ICELAND: a joyful place filled with excitement

We had gone to the Finish Lapland in February (read about that in The North Pole blog post) with the hope to see the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, but unfortunately it had not been possible for us there. Ever since we left there, we were left with the curiosity to see such a strange phenomenon of nature. So, after doing a profound research and being in touch with tour operators, specialized in this, we decided that Iceland was going to be our best bet. We booked last minute plane tickets in WOW air (we didn’t even know there was such an airline) and for the first time stayed at an Airbnb (which we also found a good option for the occasion). We drove to Amsterdam and flew to Reykjavik.

The whole concept of going there seemed pretty crazy to us, since we would have never even thought of visiting Iceland before! When we arrived there we exchanged Euros for Icelandic crowns (or kronur as they call it), and we were back in the thousand bills, it was a funny feeling.

So, our adventure started! We took the Flybus that went directly from the Keflavik Airport to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa, whose water is blue and warm all year long, with temperatures ranging from 37 to 39 degrees Celsius. When in our way, the landscape was like nothing we had seen before, everything was covered with volcanic rocks which had moss all over and we could see the glaciers and snow covered mountains far away. It was a strange combination of land, hard to understand at first.

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We started to approach the Lagoon and a huge amount of steam was coming out of something, which we thought was an industrial plant, but it turned out to be the steam from the Lagoon itself! So we headed inside, put our bathing suits on, and directed ourselves to the main hot spring. The feeling was of full excitement! We immediately entered the water and it was the warmest water we had dove ourselves into- at least that we can recall of now! Steam was everywhere, it was such a weird combination, but we loved it. We covered our faces with Silica Mud which is a white natural exfoliant meant to heal all sorts of skin, and Jack was the first to cover all of his face with it! We were as excited as him, we couldn’t stop smiling, our hearts were filled with joy!

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After such an exciting experience, we headed to the city center of Reykjavik, were we stopped by Hallgrimskirkja, also known as the church in the big hill, and directed ourselves to the famous Cafe Loki, a small cafe which offers typical Icelandic food. We delighted our tummies with smoked lamb-who would have thought that in Iceland there are more than 3 million sheep at this time of the year? making it a delicious plate to savor while there- rye bread with smoked trout and a delicious fish gratin, which even Beca loved – and she doesn’t even like fish.

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We realized that Icelandic people are more than kind, they are helping and happy people willing to give a hand whenever you ask them for, at least in our experience

The next day we headed early in the morning to the Golden Circle, Southwest of Iceland. We ate Skyr for breakfast, a thick low fat yogurt rich in protein- mouthwatering! Our first stop was at the Geysers zone, to particularly visit the Strokkur geyser, a spring which erupts ejecting water up to almost 70 meters high. When we arrived there all we saw was a strange colored hole in the ground, filled with water which starts to boil every time at a faster speed and which starts to generate a tremendous amount of steam, when all of a sudden and without notice you hear it and see it erupt tremendously! Our excitement was impossible to contain, we had never seen such a thing before. We really could not stop watching it, every time was at a different time and hight, simply… unexpected. Beca compared this to life… she even quoted it by saying: Life is like a geyser, you can never predict their behavior. Sometimes a lot of steam was coming out and just a little bit of water, while others, little steam and a huge jet would come out. So, she suggested that such is life, sometimes situations can seem very troubling and in the end the obstacles were easy to beat, while in other occasions life changes drastically all of a sudden. It was an amazing experience. We even tasted the bread that gets cooked inside of the volcanic earth from that zone, it was dark, moisten and sweet bread, delicious!

After that, we headed to Gullfoss or also known as the Two Waterfalls, a breathtaking view awaited us. We walked all the way down, as far as we could and even got to enjoy the rainbow.

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The tour finalized with a visit to Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a unique place to visit. It not only has eye sight melting views, but it is a continental drift between the European and American tectonic plates. So this territory belongs purely to Icelandic people, since it is in purely Icelandic territory, between Europe and America.

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We concluded our day by stopping to have dinner in Vegamoto, a lovely Bistrot which offered a delicious grilled salmon and a lamb cooked with beats, cream and feta cheese, it was a strange but delicious combination. We loved the food there.

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Before finally hitting the apartment we decided to stop for ice cream, a must try experience for every visitor in Iceland, and an everyday activity for Icelanders… we got our turn by grabbing a numbered paper from the dispenser, and when it was our turn we didn’t know what to choose! There was a very wide selection of ice creams and toppings to cover them with. We decided based on what the rest was getting, ice cream cones! We all had different ones, you first had to pick a liquid cover which then became more consistent and then a powdered topping which ranged from multiple crumbled delights. Beca went for caramel and snickers; Jack had caramel and chocolate balls; and Jaime decided on caramel and smarties. A caramel lovers’ family. When they handed us the ice cream we felt like kids, we finally understood what Jack felt every time he asks us to go get ice cream, it was a rush of happiness that came with the ice cream cone.

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The next day we woke up early to visit the Southeast Coast of Iceland. We first stopped at the Sólheimajökull glacier, which involved a little hike. We had never seen glaciers, and especially not so close, it was an amazing feeling, watching this huge blocks of ice and strange formations.

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We then headed to the famous black sand beaches, we first went to Vik, where we could come in contact with the water and feel the black sand in our hands. Jack was drawing in it, we were fascinated! It was a big contrast to visualize such blackness… when normally used to regular sand. The ashes from the multiple volcano explosions have turned this sand black.

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Then, we visited the Reynisfjara beach, visually stunning rock formations can be seen there, but we were repeatedly advised not to come anywhere close to the water, as the waves have caused fatal accidents, so we stayed quite far from the water. None the less, the Gardar- a rock shaped which resembles a pyramid- is a marvelous formation, and when in combination with the black sand and thousands of pebble rocks it becomes an incredible landscape to visit.

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Then we visited the most amazing and exciting place of the trip, the Skogafoss- a 25m wide and 60m tall Waterfall. We came close to it, and it is hard to explain the feeling. We saw the double rainbow showing close to the last part of the waterfall, so we ran as far as we could to come close to it, and when we noticed the strong wind had gotten us all soaked up, but along with that came a rush of excitement, Jack was laughing and even if he was wet, he radiated happiness! We got a joy shot with the wind that blew into us, and we breathed life!

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We then visited a second waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, the views were completely different from the one that we had visited before, the valley surrounding it gave it a unique touch which is hard to explain. There it was, life in its fullest expression!

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We finalized the tour and went to grab a burger, in Jointburger – Hamborgara Bullan, we devoured a super delicious cheese burger with fries to which we added a seasoning that tasted like glory. It is funny that this delicious small place beat McDonalds, since Reykjavik closed its doors to McDonalds, and it is nowhere to be found, ha ha.

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We then finished the long late night with the experience that we went looking for, Aurora Borealis watching! We went out at 10pm to a remote location, far away from the city lights. The geomagnetic activity was 5 out of 5, the clear skies were all ours, and there we were the green and pink dancing lights, covering the whole skies, coming from all directions, with different shapes, deepness of green and we even got to see the famous Coronas (crowns) a couple of times, a difficult shape to be seen when watching Aurora’s. Our dream was fulfilled. Our photos were taken by the Happy World guide, Robert, otherwise the IPhone would have not gotten anything. So if you are going for this, do not forget your professional camera, else you will not really capture them fully.

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We could not have had a better trip to Iceland. Thank you Iceland for injecting us with a shot of life, joy, grace, excitement, and happiness. A must travel place for every tourist out there!

 

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