Alright, finally starting on Iceland content! I’m behind, I know. But I’m so excited to start sharing the trip with ya’ll. It was quite the adventure…8 days of cold, darkness, and snowstorms. Just kidding. Well, not really, but it wasn’t that depressing. When people think of Iceland, I think the name makes the place seem much colder than it actually is. The whole time we were there, temperatures never dropped below 26-27 degrees Fahrenheit. So for those of you living on the east coast, don’t worry, you’ll be just fine. Us folks from California though…we struggled pretty hard. The wind in Iceland was the biggest issue. So if you factor in wind chill, it probably was a lot colder. But just bring the right gear and you’ll be good. I learned the hard way…I was so proud that I had spent less than $200 getting all my “heavy-duty” gear for the trip. Let’s just say…I got what I paid for.
Anyway, maybe I’ll do a separate post on what to pack (AKA, what I learned). But today, I’ll be sharing adventures from our first day in Iceland. We arrived in Reykjavik around 7am in the morning. Our reservations for the Blue Lagoon were at 11am. I highly recommend making reservations online! You get to skip the line, and there’s no need to stress about not being able to get in. The Blue Lagoon is just a 20 min drive from the airport (KEF). We initially planned to do some sightseeing around the airport, but after breakfast and rental car shenanigans, we didn’t have much time.
The Blue Lagoon was absolutely amazing! You get there, check-in, get your wristband (hi-tech wristband that you can charge purchases in the facility to and pay when you leave), and then go to the locker rooms to get changed. I was surprised at how efficiently everything was run. Make sure you put conditioner in your hair before you go into the lagoon (they provide it in the locker room showers). It keeps your hair from freezing off! There’s a huge temperature difference between the water and the air outside. The water temperature is perfect, though. You’ll never want to leave. They have a mud mask station that you can stop by. It actually works wonders on the skin! My skin felt noticeably smoother afterwards. Or maybe my fingers were just that numb from the cold.
Since I was there in December…we didn’t get a whole lot of sun. Only 4 hours of daylight every day…around 11am-3pm. And even when the sun was out, it was never completely overhead. It always looked like sunset. So I guess it was a pretty good trade-off. Anyway, it also meant that we only had a few hours to see what we wanted to see (in daylight, at least). So after 2-ish hours at the Blue Lagoon, we made our way to downtown Reykjavik.
Our first stop was Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral. The architecture is amazing and the views from the top ($8/person to ride the elevator to the top) were fantastic. The city is so colorful and with the snow and everything it looked like the perfect painting. By then it was already starting to get dark, so since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we stopped by a small cafe across the street. I tried whale meat for the first time. It was fermented…and the taste was very interesting. It was like wasabi in meat form, if that makes any sense. Super strong with a strange aftertaste. Not bad, but not really my thing either. The soup there was delicious, though. Soup was the one consistently good dish that we had in Iceland. That, and the sandwiches from gas stations. SO GOOD. And the sandwiches weren’t too pricey either, unlike most of the food in Iceland. Anyway, after our afternoon snack, we dropped stuff off at our hotel and went back to downtown for dinner. The dinner of a lifetime, I kid you not. Best lamb I’ve ever had.
We went to a place called Grill Market. We had made reservations a week before through their website. This place is pretty fancy, and the food is also pretty expensive. But so worth. Would definitely do it again. Highlights of the meal included: whale, lamb, reindeer, fish. I guess in Iceland, you can’t really go wrong with lamb or fish. But this lamb was AMAZING. The meat was so tender and had so much flavor. Cooked to a perfect medium rare. Can’t rave about it enough. Reindeer meat also turned out to be surprisingly tasty. Very similar to regular steak, but ever so slightly tougher in texture. Overall, food was great, service was great, the bill was….not so great, but definitely worth! Highly recommend giving this place a try!
And that was day 1! Definitely not a bad way to start our week in Iceland 🙂