An Icelandic Adventure

27th November 2016

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I know it must seem like I’ve been away a lot recently but I promise you, that’s not the norm! We’ve had some special occasions to celebrate such as my birthday trip to New York, Matt’s birthday to Barcelona and most recently, our Anniversary trip to Iceland.
I’ve wanted to go to Iceland for a very long time and Matt had originally planned to take me in January for my Birthday but the Blue Lagoon was closed at that time so we went to New York instead (no complaints here!). So when it came to deciding what to do for our fifth anniversary, we decided to finally give Iceland a whirl. Five years felt special and like it should be celebrated. And so on the 11th of November, we boarded the plane to Iceland.
GOLDEN CIRCLE

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Our first day trip was a long one, lasting for 9am until 7pm but we felt it was best to tackle as soon as possible. The Golden Circle is essentially a tourist route with some of Iceland’s most beautiful sights. In theory, you could drive this yourself should you rent a car but we decided to join a tour for ease and most importantly because our particular tour with Reykjavik Excursions included snowmobiling. After a stop at Thingvellir National Park where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates pull apart a few centimeters each year, it was here we to snowmobiling we headed to first, up Langjokull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. It was a bumpy journey as you can imagine and we rode in a monster truck which was needed for the torrential conditions. We stopped off at a couple of huts to change into protective clothing and safety equipment. I can’t you how grateful we were to pull these over our clothes, it was so incredibly cold. A further fifteen-minute drive took us to our snowmobiles. We were riding in pairs and after a walkthrough of how to work them, I jumped on behind Matt, a little nervous but so incredibly excited.

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The instructors were really brilliant, we had about four of them with our group and they had eyes on us at all times. We all followed in a line so you weren’t able to get lost although the weather was pretty torrential. Thick snow coated the ground and flew at our faces as we plowed through the snow, thank goodness for those helmets! It was truly exhilarating though, one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. It doesn’t feel real in a way, you sit on your snowmobile and gaze around your surroundings in complete awe of what you are doing. I was happy to let Matt be the driver while I clung on and enjoyed the view for the hour ride. We then headed back to the monster truck before the drive back to the bus where we would continue the remainder of our Golden Circle trip.

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Up next was the Gullfoss Waterfall which is actually fed by Langjokull, the glacier we had snowmobiled on! The water falls down 32 meters in two stages into a canyon which is 70 meters in height. It’s a really gorgeous view and had it not been so cold, we would have stayed longer to enjoy the peace that only a waterfall can bring. The Geysir Hot Springs was the final part of our golden circle tour. The exploding Geysir sprouts 100 ft of water into the air roughly every ten minutes and attracts quite a crowd! I got some great film of this but unfortunately my photos were not quite as good but you get the gist!

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BLUE LAGOON
It’s safe to say that the majority of people visiting Iceland will visit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa. It’s £35 for the standard entry package and while it is quite steep, if you are visiting Iceland chances are you’ll be used to the prices by that point! You are given a wristband to wear through your visit which enables you to use the lockers and buy drinks, it’s a pretty smart system to be honest though it’s quite a sight to see everyone using the in-water bar and moving around the water with plastic cups! The Lagoons consists of 9 million liters of water which self-cleanses itself every 40 hours. It’s around 37-40 degrees so absolutely gorgeous to sink into although the run from the changing rooms to the pool is painful in the cold of Iceland! Included in your ticket is a Silica Mud Mask which you apply yourself and wear for ten to fifteen minutes, again it’s quite amusing to see people smeared with white all over their face but it’s all part of the fun and great for the skin! Overall it’s a really lovely, relaxing experience and just what you need after a few days exploring. I’d be wary of the food there though, two small panni’s cost us the equivalent of £30. Ouch.

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NORTHERN LIGHTS
Naturally the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) are one of the first things you think of when it comes to Iceland. We tried every night to see them but our trip was cancelled every time by the tour operator due to the weather conditions. I would always recommend not going to Iceland just for the Northern Lights as it’s really not something you can predict. We were aware we might not be lucky so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment. On our last night after a final cancellation, we decided to hire a car spontaneously and see if we could find them ourselves. Again we were aware it was very unlikely but it was a great chance to see more of Iceland and was a really fun little adventure. We actually stumbled across Seljalansfoss, an incredibly beautiful waterfall where the moon was sat just above it. That night there was actually a ‘moonbow’ which is when moonlight is refracted by moisture in the atmosphere and creates a rainbow around the moon. Even just seeing that and the waterfall made our night!

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TIPS WHEN VISITING ICELAND
– Iceland is expensive, you can’t get around that. That said, come equipped with this knowledge and you’ll be fine. We found the discount supermarket Bonus was great for stocking up on snacks really cheaply and we’d take these with us on trips. And if you take the time to look at different menus, you’ll work out which places are overpriced and which are in your budget. We brought along £500 for four days and were fine. Don’t expect to drink much alcohol though!
– Bring a water bottle and drink straight from your tap. Water in Iceland is delicious and tastes as good as any bottle you’ll buy.
– Book your excursions as far in advance as possible to spread the cost. We used Reykjavik Excursions and were really impressed with how smoothly everything ran. They also have wi-fi on their buses which is kind of amazing!
– Allow a day to just walk and explore, we came across lots of places we didn’t know about just by having a good old fashioned walk and Reykjavik isn’t very big either. Hallgrimskirkja Church for example is a gorgeous building as is the Harpa Concert Center.
– As well as excursions, it is worth booking a car for a day or two to allow you to explore more of Iceland. There is so much to see and the roads are very easy to travel on. We used Dollar Rent A Car which was really reasonably priced.
– Obviously, it’s very cold so bring scarfs, hats and gloves in your case. We only took hand luggage and this was perfectly manageable and saved us money on taking a big case. Simply save space in your case and wear your coat to the airport!

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Hallgrimskirkja Church

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Iceland is actually my last trip of the year and I’ll admit that I’m actually a bit exhausted by it all! That said, it won’t stop me planning for next year… I’d love to know if you’ve been to Iceland and what your favourite bit was or whether you’d like to go! Let me know in the comments!

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On another note, last Thursday Matt and I attended the Cambridgeshire Digital Awards where I was a finalist in the ‘Entertainment Blog’ category. To my absolute amazement, I actually ended up winning! I genuinely attended the awards convinced I didn’t have a chance as I was up against some amazing blogs so to come away with the top spot was a huge thing for me. It was so unexpected that I was a bit of a mess to be honest when they called out my blog and I then had to go up on stage completely unprepared to talk about Musings & More. I’ll be honest that I don’t even remember what I actually said! The night was a really wonderful one and we left on such a massive high, how I managed to sleep that night I’ll never know…

Emily>