Picking up where I left off in part one, I woke up Sunday morning with a nasty head cold. At least my plan for that day was to just leisurely explore the city. I didn’t want to do a long excursion, since I was scheduled to go on the Northern Lights boat tour that evening at 10pm.
One of my first stops was the Volcano House, which was very close to my hotel. I think volcanos are really cool, so I plopped down the $17.50 (ouch) ticket to see both films to learn about the history of some of Iceland’s volcanos, including the fairly recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (oh yeah, I totally copied and pasted that). I thought it was very interesting!
I also hadn’t had the chance up until that point to taste any of Iceland’s cuisine, so I plopped down another $19.39 for a simple lamb stew and diet coke. It was a lot of money, but with having a cold, soup tasted so good.
During that time I looked out the window and all of a sudden hail was coming down pretty hard, so I took a picture. Not one minute later it looked completely different. They are not kidding about the weather changing quickly in Iceland.
Next, I headed to the Kolaportid flea market, where I sampled smoked shark (salty), dried fish (blech), and bought the most amazing dessert bread thing that tasted like a cross between a donut and focaccia bread.
I had more time to kill, so I went to the much talked about Laundromat Cafe, where I ordered some chamomile tea ($4.36) and people watched.
The rest of the evening before the Northern Lights tour, I chilled in my room drinking from the bottle of wine I purchased at duty free, and eating my packet of tuna, peanut butter, and some Icelandic flat bread I bought at the grocery store ($2.21).
I was relieved to know they canceled the boat tour portion of the Northern Lights excursion, and would be taking us by bus instead due to rough sea conditions. I wasn’t in the mood to freeze my ass off AND get sea sick, so whew!
The next three hours were probably the most boring part of the trip. It was a long bus ride full of anticipation, followed by what seemed like 80 mph freezing winds at the place where we stopped to spot the lights (luckily there was a restaurant you could go hang out at inside), and feeling kind of lonely since no one was really talking to me. I wish I had brought some headphones to listen to some music.
We did not see the lights, but I was a little too tired and cold to care. The bus dropped us off in the city center, and during my ten minute walk back I was pelted by hail in howling winds. I must admit I was laughing all the way down the street. Geez, kick me while I’m down!
The next morning I booked a Golden Circle excursion with Iceland Horizon ($80). David, the owner of the small tour company, is a jolly fellow originally from England who operated a smaller bus, which I LOVED! I HIGHLY recommend his tour since he is full of knowledge about the history of the country, and talks about some other fun facts about Iceland.
We visited a crater, some small waterfalls, Gullfoss waterfalls, Strokkur geyser (read about the controversy here. I did NOT pay to go in, but I could see it just fine from the fence), Thingvellir National Park (LOVED), and stopped by to say hi to some super cute and cheeky Icelandic horses. I also caved and bought myself another lamb stew at the Gullfoss tourist center. ($16.80)
At the end of the tour, David even dropped me off at one of the seemingly very few pharmacies in Reykjavik, where I discovered they seemed to be the ONLY place in Iceland where no one spoke English. So I had to mime a stuffy nose.
Travel Tip: Pack any medications you think you might need at home. Pharmacies are not always open or easy to come by. Better safe than sorry.
Feeling better after medication, I decided to try one of the more local type restaurants many people had recommended, called Icelandic Fish & Chips, which was just a short walk from my hotel across the street from the Old Harbor. You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. I settled on the recommended combo of Icelandic cod (with a truffle sauce) with roasted potatoes over greens. I also ordered some homemade bread which came to $28.96. Good lord! It was simply fantastic though!
Travel Tip: Tipping is not expected in Iceland, which made the cost of everything just slightly less painful.
I COULD have rescheduled (for free) doing the Northern
Lights boat tour THAT night, but I was feeling spent after the Golden Circle tour, and just wanted a good night’s sleep. Apparently they DID see the lights that night, but it wasn’t all that spectacular. Someone said it was like seeing fireworks through some clouds.
By the next morning I was well rested, packed, and ready to head to the Blue Lagoon, where we would bring all of our stuff, then head directly to the airport after we were done.
In case your package includes this, do not worry about the Fly Bus situation. There are only two busses that go to the airport. One at noonish and the other at 2:15. Since it seemed like EVERYONE I met had a flight at 5pm no matter what city they were flying to, the 2:15 bus will get you there in plenty of time.
The Blue Lagoon was very well run and organized. You drop your luggage off at a separate building, then walk (and freeze) on the way to the main building, where they give you your robe, towel, and wristband which opens your locker and gets you your free drink and facial mask. There are different packages, but this is the one that mine included.
If you don’t want to run from the main building to the pool, there is an indoor pool section with a little door where you can ease getting outside.
The pool is nothing short of awesome, and included some little coves and bridges, and some hot waterfalls and a heavenly steam room. Everyone moves very crouched down because there is literally a blizzard blowing above your head, but the warm water feels amazing. I roamed over to the bar where I ordered a champagne and my algae mask, then headed to a nice area where I could put my drink down and chat with some tourists.
After spending time in the pool, I took my time getting ready and headed to the cafe to order another expensive ham & cheese sandwich, chips, and a soda ($14.24). Hey at least the champagne was included in my package!
The Fly Bus then took us to the airport where I finished my vacation. Given it’s such a small and quiet airport, I had a lot of time to kill so I ordered another sandwich at the airport, and my first and only Icelandic beer, which was tasty ($16.98 for the sandwich and beer).
Total cost for my trip was about $1,600 (including Denver). You can view all my pictures from the trip here.