Back in October, one of my best friends decided to go to Iceland for work. I laughed at him. Spending the better part of winter in Iceland? When your real home is South Florida? ARE YOU NUTS?
Then he said, "Katie, you should come visit." I'm pretty sure my immediate response was "LOLZ DO YOU KNOW ME" and he said "yup, so come visit!" If that's not true friendship, I don't know what is.
So I hemmed and hawed. Somehow I convinced myself that this sounded like an okay idea. And once he found out I was leaning towards a yes, he really laid it on thick. I'd be the best friend ever for coming to visit, we'd have the best time ever, he'd be so sad if I didn't, on and on and on. He even sent me links for things we could do! I claimed that I caved just to shut him up but between you & I, the idea of going somewhere totally unexpected kind of grew on me and plus, some of his ideas for entertainment sounded pretty dang cool.
So, $900 and 2 flights later, BOOM, I was going to Iceland in January. Then I received this email (pictures not included in original email):
Subject: Legendary Weekend v1 (draft -- for discussion only)
6:40 – Katie lands in Iceland
7:30 – Katie gets picked up from the airport
8:15 – Arrive at Icelandair Hotel Natura
8:30 – Free/nap time -- NAP was crucial
1:00 – Katie wanders the streets of Reykjavik, gets acquainted with the city
5:00 – Depart hotel for brewery tour! Beer!
7:30 – Head to center for dinner -- Caruso was delicious, I recommend the snails!
9:30 – Late night fun
9:00 – Early wake up! Let's see Iceland while it's actually light outside
10:00 – Depart for Golden Circle
- Swim in a random hot spring – below photo is pre-hot spring swimming but I did strip out of that ginormous coat and into a swimsuit in freezing temperatures, and it was 100% worth it!
- Geysir – We have video of the Strokkur Geysir erupting but the below picture is the Litl Geysir!
- Gulfoss – Just a waterfall – reminded me of Iguazu but on a much smaller scale
- Blue Lagoon – No photos because it was real cold and there was nowhere to keep my camera but the water was as blue as any picture you find on the internet and they served beer. Success!
9:30 – Dinner at The Fish Market (We actually both got the cod, which I highly recommend. My friend went back again and got a different dish, and wished he'd gotten the cod.
Also, this may be quite controversial, but I decided to try the minke whale. It was tasty, I'm glad I opted for a dish so unique to Iceland, but I'll be leaving the whales to swim in the sea from now on!)
9:00 – Breakfast in the hotel
11:00 – Leave for Snowmobiling (as inspired by this)
5:00 – Return to hotel (& rest because we have been going NON-STOP)
7:30 – Dinner
9:00 – Leave for dogsled tour
10:00 – Dogsled / Northern lights tour
8:00 – Breakfast in the hotel
1:00 – Katie back at hotel
2:00 – Katie departs for airport
5:00 – Time to fly
I actually ended up sleeping in on Monday morning and jumping out of bed with barely enough time to rush downtown, pick up some souvenirs, grab a bite to eat for lunch and make it back to the hotel to get on my bus to the airport. Certainly not how I planned it, but you win some, you lose some!
What I included here actually ended up being our final schedule rather than the 1st draft but honestly, it wasn't much different than what was originally sent to me. We crammed a LOT into the 3.5 days I spent in Reykjavik. My friend had a car the whole time we were there, which probably contributed to how much we were able to do in a few days. I don’t know how much car rental is but that could certainly be an option if you are feeling brave. It gave us a ton of flexibility, which I appreciated!
We (obviously) stayed pretty close to Reykjavik but others I know have ventured to the north part of the island. I felt quite satisfied with all the things we did and it left me wanting just a little bit more. My friend has already made plans for other adventures that we heard about while dogsledding or snowmobiling, so there is certainly plenty to do if you wanted to stay longer.
The cost for food and drink on top of our activities was astronomical. This may be where booking through a tour company makes sense because at least you know exactly what you are getting for a certain price. I never quite figured out the exchange rate so I just threw down my credit card…not my best decision. We ate at some of the best restaurants in Reykjavik, which had it’s perks and it’s drawbacks. I am sure it’s possible to dine in Iceland on the cheap, but that wasn’t how we rolled this time around.
I’m SO glad I went. It felt a bit spontaneous, a bit out of character, and was a really great way to kick off 2013. I got to spend time with one of my favorite people, I got to explore somewhere I’d never dreamed of going, and we had an absolute blast. I think I may have found a new travel buddy, and certainly found a place that I can’t wait to re-visit.
Could you imagine yourself in Iceland?