right away. And it really was amazing. I cried! In these photos you can see the lights at one point were next to the moon. I used a 10 to 15 second shutter speed on most of these.
Golden Circle Tour
We got a few hours of sleep after seeing the lights, and then we headed for the Golden Circle tour, which is a standard for tourists visiting Iceland. Ours included an extra stop: to a greenhouse in Friðheimar, which produces 300 tons of tomatoes a year (18% of Iceland’s tomato market). We had delicious tomato soup there while we waited for the 11am sunrise.
Iceland’s water, electricity, and food production systems are pretty incredible! That’s all I’m going to say. You’ll learn more when you visit Iceland!
And there were Icelandic horses there! They remind me of cows (I love cows).
Geysir Hot Springs
I like the mosses growing in this sign :)
I did not know my face was in frame for this shot, otherwise I wouldn’t look so sour! I intended this photo to show only my gloves – so I could post it on my Ravelry account. I finished knitting them on the flight. Super warm and cozy with a wool outer and an alpaca lining. So glad I made these for Iceland!
Being in Iceland is like being on another planet. This is Earth?!?!
So beautiful. So cold. Colder than standing outside hunting the Northern Lights. Thankful for layers and for handmade wool accessories!
I snapped a few photos from the window of our tour bus. Iceland is a seriously beautiful country.
Þingvellir National Park
Don’t ask me how to pronounce the name of this park.
Would we go back? Absolutely. I think we’ve seen enough of Reykjavik, but I could spend many more days looking at the Icelandic landscape. It’s the land of fire and ice – smoke billowing from volcanic rock, surrounded by mounds of snow. Where else can you see a scene like this, stretching on for miles?
We went during winter, which is off-season (and therefore less crowded and less costly! Although weather was comparatively mild, it was just a little too cold for our small Texas bodies. Though I have to say we feel like we’ll handle our Texas winter with total ease after this experience ;)
Next time, I would rent a car and spend a week driving across the country. Maybe I’m just a sucker for nature, but that was the best part of our trip. It is truly an amazing place to be. Worth every single $15 hot dog (seriously, we paid $15 for one hot dog).