Arrived about 4pm with a very bumpy touchdown in a strong wind. The gale continued as we found our driver who led us to the van which drove the 25 minutes or so through lava landscapes to the Northern light Inn.
Once settled we decided to test our weatherproof jackets and brave the mile walk to the reception of the Blue Lagoon just so we could check it out and book our treatments for when we would return there in 5 days.
There wasn’t much more we could do but say hello to Max the golden dog, eat a lovely chicken meal, relax by the fireplace, play chess and look out at the strange moon view from the window.
After a breakfast of cold meats, scrambled egg and salmon we got ready for a mini trip into the local fishing village of Grindavík. The hotel were kind enough to drive us there (just around the mountain) and also back a few hours later. There wasn’t a great deal to look at but it was interesting to see where some of the locals lived and worked.
A nice man in a mini bus picked us up at 10am for the drive to Reykjavik. He told us facts about the country and helped with any other questions we had. He even asked if we we’re in a hurry and if not would we mind going on a bit of a detour so he could show us some sights. We didn’t need to tip him for this as it was already prepaid, but he was so nice we gave him a little something extra.
Once checked in and refreshed we headed into the town for a bite to eat and to check out what Reykjavik had to offer. It’s not a huge place and mostly looks modernised but there were plenty of interesting things. We walked all the way to the harbour and booked a couple of excursions for the next day. But then it began to rain quite hard so we sheltered in a bank until it calmed down then casually made our way back to the hotel.
The evening meal was a really nice pizza at an Italian restaurant called Madonna.It was there that I burnt my finger of the pot of my wet chocolate dream dessert.
We were ready and waiting in reception for the bus to pick us up for the 3 hour tour around the city and surrounding area. It was supposed to come between 0830 and 0900. At 0915 we got the hotel to ring the company to ask were the bus was. It seemed they had done a slight mistake and put us down for a tour the day before (before the time we actually went in and booked it). But 5 minutes later the bus full of Germans and Chinese tourists pulled up and we were on our way. We hadn’t really missed anything and the rest of the tour took us to some nice places with good views... and ice cream, there’s always ice cream in ice land. You only ever seem to be 2 minutes away from a mountain range view too.
The bus dropped us in town where we chilled with another pizza (Vikings love their pizza it seems) and got ourselves ready for our next excursion, 4 hours on a boat whale watching. We only saw a bit of a whale,, but a school of dolphins occasionally popped up in the distance to say hello. The trip was more about the thrill of running around the boat as it tried to find the wild creatures rather than being able to spot dozens of sea life putting on a show. K enjoyed it up to the point where the most she saw was the bottom of a sickbag.
We got the captain of the boat to give us a lift (in a minibus) back to the hotel so we could rest a little then try out Harrys restaurant as recommended by Trip Advisor. I must say we weren’t disappointed. As with other places the food wasn’t super huge portions, but just enough, reasonably priced and very very nice. So much that we promised to go back the following night.
After a feeding we headed back into the town to see a 1-woman comedy(ish) show based on the history of Iceland. The only paying customers we us and 2 American ladies, the rest made up of some of her friends and colleagues. I was even roped in to help perform a murder scene with a wooden sword. It was at times a little weird, sometimes sweet (the Icelandic singing) and informative.
At 0900 a jeep pulled up outside to take us and another couple (sisters in their 50s) on the Golden Circle Tour – Or his version of it.
We were expecting a bit of thrilling off roading but weren’t quite prepared for our mad rally car driver to violently bounce us around as he drove up and down a rocky mountain at crazy angles. The 2 old ladies seemed to love it but wasn’t too keen and I was also relieved a bit when K asked him if he could tone down the craziness. There were still moments in the day where he banged the passengers around and with K in the front for extra comfort she says it looked like he wasn’t always in as full control as he said. There’s always a chance for experts in anything to get it wrong sometime, so we were just being safe (or wusses).
But we did get some great sights in with the added benefit of not being with a big tour group with time limits.
Highlights included Thingvellir (Þingvellir ) National Park. An area of great historical importance for Icelanders as parliament was founded here over 1000 years ago. You will be able to stand where Viking settlers proudly stood centuries ago. Gigantic rifts run through the park creating a stark and dramatic landscape.
Great rifts scar this stark yet beautiful park, ancient Assembly site and where Continents divide, pulling apart around 2cm a year making it possible to stand on two continents at once!?
We also got to walk down in the valley past a little church which centuries ago housed the official measuring (yard) stick used in cloth trade.
Haukadalur - A valley north of Laugavatn where Geysir and Strokkur can be found. Strokkur is one of the largest and most powerful and you can expect an eruption roughly every 10 minutes. Watch from a safe distance as the blue/green water bubbles up, suddenly spouting almost 30m into the air.
Gullfoss - A rainbow misted, two-tiered waterfall considered to be one of Iceland's most beautiful, some say the queen of Icelandic waterfalls, marvel at the power of the water as it tumbles over two tiers before crashing 32m into an impressive ravine. Often with a rainbow in its clouds of mist and spray.
Faxi - A small yet beautiful waterfall.
And a couple of things off the usual tour menu:
Silence – We walked across private land to a place where normally a hot pool of water would be available for the locals to bathe in. The water wasn’t there (our guide thinks this could happen before the nearby volcano erupts. But what we did get is one of the quietest places I’ve ever been. There weren’t even birds.
Horses – We abruptly stopped when our guide saw some Icelandic horses sticking their heads over the fence near the road. He jumped over and got amongst them as we stroked them. They were of good temperament and smaller than normal horses and actually quite cute.
I had originally wanted to do some snow-mobiling on a glacier. But somehow got talked out of it by the driver. Probably because of expense and others not wanting to do it. Part of me regrets not doing it, but not enough that I won’t get over it :)
As promised we went to Harry’s again for tea then while K rested I popped into town to check out a couple of bars.
The first was Dillions. A rock bar with only about 8 people in there at any time. The music was good but it lacked atmosphere.
Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da was Beatles themed and that night also had a tribute band playing. The vocals had a Scandinavian tinge to them and the songs were often slowed down. But it was enjoyable, especially watching the drunk old possible sailors either falling asleep, playing air guitar to me, or throwing beer mats around.
Just a pity that the local beer (the only thing on tap) isn’t too tasty for me. But at 500 kroner (100 less than the other bar) and 5% wasn’t too bad value.
A minibus picked us up from the hotel to the bus station where we got a real proper noamal tour bus 45 minutes to the Blue Lagoon, or actually the Blue Lagoon Clinic Hotel.
Due to staying in the hotel we got entry into the Blue Lagoon 600 meters walk away down a volcanic gravel path with hardly anyone else in sight.
We spent over 5 hours there the first day including a back massage while floating upright in the water. K said its the best massage she’d ever had. I just enjoyed being slapped on the arse and the pleasant surprise when the back massage turned into a neck and face massage too. All in lovely hot water too :)
During the day the15 bedroom hotel treats patients with psoriasis in their own personal mini lagoon. But for 2 hours in the morning and 2 at night it belongs to the other guests. We had a nice relaxing time floating around in rubber tubes with silicon mud on our faces looking up at a clear sky of stars.
An even longer stay at the lagoon this time including a hot dog and ice cream for lunch and a nap in my bathrobe in the indoor 2nd floor viewing/rest area. Although I would occasionally wake myself up with my snoring :)
That night we went into the private lagoon later than previous and also stayed longer than we thought we would be allowed until there was only us 2 left floating around :)
The midday big bus took us to Keflavik Airport. Where we parked ourselves for a few hours before relaxing into our FREE UPGRADE business class seats because we booked in early and were pleasant to the check in lady.
On the way back I watched Beth Cooper, I Love You, and on the way there The Adjustment Bureau.
As for Iceland I found it to be a very interesting place. We hardly touched the place really. For more intrepid adventurers there’s probably a whole wonder of sights and experiences. But we did what we could do and have great memories from it.