I gotta admit something. I knew nothing about Iceland prior to my trip there 2 months ago. In fact, about 6 months ago, I crossed path with a schoolmate in fashion school who happens to be from Iceland at a Paris Fashion Week fashion show backstage. The encounter went something like this:
"... so where are you from?" I asked, after we went on talking about how marvelous the fur jackets are at Emanuel Ungaro that Fall Winter 2014 collection.
"I'm from Iceland," she replied.
And I was like err... I should say something about Iceland right? Something smart or intelligent that showcases my general knowledge. But shit, what do I know about Iceland? Is the country covered in ice? Should I ask if it's always cold there?
Instead, I said, "Oh, Iceland! Yeah yeah, it's featured in the Walter Mitty movie right? The one with Ben Stiller?"
Oh dear, I thought to myself... and yet you don't want people to think you're a bimbo.
Man, I wish I asked her more about Iceland. I mean it doesn't hurt to get a local's insights on which parts of their country one should explore. But how do you ask question when you don't even know what is it you want the answer to?
This Iceland trip is an eye-opening one. I know every trip is an eye-opener in its own way but this particular trip to Iceland is very special. The whole time I was there I couldn't help but feel so small in the midst of the mightily gigantic waterfalls, humongous lava fields, vast array of bright green mountains, icebergs, geysers with their hydrothermal explosions, geothermal hot spring, and huge volcanic craters. It made me realize how little of this world I have seen and there are so many fascinating phenomena out there I have yet to see. My little brother who was my travel companion to Iceland said, "I really wish I could eliminate my ignorance. But how to do? The world is too big!" (I don't remember what he said verbatim but it's something like this).
So back to the trip. We reached Iceland at such a weird hour, 1 AM or so. We were slightly worried since we weren't sure how we'd reach our hotel in Reykjavik from the Kevflavik Airport. It's about 50 km drive so the thought of taking a taxi intimidated me. At that point I thought to myself, damn it, why didn't I pack instant noodles or something so we wouldn't go hungry? Because taxi in Reykjavik is really expensive. Luckily though, we saw signs for ground transportations after the baggage claim. The airport was as lively as ever although it was 1 AM. We took a bus from Gray Line to go to Reykjavik City Center. And for a little higher price, the bus can even drop you off at your hotel, just tell the driver your hotel name. Also, on the bus, there is even a working wi-fi. As it turns out, there is always a bus to go to Reykjavik for every flight that arrives in Kevflavik airport, no matter how late. Neat, right?
The next morning, we signed up for the evening Golden Circle tour as well as the South Coast & Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon tour for the next day at our hotel tourist center. Seriously, I don't think I've ever been to a more tourist-friendly city. I really think the Icelanders work really hard to make everything extremely easy for travelers who wish to explore the beauty of their country. English is also very widely spoken.
We thought about renting a car instead of going on guided tours but again, it's expensive. Plus, I think driving all the way to the South Coast would drain our energy as I needed to move out of my apartment in Paris right after the trip. But if you have more time in planning your Iceland trip, renting a car would be awesome since you're gonna move at your own pace, you can stop at random spots to enjoy the view (and take tons of pictures!), and you get to brag about driving across very cool lava fields haha.
Oh gosh, I think I need to stop rambling on and on and not overwhelm you with my words since I have tons of pictures to share.
Let me start with the city center in Reykjavik. We came across this café called Cafe Babalú that looks very cute and cozy.
Afterwards, we walked to this strikingly surreal church called Hallgrimskirkja. I have never seen a church quite like this. It really is jaw-dropping.
The buildings we came across throughout our walk in the city center are almost doll house like.
Harpa concert hall is also a must-see. I'm no architect but that building is definitely freakin' impressive.
Let's get to the nature part, shall we? The part that made me feel so powerless as a human being.
Just when I thought, okay, a country can't have more than all these attractions right? Wrong. I present to you Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, a natural hot spring that one must go and check out when in Iceland. It's not in Reykjavik but again there are many buses you can take to get there. Gray Line offers it too.
I really would love to go back to Iceland. There are still many activities to do including the glacier hike, snorkeling & diving, and also sighting of the northern lights.
Oh yeah, I'm completely hooked with Iceland national soup with lamb and vegetables. I'm not a big fan of lamb but Icelandic lamb is somehow sooo tasty. I like their grilled lamb too. Also, try this hot dog stand called Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. The hot dog has crispy onions on top (or shallots?) that is just out of this world.
Iceland trip, anyone?
I stole a lot of the pictures above from my brother Calvin's memory card. Thank you! (Please don't sue me).