4.15.2016 – Iceland Trip

From April 13th to April 18th, I took a quick vacation to Iceland. Leaving late evening Wednesday and returning late evening Monday, this is the shortest international trip I have ever taken. Although the trip was way too short (four full days), it was one of the most action packed vacations I have taken in long time. The other part of the vacation is that I went with 8 friends which made the journey even more fun. Here is a quick run down of what I did and a gallery of pictures for each day!

  1. April 13th
    • Evening flight to Keflavik Airport Iceland.
  2. April 14th
    • Landed 7 AM in the morning at Keflavik.
    • Took a FlyBus to Blue Lagoon – a man made spa using the geothermal heat from the earth. Blue Lagoon is the go to destination in Iceland upon landing. I did the standard package and brought my own towel and robe. Anything more than this is a waste of money I think. The Lagoon is basically a giant adult hot tub to wash away fatigue from the flight.
    • Ate a three course lunch at Blue Lagoon totaling $70 (figured out the exchange rate after this purchase!). This included Arctic Char, Lamb (famous in Iceland), and some sort of caramel ice cream pasty puff. Although overpriced, it was a great start.
    • Got to the hotel around 5 PM after taking another FlyBus shuttle. I stayed at the Center Hotel Plaza. Although it was a tiny closet of a room, the location was unbeatable and close to every major attraction that I wanted to go.
    • For dinner, I went to a place called Dill and had a five course meal to top off the evening. Dill is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Iceland but we thought it was a bit too overpriced for the portion size/quality offered. It was about $100 but we were still hungry after the 2.5 hour meal. This started with 6 “snacks” and moved into five separate courses as seen in the gallery.
    • Post-dinner I met up with some friends at a bar called the Laundromat Cafe. This bar has some soviet era looking washers and dryers in the basement. The concept is pretty brilliant, do laundry and have a beer. Seems like a gimmick, but I would use it if I didn’t have indoor laundry!
    • At around 11 PM we made a last minute decision to go see the Northern Lights and drove a few hours north of the city. This ended up being one of the best decisions as the rest of the vacation was cloudy and windy which are terrible conditions to see the Northern Lights. If we did not go this day, we would of missed this amazing experience.
  3. April 15th
    • The hotel we stayed in had a killer breakfast spread each morning. Unlike my stay previously across Europe, this hotel had eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal and a variety of fruit that gave me a good boost for the day.
    • We started the day with a “pay what you want” historical tour of Rekjavik run by local students. This took us across the city and gave us an overview of historical and cultural spots in the area.
    • After the tour, we found ourselves in a little French restraurant called Le Bistro where I ordered an Icelandic Meat Soup (with Lamb!) and a sampler plate of exotic Icelandic meats. These exotic meats tasted like crap but are meant for tourists like me who want to try some “Icelandic specialties.” The soup was decent but was very gamey in flavor.
    • We stopped at another small cafe on the way to the spaceship looking church for some chocolate crepes. Iceland has a ton of cute little cafes and it was definitely a time to splurge on the sweets.
    • After some more self-exploring we took a tour called Warm Baths Cool Lights to go to an additional geothermal spa and “hunt” for Northern Lights. Although the spa was awesome, the conditions were poor for Northern Lights and we were not able to see any the second night.
  4. April 16th
    • We started the morning with another tour called Glacier and Waterfalls. This was a long day where they took us to two different waterfalls and a hike on the Glaciers. This was absolutely one of the coolest things we got to do on this trip. This was my first time using crampons and an ice pick. I also got to see the different types of ash from the two major volcanic eruptions.
    • We got back around 7:00 PM and immediately did a group dinner at a restraunt called Kopar. Although obscenely expensive, the food here was the best on the trip by far. I had another exotic meat Horse Tendorloin and their famous Rock Crab soup. Both did not disappoint. Horse Tendorloin tasted like Filet Mignon but more tender…
    • The night was finished at the hotel drinking Moscato with the group of friends I traveled with.
  5. April 17th
    • I rented a car this day to drive the famous Golden Circle of Iceland. This is a route for tourists to see random Icelandic points of interest.
    • I picked up the car from Blue Car Rental (highly recommended) at the Reykjavik office and the first stop was Efstidalur for home made ice cream and burgers. The story of this first destination is that it was a local family that had a ton of tourists stop by and ended up converting their home into a bed & breakfast and now restaurant. We ate in a converted barn where we can see all the cows while we ate various cow products. It was deliciously cruel.
    • Next stop was to see Strokkur Geyser which erupts every 8-10 minutes. I got a pretty sick video in slow motion. It was way too cold and windy at this point so after seeing it erupt twice, we escaped back into the car for the next stop.
    • After the Geyser was the Gullfoss waterfalls. Apparently it is supposed to rival Niagra Falls. It was magnificent but Niagra Falls is just a different beast and Gullfoss is not even a close comparison.
    • The coolest stop on the Golden Circle tour was the Kerid Crater. It is this giant crater that has a lake in the middle. We walked around the entire crater and also into the crater. The place is breathtaking and I’ll let the pictures describe just how massive this thing is.
    • Last stop of the circle tour was supposed to be a hike to a geothermal river. Due to the strong winds and storm advisory we decided to turn back into the city at this point and not complete the final adventure.
    • Upon return to the city, we went to Icelandic Fish and Chips restaurant for dinner where I had fried wolffish. I’m not a big fan of fried stuff but how it was cooked was perfect and not overly breaded.
    • My group of friends and I ended the night at an Irish pub called the Drunken Rabbit and finally a bar called American Bar (#Murica) for some live music. Not a bad way to end the last full day in Iceland.
  6. April 18th
    • Last day in Iceland was to kept simple. We ate breakfast and met up at a cafe called Rekjavik Roasters. It was a good time to reflect on the crazy few days and day dream about the next vacation.

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