Iceland has been on my hypothetical “interesting/someday” travel wish list for a few years now. Although, my obsession with Icelandic culture started with Leif Erikson — original Viking bad ass — in the 3rd grade (Erikson was quickly followed by a brief obsession with Abraham Lincoln… where were we? Ah yes, Iceland…). After finding an Icelandair deal for $438 roundtrip in July, I didn’t do much planning other than grinning at pictures of Icelandic horsies, dreaming of the Blue Lagoon, and listening to Sigur Ros.
One of the perks of working for a travel company, is that after chatting about Iceland to a coworker who writes our Iceland travel guide, you might see your very own custom 5-day Iceland itinerary pop up in your RSS reader a week or two later. Thanks Katie! :) So without further ado here are…
10 things I loved about my trip to Iceland:
#1. Icelandic ponies horsies
Ever since I saw pictures of the uber-adorable Icelandic horses, I knew I would be riding horses while in Iceland. They’re like life-size My Little Pony dolls, and they tölt. If I was a horse, I would totally be one of these little hearty creatures. Yeah, I identify with Icelandic horses… le sigh…
#2. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon exceeded my expectations. I’d heard more than a few times that the Blue Lagoon was a little over-rated and expensive, but was looking forward to it anyway. Visiting the Blue Lagoon was one of my favorite things in Iceland. With 6 hours of daylight and freezing temperatures, it was fun to bliss out in the lagoon for a few hours. Highly recommended.
#3. Meandering about Reykjavik
Reykjavik looks like a tiny toy town from the Hallgrímskirkja church tower. The downtown area is a walker’s paradise. After a day of wandering, I felt like I pretty much knew my way around, and I had a great time just meandering about town during the 5 days… poking into shops, visiting the Sun Voyager sculpture, getting lattes (my favorite cafe for lattes was a tiny little place called Grái Kötturinn — Grey Kitten? I’m assuming), window shopping at 66 North, popping into a design shop or two…
#4. Brewery tour & duty-free alcohol
I hadn’t really thought of doing a brewery tour in Iceland until I heard about it from my coworker. It ended up being a lot of fun to hear about the history of drinking in Iceland, quite a few drinks were included, and we got drink vouchers to use back in town for $5 beers instead of $9 (yes, $9!). And one of my favorite Iceland tips: if you’re going to have at least a few drinks while in Iceland, stop at duty free in the airport and snag your drink of choice. Alcohol and the tax on alcohol is very expensive in Iceland.
#5. Seeing the last 3 songs of a random Icelandic band
I love catching local (or not so local) music while I’m traveling. So after hearing a band playing while walking down the street, we wandered into a pub for the last few songs. I have no idea who it was or what the pub was called. A fun mystery. :)
#6. Golden Circle – Golfus & Geysir
After considering renting a car and driving the Golden Circle, we decided to take the easier and cheaper route and take a half-day tour. I think we picked the coldest day of our trip too, as apparent by the cold cringe in a few of my pictures. It was fun to get out of Reykjavik again and into the outdoors, and really made me want to return in summer.
#7. Frozen pond sliding
We stayed near the pond in Reykjavik, and noticed people ice skating and playing on the ice, so after a few days of walking past the pond, we stopped for some fun. I’m tempted to post a brilliant video of someone falling on the ice, perhaps another time…
#8. Bæjarins beztu pylsur (hot dog stand)
Hey remember that time I ate a tarantula in Cambodia? Yep, all bets are off when I travel (Lie. Sometimes true at home as well). Although I consider myself a pescatarian, I’m not dogmatic about it, and I’ll try almost anything once, because life is short — and really it’s more fun to eat strange things while traveling! Back to Iceland… and hotdogs — one of their most popular dishes, Bæjarins beztu pylsur is Reykjavik’s most famous hotdog stand. I got one “with everything” and loved the fried onions, mustard sauce, and remolaði. Tasty. So you probably won’t find me snagging a 99-cent hotdog at IKEA, but it was fun to check out Iceland’s most popular dish. Baaaah!
#9. $$$ dinner
Although I consider myself a budget traveler, I like to splurge every once in a while on a trip. We decided on Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish Market) and it didn’t disappoint.
Skyr is like Greek yoghurt on crack. It was the first and last thing I ate in Iceland. I’ll probably be hitting up Whole Foods way too often for my Skyr fix.
I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention something else epic that I love about Iceland, but for now this is my <3 list. And I can’t wait to go back in summer! Or maybe go to Iceland Airwaves! 2012, anyone?