If I could be anywhere in the world right now, I would choose Iceland. Every corner you turn, the scenery is straight from a magazine. The whole time I felt like I was outta this world. Iceland had been a place I had dreamed about since I was a child…Sooo, spontaneous little me planned this trip in April and well.. we headed to Iceland in May!
Scott and I went during shoulder season, and I’m so glad we did. Summertime in Iceland is breathtaking. The sun shines bright from 3AM to 12AM in May, and the weather is cold (but not too cold). My favorite was seeing herds of Icelandic horses running wild in green fields with their manes flowing in the air. Oh and can’t forget the flocks of fluffy sheep crossing the road and birds sleeping on the road to soak in the warmth of the pavement without fear of getting run over. Seriously though, once you are out of Reykjavik, the roads become long and isolated, probably seeing a car every 20 minutes or so. I started imagining we were the only humans alive on this planet. The more I thought about this scenario, the more I began to feel a sense of peace in my mind, especially with everything so beautiful around me. But at the same time, it also felt lonely and eerie. As humans, we usually seek alone time with nature to help us emotionally and physically, yet we also need that human connection in order to keep us sane. Still, it was exciting being alone on the road.
The very first place we went in Iceland was the Blue Lagoon. Though we were tired from the flight, we hoped that a steamy dip would cure our jet lag. It did! You are required to shower first before entering the lagoon. After a (much needed) shower, we put on our robes and eased our way into the water. Weather was cold but once in the lagoon, you are in heaven. We relaxed in the hot water, walked over to the bar and grabbed a delish blueberry skyr smoothie, relaxed some more under a waterfall, went inside the sauna, and then we got hungry. Our stomachs shouted for fish and soup. Luckily, we didn’t have to go far since the Blue Lagoon has its own restaurant, called “Lava.” It’s pricey but so worth it! We also got the best view in the house and the most amazing fish ever! We were both happy, in love, and relaxed. After a wonderful day at the lagoon, we headed for our hotel in Reykjavik.
I think the first thing I noticed about Iceland was how fresh the air and water are. I mean the tap water tasted better than the most expensive bottled water out in the market. Sooo, after chugging the best water I’ve ever had and hydrating my body, we walked to downtown Reykjavik. We climbed to the top of Hallgrímskirkja church, caught a glimpse of the colorful little city and thennnn we hunted for more cute little places to eat! The first thing my eyes caught a glance of were restaurants that served puffin and Icelandic horse. We didn’t try, (one of us was a pescatarian at the time and the other only eats chicken and fish lol) but if you are up for giving your pallet a wild ride, go for it! Instead, we decided to stuff ourselves with more local, fresh fish and homemade soup. After a late dinner at 10PM, the sun was still shining bright! That threw our sleeping schedule off a bit, so instead we decided to walk down by the sea and take in the “sunset” (sun didn’t go down till after 12AM). It was still lovely and our hearts (and stomachs) were full and happy!
So what was the highlight of our trip you ask?
Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Holy wow. One look at this lagoon, and I was frozen (and not just because it was cold outside!) I felt so small in front of these towering blue icebergs streaked with volcanic ash. If you listen closely, you can hear them crackle, drip, and melt. The sound of melting glaciers is quiet but powerful. It is subtle and unmistakable, and it haunts my ears as a I write this, reminding me of climate change and how it is already impacting our planet. At the same time though, Jökulsárlón glows. The lagoon’s beauty is endless with snow capped mountains in the background, curious seals swimming around the icebergs, and even giant ice chunks lying on black volcanic sand. Seriously though, what a divine sight!
We also stayed at an amazing hotel only a few miles away from the lagoon. It’s literally right behind a volcano and next to a cute little waterfall. If you are ever at Jökulsárlón and want to spend a night, I highly recommend Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon! This hotel is brand new and very modern. The restaurant area and rooms feel like you are in a spaceship, and the food was some of the best I had in Iceland (though a bit pricey). Here is a short 58 second video of the hotel: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
I usually don’t like being around places that make me feel small because they evoke a feeling of powerlessness. Yet in Iceland, I craved for more of that feeling because it made me forget about unnecessary worries. Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss fulfilled my need to feel small again. It was cloudy and windy on the day we visited these waterfalls, and it was soooo cold. Still, no matter the temperature, I was going to brave the path that goes behind beautiful Seljalandfoss. Thankfully, I brought a raincoat that got soaked in seconds as I approached the falls… Did I almost get hypothermia? Probably. But that didn’t matter to me as I was right in front of this monstrous, adrenaline-fueling, 200-foot waterfall! But when I realized I couldn’t really feel my legs anymore, I finished the trail and ran to the car to change. Just think of a water park on a really cold, windy day, soaked… in Iceland. That’s what it felt like, but part of me didn’t care because I was way too happy!
The drive to Jökulsárlón is really easy during the summer, and the views are amazing. We stopped a few times along the way and one of those stops included a must–hear me out peeps–gas station sammies. You heard right. Those sandwiches are bomb and oh so tasty! Like I mentioned before, once you are out of Reykjavik, you are on your own. So pack some food but most importantly, buy and pack those gas station sandwiches.
It was actually really hard not stopping everywhere because everything was so beautiful. One of our other stops along the way to Jökulsárlón was at Vik, a little village on the shore of the North Atlantic. Even though it was cold, rainy, and windy, (and after I tried a famous Icelandic hotdog at a little store near by… super good btw even though I don’t really eat much meat), we did some exploring! We tried to walk along the black sand beach, but the closer we got to the ocean, the colder and more soaked we got lol. Layers in Iceland is key! I forgot layers, especially around my face if that’s even a thing. I wrapped my face with my scarf, put on my sunglasses because it was windy and sand was blowing everywhere. We snapped a few pics, ran to touch the ocean, and then it was back to the car to continue our journey. Don’t get me wrong, it was very exciting all at the same time because seeing the dark and frosty northern Atlantic Ocean in person is impressive. But I’m hoping for some friendlier weather next time!
The Golden Circle was magical too! We headed straight for Þingvellir, a national park that’s situated by two tectonic plates. Then we checked out the Geysir and last stop was at Gullfoss, with a midway stop to pet some gorgeous horses! The Geysir explodes every few minutes so you can’t miss it. I was naive and ran up to an open area around the Geysir thinking “WOW got the best spot”… well it all made sense why no one was standing there after I got soaked lol. After the Geysir, we made our way to Gullfoss. The scale of this waterfall is intimidating and it is so loud and powerful! The mist created lots of pretty rainbows in the background, and the misty air was fresh. It made my lungs happy. Gullfoss is simply stunning!
Iceland gave us the most memorable views of our lifetime. Our next visit to Iceland will be in the Winter for sure to compare and experience an Icelandic winter. Iceland, you have a big piece of my heart, and I cannot wait to be back soon!
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