Oh! hello there… it’s been a minute hasn’t it? When we last left off we’d just returned from a fabulous week in Joshua Tree. That was back in the blissfully ignorant “right before everything went haywire” time which was late February 2020. Seems like a million years and a different lifetime ago, but I don’t have to tell you that. We’ve been through a lot since then, and I don’t have to tell you that either. Even if we’ll never get back to the way things “used to be” the world is still full of beauty and after all the ugliness we’ve endured recently I want to shout that from the rooftops. So, I’m back with my first travel post in 17 months. I’m a little rusty, but bear with me because I’m here to tell you about Iceland, which is probably one of the most magical places on the entire planet. Notice I said probably, because you never know ’til you’ve been everywhere and I haven’t been everywhere YET. But in any event Iceland has got to be pretty darn close to the top. Here’s how we spent our time in the land of fire and ice…
Reykjavik The weather in Iceland is pretty grey, but it’s still a very colorful country. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. It’s also impressively progressive, with the first openly LGBTQ government leader. No glass ceiling here either, as she also happens to be a woman. That’s probably why it’s such a well run country… just sayin’ There are like a million and forty nine (give or take) churches in Iceland, but Hallgrimskirkja is probably the tallest and most impressive. I say probably, because maybe I missed a church or two and they could have been better. You just never know.Also, it’s not true that the only thing you can find to eat in Iceland is either a type of fish, or something smoked, or some type of smoked fish. There are a lot of other options, like the bread which is amazing and kleiner which is like a donut but way better. With kleiner in hand, you’re ready to explore…This was my Wes Anderson moment. I’m always looking for Wes Anderson moments because they make me happy. There are more than 100 public art installations in Reykjavik, which is pretty cool for such a small city. This is Þúfa, and we loved it, but were worried about the person who has to cut the grass.Every building seems to be a work of art in its own right.And the interiors are just as interesting and generally very cozy (probably on account of all the rain). This is The Icelandic Bar, which we picked because we thought there was an off chance they’d have tasty traditional Icelandic food. Spoiler alert: we were right! You don’t have to go traditional if you eat here though because there are lots of other menu items like burgers and salad and other stuff that’s not Icelandic, but if you don’t have the salmon dog you’re probably missing out. Also, you won’t be able to say you had a salmon dog.
Reykjavik is a good place to explore the colorful culture, eat traditional or non-traditional food and drink Brio (the local beer), followed by a kleiner and good strong coffee. I’m not saying all we did in Reykjavik is eat and drink, but I’m not saying we did anything else either. My daughter may have found a few thrift stores, but that’s because if there’s a thrift store somewhere she’s gonna find it. She didn’t buy anything though because in Iceland thrift store prices are equivalent to Rodeo Drive prices and welp, we weren’t there to shop anyway. I liked that these people were sitting outside enjoying their Gull or Brio even though it was raining. Who cares about a little rain? Or a lot of rain? No one when you’re in Iceland. You can’t care because you’d spend all your time being sad about the weather, which seems like a ginormous waste of precious time doesn’t it?
If we’ve learned anything it’s that you have to just hang out and enjoy where you are. Found some Icelandic vibes times a million (plus really good coffee) here at Reykjavik Roasters so figured this was a good place to hang for a while…See? cozy, plus jammin’ tunes If you are tired of the rain, you can go to Perlan and virtually experience all the wonders of Iceland that you’re missing by worrying about the rain. Admittedly there was one afternoon that we were a teeny bit tired of the rain so we decided to check it out. But just as we pulled into the parking lot the sun came out. We couldn’t bear to waste the only 15 minutes of blue sky we’d been afforded during our trip so we decided to forego the museum in favor of experiencing things in real life, underneath actual sun. So, I can’t say if it’s good or not. The exterior is pretty cool though.
Geothermal PoolsSo, geothermal pools are a really big thing in Iceland that I didn’t think I’d be in to that much, but turns out I really like geothermal pools.The kids were annoyed that we picked Sky Lagoon over the famed Blue Lagoon and they accused us of habitually avoiding popular tourist destinations at all costs (pointing out that they are popular for a reason) and therefore forever depriving them of “normal vacations”.
As you can see they were right and they didn’t enjoy themselves at all and Sky Lagoon was super weird and totally sucked.Seriously though, when will they learn to trust us? This was the most relaxed I’ve felt in years. We also went to the Secret Lagoon but it didn’t feel like a secret because it was pretty crowded.It was still nice though, and also very relaxing. Some guy was even sleeping while soaking and he was out for so long that we thought he was dead. Luckily he was not dead because that would have been weird and probably would have killed the whole vibe.Fontana was 10 minutes from our AirB&B so we felt obligated to check it out. I’m glad we did because it was pretty great. But my hands down favorite was Hrunalaug Pool which is just a tiny little geothermal watering hole kind of in the middle of nowhere. It was pure magic.If you time it right you can have the place to yourselves, BUT I will say that’s no easy feat as this little gem has been discovered by the masses and is no longer off the beaten path. So go early or late. But definitely go.
There are more than 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland and we tried really hard to visit them all, but alas I feel like we might have fallen a tad short. That’s ok though because the ones we did see were spectacular.
We were lucky enough to be able to walk to two beautiful falls from the house we were renting and this one, Bruarfoss, ended up being one of the most impressive ones which I guess means we could have saved ourselves a lot of driving.
See what I mean?But then again, they were all so amazing and gorgeous in their own way…this is Seljalandsfoss “the one you can walk behind”or stand in front of for a pic with your kids who are somehow suddenly miles taller than you (must be all those quarantine snacks)and this one is the movie set waterfall, Skogafoss. I don’t know if it’s actually been in a movie, but if not it should beYou’ve got to walk to the top to get the full effect. It’s a lot of stairsbut you’re rewarded with this viewthis beauty is Gullfoss…and this one I think has something to do with Game of Thrones, but (gasp) I don’t watch that show so I don’t know what all the hype is about. Anyway, it’s Oxararfoss in Thingvellir National Park, which is where you can literally walk between two continents. After this, we did that. It was extra cool.
Geysers, Mushrooms, Black Sand Beaches and Other Magical Things…
Ok, if I don’t wrap this up soon it will be another 17 months before I’m done, and 17 more once you finish reading it. By then who knows what will be happening in this crazy world? So in summary… we saw an active geyser which was totally amazing and we ate lunch at a mushroom farm where every. single. thing. on the menu involved mushrooms in one way or another (even the ice cream) We marveled at all the little elf huts which are maybe not really elf huts, but sure look like elf huts and anyway elves ARE real so they probably are elf huts…we drove down to Vik and it’s beautiful black sand beaches,where we met Leif Erikson (sort of)and tried to navigate fog so dense it felt like a solid wallalso spent some time walking around Kerid craternavigating the Eurasian-North American Tectonic Plate Rift (!!!!)and looking for more churches.We had saved the last day for visiting the active volcano because when do you ever get to see an active volcano and real live lava? But, it’s a two hour hike each way and the live-cam that we obsessed over all week was showing zero visibility. It seemed like a lot of work for little payoff, so we drove around looking at old volcanic rock and pretty lighthouses instead. Not the same, but pretty cool anyway.We didn’t make it to the north and we didn’t see any glaciers but I guess we have to save something for next time. So until next time…