For years now, I’ve been dreaming about visiting Iceland. It’s been so long that the original reasons for my travel obsession have faded into a haze of lost memories; all I know is the dramatic landscapes and quirky nature of the country have captured my imagination.
Last week it was my first wedding anniversary and to celebrate my hubby and I decided to make the trip I’d been imagining for so many years.
I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, we had an amazing time and both fell in love with Iceland. Although, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine that this might happen, as I’d already started mentally planning my second trip before we had even been on the first one!
Unusually for us, as devotees of the lazy holiday, we packed so many activities and trips into our three days in Reykjavik that it felt like we were there for much longer.
As there are so many things I want to talk about and pictures I want to share, this is going to be a two part blog post. Today I’ve written about the tours we enjoyed in Iceland, then on Thursday I’m going to discuss the places we visited in Reykjavik.
I was a little worried about this beforehand, dreading a bout of seasickness, but I needn’t have worried as the weather was perfect for smooth sailing.
The trip lasts for about three hours and after cruising out of the harbour past the tiny island where the arctic puffins come to breed, we still hadn’t seen any other signs of life for over an hour. I was trying to prepare myself in case we weren’t fortunate enough to see anything, when in the distance a faint hump broke the water. A minke whale!
With the crew on high alert and the captain skilfully tracking the whales that were in the area, we spent the rest of the trip inundated with whale sightings, along with glimpses of notoriously reticent porpoises.
As the trip was about to end and we were halfway back to shore, the crew suddenly announced that there had been a dolphin sighting. The captain floored it back out to sea and we experienced a magical twenty minutes watching a whole school of dolphins swimming around the boat, even leaping up into the air as they hunted.
Our trip was with the fantastic Elding Whale Watching company. On boarding everyone was offered a boiler suit (it’s freezing out on deck for any length of time – I’m a true northerner so naturally I managed without!) and seasickness tablets. There were several other tours out at the same time as ours, but it always seemed to be our captain who was in the right place and he demonstrated a regard for the wildlife by often shutting down the engine whenever we came close to the animals, something not all the other ships did.
The Golden Circle
Iceland’s most popular tour takes you out into the National Park at Thingvellir, home of the world’s first parliament and the place where two tectonic plates meet. It’s on from there to Gullfoss, the country’s largest waterfall and then to Geysir to catch a glimpse of the hot springs as they erupt.
This tour really gave an insight into life in the Icelandic countryside as we navigated through the gorgeous landscape. Our guide had what seems to be the typical dry sense of humour belonging to the Icelanders; as we drove past a range of mountains littered with huge rocks, he explained that regular tremors and land shifts mean that boulders often break away and fall down to the foot of the hills, which is why few people build there. He then pointed out a charming little house nestled at the foot of the mountain and remarked that the story is the owner “built it for his mother-in-law”.
Thanks to its volcanic landscape, Iceland is riddled with lava tubes, or caves formed two thousand years ago by the flow of lava. Our most action packed excursion took us to the lava fields outside Reykjavik where we clambered down into one of the lava tubes and spent an hour exploring in the darkness, climbing over rocks and crawling through narrow gaps.
The Blue Lagoon
One of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa where you can bathe in the hot milky waters. Although worth experiencing, this was one of my least favourite places in Iceland, purely because it was so busy and expensive, at around £110 for both of us, although we opted for a slightly more costly package because we needed to hire a towel. It was certainly memorable to swim in the hot pool in misty, wet weather though – it must be amazing in the snow!
Don’t forget to come back for Part Two on Thursday; I’ll be talking about our hotel, restaurants and the penis museum.