Exploring Iceland!

I am so excited to finally be writing this post
and am so happy to finally share it with all of you.
It’s actually an interesting story how this trip even came about
so I’ll give you the back story first.
There is a website called Pomelo Travel that sends out emails about cheap flights around the world and it is completely FREE! Because Paige and I have been itching to travel again, we decided to keep our eye on the emails starting November 1st and book the first ticket that was $250 or less, no matter where it was to. So, after a few days, I got an email at work for a ticket to Reykjavik, Iceland for $225.
We booked it on the spot and didn’t look back.
Fast forward to January and we had purchased the snow boots, jackets and other essentials for surviving in the cold and snow. We Bakersfield girls knew we were going to be in for a surprise if we didn’t prepare. However, we insisted on making it there with only a backpack. There were plenty of people who said we were crazy for trying to spend  a week in Iceland with only the things we could fit in our backpacks (you know who you are) but we did it! We had just enough to get us through the week and were incredibly efficient. If you would like to see what our packing list looked like, just let me know.
I’d be happy to share.
Day 1:
We left LAX at 11am on a Tuesday and landed at 4am in Iceland on Wednesday. The time zone change severely messed with our bodies but I’ll get into that later.
When we finally landed, we knew nothing would be open in the city so we spent some time in the airport charging our phones, exchanging currencies and booking shuttle tickets to our hotel. It was a tension-filled day because we were both exhausted and didn’t expect to be allowed to check into our hotel until 3pm so we knew it would be a bit of a waiting game. Our shuttle took us to a bus station downtown around 7:30am and we took a taxi from there to our hotel. I say hotel when in reality, we were staying in a quaint apartment building that was absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, the front office didn’t open until 9am so we were sat in the lobby waiting for about an hour. The biggest of shoutouts to the woman working that day; she let us check-in to our room 5-6 hours earlier than we technically should have been allowed to and we were beyond grateful. Needless to say, we both took a shower and PASSED OUT.
So thank you, Icelandic Apartments. You got our trip to Iceland started on the best foot.
We didn’t wake up until about 8pm and, since the sun is only up from 10am to about 4:30pm during the winter, most of the food options around our apartment were already closed. With another stroke of luck, we found a little shop open across the street with FANTASTIC hot dogs. Come to find out, Iceland is known for their hot dogs and I completely agree with the hype they receive.
We revisited that restaurant multiple times before we left.
Day 2:
Our goal for this day was to go grocery shopping so that we could save some money and cook in our apartment. If there’s one thing you should note about Iceland, it is VERY expensive. So make sure you go in with that mindset, otherwise you will be in for a rude awakening. Lucky for us, there was a kitchen in our apartment and a grocery store across the street so we got our boots on and made a little trek over. Me being, well, me…I decided it would be hilarious to throw a giant snowball at Paige. My karma came rather instantly because as I ran to catch up to her after launching the snowball, I slipped on black ice and fell onto my back. In an attempt at preventing injury, I stuck my arm out to brace myself but that split-second plan ended up backfiring when I landed on my elbow. I haven’t experienced pain like that in a while and was thoroughly convinced that I had broken it and would be making a trip to the hospital. We finished up with the grocery shopping and went back to the apartment. I was still in a ton of pain so Paige, being the lovely little sister she is, went to the drug store and found me some ibuprofen. She also grabbed a ziploc bag and filled it up with snow as a makeshift ice pack. Innovation at its finest, ladies and gents. We ended up spending the rest of the day at home in the hopes that icing my elbow enough would make it completely better by the next day.
Day 3:
Thankfully, we woke up this morning and my elbow was just a little sore so we were ready to go exploring! Our apartment had the most beautiful view of a neighborhood and lake which we KNEW we had to go explore. On our walk there, we had a blast playing in the snow. Paige and I have never had the chance to play in the snow so we were like two little kids on Christmas morning. Paige made a snow angel, we built a tiny snowman and threw a lot of snow at each other. We eventually crossed a cute little river and made our way to the lake; it was incredible. I wish that pictures were able to do it all justice because the view was breathtaking; I could’ve stayed there forever and can only imagine how lovely it must be to own a house right next to that lake and wake up to that view every day. Maybe I’ll buy a vacation home there some day? Who knows 😉

 

 

 

Day 4-5:
These days were also spent exploring and were kind of a blur. Remember when I said that the time zone change really messed us up? Just imagine this: we were awake at 4am and I was running around the apartment in my underwear, a t-shirt and some socks pretending to be Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.” Our sleep schedule was so out of whack and trying to adjust was nearly impossible. It came down to us having to completely exhaust ourselves throughout the day to finally force our bodies to fall asleep when everyone in Iceland was sleeping. Of course, because it’s just the way the universe works sometimes, our sleep schedule didn’t get on track until day 6. Perfect timing, right?
Day 6:
Today was probably our favorite day of the entire trip. We went into downtown Reykjavik and spent hours walking around. Our goal was simply to see as much as we possibly could and get a really good feel for the city. Naturally, our first stop was the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Yes, that is exactly what you think it is: an entire museum dedicated to mammals’ penises. We were the most immature people there by far but had an absolute blast (and the souvenirs are HYSTERICAL). There was a ramen place across the street from the museum that I had read about before we left on our trip so I was so happy to kill two birds with one stone. Paige isn’t a fan of ramen so I got to enjoy Noodle Station all by myself. I loved it. Next, we happened upon the largest church in Iceland! One of the happiest accidents of our entire trip. It is a lutheran church called Hallgrímskirkja and is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. Another one of those places I think pictures won’t ever do justice; it was simply beautiful and gave us a lot of wonderful opportunities for photos. As we walked along a path that took us right next to the Atlantic Ocean, we came across this beautiful sculpture made to resemble a viking ship. It is called the Sun Voyager and was created by Jón Gunnar Árnason. It is said that Árnason “intended it to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom,” an idea that I absolutely loved. Life, in general, is undiscovered territory and full of hope. Everywhere you look, you can find something new and another reason to hope for a bright and beautiful future. This day in particular reminded me about my love for the world around me and just how spectacular it can be if you open your eyes and take a good look around you.

 

 

 

(Yes, that is a whale’s penis. Enjoy.)
Day 7:
This day was a long struggle with a fantastic reward at the end. We started out the day with some of the best pizza I have ever had (Iceland, you are doing it right) and headed to the location where we were SUPPOSED to meet the shuttle that would be taking us to the Blue Lagoon. We were a bit lost, a bit confused and ended up on the wrong bus. It, unfortunately, took us to a location we were not supposed to be at and the company responsible for the bus we rode refused to let us ride it back to where we were picked up so we had to walk all the way back. While many people would be angry in a situation like this, I laughed the whole walk back. Mishaps and incidents like that make for some of the best memories when you are traveling and the best thing you can do during those moments is laugh because at the end of the day, there isn’t a single thing that being upset will do for you. We finally made it back to our spot, got on the CORRECT shuttle and arrived at the infamous Blue Lagoon. Paige and I were SO excited and it was everything you see in pictures and more. By the time we arrived, the sun had already set so it was pitch black outside which, in my opinion, only added to our experience. Some of the couples there would most certainly agree with me. *shudder* We were exhausted by the end of our time there but still mustered up the energy to grab a bite to eat at a nice restaurant downtown before taking the bus back to our apartment.
Obviously, we passed out as soon as we walked through the door.
Day 8:
We were not ready to leave this beautiful country but know we will be back (hopefully in the summer next time). After our backpacks were packed, we headed to a bakery across the street for breakfast and took one more walk over to our beautiful lake lookout. Our shuttle picked us up from the apartment building,
dropped us off at the airport
and we hopped onto our plane back to the states.
I am already dreaming of my next trip to Iceland because there are so many things I wanted to do while we were there that would have been much more enjoyable in warmer weather and with a bit more daylight to work with. For our next trip, I hope to take a day tour of the Golden Circle, snorkel the continental divide and maybe, if we have the time, rent a car to drive around the entire country. There is a road that encompasses the entire country and seems like the perfect adventure. Anyone want to join me?
All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime and something I will never forget.
We are so fortunate to be able to travel and experience different cultures
and I will never take that for granted.
I cannot wait for our next trip.
Until then, friends.
xoxo,
Hayley

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