So I went to Reykjavik from 8th – 11th December 2017, for a friend’s birthday to slowly but surely freeze to death. I prepared for it well but it was still colder than a witch’s tit. I was also expecting some spectacular sights from everyone else recommending some of the most popular tourist sights that it has to offer.
Preparing yourself for Reykjavik
My suitcase is partially packed, I’m showered and my hair is soaking wet. I eventually fall asleep at around 2.30am, my phone vibrates right next to me. It wakes me and it’s my friend telling me he’s outside waiting for me so we can go to the airport. Disorientated and absolutely frothing with disarray, I scramble as I realise that I have overslept and slept through my alarm. I curse to myself, some kind of sleepy profanity as I try and get myself together. In a rush, I throw the remaining items into my.. mostly packed suitcase and rush out the door. I’m tired, groggy, discombobulated and feeling like an absolute mess. On the way to another friend’s house, I realise that I’ve forgotten my glasses, my phone charger and a few other bits and pieces. About to go to one of the most breathtaking countries in the world and forget my glasses, awesome. Just awesome.
The drive to the airport went quickly, and the flight also went incredibly fast. Lacking in sleep and getting a little anxious as the plane got closer and closer to Iceland, I decided to have a wine. Not like it was 9am or anything. I expected the weather to be -6 degrees Celcius there. But, I was totally prepared for how cold it was going to be… I think. I definitely packed accordingly, long johns were definitely essential.
The plane lands and I check my back pocket for my gloves, of course, I’ve lost a damn glove (good job I packed a spare pair.) so I guess I’d have to suffice with just one pair of gloves, for now.
After landing in the airport, I walk straight past the most marvelous Storm (X-men) mural on the wall, I mean.. it was cool as fuck. I could tell as Iceland was going to be a cool place (literally) after seeing that.
Thingvellir National Park
After collecting our rental car from the carpark (which looked like an ice cube by the way) we got in and headed to our first destination. We couldn’t get into the apartment for a few hours, so we decided to check out some of the Golden Circle first and take in the sights. Daylight was limited for the time of year in Iceland and we only had a few hours left.
The first stop was Thingvellir National Park. We parked the car and of course, I took a huge sip of wine to prepare myself for the cold. Exiting the car was like drowning in a sea of torment and despair and I thought, well it’ll be okay, we should get used to the weather and well, we didn’t. I had no thermals on the first day as my base layer. Big Mistake.
Seeing the views of the frozen landscape made up for the subzero temperatures though. I mean, forgetting my glasses wasn’t the best idea but I know beauty when I can see it. The views were absolutely amazing. My beard was starting to freeze over while I looked at views like this.
Daylight was running out, we only had a couple of hours of daylight left, so we decided to head to Geysir to see the hot springs. When we got to the carpark at Geysir, I grabbed a fleece from my travel case and had it on under my jacket. The hot springs were pretty fucking cool and looked amazing. It would have been ideal if we’d have come here when it was slightly lighter out, so we could really take it in. Amongst the rocky terrain on the floor, there were streams of water running through that looked cool, we’d have to jump over a few stones in the streams to get across to a different side of the hot springs.
Geysir was pretty cool. They had a restaurant here, a cafe and a few shops. There’s a women’s clothing store called Geysir and it was full of cool women’s clothes for Winter (no pun intended.) I picked up a few pairs of different coloured knee-high socks for bae to do her Yoga in.
After visiting Geysir, we headed back towards Reykjavik and to the apartment. As the sun was setting, some of the views were really lovely. I mean, I literally came on this trip just to see the views and they were worth it so far.
The next day I was abruptly woken up with a blinding hangover, running again on just a couple of hours of sleep. We had to wake up as early as possible so that we could catch as much daylight as we could. We were going to head back towards Geysir because we didn’t get to catch Gullfoss. A frozen waterfall, fresh air and an enormous canyon. Yeah, count me the fuck in.
In the passenger seat, I was navigating our way there with my trusty friend – Google Maps. This also gave me an opportunity to take in some of the landscape and get some pictures and videos. There wasn’t a place on Earth that I’d been to that looked like this. It looked phenomenal. It was around 11am and the sun had been rising pretty slowly. It was like the ice planet of Hoth but with beautiful rosé champagne pink skies and rocky terrain, covered with fluffy snow. The morning’s sunrise was dreamy, that all I can say about it, it was dreamy. I could write poetry about this shit. Oh wait, I do.
We made it to Gullfoss and I think I was beginning to climatise. It was definitely freezing cold but I wasn’t feeling it as much. The air was crisp and full of vigour. There was a certain clarity to being up there. I’m next to a motherfucking frozen waterfall and my hand is frozen while taking pictures and videos because I took my glove off to do so. If I must have my hand amputated then it’s totally worth it.
We started making our way back past Geysir and headed towards a volcanic crater called Kerið. The volcanic crater freezes over during the winter months and I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. We parked the car in the car park and walked over towards the crater. We had a good view of the crater from the top and from where we were, we could see people below standing on the frozen ice that covers the top of it. There was a treacherous path down the side that seemed a little frozen over and quite slippy but we thought, we if die, we die. We were about half-way down and decided to snap a couple of pictures of the gorgeous view. It’s hard to believe that the thing we’re standing next to is a volcano and it’s frozen over. Out of all of the places we had visited so far, it was this place that I felt a strong connection to and I felt an enormous amount of energy pouring out of this place. There were definitely some good vibes here.
We headed towards the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal hot spring, which was apparently “very touristy.” But I wasn’t about to get butt ass naked after recovering from a respiratory infection. On the way into the Blue Lagoon, we noticed this formation of rocks outside which looked pretty ace.
I didn’t go into the Blue Lagoon but stayed in their restaurant area and had sushi and wine, while I waited for my friends.
It was starting to get colder and I was running on fumes, we had another night of drinking ahead and it was Saturday night, so it was going to be a big night of drinking. So much drinking.
I hadn’t had any greens for a whole day, so we had to stop off at a store and grab a lot of fresh greens and coconut milk to make a smoothie. The plants were going to help me power through the night ahead while every other fucker in the apartment was taking a nap. The spinach, kale, celery, avocado and coconut milk infusion was hulk green and delightful to the palate.
After getting in about 5am and waking up around 10am, it was Sunday. Today was going to be a chilling day and we fucking needed it. After sampling Iceland’s signature drink “Opel” (which tastes like mouthwash on steroids by the way), it’s pretty safe to say I won’t be drinking that ever again. That shit is fucked up.
I made scrambled eggs for everyone in the morning, while I drank the remainder of the green smoothie. We decided to take a short hike up a mountain on our chilling day.
We were heading towards Mount Esja and as we got closer towards it, it looked fucking huge. We parked the car and walked up a hiking trail at a place called Mógilsá. There were a few different routes that can be taken up the mountain, I’m pretty sure we chose the most dangerous because… hangover.
We saw some more sublime views from Iceland. Unfortunately, we came to an impasse and the pathway was starting to get a bit more dangerous. We couldn’t get any further without proper hiking equipment.
After reaching a point where we couldn’t get any further, it seemed a little pointless trying to break our necks. We decided to head to Reykjavik and find somewhere to eat in the main part of it.
We passed the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral on our way to the main part of Reykjavik, to find a place to eat and have a little browse around the shops. It was pretty quiet around and everything was lit up with lights. It was very unique and pretty.
We found a cute, little restaurant called Solon Bistro Bar that had food and wine. I felt these were two crucial factors in the decision making process when finding somewhere to eat.
Being the most British, I opted for Fish and Chips. It was served with fries, salad and tartar sauce. Over the past year, I’ve been cutting down on my intake of meat and had eaten it less and less. Everyone else was opting for burgers and one of my friends went for “Whale and Chips” which just screamed all kinds of wrong at me.
I was pleasantly surprised by how good the fish and chips were. The Haddock was fluffy and cooked well with a crispy breadcrumb coating. The tartar sauce was tangy and had a delicious sharp aftertaste. Paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon, this meal was going down quite well.
We needed sugar after a salty meal like that and we all opted for the Hot Lava Cake. A soft, spongy chocolate cake that’s filled with chocolate ganache, serviced with pistachio ice cream, decorated with white chocolate, strawberries and blueberries. The fruit was a bit of a random addition to it, however, the cake was beautiful. It gave every tastebud an orgasm.
After dinner, we headed towards some of the shops as we hadn’t really explored many of them while we were there. There were mainly clothing stores and touristy gift shops. We were hoping to see the Northern Lights on the last day of being there but solar activity was quite low all the time we were there, despite having fantastic visibility. It kinda sucked to have gone to Iceland and not got a chance to see the Aurora Borealis, the Universe was just toying with me again. *rolls eyes*
We had a quiet night in and watched a movie for the last night. It seems quiet on a Sunday, I imagine people didn’t really do much on Sundays.
The next morning we were up early, as the flight was around 11.30am. We headed towards Reykjavik Airport. I picked up a couple of bars Icelandic because the packaging looked so good.
Iceland was a lovely place to visit. Despite the cold weather, it was some absolutely gorgeous views and it was well worth the trip. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see the Aurora Borealis but maybe I’ll be lucky enough to catch it on a return trip to Iceland, or perhaps a trip to Norway. It’s also a shame we didn’t get to visit Vatnajökull, a glacier and the largest ice cap in Iceland. It’s meant to be quite a sight and I’d have loved to have visited it, however, it was a 6-hour drive there from Reykjavik.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten about going to Iceland is to layer up to keep yourself warm. I would wear a base layer of thermals, a good thick mid layer, like a fleece and a waterproof, fleece-lined jacket over the top. Hats, gloves and thermal socks are also essentials.
Be prepared to spend money in Iceland as it’s quite expensive, fortunately, I’d already read all about how expensive things are and mentally prepared myself. The majority of things there almost triple the price of things in England. Renting a car gives you a huge advantage, relying on public transport when you’re freezing your ass off in the middle of nowhere is a big no.
All-in-all, a fantastic experience, that I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a good adventure.