I know I could go on and write so many words about my trip to Iceland and to Holland, but I’ll save you all my heart words and give you the condensed version! But to give you a fair warning, this post is long!
This trip to Iceland wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for my cousin Meghan. She has been studying for years and years (sorry for the exaggeration!) and we always seem to visit with one another wherever she is. She studied at Calvin College for a year, the next year we moved to Grand Rapids to go to Calvin Seminary. She studying in Newfoundland, I visited her there in 2012. She moved to Winnipeg for her Masters, and I was able to visit her there in 2014. So naturally when she moved to Iceland last year, I had to visit her there as well.
This trip has been in the talks/works for a long time and I’m so thankful that I just went and did it. There will never be a perfect time or the right amount of finances but I’m learning to embrace experiences over expectations.
It was a whirlwind of a trip with four days spent in Iceland and four days spent in Holland with four days of traveling. I booked my flights with the still fairly new WOW discount airline and it was just fine. If you do plan on flying WOW air- be warned this is a bare bones airline- no fancy tv’s, wifi or in flight snacks. Everything has to be purchased. But after crunching numbers it was still worth it!
I flew out of Toronto on a Thursday night and arrived in Iceland at 4:30 a.m. with it being no longer dark. As of right now, it hardly gets dark in Iceland. It was strange but really cool! I rented a car so we could do some driving and see some of the sights!
The first day we spent touring Reykjavik. Meghan introduced me to Pylsa (Icelandic Hotdogs) which were amazing! We visited Hallgrímskirkja the famous church, Harpa the concert hall, had lunch at Snaps Bistro and may have ended our day at the Drunken Rabbit. Lets just say that lack of sleep and wine don’t mix well!
The next day we toured south Iceland. Our first stop was a the gorgeous waterfall, Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall was so incredible! They also have a hidden waterfall at this site and you literally have to step on stones in the fast moving river and go in a small tunnel to the waterfall. I was so thankful for my amazing hiking boots that I found at the thrift shop in Alliston for $13 because they kept my feet dry even though they were totally submerged in water! Seeing the waterfall and all of its power and glory was amazing!
Thankfully it was warm that day and we were able to stand in the bright sun afterwards and dry ourselves up! We drove for about 3-4 hours that day and stop at the moss covered lava fields. The landscape changed so drastically that day! From mountains and lush fields to dry and empty lava fields and then ending up at Glacier Lagoon– everything was so different. Jökulsárlón is a large glacial lake in southeastern Iceland and with Spring time in full swing this sight did not disappoint! The iceburgs were out in full abundance! We say both sides of the lagoon including seeing the ocean and the black sand beach. The washed up ice pieces looked like crystals. Definitely a site worth seeing!
After we saw the sites of Glacier Lagoon we headed to our Airbnb for the night. Nestled in the mountains on a farm, we spent the night. It was cozy and clean and the beds were super comfy so that’s all that matters! Sunday we got up fairly on time and started our day! Our first stop was Reynisfjara where the most impressive black sand beaches are. It was incredibly humbling. The waves there were so powerful and so loud. And yet so dangerous. Meghan also spotted the most saddest looking puffin at the edge of the waves. He looked very water torn and on the brink of death, but still we saw a puffin which was really cool! The rock formations are very similar to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. It was pretty amazing!
From the black sand beaches we headed to Skogafoss. It is a pretty accessible waterfall right off the main road just south of Vik. We climbed the stairs all the way to the top of the mouth of the falls. I’m not sure how many stairs there were but lets just say I took a lot of breaks. Feel the burn!! Once we got to the top though, it was SO worth it!
One of the highlights of the entire Iceland trip was when Meghan took me to the Hidden Pool in Seljvavellir. We first had to hike for about 15 minutes through the mountains and over streams. This abandoned pool built in the 1920’s is heated by pipes bringing in naturally heated spring water. The day that we went it was actually pretty warm! And the closer you got to the pipes bringing in the hot water the better! It was an experience hard to describe. Sitting in a pool with a questionable bottom floor, looking at mountains and rivers— it was so peaceful. A perfect way to spend Sunday day of rest.
From the pool we headed out to the Geysir in the Golden Circle. We ventured out to Gullfoss also in the Golden Circle. It was pretty impressive! I love how many waterfalls there are and how they are so accessible. I’m sure there are thousands of others but in much more remote areas! We finished off our day at the Kerid crater. We packed that day in full and then headed back home to Reykjavik for the evening.
Monday we spent touring a bit more of Reyjavik and indulged in some more Pilsa hotdogs! We went to the Garden Greenhouse Cafe and explored the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens. We had some lunch in the city and then we headed back to Meghan’s house to pack and get ready for our flight out to Amsterdam the next morning. We dropped off our rental car back at the airport and stayed in a hotel in Keflavik for the evening. Our 3 a.m. wake up call definitely came too early!
Thanks for reading through Part One of my Europe Trip! What stuck with the most during this leg of the trip is that Iceland is so incredibly diverse. Its almost a desolate beauty. Despite the lack of trees and greenery, there is so much beauty all around. I’ll always remember the ridiculous Icelandic bridges and I’ll dream about their hotdogs because there is none like them anywhere else in the world and most of all it was so awesome to hang out with Meghan again! What happens in Iceland stays in Iceland!
Thanks so much for tuning into Part One of our Europe Trip! Up next on the blog, Kristin and Meghan visit The Netherlands!