Random Observation/Comment #274: I love adding things to my bucket list unintentionally and then checking them off immediately. Dog sled across a glacier. Check. Eat Minke Whale. Check.
Gadinkadurgen to all (don’t try to look up this word because you won’t find it). Iceland is an absolutely beautiful place filled with random acts of precipitation and sporadic weather representing all the different possible forms of winter. Within one day, you will have 4 different types of rain, mist, hail, sleet, show, random rainbows, some overcast clouds, some scary gray clouds, and different levels of fog + high winds blowing snow around to look like fog. For February, Iceland was probably warmer than New York (at around + /- 3 degrees C), but gloves, hats, boots, and scarves are definitely recommended. By observing the locals, it seems umbrellas are not really a thing. The random acts of precipitation only last for around 5 to 10 minutes so people are not fazed by it. If there ever is heavy rain, they would probably go into a nearby store and say hello to someone they probably know out of the 120,000 inhabitants.
Everyone speaks English. They probably speak English better than I do. In fact, I feel like they study English colloquial terms from movies and TV shows because they would say “hey, what’s up?” or “how’s it going?” instead of the “how are you?” proper forms. I found it surprisingly comforting.
I’ve also found that the locals care much more about the people than the businesses. We drove into a gas station to fill up gas, and the guy behind the counter says “this really isn’t a gas station. The easiest thing to do is to go to the shell station down the road and they will help you much better.” overall, I think they’re all just genuinely nice and helpful people. There’s a sense of Icelandic hospitality that borders the line of “Why are you being so helpful, it is getting suspicious like you want something in return.” of course, this is just a jaded, careful traveler’s thought process, but they would really go out of their way. It must be the sweaters. They probably give super powers of generosity. They also look pretty badass. And by badass, I mean most of them are a little ugly and itchy, but it’s rather stylish and I think I can pull it off.
So let’s go into the things to do in Iceland. The main 6 things we did were:
1) Eat awesome authentic Icelandic food (whale, Puffin, soups, reindeer, lamb, hakarl). My favorite restaurant from the trip was the Iceland Bar. All the things mentioned above were served there and the price is actually quite reasonable. It’s like New York City food prices for 3-star restaurants. You have $8 appetizers, $14 amazing soups, $7 beers, $20 burgers and $30 entrées. For the type of food, I am extremely satisfied. Oh and get the white garlic sauce for the bread. You’re welcome.
2) Drive around the golden circle and take pictures of everything. First of all, rent a car if you’re traveling with anyone else. Definitely rent if you’re more than two people because the freedom of going whenever and wherever you want is always a plus. Also be sure to rent an all-wheel drive vehicle because the roads are always slippery. The biggest down side was that the gas is around $10 a gallon, so we spent around $80 to fill a tank. The golden circle drive is just a scenic Route on the one road that goes between “cities.” I guess it’s more accurate to describe it as a group of 20 houses with a small restaurant and a church. The population of livestock no doubt exceeds that of humans.
3) Dog sledding across a glacier to see the sunset. Yes. This is probably the most majestic thing I have done with my life. The most unforgettable view was of the wind blowing the loose snow over the ice hills while seeing cute dogs pull forward with all their might. The sun was setting and the sunlight in the horizon turned the sky purple and orange. I think I should have been freezing, but the sight warmed my body. The huge jumpsuit they provided also helped a bit. Ask for Klara. She will hook you up.
4) See Gullfoss waterfall. I have not seen a more beautiful waterfall. I’ve taken a few panoramic pictures of it, but it doesn’t do it justice at all. The view is breathtaking and it was worth every dangerous walk down the windy path to see the water crash into the cave and form this picturesque landscape.
5) Blue Lagoon spa. $40 admission is worth the time you’ll spend in this relaxing bath of cloudy blue, sulfuric hot spring. The water is only waist high so you’ll wind up walking with your knees to your chest in order to prevent your shoulders from feeling the freezing weather outdoors. I went at night so the pool was rather sparse of people and the huge spot lights made the silhouettes of people in the cloudy mist look extra cool. It was really fun just slowly drifting towards the little pockets of warmer spots around the area, but beware of the squishy. The algae feel very weird on the toes. Since the water is sulfuric, do not get it in your eyes or even on your glasses because it will ruin contacts and burn the eyes. I was even warned to avoid getting it in hair because it will take a lot of conditioning to straighten it again.
6) See the northern lights. It’s actually not too difficult to do if you have a car and a rather clear Sky night. We drove for about 30 minutes north of Reykjavik on route 1 and parked on the side of the road with no light posts. Look for the light green strands in the sky. They’re more noticeable if you set a long exposure on your camera on a tripod.
There were many other little things that made this trip amazing. The friendly people and overall feel of a tightly knit community made me smile and happy to be in the town. The more I live in a lonely crowded city, the more I find a small countryside family more appealing. After all, what’s the point of a large population if most of them are strangers? Hmm let’s make more friends.
~See Lemons Love Iceland
Wait, so you saw the northern lights, but didn’t take any photos?
I’ll have to dig a few of them up. It wasn’t the brightest Northern Lights, but they weren’t bad.