When I first floated the idea of going to Iceland, I expected to spend a considerable chunk of time trying to convince at least one family member to join me on my jaunt to the land of fire and ice. What I wasn’t prepared for was to soon have FOUR fellow adventurers signing up to go along with me! (insert happy dance!)
When we arrived in Keflavik, in the early morning, we were greeted by the biting cold. We had planned for the extreme cold and had layer after layer of appropriate clothing in our bags. My sister Carry, however, opted for comfort on the plane ride and arrived in Iceland wearing…well, they were yoga capris!
She was quickly dubbed a “style icon” by our sarcasm-dripping 20-something niece Noelle. And…she nearly froze before we could check into our guesthouse.
Since we had some time to kill before we could check in, we drove to the Keflavik Harbor to watch the sun come up. I have seen my share of sunrises (I’m a bit of an early bird) but none more beautiful than this one!
It’s well known among seasoned travelers that Iceland is one of the more expensive places to visit. The good news is that with the advent of low cost airlines such as WOW (and all I can say is WOW!) the cost of getting there has become as inexpensive as a flight to Florida. This comes in handy when you pay, as my sister and niece did, around $30 for a burger.
One lovely budget gem we found was the Bergas Guesthouse. It is a stone’s throw from the water in Keflavik. It is spotlessly clean and very reasonable. The five of us stayed in a spacious family room for less than $100 per night. This included a dining table and kitchenette. We made our own coffee each morning and it was amazing! If there was one thing we’ve all missed most about Iceland, it is probably the water. I know, I know, but you don’t know what you’re missing. Straight from the tap, it was better than the finest bottled water you can buy. It made our morning coffee exponentially better!
Saving more than a few bucks on accommodations, made it easy to pay the fairly steep admission fee to The Blue Lagoon ($69 at time of writing). After an excruciating several minutes of navigating a sea of women with greatly varying degrees of modesty, (my eyes!) we made it through the changing room and out into the steaming blue waters.
Some will tell you to skip the Blue Lagoon- that it is too touristy. Do NOT listen to them! It was truly one of highlights of not only this trip, but of all my travels.
The Golden Circle was next on our list. We drove our SUV over the oft snow-covered roads for a glimpse of some of the most incredible scenery we’d ever seen. The Gulfoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls were breathtaking! At Gyser, we took a short path to join a group of other tourists waiting for the next eruption. The group was gathered close in, so we moved up a bit, I set up my tripod and camera, the others got their cameras/phones ready and we waited. In just a few moments the gurgling began and the shutters started to click. We were so consumed with capturing the moment that we didn’t notice the water spout was apparently larger than the last. That is, until we were dripping with sulfur water!
I had read enough to know that seeing the Northern Lights is not a given. Most articles you read tell you to plan on seeing the amazing sights (really too numerous to list!) and if you do see the Auora Borealis… BONUS!
Well, I knew that in my head. I had done my best to convince myself (and the motley crew I had assembled) that it would be worth the trip even if we didn’t see the lights.
But let’s be honest, I would have been more than a little disappointed.
After a few nights of looking in vain for the elusive aurora, we decided to take a roadtrip to the town of Vik on the southern coast. Vik is famous for it’s gorgeous black sand beaches.
On our drive back we noticed several cars had pulled off the side of the highway. Inquisitive travelers that we are, we decided to slow down and ask someone what was going on. In short order we found out!
The Northern Lights had begun to dance!
We pulled off the highway and grabbed our cameras. The sky was on fire as ribbons of blue and green light swirled through the dark skies. We jumped up and down and squealed like school girls at the sight!
Yes, we would have had an amazing trip just seeing the Gullfoss and Seljalandfoss waterfalls (AMAZING!) the beautiful Icelandic horses, and Black Sand beaches. But our group (my sisters Mary and Carry, niece Noelle and family friend Teresa) became inexplicably bonded by seeing this other-worldly display together.
I’ve visited art museums in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, New York, etc but I have NEVER seen a masterpiece like the one God painted for us that night!
~The Gen X Traveler