If you haven’t already heard it, I’m happy to be the one to share the news… Iceland really is worth all of the hype surrounding it.
The recent surge in tourism to this wintry island country has been hard to ignore, with popular bloggers making stops there and my own personal Facebook and Instagram feeds blowing up with fantastical photos of its otherworldly splendor. When my friend, Corinne, suggested we follow suit and make the trek ourselves, it was hard to say no; I was also craving a little of this icy adventure myself.
Iceland was the first of three stops during our 16-day trip across Europe and the UK, and I’ll be honest… it was the last on where I was most excited to go. Five days there seemed a little much for me.
I don’t mind admitting that I was very, very wrong and I could have happily spent all 16 days abroad in Reykjavik alone!
On August 18, I hopped on my seven-hour red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Keflavik without any expectations, which I think worked in my favor. Corinne flew in separately from Boston and landed a good five or six hours before I did, so she spent most of that first Saturday roaming around the city and getting a lay of the land until I was able to join her. We unknowingly planned our trip during the Reykjavik Marathon and Culture Night, so the streets were flooded with food stands, live music, and people from all over Iceland and the world.
Once I was able to find Corinne, we were both starving, so before venturing around for some sightseeing we popped into a gastro pub to get our grub on via some burgers and beers. Spoiler alert: that didn’t end up happening. Apparently Icelandic folk don’t have the same idea of what a “gastro pub” is as we do here in America. The beer was accounted for, but the menu featured sushi (??). We both agreed we were too tired and too lazy to get up and find another spot, so we sucked it up and ordered some overpriced fish, proceeding to laugh deliriously for the next hour as we caught up with each other and stumbled over our words.
After our meal, we walked around the city, stopping every now and then to listen to some music and take in all of the sights and sounds. Reykjavik is extremely walkable without many hills, which was perfect for our overtired states. We stopped at the Sun Voyager sculpture by the water and climbed the stairs of the Opera House before settling onto a grassy hill as the main Culture Night event began.
Boy were we in for a surprise.
We had the pleasure of watching an all-female rap group called the Daughters of Reykjavik, who are known to “spit in both Icelandic and English about everything from sexual violence to feminism and sexual freedom.” All 10 to 12 of them (I didn’t get an exact count as they spent their whole set moving and gyrating around lol) were clad in coordinated sweat suits, half in light blue and half in navy. Their performance (after a few technical glitches) was very “girl power”-y which was cool, but it was also completely uncensored and got a little uncomfortable when they stripped down to their bikini tops (one girl was even pregnant ha!) and then began to grind against the speaker system — especially since we were sitting smack dab in the middle of hundreds of families with young children. Maybe we were the only ones who thought it was outrageous, since no one else seemed to be hysterically laughing like Corinne and I were.
After braving a few songs, we decided it was a good enough time to let the exhaustion take over and finally get to bed. We had an early date with the Blue Lagoon that we didn’t want to be late for.
Part two of the Iceland post will cover the main part of our trip, which included the Blue Lagoon, our glacier excursion tour, and our tour of what is called “The Golden Circle.” Below I’ve included some travel notes if planning an Iceland trip is something you’d be interested in pursuing as well. I honestly can’t recommend it enough, and after the next post you’ll see why!
- Flew WOW Airline direct from LAX to Keflavik
- Booked round-trip transportation to and from the airport with Flybusbut you can buy tickets at the arrivals area right in the airport
- Stayed at Hlemmur Square Hostel in a shared, all-female room (wouldn’t recommend)
- Our Blue Lagoon trip was booked directly from their page here,where transportation is an option to include at check out
- Our glacier tourand our Golden Circle tour were booked through Extreme Iceland