I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but without thinking about it too much, I ended up booking a trip for my husband and me to Iceland in March. People told me I was crazy. Some told me, that I was going to freeze to death. Others said that a Puerto Rican who now lived in Florida was in no way going to survive that trip. Frequently, people would ask me about what I was going to see in Iceland. At that time I didn’t know, but the answer to that should have been “Everything and Nothing.”
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Preparations & Arrival
Before leaving to Iceland, I made sure of a few things: I bought winter clothes, an unlocked GSM cell phone
, and booked a multi-terrain vehicle all geared up for winter. After numerous hours of planning and researching, the day finally arrived. It was a Friday afternoon, and I was a nervous wreck. It seems that every year that passes I become more and more scared of planes. As you can imagine, being on a plane more than 7 hours, with the majority of the flight spent over the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans was not very helpful.
The flight was through Icelandair, and surprisingly (at least for me) it was full. There are not many times on which I am glad to be only 5’0 feet “tall,” but I’m telling you, it was a tight fit in coach. I had planned to sleep during the flight, since it was an overnight flight, to avoid jet lag. Well, life doesn’t always go as planned, and I did not sleep at all. Did I mention I already had all the day scheduled after arriving? Anyways, we arrived at 6:00 AM safe and sound, and I saw through the airplane window what I have wanted to see for years. Snow! It was not a lot, just a few chunks of ice here and there on the runway but at that point that was good enough for me.
After disembarking, I purchased a SIM kit from Nova in one of the gift stores. However, after further research, I realized Simmin
was probably a better choice (price-wise and because Nova’s mobile app is only in Icelandic). Then, we went to pick up our car rental and headed to our first destination: the Blue Lagoon.
The pathway that takes you to the Blue Lagoon.
My Husband and I were enjoying the cold weather.
Water from the Blue Lagoon near the entrance.
The Blue Lagoon Spa
The Blue Lagoon Spa was an excellent remedy for the jet lag, especially after being awake for more than 24 hours (Click Here to Read 9 Tips To Avoid Jet Lag from Travel Bloggers
). We had bought our tickets online in advance and received a “Good-to-Know tips before your visit” e-mail that was very useful. I recommend booking a time first thing in the morning to avoid crowds. Yes, it might be freezing. But by the time we left (around noon) the lockers and showers were extremely crowded. The check-in line went by pretty fast, even if it wasn’t short. Also, the staff was very polite, while still enforcing their rules. I consider the Blue Lagoon to be a one-time thing in life. There are better and cheaper hot baths in Iceland (Myvatn Nature Baths were excellent, will talk more about them later), but I still think going to the Blue Lagoon Spa is a must even if it’s kind of a tourist trap.
Feeling refreshed, we were ready to go to Reykjavik, where we were going to spend the night. Because it was still early for check-in, we had time to go to Hallgrímskirkja and wander a little bit through Iceland’s capital. I also had time to slip on the ice a few times.
Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik
Finally, it was time to check-in. At that point, we were close to 35 hours without sleep and ready for a nap. We stayed at a charming property a short drive from the city center (Guesthouse Helga-Click here to book!
), and the houses around the area (including the one we were staying at) were beautiful. The room was cozy, and the bathroom was also comfortable. Be warned that if you are not used to it, taking a bath in Iceland takes some time to get used to (you can ask my husband). The water frequently smells like rotten eggs, because of the high content of sulfur in the water as consequence of its geothermal origins. Curiously, the smell does not stay on your skin.
After a well-deserved nap we were starving, and ready to try some local food. What I wasn’t prepared for was that almost every restaurant in Reykjavik was fully booked for the night (it was Saturday). We ended up eating at Meze, a Turkish restaurant in downtown Reykjavik. It was cozy, and the Moussaka was to die for. After a long, stressful day I finally felt relaxed. To top it off, I saw through the window of the restaurant, the snow falling. No more chunks of ice on the streets, but fresh snow. My adventure had just started, and I was ready to know the “real” Iceland.