Sorry for my lack of posts while away, I made the devastatingly idiotic mistake of leaving my laptop at home instead of bringing it with me. I also don’t have the app or the storage space on my phone to download it.
I am finally back Iceland and I can honestly say it was an amazing trip!
So we headed out to Cork airport at 7 in the morning and proceeded to board out flight, no problems and all smooth sailing. The flight was about three hours with wowair.ie which gave us tons of time to decide what to do with our short time in Iceland. They had leaflets, magazines and the option to book tours right there during the flight! That took up most of our time on the flight, with the rest of our time spent listening to Icelandic rap on the radio and having some power naps.
The first thing I noticed about Iceland was in fact the smell. The whole airport smelt of toast. The weird thing is that after talking to a few other people in our hostel they said they thought the exact same thing!
At the airport we went to get our luggage and had to wait an hour for it. After waiting for all that time we realised we were at the wrong belt. We had been standing at the one for Dublin when we had flown from Cork. With our tails between our tails and hopping that no one saw us we got our bag and headed out.
Iceland doesn’t have the euro they have Icelandic Kronus which is about €1 – 120 isk, so the bus ticket was 3000 isk. We got the bus to our hostel, Hlemmur Square, which took about 45 minutes as it was in the center of Reykjavik, checked in and settled down.
Throughout the whole ride we were surrounded by these really pretty purple flowers. They stretched in every direction for as far as the eye could see. It’s like this all over the island. They are called Lupins and they are actually from Alaska. They were brought over as potted plants then they decided to plant them on the volcanic ash because they can grow literally anywhere. Soon after that they just spread like wildfire and can be seen all over the place.
We were pretty tired by that stage so we just unpacked, had dinner in the hostel, (in was lamb and it was super tasty), while talking to a lovely group of Americans, and then went out and got some groceries from Kronan and Bonus for the week. It is crazy expensive in Iceland so there was no way we could afford to eat out each day. There was a kitchen in the hostel so we just cooked our own food and had snacks for during the day, which worked out really well.
That was pretty much all we did after arriving, we decided to hit the hay early and be well rested for the next day. We stayed in a 12 bed dorm room which sounds terrible but was actually fine except for the few snorers. We slept in pre-made bunk beds and had a locker each under each of them. The crazy thing about Iceland is their daylight hours. In the summer time there is 24 hours of sunlight. It may dim for about an hour but it never gets dark. In winter they would probably get about 3-4 hours of sunlight a day! It felt so weird to be going to sleep and it was still bright out. Luckily the hostel had blackout curtains so we could get to sleep easier.
We had decided that since none of us have a driver’s licence or could rent a car that we would book bus tours to see all the sights in Iceland. Although expensive I think they were worth the money and Reykjavík Excursions had some great deals. With Iceland being one of the most expensive places in the world I think the prices we paid for each tour was reasonable by Icelandic standards and the sights were priceless so I really can’t complain.
Our first tour was to the Lava Tunnels. After getting picked up outside the hostel and picking up a few other we were finally off.
We visited the volcanic craters of tröllabörn and then headed over to the tunnel where we got helmets and head torches. Our guide Michelle was really helpful and funny and showed us some pretty cool stuff. The tunnel was actually the same place where ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ was filmed! At the end she turned off all the lights to show us just how dark it was down there and what older generations of Icelandic people would have been used to.
We then spent the rest of the day exploring the city of Reykjavik and visiting the hotspots and of course taking lots and lots of photos. I mean come on it’s not a holiday if you don’t take as many photos as your phone/camera can hold!
For our second day we took part in the South Shore Adventure. For this we got up earlier and had a bigger bus. This was a much longer tour as we were heading all the way down to the Southern town of Vík. Our tour guide, Eric from Barcelona, was so funny and entertaining, he was really helpful and easy to talk to and actually taught us a little bit about the language and how to pronounce some of the words.
Our first stop was the glacier Sólheimajökull near the famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull that erupted in 2010. This glacier has been steadily melting each year due to global warming and it’s very noticeable as every year it becomes 50m smaller. On some tours you can even go onto the glacier with crampons to get a better look.
Our next stop was lunch where we had a quick snack and explored the beaches where the battle to save Vík village took place. Heading over to Reynisfjara Hálsanefshellir to the famous black sand beach where many puffins nest. It was so surreal to see the black sand everywhere and looked great in photos.
Our last two stops were of water falls. If you see a word ending in Foss then that means waterfall in Icelandic. Waterfall number one was Skógafoss which is massive and very impressive. You can climb steps to the top to get another view if you want. Waterfall number two was Seljalandsfoss which was my favourite waterfall as you could go behind it! My brother and I get absolutely drenched but it was well worth it.
This day we left open so we could have a lie in and do our own separate thing. I decided that I was going to go horse riding on the unique Icelandic horses on the island. So I didn’t actually get much of a lie in as the room was very noisy in the morning. The company I booked with was Ishestar and I got to go on the viking express tour. The tour wasn’t very busy and there ended up being only 3 of us on it, myself, an American and a girl from Germany. My horses name was Björta and she was a beautiful Palomino. We got to see the Icelandic countryside and gallop over the fields covered in Lupins. The Icelandic horse is the only breed on the island, it is illegal to bring any other breed there because they’re not vaccinated and any disease or illness from other breeds could wipe them out. You also have to thoroughly wash any clothes that have come into contact with other horses before you can go near an Icelandic horse. They’re a beautiful breed and actually have 5 gaits not 4; walk, trot, canter, gallop and pace. It was such a nice and relaxing day and we even got to look at some caves on our route.
When I got back to the hostel I had a lovely shower and got into my fatman pants. We decided that to make our suitcase lighter on the way home we would drink as much of the alcohol we had brought over with us (alcohol is really expensive so its cheaper to bring your own) and tonight was the night. We had made friends with a few Canadians and there were young people in our dorm so I rounded them all up and asked anyone I passed to join us in the kitchen for a few drinks. This of course ended up with us playing kings-cup and the craic was had! We were 10 people in total; 2 Germans (Torbin and Philip), a Finnish guy (Valtteri), an Argentinian (Martin), French guy (Julien), Canadian (Lindsey), Hungarian/English girl (Amy) and then us 3 from Ireland.
You can imagine just how funny and interesting the night was, especially with the slight language barrier. We had vodka, rum, gin and this weird salty/vodka/liquorice Finnish drink.
Most of us are now friends on facebook and its nice to see how everyone is getting on since leaving Iceland. We were eventually kicked out of the kitchen but we carried on chatting downstairs. There were a lot of tired faces the next morning.
This was basically our last day because we had to get a bus really early in the morning to catch our flight and we didn’t go to sleep (they kind of blended together). For the last hurrah we decided to do the Golden Circle and Fontana Wellness tour. It’s kind of like two tours in one, you get to see the famous golden circle and also visit a spa/hot baths facility.
The Golden Circle consists of the biggest waterfall in Iceland Gullfoss, the national park Pingvellir and the Great Geysir. These were all spectacular but I found that the sights on the South Shore Adventure were better. But hey that’s just my personal opinion!
Our tour guide for this was Mr L (couldn’t pronounce let alone write his name) and he was so blunt but in a good way. He was a bit of fun and was constantly cracking jokes and telling us these random stories that had nothing to do with the actual tour. He even sang an Icelandic song about a waterfall over the speaker for us!
After that we went to Fontana Wellness where there are hot springs used to heat these natural pools. We got to have some rye bread then head into the shower and change into our swim clothes to enjoy the different pools. Now I didn’t find this weird or embarrassing but my brother and sister did. We had to shower naked with everyone else before getting changed and into the pools. It’s very common in most European countries to have group showers, no one really cares about which naked person is beside them or what they’ve got. In Ireland we don’t really have any group showering facilities or nude beaches we’re all very body conscious and would always shower separately. So to say my siblings were slightly traumatised would be accurate.
Anyway the pools were amazing and I didn’t care if someone, let alone my own sister, saw me naked. There were a few pools and each one was a different temperature, there were saunas and really shallow pools you could lie down in and take a nap if you wanted. It was located right next to a lake which is the only one you can swim in because it’s not as cold as the other lakes in Iceland. After your time in the pool you could jump in the lake to close all your pores. I didn’t because I couldn’t get my tattoo wet or let it soak. We got 2 hours there then got back on the bus, we were all sleepy at this stage and most of the bus fell asleep.
We had already packed up all of our stuff, checked out that morning and put it in the storage room while we were out so we didn’t have anywhere to go except the hostel lobby. Lindsey eventually came along and used her key card to let us into the common room. Our bus was at 3am so we had to wait around until then. There was a lot of interrupted sleep and stiff joints by the time the bus came. After that it was smooth sailing. We got our flight back home and the bus from Cork to Limerick.
I actually ended up going over to my friend’s new apartment a few hours after we got home and had dinner and a lot of wine. It worked really fast with me being so tired and everything.
So that’s it. My trip to Iceland!
I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed being there.
I’m going to have another long post later today about all the new exciting things that I have coming up.