FIce ice baby. I have had Iceland on the bucket list since I arrived in London 2 years ago. I love doing adventurous activities and desperately wanted to see the Northern Lights and Iceland ticked the box! So when one of my best friends from back home invited me to join her arctic adventure I jumped at the chance. We booked so long ago it was such a wait ticking off the days and months (patience is not my strongest quality). But I got here eventually!
Stepping off the plane (slight tired after a 4.30am start) my first impression was…. where is all the ice/snow??!! It turns out this has been the warmest winter in yonks and thus the snow and ice are limited which was a shame (however on my last day it snowed overnight so woke to a winter wonderland). Driving into Reykjavik the scenery was nice but very similar to NZ – rocky, sparse and moss ladened but certainly pretty and for the non-Kiwis it would certain be unique.
I didn’t have much planned for my first day apart for beelining straight to Sandholt Bakery which I found on instagram. It’s a warm and light oasis and it’s cabinets are filled with mouth watering pastries, cakes or sandwiches. I tucked into the Chocolate Mousse Passionfruit Cake as can never resist mousse and it was every bit as decedent and scrumptious as it sounds.
Day 2 my friends arrived bright and early and and I got a snapchat of them at… Sandholt! So headed to try out the breakfast which was as good as yesterday’s cake. Avocado and cottage cheese with tomato on rye bread and then shared a blueberry scone to finish (the scone was so good). I then rushed off to join my first adventure of Snowmobiling!!!!!
I was picked up in a van with the biggest tires I have seen as we had to go off roading to reach the area. It was a great drive out as follows the golden circle and even stops off at Gullfoss. We then continued to the base which involved some serious off roading. Hilarious and fun going through rivers etc.
I was absolutely buzzing when we arrived and hadn’t even started. We were so isolated and all you could see was snow – this is what I had imagined Iceland would be! It was stunning!!!
We suited up in sexy high vis orange suits and helmets and then after a little photo shoot we had the safety briefing and headed off. We drove for about 30min then clambered into a ice cave which was cool (excuse the pun) and then road back a different way. They actually go so fast and amazing to create your own tracks.
It was so much fun. I can’t even describe it. I have jumped out of planes, off bridges and chased lions on safari and this was easily one of the best actitivies I have ever done. If you go to Iceland this is a MUST! I went with Arctic Adventures and did the snowmobiling and ice cave tour. http://snowmobile.is/tours/glacier-snowmobiling-ice-cave-from-reykjavik/
This is a 8 hour tour so had to be dropped off at the restaurant to meet the others. We had booked at Grillid which was both odd and nice. It’s slightly out of the centre but is 8 floors up so has a great view of the town. Unfortunately the weather was mostly overcast for our trip but still could see a bit as it cleared. We had a lovely 3 course dinner – I had the Ling (fish) starter which was amazing, lamb as a main and the the chocolate dessert which was lovely and rich.
Day 3 we had planned to go on a helicopter tour but the weather wasn’t on board this plan and it was postponed until the next day. So instead we went quad or ATV biking. This was lots of fun as we went off-roading through mud and even a river. Luckily they give you suits so we stayed nice and dry.
In the afternoon we walked down to the whale museum which was odd but super fascinating. They have life size models of 23 types of whales and we were amazed by the fun facts we learnt. In fact that night at dinner we bombarded another friend with them all – she didn’t find it as exciting as we did…… But in case you do, a Blue Whale’s heart is 450kg and a human can crawl through its aorta!! Dinner that night was at Sjavargrillo (you will find grill is a theme here). Great place which huge portions. I have never been served so much fish in a meal!
Day 4 was the best day. We had a taxi out to the Blue Lagoon (you must book your spot before you come to Iceland) so we got there for sunrise at 9am. To be honest I was expecting it to be pretty but a bit gross (lots of people in hot water….) but the facilities are really nice and modern and they limit the number of people so it’s not crowded. The lagoon is super relaxing and beautiful. It was amazing to see the sun come up.
We got the premium package which included two face masks and a drink (both the mask bar and drink bar are in the pool which is perfect!). We all felt super relaxed and refreshed by the end. A tip for blondes – LATHER your hair in conditioner (provided) as it can turn it green! I looked like a greaseball but at least am still blonde.
We then rushed back to the hotel, gathered our winter gear and headed to the airport for our helicopter trip. We were meant to do the longer Fire and Ice tour but the weather still wasn’t good enough so we did the Geothermal one which was still amazing.
We flew over Reykjavik to Hemphill Geothermal area were we had both snow and beautiful Geysirs / hot pools to look it. It was super beautiful and my first time in a helicopter so it will be incredibly hard to bet! http://helicopter.is/helicopter-tours/geothermal-tour/
Dinner that night was at Grillmarkaourinn which was recommended by friends who had been to Iceland recently. It had a great interior design with a wall of moss, one of stone and one of wood. The tasting menu is meant to be great but we did the a la carte and had the best Pork Ribs of my life (huge starter portion so good for 2 people) and then a great Beef Tendorloin with the best fries.
Now I am sitting back in Sandholt having a relaxing day before I fly home. Reykjavik’s main street is super cute and lots of shops so worth having a bit of time scheduled to browse.
Iceland summary – It is really fun (but expensive) place and I had a great time, but think Finland may be better, as has more snow and is known to be better to see the Northern Lights (weather cancelled the tours every night we were here). If you come then do snowmobiling and a helicopter tour if your budget allows. I would also try do this tour as the southern coasts glacier looks amazing. It was booked up by the time I found it. http://www.goecco.com/ice-cave-and-glacier-lagoon-one-day-express-tour/