A lot of people asked me before I left, “why are you going to Iceland?”
Umm why the hell not?
“Have you not seen the place?” I replied.
But in all seriousness, why Iceland? Probably had something to do with the fact that it looked like the most amazing place on earth.
Big call I know.
But it absolutely was.
These were just some of the many things that I loved about Iceland:
I was fortunate to be staying a mere 10-15 mins walk from ‘Down town’ Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, and I really liked it as a city. It reminded me of a “cute little version” of my home city, Melbourne Australia.
Restaurants, cafes, quirky little home wares and clothing shops, op shops, and the abundance of street art is just a few of its charms. I spent a whole day there and most evenings just wandering the streets in search of food and anything that caught my eye.
As a vegan, I was a little concerned about the food options in a place like Iceland but it turned out to be one of my favourite places to eat. I was able to find good tasty meals, gelato and ice cream shops that catered for me, chip shops and health food shops for supplies.
I particularly loved the feel of the city and was more than happy to just be there. I don’t know whether it was the knowledge that Iceland is one of the most safe and peaceful places or that it it’s just a pleasant city. Maybe it was a bit of both.
Something I learned when visiting one of the country’s geothermal power plants, is that besides the geothermal energy being pumped from the plant to every home and business in Reykjavik – which in itself is amazing – is that in winter, they pump extra hot water under the streets in Reykjavik to heat the streets and therefore melting ice and providing safe and easy acces for cars and pedestrians in when its icy and snowy. Legends!
I have to say tho; my favourite thing about downtown Reykjavik was the fact that you can see mountains from the city. And I mean real close, as in you look down the street and there they are in all their ice capped glory. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
The Blue Lagoon
I was almost put off going here because it’s such a tourist attraction and an overpriced one at that.
BUT, when I was given the opportunity to go after my ATV/Quad Bike tour I jumped at the chance. And I’m so glad I did.
I freakin’ loved it.
It is a goddamn beautiful place despite the amount of people there.
There is no doubt that the blue water is in fact magical, that the surrounding lava fields make a cool backdrop, that the mist over the surface of the water makes you feel like you are swimming in a place fit for mermaids. The heat of the water is sublime – especially in contrast to the outside temperature and especially if you have been out in the elements which I had.
Although I was there on my own and had a few hours in the pool, I did not get bored. In fact it was really hard to leave the water. It was so comforting and as already mentioned, sublime feeling being in there. I went on my last day and it was the last thing I really did before I left, so I used that time to just completely relax, to let go of everything I was holding on to and all the fatigue of the last month of constant adventure and activity. You know that feeling you get when you’re in the bath and just so completely relaxed and not a care in the world? Well x that by 1000000 and that’s how it felt. The ultimate big, blue, magical bath that wraps you up in the biggest hug.
Top tip: get your photo taken by the lagoon photographer – it’s free, they email it straight to you, and the photos look more magical than your own. Also, you MUST pre book your tickets as the likelihood of turning up and there still being a spot is slim to none.
The only thing I would have done differently – brought a robe or upgraded my entry fee to include one as the walk from the change rooms to the pool is cold, even in the ‘summer’ months.
The island is just a short ferry ride from Reykjavik. And by short ferry ride, I literally mean 5 minutes. And by ferry, they mean a small boat.
The island itself is pretty small, but a cool little place. It has a few art installations scattered across the island, as well as geese, seagulls, wildflowers and a few small hills to climb.
I don’t think anyone lives on the island, and there is just one building that looks like some sort of restaurant or café but I’m not sure if it operates anymore. I just spent some time there, wandering, exploring, admiring the view of Reykjavik from where I was, and enjoying the presence of not many other humans.
The main reason I went there because this is where the Imagine Peace Tower that Yoko Ono built in John Lennon’s honour is located. And despite the fact that it was summer there, I wouldn’t see it in all its glory (see below for the times it’s lit up throughout the year), I wanted to see it still. As I walked around the base of the tower, I felt moved to tears as I looked at the inscriptions of the words ‘Imagine Peace” in 24 different languages. Even though without the tower being lit up it isn’t much to look at, I felt overwhelming emotion over the intention of peace. That despite all the darkness and destruction in the world, there are many who genuinely want love and peace for all, and that’s a very beautiful thing.
Further info: it is also lit up at additional times of the year:
– On John Lennon’s birthday on Oct 9th and until Dec 8th on the anniversary of his death, from 8pm to midnight.
– On the Winter Solstice (December 21st) until New Year’s Eve (December 31st) until dawn on New Years Day.
– the first week of spring (March 20th -27th), from 8pm to midnight.
– In tribute to Yoko, the City of Reykjavik also lights the tower on her birthday February 18th from 7pm until 9am the following day.
Most beaches in Iceland are black. Black sand, black pebbles and black rock formations. This is due to volcanic activity, and considering when we think of beaches we think yellow or white sand and blue water, the black beaches of Iceland are something to behold and revel.
The beaches themselves are literally black and white as the water appears clear or white, contrasted against the black sand and rocks. If I’m being completely honest, these beaches, especially Reynisfjara was one of the most incredible natural wonders I have ever seen, again convinced that I was on another planet.
As well as the beach itself, Reynisfjara has the Reynisdrangar or basalt columns to explore and Djúpalónssandur had ship wreck ruins.
As beautiful and incredible these beaches are, the danger of these beaches must be taken seriously. As are all beaches, the black beaches of Iceland can be deadly, particularly Reynisfjara and many have drowned here after being caught off guard. It is strongly advised to stay away from the water and never turn your back on the water as the waves are unpredictable and powerful.
The Snaefellsness Peninsula
From incredible lava fields, caves, to volcanoes, to wildlife, to ruggedly, painfully beautiful coast lines – this place has it all. I saw some seals here, birds I’d never seen before, one of Iceland’s Black Churches, went into a cave (arghh!), saw some more black beaches and a place where part of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was filmed.
It’s definitely a special place. And considering that Jules Verne wrote ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ after being inspired by this place, that definitely says something.
Didn’t TLC advise against going after waterfalls? Well screw that, I want to see them all. And I know you can get waterfalls almost anywhere, but Iceland has some beauties. I saw only a fraction of them: