Booze, Blizzards and Breathtaking views: Experiencing Iceland in a week

So yeah, I decided to take a trip – a bit out of the blue, but why the hell not? It started with considering travelling with some friends, but then no one could when it really came down to it but now I was really hooked on it, feeling the post travel depression. So I thought “what the hell” and booked the flights to Reykjavik for four weeks later, 30th November to 7th December – the flights to Iceland with a layover in Oslo was cheap, only just over 160€ in total – and thought that this could be my try at travelling alone, never done it but think that you have to try it at least once, and it was only for a week if it failed miserably.

So some weeks later I had most of my day tours planned and booked: the golden circle, lava caves, the northern light and snorkeling, everything ready to go – bags packed, hiking boots on and off to the airport! So I landed in Reykjavik some hours later and took the bus to my hostel – I had booked a 16 bed dorm room in KEX hostel, an amazing hostel! For seven nights in the 16 bed dorm room it was around 160€ as well, and it has a really nice, cozy and retro vibe but also dead central – you have a view of the water and are not even 5 minutes walk from the main street, so I would definitely recommend it!

It might all sound great and amazing so far, but must be honest and admit it was not! I arrived at around three, got some food and then back into my room where I was all by myself. This didn’t change the whole night, so used that whole evening by myself nearly crying my eyes out, regretting the hell out of my decision to come alone to Iceland! Being exhausted from the flight, being told the weather was going to be crappy the next week with no chance of doing anything probably didn’t help that situation.

I am in some ways shy, in others not, but I cannot just go up to strangers and begin to talk freely; it just does not come natural. So I went to bed early and that was the best decision I could have made. I woke up the next morning ready for sightseeing, but there was a blizzard the most of the day and could first go out around 14:00, but I used the time with my book in hostels common areas.

Sightseeing in Reykjavik
Sightseeing in Reykjavik

I did see a bit of the city, but the peak of the first day was the evening, where I went out to see the northern lights and they are amazing…. They just appear out of nowhere in the most beautiful colours – we saw one that was green at the top and pink at the bottom and it was so clear and it flickered like a piece of fabric in the wind – wow.

Nothernlights
Nothernlights

So yeah everything about being alone just went away from that moment and the rest of the trip was just absolutely amazing! The next day I went on the golden circle tour, a full day tour, where you see the waterfall Gullfoss, the Geyser and the national park Thingvellier, which is also where the two tectonic plates are moving from each other. All of the sights were gorgeous and pictures cannot capture their greatness, so if Iceland is not already on your bucket list, put it on there! As in right now, it’s worth it, believe me. But besides experiencing the beautiful nature, I also found some people in my dorm to talk to and we went out to dinner, or it went more like “hey, we are going to get some whale – you wanna join?” so I did. Yes, as a sister to a biologist I feel a bit guilty for eating whale, but it was worth it as it was amazing, so yum!

 

Gullfoss
Gullfoss
Geysir
Geysir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It also gave me the energy for the next day, where I went lava caving – or as I would say more like crawling around in lava caves as there was not much room, at some point we were literally on our all fours and stomach nearly – but it was pretty cool experience. After that we went to go whale watching, not really the season for it and it showed, we only saw four dolphins, not the most interesting part of my trip.. But I went back to the hostel, where some of the others were going for some food and the going out in Reykjavik’s nightlife as they are pretty known for it, apparently in the top 3 places or something like that, so I joined and had an great night, so worth checking out – I checked it out three nights in a row, had to be sure it wasn’t just beginners luck.

Whale watching
Whale watching
Lava Caves
Lava Caves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it also meant that I got four hours of sleep before having to get up to snorkel, which could be felt but also taught me that snorkeling is great for freshening up after a night out. I was going to snorkel in the rift between the two tectonic plates at the Thingvellier national park. The water is so clear that the visibility in the water should be as great as above the water – and it was! It was so clear, sometimes you almost felt like soaring when your ears was full of water and blocked the sound out, so peaceful. Again a thing I would recommend even though my experience was a bit mixed, as I was one of the “lucky ones” who didn’t have a completely dry drysuit and my arm got totally soaked. Besides snorkeling I also got to check off my last item on my sightseeing list, Hallgrimskirkja which is this huge church, pretty impressive! You can also go up the tower for like 900 ISK, where you have a 360 degree view over the city and it is worth it as the view is pretty damn great.

Hallgrimskirkja
Hallgrimskirkja

There were blizzard warnings for Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday – I know how to pick the right time huh? But yeah, we felt it a bit Tuesday, not at all Friday and Saturday we definitely felt it! All tours were cancelled, but most of us were hung over from the night before, so we looked on the bright side; we could sleep in and relax because we weren’t allowed to go out. So I spent the whole day inside playing cards with some of the others. My last day in Reykjavik I had decided to spend in the Blue Lagoon to just relax before going home, which was exactly what I did! Luckily no storm that day; just a bit of snow and wind. So I came back to the hostel all clean and ready to pack, when I was welcomed with a note that showed that the worst storm in many years was going to hit Monday (the day I planned to go home) and all the other blizzard you just shouldn’t travel but this time it said that you shouldn’t even leave your accommodation, f**k. Buuuuuut luckily for me it hit later in the day and I could flew out of Iceland with only a tiny delay and made it back home in one piece.

So what is my opinion about Iceland and my trip, travelling alone? You have to visit Iceland, maybe even twice; at least I want to go back when there is less snow. The snow is amazing, it’s like a true winter wonderland, everywhere you look is beautiful and worth a picture. On the other hand, blizzards and snow which makes it a bit hard to see the entire island, so I would love to go back in spring or summer! About travelling alone, it was a good experience – had a bit of a rough start but yeah, had fun with a lot of new people, but you sometimes miss to have someone to talk to. I wouldn’t say that this is going to be my first and only time travelling alone; I might do it again if nobody wants to travel with me.

Thingvellir
Thingvellir

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