Iceland was such a crazy and beautiful experience – seriously unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the world. It’s been on my list forever, especially because one of my best friends has been twice now and of course its an amazing place to see the Northern Lights (more on that coming in the next post!). Originally when booking this trip, I was looking for flights to London, but as always, whenever I travel to Europe I try to make more than one destination out of it. So when I saw Iceland Air was doing stopovers – and the flight from New York, to Iceland for several days, to London for a few days, and back to New York came out to only $500 (seriously amazing!) I booked myself and my mum flights immediately. This was back in August, so about 3 months prior to the travel. The price was on point!
The flight from New York to Iceland is quite quick, about 4.5 hours. This also means that we landed in iceland at 7am their time – 2am our time. This also means I got barely any sleep, (I dozed for maybe about half an hour) and the jet lag was going to set in harrrrrd. Even with as much as I travel, I’m horrible at handling jet lag when it happens to me. If I manage to get a few hours of sleep on a red eye and have a bed waiting for me for a couple more hours of sleep at my destination, then I’m fine but when its a situation where I’m landing in the middle of the night my time I just know that first day will be tough. So I try to plan accordingly.
I booked us a room in an Airbnb in Grindavik, the cutest little fishing town on the south coast. It’s only about twenty minutes from the airport instead of 45 minutes like Reykjavik, and the magical Blue Lagoon is located just on the edge of town. What better way to fight jet lag than with a spa day at one of the most gorgeous geothermal pools in the world?!
We were supposed to check into our airbnb at 1pm, so I planned for us to go straight to the Blue Lagoon from the airport after picking up our rental car (a complete necessity in Iceland) and hanging out there until we could check in. When you’re booking the lagoon, you have to pick a time slot to arrive and I had chosen 9-10am, giving us just enough time to collect our bags and our rental car. Arriving to the lagoon around 10am turned out being a great thing, since in November, the sun rises around then!
The lagoon is already so stunning to begin with, and to arrive just in time for the sunrise to be going on while we slipped into the hot milky blue water – incredible experience. I booked the premium package for us, which comes with use of robes, slippers, both the silica mask and the algae mask and a free drink at the swim up bar. It was definitely time for breakfast, and the drinks are a choice of alcohols or smoothies, so I went with a strawberry smoothie. Sooo good.
My mum and I swam around a lot, looking the the hottest spots in the water and exploring all around. We did both masks provided for us (amazing) and tried out this cool cave steam room. After a few hours, my jet lag was really coming in and I had a splitting headache, so we finally headed to our airbnb after having our fill of the Blue Lagoon beauty.
I was hoping to explore the little town more that day too, but I crashed with the jet lag. Thank goodness we were able to find some headache meds since I forgot mine, even though I normally have some pre-packed in my travel bag… the Icelandic medicine was a life saver. After sleeping away the rest of the day and mostly sleeping through the night I felt almost all better, just a small headache compared to feeling like my brain was exploding that first day. And so onwards with our adventures!
My friend Ashley had told me about this little cafe in this town that specializes in one thing – lobster soup. Even though I don’t eat seafood anymore, I tried it and it was fantastic. The cafe is called Bryggjan. It is so cute inside and their soups are just incredible. You can get as much refill as you want as its self serve, and they had lobster soup and mushroom soup the day we were there. It also comes with unlimited (delicious) bread, coffee and tea. It was the perfect start to our day. Ashley had also told me about a loop you can drive around just by the cafe with sheep and shipwrecks to look at, so we went ahead and drove that. Its definitely gorgeous and not to be missed, though we didn’t get to see the sheep this time!
What I had booked for night two in Iceland is something thats been on my bucket list for ages, and I was thrilled to have the chance to get a night like this on this trip. Have you ever dreamed of sleeping in a heated bubble in the snow? 🙂 That’s what we did!
They advertise it as a great place to see the Northern Lights, which of course is true… if the lights show up, haha. It actually can be quite difficult to get a glimpse since the weather has to be clear and the magnetic activity needs to be strong. They didn’t show up for us that night but it was still a beautiful experience to sleep in a snow covered forest in this bubble tent. 100% glamping, 100% into it.
The drive from Southern Iceland to where the Bubble Hotel was located (close to Fludir) is one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever been on. I mean, every drive we did was one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever been on, but its definitely one to put on the list. Put on some ambient music and enjoy the snowy mountain terrain and the pretty ponies along the way!
Close to the Bubble Hotel, there’s a lovely little wool shop up on a hill that’s worth stopping in at, and we had dinner at a sweet Polish-owned spot called Cafe Mika. We chatted with the owner and ordered a fabulous salad and a big pizza, saving the second half of it for a late night snack later during star gazing out of our bubble 🙂 I slept great under the stars and shining moonlight, waking up a few times but always happy to see the night sky above me while being super cozy with heated blankets and wool blankets and duvets. They definitely do a great job of providing everything you need there. Also there is a “service house” on the property with toilets, showers and a kitchen area with coffee and tea, so you’re not just stuck in the wild in a bubble! Also its not really in the wild, its on farmland, so its very safe;)
Since the sunrise is so absurdly late (10am, thanks Arctic Circle) it was amazing to be able to wake up before it and go for a beautiful sunrise walk. We met a cutie black lab along the way, who was one of the most smiley dogs I’ve ever met, and she showed us to a barn with some sheep there – finally got my Icelandic sheep in! After our sunrise walk it was time to pack back up and head out to where we were going to be staying for the rest of the trip; our airbnb apartment in Reykjavik.
The drive we took from Fludir to Reykjavik was absolutely stunning, again. I kept thinking/feeling that I was ‘Beyond The Wall’ in Game of Thrones, and then realized duh, I actually was! They definitely filmed those scenes in Iceland. If I could do the drive from the Bubble Hotel to Reykjavik again though, I would have done it slightly differently, knowing what I know now about the layout of Iceland. The ‘last’ stop on the Golden Circle, coming from Reykjavik, is the Gullfoss waterfall. Its actually quite close to where the bubble hotel is, and if I was doing it again (or if I’m advising you on your Iceland trip and you are including a night in the bubbles) I would do the Golden Circle backwards and drive from the Bubble, to Gullfoss, to Geysir, to Thingvellir National Park (and onwards to Reykjavik). The Golden Circle isn’t really a circle, just a row of incredible stops, and if we had gone that way that day instead of a seperate day it would have given us an extra day later that I would have used to explore the Northwestern Peninsula. That was a drive/exploration I was dying to do but we didn’t get to since the only day we had left to do that, it was bad weather. But I can’t complain! We had really beautiful, albeit cold, weather every day until that last day, when the rain finally came.
Coming up next – our experience of staying in Reykjavik for four nights, and using it as a base for little mini day trips to exploring! 🙂