Before I say anything about the trip, I want to preface it all with this fact:
This was officially one of the top three best vacations I have ever been on. (Sorry, JAB Florida Trip of 2007, you’ve been bumped to fourth.)
If you ever have the opportunity to go, you definitely, definitely should. You won’t regret it.
Now, let’s back it up.
There are two responses you get from people when you tell them that you are going to Iceland.
Response #1: *Confused look* What? Why?
Response #2: *Amazed look* That’s awesome! Why?
See the common denominator? Obviously, Iceland isn’t exactly a typical vacation spot. BUT IT SHOULD BE. Seriously, this place is gorgeous, and there is a lot to do for tourists. Plus, the locals are a lot friendlier than many other European countries, and everyone speaks English. (Along with about four other languages. Americans are idiots. Anyway…)
But the point is, things are fairly affordable and you will never get bored. Pretty much everything on the trip exceeded our expectations.
Speaking of exceeded expectations, can we just talk about the food for a second?
No one talks about Iceland’s cuisine. Well, except to mention the putrefied shark. (Which we didn’t try, but only because we never found a place that sold it.) But in general, all you hear about is how the local delicacies are basically rotten food because that’s what vikings ate.
Well, well, well. If that’s all you hear about, then they are leaving out the best part. We honestly didn’t have any food that wasn’t great.
My favorite restaurant was 3 Frakkar, where we ate smoked puffin, horse, and an assortment of seafood including whale.
Let me give you a second to digest that. (Pun intended!)
Yes, we ate horse and whale. When in Rome, ya know?
And, you guys. It was so good. Before you freak out, it was a minke whale, not Shamu, and they are not endangered. The horses are really more like ponies, and you see fields of them around Iceland like you see cows in Texas. Both of them taste like really tender steak. (The whale is more like filet mignon.) And seriously, folks. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
As you would probably expect, most of the local cuisine is seafood, so we ate a lot of that. (Including the famed lobster soup. Though, total disclosure, we’re pretty sure the pieces floating on top were prawns, not lobster.)
The alcohol was less impressive. The only local beer we liked was Gull (the others are just not very good), and they have a local scnapps called Brennivin that apparently tastes like death. The local vodka, Reyka, was pretty good though.
Okay, so now for what we actually did.
We got into Iceland around 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning. We couldn’t check into our hotel until 2:00 p.m., so we had decided in advance to rent a van (there were seven in our group) and head out for The Golden Circle (part of their national park) to see the famous Geysir and what was supposed to be a pretty spectacular waterfall.
Here’s where we encountered our first roadblock. Apparently nothing in Iceland opens before eleven in the morning. Nothing. After chasing down a few cafes we found on our GPS only to be met with locked doors, we finally gave up and ate paninis at a gas station. They were actually pretty good. (See the “exceeded expectations” food paragraphs above.)
After that, we were off to the tundra! (Sort of…)
I have a few friends who have visited Iceland recently, and whenever I stalked franticallylooked over their photos, I was always surprised how the landscapes always looked like frozen wastelands. I assumed it must have been the angle. Or the weather that day.
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t the angle.
A lot of Iceland is a frozen wasteland. Or at least, looks like one during the winter/after a snowfall.
A lot of the country also just kind of feels like a different planet. The ground will look like a desert covered in snow. Or just a bunch of green rocks. The water will be bright blue, or bursting steaming out of the ground. You have to stop yourself to take it all in and be like, “Look where you are! Look at what you’re doing!”
In the national park, we saw geysers and the Dettifoss waterfall. And it’s really not enough to tell you that it was beautiful. Even the pictures really can’t do the whole justice. But you’ll just have to trust me that is was beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Saturday was Glacier hike day. The bus picked us up in the morning and we headed south, stopping at more freezing waterfalls:
And finally the main glacier.
Again, the pictures can’t really express what it was like to be there, but…amazing.
That night we hit the Reykjavik Runtur, which is basically one long street of clubs and bars. As you know, I’m not exactly a club person, but it was still fun.
People over there get crazy. Within a block, we saw a girl getting loaded into an ambulance and another getting arrested. Which, in Iceland, is saying something. You’re legally allowed to drink in public and eat whale. She may have killed someone to get arrested. Anyway.
The next we shopped, got coffee, had dinner, and pretty much recovered from our days of non-activity.
And finally, it was Monday. Blue Lagoon day!
If the rest of the country felt like another planet, the Blue Lagoon is another universe. Cerulean water, pillars of steam, lava rocks…I’m going to stop myself from using the word “amazing” again, but it was. Joey and I had in-water massages, and between that and the water, we were all pretty darn relaxed when it was time to get on the plane.
And that was the whole trip! It was a short vacation, but we did so much. It really was incredible.
Has anyone else ever been? Or have I convinced any of you that you need to go?