Our Icelandic stopover goal was to hammer out our jet lag ASAP and see a few sights – enough to get a taste for this wild country of tight pants, big sweaters, elves and trolls, curious cuisine and slick tourism marketing – before heading onward to the UK.
Iceland’s sweeping landscape, hidden waterfalls and multi-day treks would have to wait for another visit = our 48 hours concentrated on the capital of Reykjavik and surrounding area.
0640 hrs / Landing at the Keflavik airport via Iceland Air at midnight our time the four of us girls vowed to stay awake until bedtime proper, Icelandic time, in order to re-set our clocks for the onward journey.
0930 hrs /
We picked up a shuttle to the Blue Lagoon
which was a convenient little deal through Reykjavik Excursions
: airport/lagoon/city transfer for ISK 3,600. Upon arrival at the Blue Lagoon, we stowed our luggage at their designated checkpoint – great feature at about ISK 500 per bag, considering we all had a ridiculous amount of baggage for a casual trip –
and jumped right in to the mineral bath…along with a million other people, including an apparent frat party. Swim up bar, anyone??
Note: the mineral water totally dries out your hair and leaves a chalky feel to your swimsuit, despite rinsing. After finding (and coveting) the hot spots (the lagoon is generally warm, but not hot), and smearing mineral mud all over our faces, we were cooked.
1215 hrs /
With wrinkly fingers and toes, we hopped back onto the shuttle heading into the city, arriving at the HI Loft Hostel
. Located right downtown, this was a stellar location for just about everything in Reykjavik city centre. The hostel had four floors, a check-in/bar/common area, a kitchen, and a great rooftop patio. We unpacked a bit, got ourselves organized in the hostel (a private room for the four of us) and then went out…if we stayed in there too long, we’d fall asleep!
1400 hrs / Cruising the streets we wandered past countless bars and restaurants, outdoorsy shops and tourist joints. We saw the iconic Hallgrimskirkja, a massive stone church with a dominating view of the city from the bell tower. We shopped at the local convenience store for Icelandic treats and snacks. This is where our daily potato chip diet began.
1725 hrs /
Feeling peckish, we sought out sustenance that included some local options. Skipping the fermented shark and glazed puffin, we stuck to fish & chips, salmon and reindeer burgers at Islenski Barinn
. Calorie counting is already out the window. It just tastes so good. All the rumours, however, about expensive food in Iceland are bang on. My modest serving of fish & chips was ISK 2,600, which is about $26 CAD. Fun fact: did you know that Iceland has geothermal hot spots where you can bake bread in the earth, and boil eggs in the water?? Maybe we should’ve done that…better for the budget. Ha.
1910 hrs / Almost wiped out, but needing to carry on through to at least 2100 hrs, we strolled through Reykjavik’s core, browsing shops and people watching. Tight pants, big sweaters, manly beards. Trying to picture that look on my husband…doesn’t quite work but would be fun to try….
2200 hrs / Bedtime for me! I climbed up my eight-foot bunk and passed out, despite it being bright as midday outside.
Tomorrow – we learn elves are a big deal, and whale tastes like the Alberta beef of the sea.