Wonders of Iceland

Summer 2014 and Adam’s 30th was coming up. Time for plotting a birthday adventure. Now as much as he says I chose the destination because it was somewhere I wanted to go (this could be true), we had both talked about it for ages. I love a bit of researching so after trawling people’s blogs and reading up about realistic distances etc. the South Icelandic road trip was born…..

In 4 days we covered a pretty large area and explored so much as well as encountered many memorable experiences which would take way too many words to explain and is probably be boring for others eyes. Here, I give a brief-ish summary of the 4 days hopefully giving a guide and some ideas as to what can be achieved in the time frame.

Thursday evening – flew out of London and into Keflavík International Airport which is 50km south of Reykjavik. Picked up our rental car and drove to Reykjavik to our first bed at Guesthouse Vikingur. It was after midnight when we got there so just needed somewhere for the night. It was pretty basic and we had actually been locked out but luckily there was a fellow traveller who was up and about with severe toothache. Thank you to the lady for letting us in! It could have been a long cold night…

Friday: Let the road-trip begin – we drove out on route 1, the main ring road in Iceland, stocked up with some road trip supplies and made a few stops on the way to see various waterfalls (and practise the camera waterfall setting!). We decided to take a slight detour to an area near Thorolfsfell where we walked and didn’t see a soul for hours. Onwards to Skogafoss (a fantastic waterfall) and then our bed for the night towards the East of Iceland Skyrhúsid Guest House. Minor detour to the Jokulsarlon lake which we’re seeing the next day but there was an incredible dominating light we had seen for miles on our drive and it led directly to there. The reason – they were filming at the spot; lots of kids dressed in warm white fluffy outfits singing. In the light and intermittent rain the glaciers lit up agianst the deep black of the night…really rather incredible to see. Skyrhúsid Guest House was a gem – comfortable, friendly and we had a fantastic meal at the only restaurant up the hill.

Saturday: Rise and shine, we thought we were up pretty early but were in fact the last to leave. Everyone you see and meet is so active, ready to embrace the day – that’s just one of the many things I loved.  We headed back to Jokulsarlon glacial lake by day and spent a good few hours here admiring the blue glaciers both in the lake and down on the sea shore. We even spotted some seals on our walk around the lake! I could have stayed here for much of the day, but we had places to go so got on our way – the heating in the car was very welcome. We headed on to Vatnajökull National Park where we planned to do some walking – it was spectacular if not rather breezy. Again hardly anyone in sight it and we got a great view of another mammoth glacier.

We were staying in Skogar for the night so headed on making a few stops on the way to view more landscapes, glaciers and waterfalls – you just don’t get bored of them!

Skogar guesthouse was fantastic, complete with outdoor jacuzzi to sit back and star-gaze. Sigga the host so so welcoming and there is one restaurant a short walk away. It’s situated very near to Skogafoss too.

Sunday: Sigga had cooked a great breakfast to kick start our morning and we enquired about horse riding as I was determined to ride an Icelandic pony! She knew a farm down the road which could take us out so that was our first stop for the day. We hadn’t ridden for ages so it was a very gentle ride but still great and the ponies are seriously cute. We were heading back to Reykjavik for Sunday night but had decided to pop in to a couple more of the sites on our way back including Gulfoss a very popular and spectacular waterfall and the geysirs. It was definitely worth it but with their proximity to Reykjavik there was understandably the coach tours of people and a much more touristy feel as opposed to the more deserted, wild experience towards the East of Iceland.

Driving back through Thingvellir National Park watching the sun go down was another beautiful sight to add to the collection.

Back in Reykjavik we checked into a self servicing apartment and headed out for drinks and some food. I had been following the Aurora (Northern Lights) forecast, determined not to miss a viewing. It said there was very low visibility chances even though it was a super clear night. I held back on the wine and decided after supper we were off to sit in a park nr-ish to Reykjavik and wait for the Northern Lights, against Adam’s wishes – he said he was tired. I knew we’d regret it if we didn’t at least try. A couple of hours parked up in a rather chilly car, Adam asleep next to me and the sky began to dance. Green flecks of what looked like fairy dust spread itself across the sky. There was a faint cheer that could be heard across the lake we were parked near as others, also hiding away in their cars, appreciated the sighting. Shame I had no idea how to use my camera settings properly but the vision will remain imprinted in my mind. The green dust dancing lasted for over 30 minutes and while it wasn’t the most intense sighting of the Northern Lights (like you see in the postcards) it was still something very special.

Monday: A walk around Reykjavik was on the cards. It’s only a small city so easy to cover on foot along the coast-line. We were obviously only there for a short space of time but it was great to wander around and savour the fresh air.

No trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon. In all honesty, my expectations were low. I was expecting an over-touristy attraction and viewed it very much as a tick of my list. Plus I had always said I’d get a photo in the Blue Lagoon with a beer.  Anyway I was very much proved wrong. Yes it was a popular spot and I know it’s a man made creation but it was great. Relaxing, and overall a very enjoyable experience – we were there for about 3 hours. It’s on the way to the airport so people often visit en route to the airport as a final farewell to Iceland. And with that it was time for us to head back to the blighty….what a fantastic trip. Waterfalls, landscapes, people and did I mention waterfalls?! Beautiful images and experiences that will never be forgotten. It has also unearthed a definite desire to go back and venture around the Eastern and Northern mysteries of Iceland! Watch this space.