Ryan and I woke up in our silent Guesthouse Drangshlíð excited to start the next day of adventures. After having our quick and filling Icelandic breakfast (hello cheese), we rushed out the door to our first stop, Reynisfjara – to admire the incredible black sand beach in the small village of Vik. On a normal day, you can’t get better than a Perth beach, but the stunning volcanic sand really was one-of-a-kind.
I had pre-booked a Sólheimajökull glacier walk through Icelandic Tours before we left Perth. We were pretty unprepared, only having Nike shoes and jeans, so we were lucky (and grateful!) that the company provided us with proper boots and water proof pants! We hiked across glaciers for three hours while our guide kept us safe and told us interesting facts – like the black in the picture below is actually volcanic ash from the huge volcano eruption in 2010.
The most amazing sight, am I right?
Practically starved from stomping on the ice for three hours, we tracked down some food. Finding a place to eat is pretty difficult in this area, so you you take what you can get. Luckily, we stumbled upon THE cutest little fish and chip food truck which totally saved us from getting into the hangry zone. With mountains behind us and the sound of ginormousSkógafoss waterfall in the distance, we ate our fish and chips before heading to our next adventure.
Even though Ryan and I were absolutely knackered from our glacier hike, we jumped in the car and drove out to Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. We didn’t know what to expect and after driving off-road for a good half hour without anyone in sight, I was starting to get a bit worried! We finally arrived, jumped out of the car and… well… we were left speechless at the how beautiful the gorge was.
Couldn’t help but take a photo of the public bathroom which fits so beautifully into the landscape.
After admiring the canyon, we drove to Kirkjugólf, also known as ‘The Church Floor’ which is an 80m expanse of hexagonal basalt slab stones. We were surrounded by Icelandic rams and could hear a waterfall in the distance. This day couldn’t get any better.
Before heading back to our guesthouse, we made one last stop at Dwarf Crags Dverghamrar, a beautiful location filled with tall columns of basalt.
The sun was hanging low in the sky for our drive home through moss-covered lava fields. That night we were lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis dance in the sky. It was almost like watching someone painting the air with watercolour and then have it fade away. I fell asleep, absolutely shattered, watching the Northern Lights do their magic through the window of the hostel at the end of our bed.
Every morning we were greeted by the cutest little Icelandic puppy who gave us cuddles outside our guesthouse.
Heading back to Reykjavik we stopped at the enormous waterfall, Seljalandsfoss. Despite ending up drenched from the spray, it was really exciting to walk behind and hear the roar of the water.
A dip in the Secret Lagoon was too tempting to pass up. The water was so warm and almost felt thick on the skin.
We ended up a little bit lost and drove around for almost an hour trying to find somewhere for lunch, followed by getting lost again getting back to our accommodation in Reykjavik. We finally arrived back at Snorri’s Guesthouse, freshened up and then made a beeline to Solfar, the Sun Voyager sculpture at sunset followed by local beer, dinner and live music at the very hyggeKex Hostel.
We had one last day in Iceland before heading to London and I had pre-purchased tickets to the Blue Lagoon for just after lunch, so the morning was spent exploring the stinky Gunnuhvar and Seltún Geothermal areas. We stopped on the side of a quiet road to take a closer look at the moss-covered lava which lines the roads for huge expanses.
The Blue Lagoon was the last stop of our Iceland adventure. We had lunch in the cafe overlooking this view (!!) before getting changed into our bathers and slipping into the warm, silky water for a few hours.
The final night in Reykjavik was spent wandering around the town, searching for street art (the faces by Guido van Helten were a highlight) and grabbing a hotdog from the famous streetside store, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur which Ryan rated (and went back for seconds). Our time was up, I definitely wasn’t ready to leave, but London’s scones were calling us over.
If I’ve spoken to you in the last month you’ll know that I’ve hired a cleaner, which has actually been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Every second Friday while I’m at work, Christina comes to the house and makes it sparkle… there is nothing like coming home to a spotless house and realising Saturday morning that I don’t have to scrub the stove is incredible.
Now that we have an extra few hours on the weekend, we are taking the opportunity to explore Perth and all the new and exciting things it has to offer. We visited this rainbow sculpture by artist Marcus Canning which is made of colourful shipping containers, wandered down George Street, visited Stackwood and ate at Odyssea Beach Cafe while enjoying the view of City Beach.
Ryan and I landed in Reykjavik after a fairly short red-eye flight from New York but because of the time difference of four hours, we managed to arrive really jet lagged and in desperate need of sleep (it was 6am in Reykjavik!). Still being way too early to check in, we dropped our bags at Snorris Guesthouse and went for an early morning walk around the small city – there was something special about wandering around a beautiful little town that was still asleep. I loved seeing the colourful houses with lace curtains… I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them!
Iceland is full of the best Scandinavian design shops.
Hallgrímskirkja Church opened its doors and we were rescued from the cold for a while. We caught the lift to the top to admire the view and when we reached the top, it was like the town awoke. A rainbow appeared and the sun started shining. I knew I as somewhere special.
Breakfast was at Reykjavik Roasters, where I had the best bread, butter and cheese in my life. I’m not kidding, it was the best bread, the best butter and the best cheese! We watched people walk by, taking their children to school in their cosy outfits and we listened to people quietly speak to each other in Icelandic. I love how silent and serene Iceland is – it made for a real change coming from New York. We left breakfast completely jetlagged and went back to the guesthouse where we fell asleep on the couch in the tiny lobby until our room was ready.
After a few hours sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed and went in search of Harpa, Reykjavik’s music hall. Reykjavik has a huge music scene, so it makes sense that a place of this caliber was built in the town. We missed out on seeing Bjork perform by a couple of weeks… how amazing would that have been?! Harpa was one of most beautiful buildings I have ever seen and I only wish I had booked a guided tour in advance.
We grabbed lunch/dinner at the most delicious bakery, Sandholt, before heading back for the night to get ready for our big road trip the next day. I’m so glad we had a full day in Reykjavik to help us overcome the jetlag and acclimatise to the crisp air!
I booked the Pearls of the South self-drive tour through the company Iceland Tours, which included everything we needed; car hire, GPS, emergency phone, itinerary and accommodation. I was a bit overwhelmed with the language barrier and felt that this was the best way to go about having a guided, but independent way of traveling. I definitely like going at my own pace! We arrived early Winter, in September, which meant we still had longer-than-usual days. We were able to explore the beautiful surrounds from early in the morning until all hours, and then stay up and watch the Northern Lights! You can really accomplish so much in one day… one day in Iceland is equal to three days in Perth.
Our first stop along the Golden Circle was only about 40 minutes into our drive, at Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of geological wonders of the world. You can see tectonic plate movement and cracks in the Earth’s crust.
After some time exploring Þingvellir National Park, we headed back to our car to drive to the famous Geysir area where the Strokkur hot spring ejects water every 5 or so minutes. You can also see small springs bubbling away deep into the Earth’s crust. It was pretty exciting to see the main one burst into the air and everyone watching were pretty thrilled by the experience!
We stopped to enjoy a hot bowl of soup in this road-side cafe next to the geysir. How cute is it?
With our bellies full, we continued our road trip another 10km to see the enormous waterfall, Gulfoss which falls impressively into a deep ravine. It was just magnificent.
Heading towards our accommodation for the night, we saw a sign on the side of the road and decided to see where it took us. We ended up at an enormous inactive volcano, Kerið which we walked around and felt incredibly small.
We continued our drive late into the day. Around 6pm we arrived at this little historical village and folk museum where we could see how people lived in past centuries. A stone’s throw away from these cabins is Skogafoss Waterfall, one of the highest in Iceland. The natural beauty of Iceland is just astounding – It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.
Our accommodation for the night was a little bed and breakfast, Guesthouse Drangshlíð which was only a few minutes up the road from Skogafoss. I had booked ‘basic’ accommodation through Iceland Tours, and it was pretty perfect. We had dinner that night at the hostel close to Skogafoss and spent the night awaiting the Northern Lights, which unfortunately didn’t make an appearance. The sun finally set around 11pm and we fell asleep in the absolute silence of the Icelandic country-side.