Reykjavik- the city of magic
Whenever I go on my holidays whether it be a beachy week long trip or for a quick short city break, I seem to come home and really take time to reflect on where I’ve been and why I liked it. Reykjavik has had me thinking for weeks after I returned and I can only put that down to one thing- the magic.
No no no, I’m not talking about Harry Potter Studios or anything man-made. I’m talking raw, natural beauty which although is down to the nature of science, makes the whole country of Iceland just seem magical. I wanted to speak about some of the tours we went on with Reykjavik Excursions who were just brilliant and why I feel a visit to Iceland is one that should be on everyone’s bucketlist.
When looking at our tour options, we had to balance what we really wanted to do alongside the cost of things in Iceland which is something I’ll be talking about shortly. We booked the original Northern Lights tour with Reykjavik Excursions which involves a 50 minute drive out to where there is just fields and flat land where you can gaze up at the sky and hope to see the Aurora Borealis dance in front of you.
They offer a great deal in that if that if you don’t see the northern lights on your first tour, you can re-book with them another night. We decided to maximise our chances of seeing the beautiful lights, we would arrange to go on our first night. We waited next to our bus stop to be picked up and as there had been recent bad weather there, we were surrounded by lots of people who had their original tours cancelled and who were pinning their hopes on seeing them that night. It was at that point I realised that if we saw them, we would be so fortunate but that also I needed to be realistic.
We had a lovely tour operator who talked to us about the northern lights, what they are and why they’re so important to Iceland. Once we reached our destination, the sharp wind hit us and oh wow was I cold!
Tip: If you’re a friends fan, do what Joey does and just layer up, it really is needed!
My heart skipped a beat when we saw the green arch in the sky which is how the lights normally start. It took a while for my eyes to adjust but then it was quite clear to see despite it being faint- I couldn’t get any photos as it just wasn’t clear enough but I hoped that wouldn’t matter as I hoped they’d get brighter. I hoped and hoped and hoped until I saw the darkest clouds hanging over the lights and then it all ended quite abruptly. The lights disappeared as did our chances of seeing them on our trip as the other nights we were there we rebooked but the tours were cancelled due to bad weather. Sounds sad hey? Well it was but it has made me even more eager to track them down one day and have the full experience. It still felt magical and I know I’ve seen more than others have who didn’t even get on the coach so I still feel lucky.
What a gorgeous place! I had no idea what to expect apart from seeing some friends photos and actually when I arrived, the thought of stripping down to by bikini during a very heavy hailstorm was not one that filled me with confidence. We chose to do the Blue Lagoon tour as we took our towels and I’d heard that having robes etc wasn’t the be all and end all. The facilities are clean, there are lockers which are included in the price and there was plenty of space to get changed.
Tip: People’s with lovely long hair, or even any hair (!), wash it with the conditioner they provide and then stick it up and try and keep it dry. Not that easy but worth it as the water makes your hair extremely dry and can cause knots! Tangle teaser is a must for your bag on this trip!
Once we braved the few seconds of cold in between the changing room and entering the water, our frozen body parts melted into what I can only describe as absolute heaven. The geothermal water bubbles and smokes and not only looks beautiful but feels so so lush. The water was always warm but we kept finding these hot spots where you’d hear everyone go ‘ahhhh’ and ‘ooooh’- some dodgy noises coming from some people I have to say! Oo er.
I’d suggest though, taking a swim up to the mud mask bar where you can take a free sample of their masks, apply it to you face and go find a spot in the back where there is less people. You can then sit back and just take in how amazing this natural wonder actually is. I felt so lucky to be able to experience it but I also felt a pang of jealousy that Icelandic people have this wander to call home. It’s a must do if you’re visiting Reykjavik! What I would say is- make sure you’re back at your bus at least 15 mins earlier as they can often get filled up with other tourists and you could be waiting an hour for the next one which almost happened to us but we just squeezed on!
The Golden Circle Tour
Normally, I am a researcher. I research the tours, the country, the culture- everything. I did that with Iceland but one thing I didn’t look at too much was the Golden Circle tour– not particular reason for this but I found by not doing it, it made it all the more amazing to see. It’s a full day tour and I’d recommend taking snacks that you can eat throughout the day to keep you going. The views on the way to go geysers were just beautiful- it felt like the proper Icelandic experience with the mountainous view being smashed by the sunny rays one moment and then swept up by the misty fog the next. It was amazing.
Once we reached the geysers, we walked up to each one and watched the mist dance around them whilst waiting for them to erupt- I was stunned. I was also soaked as I stood in the splash zone which was absolutely brilliant- cold, but brilliant! There was a lovely little canteen/shop across the road which we made the most of for lunch-priciest chicken wings I think I’ll ever buy but hey, when you’re on holiday and in such a beautiful place, do you really care? Nah!
We had ample time to spend watching the geysers and we then took a drive to Gulfoss Waterfall which I think was the highlight of the trip for me. I have never seen a waterfall so beautiful. I think it was the snow and ice that decorated it and just the sheer power that came from it was astonishing. I’d recommend every person reading this to add this to their bucketlist and to just stand there and take it all in because I think we get swept up in a world of social media and trivial things but when you stand and see something so beautiful- well, I’ll let you experience it for yourself.
So is that enough magic for you? Add all that to the quirky city, the friendly people and the peaceful bubble that takes you away from your everyday life and you’ve got yourself an ideal trip.
Thank you to Reykjavik Excursions for our wonderful trips out to see all of the above- I’d love to come back one day and do your other tours which look equally as amazing.
My next post will be a review of the Sandhotel we stayed at because I can’t recommend it enough.
Have you ever been to Iceland? What did you think and did you see the lights?