Well…the journey has officially begun! We arrived in Reykjavik early this morning at around 6am after a 6 hour and 50 minute flight from Vancouver International. I’ve been on some 13 hour flights so this one seemed fairly easy to me, and Icelandair made it so. Mark and I lucked out and got to sit in the emergency exit row with no seats in front of us, tons of leg room and an empty seat between us. They had wicked inflight entertainment and extremely comfortable seating. The only downfall was we got beverage service twice in the entire flight and any food had to be purchased, no free snacks or anything. We expected this country to be expensive but not this early on!
After getting our rental car and me not being able to put it into reverse, the front desk guy having to come out and show me how (cause I’m an idiot) we finally headed straight for Reykjavik’s City Center. It is incredibly easy to drive around (now that I know how to reverse) and parking in most spots is free and easy to come by. Our first stop was Hallgrimskirkja church which is Reykjavik’s main land mark. It can be seen from almost any spot in the city so it was a good place to leave the car and continue on foot (hoping that my directional skills are better than my driving skills).
Once inside you are able to view the giant pipe organ on the wall above the entrance. It is about 15m and weighs 25 tons. Absolutely gorgeous. Its quite small on the inside so we didn’t stay long. You can also go up to the very top of the tower to get a 360 view of the entire city. As we are on a tight budget we didn’t want to spend the 10$USD just yet.
We spent the next couple of hours walking around the city centre, going into my always favourite touristy stores selling the tacky local key chains, shot glasses and socks at ridiculous prices and all the same items you can find in any other European country just with a different name coordinating with the city you are in. Walking through the narrow, cobblestone streets reminded me a lot of my time spent in Belgium and Czech Republic. The cities are full of steep hills, long stone decorated roads and bright and colorful houses makes it easy to walk around and the take the culture in.
Reykjavik’s Old Harbour is worth a visit. The waterfront is stunning and it is complete with a walking/biking/jogging path that you can use to walk all along to take in the views of the water and the amazing Mount Esja across the way.
Once the temperature dropped and we hit 24 hours of being awake we decided to take a drive and get out of the main city and off our feet. We headed about 30 minutes south of the city towards Kleifarvatn Lake. The drive consisted of beautiful green and black volcanic land and great rolling hills. We laughed cause we stopped every 100 feet to take a new picture cause the scenery was so mesmerizing. Kleifarvatn is a uniquely still lake with some pretty cool history and culture behind it. Because of the insane depth of the water people say that a monster most likely lurks under the creepily calm waters. We couldn’t get enough of the views and the glacial backdrop that was so beautiful it almost looked like a painting. Mark was super prepared to hike up these hills in his basketball shoes – he definitely didn’t eat sh** at all bruising his elbow and dirtying his pants, and I DEFINITLEY did NOT laugh.
Not far from the lake was Sultun. A geothermal area with bubbling hot pools wreaking of sulphur and Graenavatn a gorgeous crater filled with water of an amazing green hue. It was described as “walking on mars” which was true. It was like being on a whole other planet. The wooden path winding through the boiling water as the steam emerged covering the entire area with the smell of rotten eggs wasn’t even enough to ruin the experience.
At this point we had been up for about 30 hours straight so we thought it best to head to our hostel and relax a bit. We drove the windy roads back, easily found our way to our hostel and slipped in an hour nap to recoup. We decided to go grab supper from the local grocery store Fjardarkaup…ya, try to pronounce that one. This is not the cheapest way to eat your way through Iceland but you can only gorge on convenient store hotdogs and yogurts so many times in a day. Mark and I picked up some chicken wings, a small personal sized GF lasagna, two cans of pop, two bags of chips and some protein bars and it came to a total of around 3,300kr which is roughly 45$CAD. Considering a burger and fries here is about 25-30$ this is us saving money! We will definitely be going out for ONE meal to indulge in the local food but just not yet.
Relaxation is the schedule for this evening to recoup from the long days of traveling and to prepare ourselves for the big day planned for tomorrow! 🙂 If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading!