A Surprise Birthday Trip to Iceland – Part 1!

It’s my birthday this week, and as I have been thinking about previous celebrations, I thought I would share with you one of the best, if not THE BEST birthday’s I’ve had.. so far ūüėČ

I had wanted to visit Iceland for as long as I can remember. Not my normal choice of holiday as I’m usually all about the sun, sea, sand, cocktails, you get the picture. But Iceland just looked so beautiful and interesting. I’m also obsessed with spa’s so was dying to float around in the Blue Lagoon and imagined being pulled along by huskies while searching for a hint of the Northern Lights. It all just seemed so magical.

I must of made a million hints to Matt and would always say Iceland as the next place I wanted to visit whenever holidays were discussed with friends. Everyone probably got fed up of me talking about it!

But 2 years ago Matt surprised me and I mean really surprised me. It was a few days before my birthday and we were sat eating dinner like any normal night, when he gave me a postcard where he had written, pack your bags we are off to Iceland in the morning! Excited was an understatement and less than 24 hours later we had landed.

The airport was eerily quiet, the runway had been cleared of snow and when we finally ventured outside we were hit with the ice cold air. On our drive to Reykjavík I thought we had landed on another planet! We were the only car on the roads for miles and the landscape was cratered looking with areas of ice and black volcanic soil dotted around with the view of glaciers or volcanoes in the distance. It really felt like we had landed on Mars or the Moon, but it was stunning and unlike anything I had seen before.

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We were told that 99% of the population live in Urban areas of which 60% live in the capital of¬†Reykjav√≠k which is why so much of Iceland is left in it’s natural beauty.

But this was a birthday trip not a Geography trip so onto the fun stuff!

We checked into Hotel Alda late afternoon, and decided to explore the main streets of Reykjavík, especially as we needed to buy a few more layers or even snow suits as it really was freezing cold!! We walked a long the waterfront and found a lovely and cosy, traditional Icelandic restaurant for dinner.

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You can’t take me anywhere! A slide inside a shop!

 

We had to get up super early the next morning, as we had a full day of exploring to do. Check out the size of the car!

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Check out that view!

We had booked onto a day tour and after a 45 min drive, our first stop was the √ěingvellir or¬†Thingvellir National Park. It lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, you can see lots of the large cracks that have been caused by Earthquakes! To its south lies¬†the largest natural lake in Iceland. It was a beautiful, but yet again frosty, way to start the morning and watch the sunrise.

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From here we jumped back into the car to warm up and made our way down the deserted roads to Gullfoss.

Gullfoss which means Golden Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland and we could see why, it is absolutely stunning!

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We would have loved to have watched the waterfall for longer but the spray was like ice and along with the bitterly cold winds we couldn’t stay outside for any longer. So as we had some free time in Gullfoss we decided to check out the large shop/cafe/restaurant/visitor centre. It was actually really interesting and nice to grab a bowl of soup and cup of tea to warm up!

I’m sorry to keep going on about the cold weather but seriously if you are planning on visiting Iceland take plenty of layers, sensible shoes (lots of snow, ice, uneven surfaces), hats, gloves, scarfs and if you have them ski jackets or the biggest coats you own. You will need them!

Now as mentioned above one of the things I really wanted to do in Iceland was go dog/husky sledding, but unfortunately we were a little too early in the season and there wasn’t enough snow on the lower ground to do this. However we weren’t sad for long as we were told we could go snowmobiling in the higher glaciers instead.

Feeling both nervous and excited we started the 2 hour drive to Langj√∂kull, Iceland‚Äôs second largest glacier. The drive was an experience in itself as we started the journey in our tour jeep which slowly made it’s way up the mountains, the roads getting icier, the drops getting higher until we weren’t allowed to drive any more and so we all had to get into a new vehicle. Imagine a cross between a snowplough and a hummer. It was huge and could basically drive through any amount of snow or ice, the journey was a super bumpy one and we had some dicey moments but we finally made it to the glacier and witnessed some incredible views.

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We were given snowsuits and helmets to wear and then we were off on our one hour snowmobile adventure over the glaciers.

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The snow was pretty deep and I may of fallen flat on my face in front of the whole group, oops!

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Beautiful sunset in the snow

The hour flew by but it was so much fun and as the sun was starting to set we got back into our jeep ready for the final stop of the tour,¬†the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur.¬†Geysir has been mostly inactive for many years, Strokkur however continues to erupt every 5‚Äď10 minutes. It was fun to watch and wait, trying to guess when it would erupt and then making me jump every time it did!

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Rudolph noses! 

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Matt getting up close 

I couldn’t get over how beautiful the sky was! Just stunning.

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After a nice hot shower back at the hotel to warm up, we had another evening in Reykjavík and found a more modern restaurant for dinner, which did the best cocktails!

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Finishing the night with a walk to Hallgrímskirkja (church of Hallgrímur). It is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures in Iceland and is beautifully Gothic looking.

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A beautiful end to our time in Reykjavík.

Love Chloe xx

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