Sorry for the lack of content this week, I have been away with the hubby in Iceland ( and wasn’t organised enough, amidst all the packing and last minute, pre-going away jobs, to actually pre-write some content.) Today’s post is going to be very different to my usual posts, it is going to mainly be a blog on our time in Iceland. I am going to break it down into two posts or it will turn into a book.
We flew from Birmingham at 12.25pm, so it was a perfect time to get there with plenty of time for airport shopping, but without having to get up ridiculously early. I managed to make a sunglasses purchase, which is my favourite was to start a holiday. They are a lovely pink tortoise shell, cat eye by Marc Jacobs ( this is me wearing them in the Thingvellir National Park.)
We flew with Icelandair, who were fabulous. We actually got upgraded on the way out, which was super exciting and the first time we have been upgraded. The seats were double the usual size, super comfy leather seats with bags of legroom and huge armrests, so you aren’t fighting for the usual tiny armrest. One thing Icelandair don’t provide are earphones, which I know most people would pack, but as I have the new iPhone I don’t have the right earphones for it yet, so didn’t bother packing any. MISTAKE – I didn’t think about the films on the flight. It is only a 3 hour flight, so it wasn’t the end of the world, but I would make sure you pack them if you are flying with Icelandair.
The walk through the airport to actually get to your luggage and out of the building is really long – you weirdly are walking through the same area that all the departures are, which I don’t think I’ve experienced before. When the luggage arrived, it was soaking, as there was a load of snow and ice on the ground. So I was quite worried about the state of the clothes inside, thankfully they were ok, but I would definitely use a hard case suitcase in the future, if travelling to anywhere with a similar climate. Once all that was done we were on our way with Grayline for our transfer to the hotel.
When landing in Iceland we immediately felt the difference in temperature – the three layers and a super thick coat wasn’t enough – out came hats, gloves and scarves. Although the temperature wasn’t actually that cold, normally sitting around freezing, it felt much colder because of the wind chill and I could instantly feel the wind attacking my skin.
We got dropped at our hotel, which was is in a perfect central location. The staff were really friendly and helpful and attached to the left of the hotel was a bar, which did great cocktails and a happy hour from 5pm-7pm every day, which was buy one get one free (very welcomed with the crazy prices of alcohol out there.)
The hotel itself needed a bit of a revamp, it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t the type of rooms we would usually go for. All the corridors had pale beige carpet – which was obviously not looking at its best with the amount of guests they have walking over it every day. I wouldn’t rush to recommend this hotel to people if they are looking for a glam hotel room, but for the location and helpfulness of staff and price I would definitely recommend.
By the time we checked in and unpacked all of our stuff there wasn’t load of time before our evening reservation. So we had a wonder around Reykjavik, tried to familiarise ourselves with the area and found our restaurant.
We ate this first night a Tapas Barrin, which had a great atmosphere, was really busy and much nicer and bigger inside, than it appeared from the outside. We did a 9 course taster menu here, but should have shared one between two. The courses were not the usual “tasting” sizes you imagine, they were almost enough to be a full course on their own. So for the last 3 savoury courses, I managed only a mouthful and the same with the huge dessert plate (which basically contained two full sized desserts plus sorbet and cream and fruit.) The picture below is missing a course, as I forgot to photograph it, it was a gorgeous salmon dish – it was one of the courses I managed only a mouthful or two of. My favourite course was the duck live parfait with caramelised onion chutney. Although the amuse-bouche of lamb carpaccio was pretty amazing too. We also shared a jug of passion fruit sangria, and it was here we truly realised the price of alcohol – a bottle of Red wine, an Argentinian Malbec that Andy regularly drinks back home was the equivalent of £80, when it is around £15 in the UK.
This was a 9am collection for the famous Golden Circle Tour, so it meant a fairly early rise to get ready and have breakfast and be out in time for our tour. You need to wrap up seriously warm for this tour as you are very exposed in the National Park and at the waterfall, so it feels really freezing. I wore trainers – but should have worn my snow boots, as there was thick snow and it was really slippy and icy. I saw one person fall flat on her back and she was even in snow boots.
The views on this trip were amazing. It is hard to believe that on just a three hour flight away there is such amazing geology. We started with Thingvellir National Park, which offered some amazing views, impossible to truly capture on camera, but here are a few pictures, completely unedited, so you can see what it really looked like.
We then went to Gullfoss Waterfall, which was spectacular and by far the coldest of all of the locations, and you get a lot of spray from the waterfall. In Iceland they do not have huge barriers up or big railings to stop you doing things that could be fatal, they just trust you are going to be sensible, so keeping an eye on children at all times would be necessary. My pictures definitely don’t do it justice, but here are a few anyway.
It was here we stopped for lunch and nearly gave Andy a heart attack – for x2 paninis, x1 soup and x2 sprite it was £45. Lots of people on the coaches seemed to have packed lunches, and I now see why.
After seeing Gullfoss it was off to see the Geysir Geothermal area and this was breath taking. There was the geyser that no longer erupts, just gently steams away, which I have a picture of below and then there is Strokkur geyser which we had the privilege of watching erupt several times, including a triple eruption. I also tried to capture a few pictures of this, but every time it went off I would jump as the noise was so loud, so they aren’t the best pictures out there.
After seeing the geysur we got back on the coach, there was one little stop on the way back, but it was only for 10 minutes to stretch our legs. I managed to find a chemist and check out the Icelandic makeup and beauty products – all of which were imported and therefore super expensive, some things double the UK price. So sadly I left with nothing from there and back on the coach we went.
I will pick up where I left off on Tuesday…