Hey. Let's Go to..Iceland!
Iceland Leaves its Mark on the Hurleys- Literally and Figuratively.
Ten years ago if you would have told me that Iceland would be an amazing holidaydestination I would have called you crazy..I mean, it has never been on my radar. When planning a trip one’s mind tends to go tosomewhere warm like Hawaii or the Dominican Republic. Maybe you want to have anhistoric vacation in Rome or Paris? I get it. I totally do. I had a colleague visit Iceland a fewyears back and it sparked my interest but once Sara and I watched THIS video from the Bucket List Family, we were all in. Warning. Do not follow this family on YouTube if youwant you imagination sparked for wanderlust. I warned you. Now proceed to binge watchtheir incredible adventures. We even stayed in their Airbnb I'll link it below!Flight- Icelandic AirFirst off, the flight from London to Iceland was fantastic. We flew Iceland Air. What anamazing airline! They give kids activity packs straight on that contain coloring books, stickerbooks, other small toys and earphones that resembled Sony Walkman earphones but theywere hard plastic. Perfect for kids. THEN a bit into the flight here they come with kidssnacks. A sandwich, chips, drink and desert. For free! One of the best airline experiences wehave ever had! Not to mention they had cheap Icelandic beer that we took advantage of oncethe kids nodded off.Reykjavik International Airport is about the size of a high school but modern and super easyto get around. The blue lagoon is close to the airport so if you’re not staying near Reykjavikplan the blue lagoon when you arrive or depart.
Wait.. Let me back up a bit. I missed an important part. My mom and her friend Sue joined on this trip! My mom was WAAAAY out of her comfort zone and I loved every bit of it. Not in a bad way but I can't tell you how happy I was that she got to experience something other than Hollywood, Florida in her life time. I think she finally realized how different the world actually is and that other countries have culture that runs deep. The best part was seeing her out of her element when ordering food or trying to converse with the Icelandic people. Now, the majority of them speak English but not the best. It made me so happy to see her experiencing these amazing sites and I think she got why Sara and I have this untamed spirit for travel that we hope to pass onto our kids. She also followed us to Paris and back to London. She got the full tour and most importantly got to spend time with her grand kids.
Blue Lagoon Right. So the Blue Lagoon. AMAZING. Natural hot springs expanded into a valley surrounded by amazing Icelandic landscape. You NEED to book a time before hand. Well in advance. Like a month or so in advance. Even though we had a time there was still a bit of a line. Once you wait through that you have to go shower and change into your suit. I had Abe and Sara had Norah. Abe and Norah were so ready to get in the water as we have been talking about the Blue Lagoon for some time. So, once you shower and step outside, you are instantly hit with a blast of Icelandic air. Let me clarify. You walk out of the changing area and essentially turn into a snow cone. I didn’t even wait for Sara, Norah, my Mom and Sue. I had Abe in my arms and he had no clue what was going on. Only that he was 2 minutes away from becoming a Popsicle. I ran into the lagoon as fast as I could and instantly warmed up. The water was hot. It was amazing. It took Abe a few to get adjusted.
Once I found Sara and Norah, they were both all smiles and I handed Abe over to Sara because he is a Mommas boy so she could calm him down. It didn’t take long. Norah took to the water like a fish. She loved it. She loved it so much that she eventually fell asleep. For as many people that we saw in line, the hot springs were so big that you were so spread out form people. We eventually found a bar and got some drinks and the kids some icees. Sara went on to tell me that there is an easy entrance to the lagoon through the locker rooms so you didn't have to get abused by the cold air. Nice to know for next time I guess. We found the people who gave out the mud masks and applied them to our frozen faces. We ran into this American family. Two grad parents with their grand kids. It was nice to connect and hear an American accent after being away for several months. Not just any accent though, a New York accent! We spent hours just floating around, swimming and pinching ourselves that we were in this ancient terrain. It was in that moment where Sara and I looked at each other and we had no regrets about choosing to visit Iceland. This was just the beginning.
https://www.bluelagoon.com/ Airbnb Cabin From the Blue Lagoon we drove to find our Airbnb. That was an adventure in itself! The landscape while driving…I don’t even have words to describe it. We had a GPS but there are really no addresses and the road names are so bizarre. Needless to say, we drove around for quite some time and had to call the owner who I could hardly understand and had no idea what country he was in…we eventually found the cabin. I can’t imagine a better Airbnb to stay in! The location as right in the middle of the Golden Circle. So location was perfect but the cabin itself was beautifully decorated and cozy. It even had a warm spring out front. It had a wrap-around porch with a lovely private hot tub and the views were gorgeous. Horses also roamed nearby.
Fridheimar Tomato Greenhouse Most produce in Iceland if not imported must be grown in greenhouses because of the rough terrain and climate. Down the hill from our Bnb was one of the most well known and best recommended tomato greenhouses with a restaurant inside. I have never had a better tomato soup in my life nor a more expensive one but it was well worth it! The greenhouse is entirely self-sustaining- bees and ants (imported from the Netherlands) do something to assist the plants and the geothermal water heats the entire greenhouse and waters the plants. The staff explain it all and it’s fascinating. Oh yea, best bloody Mary also!
Landscape, waterfalls, Geysers, Horses I won’t spend too much time on the details of the waterfalls and places we visited. You can see it in our video. With two small kids we couldn’t partake in any of the excursions but that allowed us to have a very nice relaxing experience driving to different waterfalls and geysers. We stopped several times along the way to see an old church or take a photo of a random waterfall. I seriously cannot think of the words to describe or do the landscape justice. Let me just tell you how much we NEEDED to get out of central London and Iceland will have a part of my soul forever. The serenity and freshness of it all- there’s nothing like it! For Sara, someone who grew up on a horse farm, she felt so at home with Icelandic horses roaming EVERYWHERE. Seriously you guys… they are everywhere. She saw a herd of horses and something about this herd made her force me to pull over on a long stretch of the road. You can see the results…
Lake Laugarvatn and Fontana Geo Thermal We knew we wanted to go to another lagoon type place and just 20 minutes from our Cabin in the Golden Circle was another geo thermal and steam bath place. It was much smaller than blue lagoon but equally as enjoyable and it had a shallow kids area which the kids could navigate entirely on their own. They LOVED it and we were able to relax ourselves without holding the kids. Next to the thermal pool were saunas that were entirely heated with steam from the ground. I still can’t get over it. The pools overlook Lake Laugarvatn and mountains. The lake was so close to the pool with a ramp into it that well Sara and I decided to jump in… let’s call this the artic enema! April in Iceland is insanely cold so you can only imagine the temperature of the water. It was a “when in Rome” moment. The facility also had a bar AND they bake fresh rye bread …. In the ground. The dough is placed in a dug hole in the ground and bakes for 24 hours. A geothermal bakery! Best bread I’ve ever tasted (if you love Rye.) I cannot recommend this geo thermal facility enough especially with kids!
Reykjavik, Penises and Tattoos
I was hesitant to go into the city because I was enjoying the isolation of the Golden Circle and the landscape so much but I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the city. We parked and decided to just walk around. It’s that small you can simply walk everywhere. The FIRST place we walked past was the Phallological Museum Now I heard this was there and wasn’t going to make it a destination but we couldn’t resist and yes, we took the kids inside hoping we didn’t scar them for life. Seeing that many penises with your MOTHER and her girlfriend, it’s awkward at all. The real entertainment came when I talked Sara into getting a tattoo. We had drank a bottle of prosecco (we hadn’t seen anything but cheap beer in days)
With a 5 minute Google search of nearby tattoo shops we found Reykjavik Ink. Turned out to be a very well respected shop! I just wanted some Icelandic Viking runes somewhere so we decided to get something meaningful on our wrists to commemorate our trip and the ancient culture of Iceland. To make it even more worth it, the guy who did our work was actually a traveling tattoo artist from Wyoming! He also happens to look like Thor so it was a win/win for Sara. Apparently, he is a big deal with 40K + followers on IG. (@beechertattos). Great experience.
Reykjavik is loaded with Viking culture and its apparent all over the city from the statues, churches, lettering and food. It has the feels of a big city but there is something about it that makes you feel like you are in a village.
Top Travel Tips for Iceland 1. GET A MAP. The GPS is way too hard to use with the Icelandic language. It was almost worthless. A map was much easier. Buy beforehand! It was 20 USD at the gas station 2. Food is expensive- they have to export most of it so expect high prices and plan accordingly with your budget 3. Get your alcohol in Reykjavik or the closest big city when you arrive. (if thats your thing) You can find limited beer at gas stations but never liquor or wine. 4. PLAN your drives ahead of time so you can be efficient as possible. Waterfalls and destinations are far apart. Choose your destinations and routes on a map. 5. Rent a four wheel drive (Oma got stuck in the mud). Get ALL the car insurance. The wind can rip off the car doors. 6. DRINK the water from the tap. It’s the best water I’ve ever tasted! 7. Download a Northern Lights App that can help you prepare for the best visibility 8. Make reservations to the blue lagoon in advance- weeks in advance.