Considering how much I love warmth and getting a suntan, Iceland has always been on my bucket list. Snow, the northern lights, fireplaces and friendly people.
Thanks to a very generous Father Christmas delivery, Daddy Hustle and I were sent on a fantastic trip to Reykjavik this weekend (and childcare was organised for us in the form of both sets of grandparents – eternally grateful!).
We’d heard that January was a good time to see the northern lights, and also to avoid the crowds. Although, it’s pretty damn cold. The weather reports had shown that it wouldn’t be much colder than London, but I’d underestimated the wind!!
After a quick check in at Luton airport – along with a few drinks in the lounge we were on our way. The flight from London is pretty short at around 2.5 hours which makes it the perfect weekend getaway!
We flew with Wizz Air, who I hadn’t used before, but space wise and service they knocked socks off the horrendous Ryanair!!
Keflavik airport is extremely modern and quite a pleasurable airport, our bags were waiting for us on the conveyor belt by the time we’d got through security – we also made a pit stop in duty free after hearing how expensive alcohol was in Iceland to stock up on some miniatures for the room.
We made our way to the airport bus which took us to the main bus terminal, after giving our hotel name to the driver we were handed a blue ticket which meant we had to get on the blue bus route which took us right to our hotel. The tickets are pretty expensive, one way cost around £50 for the both of us but it’s extremely efficient and the WiFi on the bus is fantastic!
The trip to the hotel where we were to spend the weekend – Icelandair Hotel Marina took around one hour all in and we were pleasantly surprised by the hotel, the check in was extremely quick and we had a room on the fourth floor facing the old harbour.
We’d arrived fairly late and spent a bit of time on tripadvisor trying to find somewhere that was still open to eat dinner and took some time to sightsee in the evening. We settled on Tapas Bar Inn which is in the centre of Reykjavik.
We decided to mix and match the tapas, rather than be adventurous and stick to the core Icelandic fixed menu of smoked puffin, minke whale and Icelandic foal! But we did have some parsnip croquettes – amazing! And some Icelandic lobster tails.
Reykjavik is renowned for it’s lively party/drinking scene but we skipped that for the evening as we were knackered and wanted to be fresh ready for our Golden Circle tour in the morning.
We started the day with an awesome breakfast at the hotel – which began my weekend addiction to Skyr. It was very strange wandering around in the dark when it was 10am, but at this time of year Iceland only sees daylight for four or five hours a day.
After wandering down to the harbour, we stopped for a lovely coffee at Rost and then headed back to the room to put on our warmest gear (including my gorgeous – lol, not – waterproof trousers) in time for the coach collection at 12 for the golden circle tour.
The first stop on the tour was Thingvellir, the site of the first parliament in Iceland. It’s also situated on two tectonic plates so at some points you’re technically in North America, and then you’re in Eurasia. The land was pretty spectacular, but unfortunately the snow was coming down pretty hard at points so we couldn’t see much of the view.
It was also pretty slippery and bloody freezing!!! But it was great to hear some of the stories (or saga’s) about the first settlers in Iceland.
We then hopped back on the coach for another hour to get to Geysir.
- Interesting fact – I’d always thought Geysir was the generic word for water spouting from the ground, but apparently not! Geysir is the name of one of the particular spouts, which has actually stopped firing and handed over to the younger brother Strokkur.
Now, I’m not one for landscapes. I much prefer a weekend break that involves shopping and cocktails but this was breathtaking. The whole journey through the countryside was ethereal and turning up on a snowy day to steam rising from the ground was beyond beautiful.
We were lucky enough to see Strokkur erupt 6 or 7 times and every time it still amazed me. Although, be prepared for the smell, the sulphur is very strong around the Geysir Park.
After around 45 minutes (and a well deserved piping hot coffee) we headed back on to the bus for the last stop of the day – Gulfoss waterfalls.
There was a pretty precarious trip down to the viewing platform – plenty of people with no grip on their shoes intentionally skidding down the steps like kids at a school disco – but it was worth it. At the turn of the century, the land where the waterfall is was attempted to be purchased by developers to use water power but the farmer and his daughters promised to preserve it and it is well worth a visit.
As you can probably tell it was pretty cold! The wind was intense and I couldn’t feel my nose at this point. We trekked back up the stairs to the coach (via a fair old whack to the back/bum/elbow/head on the slippery surface despite my hiking boots!!!) and headed back to Reykjavik.
While we were on the coach back, we spent some time researching where to eat that night. We were pretty frozen from the journey throughout the day so a restaurant close to our hotel was a must!
Luckily the incredible Forettabarinn was on our door step! Anyone making a trip to Reykjavik I would highly recommend a trip for dinner here. Much of the dining in Iceland is focused on small plates, and here we stuck to two tasting menus, Flyfish and Smoky Bay and indulged in some lovely cocktails.
After we’d filled ourselves up, it was time to head back to the hotel and bed down ready for a long day ahead.
Tune in shortly for part two of our Icelandic adventure which features whales, vikings and a night time adventure (plus more food of course!)
The Mummy Hustle