A March Adventure in Iceland

This post is the first part in a series of posts about our March Adventure in Iceland.

     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, that I was going to freeze to death, and that a Puerto Rican who now lived in Florida was in no way going to survive that trip. Other people would ask me about what I was going to see in Iceland, and at that time I didn’t know, but the answer to that should have been “Everything and Nothing.”

Boarding Pass

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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, and 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.

Orlando to Iceland

     The flight was booked 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. 
Blue Lagoon Iceland
The pathway that takes you to the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland
My Husband and I were enjoying the cold weather.

Blue Lagoon
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. We had bought our tickets online in advance, and after your purchase, you will receive a “Good-to-Know tips before your visit” e-mail that is very useful. I recommend booking a time first thing in the morning to avoid crowds. Yes, it might be freezing in the morning, but by the time we were leaving (around noon) the lockers and showers were extremely crowded, and this was on a gloomy winter day. 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
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. And to top it off, I saw through the window of the restaurant, getting lost in the city lights, 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.

For Part II Click Here
For Part III Click Here

 

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