Having seen all kinds of cool stuff in the eastern part of Iceland, we made our way back on Route 1 to the western part. Read on for our adventures in the western part (map at end of post).
The first time I went to Iceland I was extremely unsuccessful in visiting an ice cave due to rain and flooding. But not this time! We visited two ice caves on our wonderful tour with Local Guides of Vatnajokull. Here’s the tour in photos.
We left the comfort of Reykjavik to explore some of the nature of Iceland. We drove along the southern part of the Ring Road, where we were treated to waterfalls every few minutes as well as the landscape going from black to bright yellow to bright green and back almost immediately one after the other. We also stopped at a black sand beach near Vik, though the water was too cold to do any swimming. After about four hours of driving, we arrived at Vatnajokull glacier to meet our guide Einar for some ice climbing. But sadly when we arrived at the base of the glacier, the entrance was blocked by a rushing river. Einar was kind enough to take us to Jokulsarlon, a glacial lagoon with large chunks of frozen ice and also refunded us half of our payment since we were unable to do the climb.
Iceland is an amazing place to visit and it’s only a few hours from the East Coast. We spent the first few days in Reykjavik at the Reykjavik Downtown Hostel (Phone: +354 553 8120), which was extremely clean and convenient. It felt like an Ikea showroom in the hostel. One of the first sights we saw was an entire house being moved from one part of Reykjavik to another part via truck and crane. It was quite an endeavor. We arrived very late so for dinner we went to the Baejarins Beztu (down the street away from the water from where all of the bars are) stand for hot dogs! Hot dogs are ubiquitous in Iceland and are considered a totally legitimate meal. I got mine with fried onions and ketchup. Delicious!
The next day we went on a tour with Arctic Adventures. First we all went caving in Pingvellir National Park, which had a beautiful landscape where bright green moss had grown on top of volcanic ash. The guide led us down a giant hole and into lava caves. The cave was completely empty and we sat for a moment in complete silence and darkness, which was a tiny bit scary but very interesting. Afterward, our group split up and did different things but not before eating some warm soup at an Icelandic truck stop (I have never thought I would ever find myself in such a place). I went riding on some Icelandic horses, which are a bit like ponies. The other half of the group went snorkeling at the Silfra fissure, which they said was completely clear and amazing. Arctic Adventures provided them with dry suits so they could stay warm… ish.
In the evening, we went to Laugardalslaug. Laugardalslaug is a public hot springs where one can pay a few dollars to hang out in warm water, so it’s much cheaper than the Blue Lagoon and frequented by locals. It is super big and also has a long water slide as well as small pools of increasingly hot water. Laugardalslaug was like a water park except the water was hot and the air was cold.
For dinner, we ate at Vid Tjornina, a very cute restaurant where they serve excellent seafood. I had a large portion of perfectly fried cod. It’s located near City Hall, where they appeared to be filming some sort of show. Never a dull moment in Reykjavik!
We ended the night by going to b5 where we met some super friendly Icelandic law students and danced all night. It was the perfect end to our first day.