Tag Archives: iceland

Beautiful Blue Lagoon

After a physically and mentally trying several days (the ATV accident, subsequent whiplash, then off-roading and getting stuck on a huge snow drift and having to help get the vehicle unstuck), Brian and I were anxious to get to the famed geothermally heated healing waters of the Blue Lagoon right after the 4×4 trip.

We got off at the BSI bus terminal after the 4×4 trip and immediately bought bus tickets to the Blue Lagoon. Reykjavik Excursions offers round trip bus fare with hotel transfer with and without Blue Lagoon entrance. If you buy their package, you end up saving about $10USD (versus if you only bought bus fare yourself, and paid separately for the entrance fee). However, Brian and I wanted to do the exclusive lounge, which came out to only be about $60USD more per person. You get your own private changing room with a magnificent shower with WCs in the same area (ours was right across the hallway), towels, bathrobes, a fruit plate, bottled water, tea, coffee, a private indoor section of the Blue Lagoon, access to the rest of the Lagoon, a small lounge area with a fireplace, and your own personal host.

Walking into the reception area, we were tired, cold (the kind of cold that drains your energy and gets right into your bones), in pain and cranky. Gunni, our host, led us up to the quiet private area and right when we walked into our private room, we were enveloped in a blanket of luxurious, warm air. It made my ears tingle! The interior was beautiful– modern design, heated stone floors, backlit blue and purple lights, brushed steel and aluminum appliances. When Brian went out to go smoke, I sat down, closed my eyes and enjoyed the wave of glee that came over me.

We went downstairs to where the lounge was, inhaled our fruit platter, and stepped into the warm water. The water is light blue due to silica and algal elements, and is geothermally heated. There are several outlets of steam around the Lagoon, I’m assuming excess energy that hasn’t been harnessed by the nearby geothermal plant. The air is still super cold and chilly, but the water is so warm that everything is perfect! There is also a bar that you can wade up to and charge your purchases to the wristband that you pay out upon departure. We spent the next few hours wading around, exploring the nooks and crannies of the Lagoon. Beautiful and relaxing… it was exactly what we needed!

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Ouch! Brrrrr!

Got into an ATV accident yesterday. I was following Brian who was following our guide, Thor of Eskimos (http://www.eskimos.is). We were quading around some roads that were covered with gravel and at times snow and/or ice, going up and down small mountains, crossing running rivers and frozen ponds that broke underneath the weight of our ATV’s. It was fun! I deliberately hung back so I could gas it all the way at times (NOT where there was snow or ice, just on gravel). Unfortunately, these were tuned down to be street legal so the acceleration and top speed were less than what I’m used to.

Anyway, so there was one part that literally had a foot of solid ice covering most parts of the road. Brian said that even Thor had to slow down to maneuver the road. So from what I gathered afterwards (from what I remember and Brian seeing it happen in his rear view), I hit a foot-deep rut, it yanked my handlebar all the way to the right, I yanked it forward but by then it was too late. I hit the left side of my head (yes we had helmets) first before getting more banged up and my left foot pinned underneath the ATV. The ATV was somehow completely upside down and perpendicular to the direction I was traveling. I laid there dazed for a bit but managed to wiggle out. By the time we got back to the apartment, my head was pounding and I could already feel whiplash settling into the left side of my neck, plus several spots where bruises would probably form.

Probably against better judgement, I still went on our 4×4 offroading tour this morning, which probably aggravated my neck. Then to top it all off, our vehicle, which was pretty much a Mormon Mobile that was equipped with enough gear to make it close to impossible to get stuck, got stuck. On a six foot snow drift. And we had to get out and push. Unsuccessfully. For a full freaking hour in sub zero temperatures. Not cool. Luckily, some guys on snowmobiles saw us, grabbed their own 4×4 and towed us out. Well, at least the surrounding snowscape was beautiful!

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Golden Circle

Well, the Northern Lights tour was moderately successful. Several factors come into play, beyond just being north enough: the brightness of the moon, solar activity during the previous 24 hours, light pollution and how cloudy or clear the sky is. We drove around and stopped several times and saw them faintly. Actually the brightest viewing was a flare of it while people were boarding the bus! I didn’t catch it but Brian did.

Another popular day tour here is the Golden Circle route, which we went on the day before yesterday. Reykjavik Excursions offers it for 8900ISK including hotel transfer. The three main stops are Gulfoss (Golden Falls), Geysir and Pingvellir, all located fairly close to each other once you get a little inland outside of Reykjavik.

Gulfoss is called the Golden Falls for a reason. The sheer size of it is stunning! The area was covered in snow and ice; some parts of the falls had actually frozen over (the wind chill is shocking!).

We stopped for lunch at the tourist stop just outside of Geysir, the geyser that gives its name to all other geysers (or so the guide repeatedly said). Geysir itself erupts with boiling water every 5-10 minutes, sometimes it’s impressive and other times it’s not. Surrounding Geysir are other geysers and boiling mud pots, though those weren’t visible from the trail. There is a multimedia center at the tourist stop– one of the displays is this thing you can stand on and it mimics the earthquake caused by a major volcanic eruption a couple decades ago (5.1 on the Richter scale).

Last main stop for the day was Pingvellir, the place where you can actually see the crack between the Eurasian and North American Plates. There was so much snow there though, that I couldn’t see where I was walking! At one point my foot fell into a smaller crack up to the top of my boot between the two plates! You can hike down a bit between the plates in some areas. Up top, there is a spectacular view of the adjacent lake. This is where political gatherings used to take place back in the 900’s, due to its accessibility.

I’d have to say that my favorite of the three was Pingvellir. The landscape around it is beautiful (as is the other landscape during the drive), the view is amazing, and seeing the meeting place of these gargantuan pieces of the moving Earth blows my mind!

We’re going 4×4’ing around some volcanoes in a bit!

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Hello Reykjavik!

Not too long ago, my boyfriend Brian and I booked some cheap non-stop flights to Reykjavik via IcelandAir. Well, we finally made it here yesterday morning!

Our quaint, clean, beautiful studio apartment is located within a 5 minute walk from the main street, Laugavegur. Kalli’s Apartments has several units to rent, all with free access to a washer/dryer, free wifi, and an awesome welcome by the cheerful landlord, Systa! We bussed into town from the airport, getting off at the BSI bus stop (tickets were bought at the flyBus kiosk right outside baggage claim, 7000 kronur for 2 roundtrips, 45 minutes). Systa picked us up from BSI, took us to our apartment and came up with us to get us all oriented on the map, patiently answered every question we had, and collected rent for the 8 nights (99000 kronur).

It’s been snowing, as you may have already guessed for Iceland in February. During the daytime, it doesn’t get too bad. Once the sun starts to set however, the temperature drops noticeably fast. Leftover slush rapidly freezes, the wind chill gets painful, and the city seems to get muted as it settles in for the night. Then at that point you can turn up the heat in your room, fueled by geothermally heated water! (and yes, there is a trace of sulfur in the water here)

We haven’t done much so far, besides go grocery shopping and wander around a little (prices are similar to Seattle, maybe a little bit more). Brian’s cooking dinner now, before heading out on a tour to see the Northern Lights in a couple hours.

There’s a surprising amount of awesome street art here. Check it out!

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