I’ve been home for one week now and I just want to go back. Vacation was way too short and vacation from work was definitely way too short. After a couple of flights we made it our destination at the Keflavik International Airport which is the main way travelers visit Iceland. The airport is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik which was where our hotel was. Our trip home had a little bit more drama, but we survived and made it in one piece.
Jake and I flew Air Canada to our connection in Toronto for a flight via Icelandair. Icelandair was amazing, the flight attendants were very friendly, the plane had a blanket and pillow with an Icelandic lullaby on it. Our experience with Air Canada was sub par, however. When we checked in at Minneapolis St. Paul International airport, the airport employee informed us that we were going to have to claim our checked luggage, move it ourselves to be connected to a new terminal, and then move terminals ourselves. Upon landing in Toronto after a delayed flight our baggage never showed up. After arguing with the Air Canada attendants and Canada’s security we found out Air Canada had moved our luggage and didn’t inform us of it. Our luggage barely made it onto the Icelandair flight thanks to Air Canada’s miss-communication. Then coming home we almost missed our flight because we had to move our luggage ourselves and Air Canada did not have nearly enough employees working to make it worth the time we had. Then our luggage was lost for two days. Aside from the drama with the airliner, our trip was amazing!
We stayed at the Reykjavik Light Hotel about 15 minutes from downtown Reykjavik, by bus. Once we arrived, we napped for a few hours before walking around through the neighborhood and grabbing a late lunch. The weather was a balmy 38 degrees almost everyday when we there and there was rain and snow everyday, but honestly the weather didn’t bother me. Jake and I picked a good week to leave Minnesota as it was 10 degree below zero almost the entire week we were gone. Funny story, our first day in the hotel we saw Minnesota on a the only English speaking TV station we received and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was being interviewed from Minneapolis.
Our Northern Lights tour was cancelled Tuesday (and Wednesday) night due to inclement weather, so we relaxed in our hotel room the first night. Wednesday was our trip to the Blue Lagoon and it was easily the highlight of our trip. When we arrived around 11 a.m. there was some light, but it had just started raining. We were given writstbands which are for your locker and any charges at the cafe during your visit. The Blue Lagoon is salt water so it dries out your hair quite a bit so it is recommended that your condition your hair before and after entering the pool. Again, it was about 38 degrees that day and the water was around 100 degrees causing steam to rise from the pool and spray in the patrons faces. I had purchased a waterproof camera case hoping to get some pictures of us in the water, but it was so windy that it wasn’t worth the hassle. I used some of the clay provided around the perimeter of the pool on my face and upper body then purchased hot chocolate before the sun came out for the last 15 minutes we spent in the water. I was hoping to take a tour of the location, but the time we wanted was booked full. If you want to take the tour, I would suggest emailing the Blue Lagoon to book your tour in advanced or ask right away when you enter the building. But because all the Icelanders were so nice, one of the Blue Lagoon’s employees let us walk up to the viewing area so that we could take some photos before leaving a little after 1 p.m. The photos of the water turned out so much better in print than on a screen.
The next day we went to the Saga Museum in downtown Reykjavik down by the bay. The museum has guided tours of Iceland’s history with wax sculptures of the figures of the country’s history, including some Vikings. After we went through the guided tour, the museum has Vikings clothing and replica weapons and accessories that you can dress up in. We spent some more time down by the bay walking around to find the parliament building. During the hunt we found Reykjavik’s city hall and cathedral. The parliament building was not open to the public, but Jake was happy that we got to see it. We ate lunch at a cute café across from the parliament building, Café Paris. The food in Iceland was mostly the same that you could get in America except there seemed to be no chain restaurants or stores. A few dishes at all the restaurants we ate at had a few dishes that had Icelandic spins on them and all the food was more flavorful and fresh than what you would get in most American restaurants. I was reading about Iceland’s agriculture industry before we left for the trip and most of their food is grown and raised within their country. The prices were a bit higher than in America, but it was worth it for the quality of food we were eating.
That night we went on our Northern Lights tour which was guided and included about 700 tourists. If I had to do it again, I would look for a smaller company offering the tour because the amount of people using cameras and capturing the moment was overwhelming. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the Northern Lights because of the cloudy weather, but the company offered us a two year voucher to go on the tour again if we visit Iceland again. I’m not sure if we’ll travel there again within two years, but at least we have the vouchers if some friends visit the country. Despite not seeing the Northern Lights, I enjoyed our tour guide and learned more about Iceland’s culture. In Iceland, no one changes their last names upon marriage and children are allowed to chose whether they want to take their mother’s or father’s last name as they grow up. I think this is amazing and the way it should be everywhere, but that’s another post for another day. We drove by the only prison in Iceland and the Skyr production building, the manufacturer of Iceland’s famous yogurt. Skyr is compared to Greek yogurt, but I would say it has more of a consistency of normal American style yogurt though a bit more firm. I quite enjoyed it and it has a lot of protein in it, which is always a plus in my book. Finally, our tour guide sang us an Icelandic lullaby on journey back to our hotel.
I loved visiting Iceland. The people were beyond nice and helpful. I would definitely suggest visiting if you’re into outdoor activities and outdoor site-seeing during your travels. I do wish we could have stayed longer, maybe a full five days. The flight from Toronto was about five and half to six hours and the weather was reasonably even though it’s the middle of winter. I would invest in a good weatherproof coat, gloves, and bring an umbrella, even though I didn’t see anyone using one, it’s still a good back-up. Wear a good pair of shoes or boots if you visit in winter months. Getting around by public transportation was easy and everyone spoke English on some level so communicating wasn’t a problem. If anyone has ever visited Iceland or is interested, leave comments below and I’ll get back to you.