I have recently returned from a trip to Scandinavia. I had a taste of this part of the world last year when I went on a Baltic cruise with my husband as part of our big 5 week vacation to the UK. A friend of mine wanted to go to Finland and her husband wasn’t interested in going. My husband was happy with his trip to the Baltics and did not wish to go back. I however wanted to see more so we decided we would do this together. We started planning this in January and left here on Sept 1. So we had a good amount of time to plan and book things. After several planning meetings, our agenda turned out to be that we would fly Iceland Air so we could take advantage of the free layover in Iceland. Then we flew to Helsinki for 5 days, short flight to Stockholm for 2 nights, flight to Oslo for 1 night then train to Bergen for 2 nights, Norway in a Nutshell tour (more about that later!) and then back to Oslo for 1 last night before flying back home. Total of 16 days in all.
We started out with a bit of a milk run. We flew to Calgary from Comox then flew to Edmonton so we could pick up Iceland Air. At the time we booked these flights which was back in January, it was the best option. I believe that if you book now you can pick up Iceland Air in Vancouver which would be a lot better. So if you are looking to go to Iceland, check out that option.
We landed in Iceland at 7AM Iceland time. The weather was terrible that day. The wind was blowing and it was raining and freezing. We had prebooked transportation from the airport to the Blue Lagoon. We arrived there at about 8:30. The weather was not improving but we had no choice but to persevere. They have a building where you can leave your luggage securely and just take a small bag into the Lagoon. The process at the entry was great, they explained the procedure and gave us a wrist band which was our key to our locker as well as a means to charge any beverages or expenses. You pay at the end for any incidentals. It is recommended to book tickets to the Blue Lagoon in advance as it is a very popular place indeed. The change rooms are very nice and the showers private and clean.
So into the Lagoon! It certainly would have been nicer had the weather been better but we still enjoyed it. They have silica mud to slather on and we went into the steam cave. Afterwards we had a bite to eat in the cafe, browsed in the gift shop and got the bus into Reykjavik. Needless to say the picture below is not one that I took. It was such a horrible day that I used a stock photo to show you what the Lagoon is like. And yes it really is that blue!
We made our way to our hotel in Reykjavik (after wandering around lost for a bit). Tourism in Iceland has increased so much that the city does not allow the tour buses to drop off at the hotels. They have some drop off points and you make your own way from there. The streets in Reykjavik are windy and up and down hills and make no sense. We eventually got there and checked in. We found our hotel was in a great location close to everything. We were exhausted by this time so bought a few things at a small grocery a block from the hotel and ate in the room and went to bed. Next morning we went on the Golden Circle Tour for the day. The weather had improved from the previous day but was still drizzly. It was awesome and a highlight of our whole trip for sure. The scenery in Iceland is like nothing I had seen before anywhere. Our guide was great and taught us a lot about Iceland. He told us about how a lot of Icelanders believe in Elves! They even have little areas around the countryside designated as Elves homes and churches and it is against the law to disturb these areas. Loved the whole day! The picture below was taken at a National Park. Apparently some scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed here. The ponies are Icelandic ponies that you can see everywhere there. From the time Iceland was first settled in the 9th century, and up to the present day, it is illegal to bring any other breed of horse into Iceland. So these ponies are and always will be protected.
Our final day in Iceland was spent just wandering around Reykjavik. They have lovely shops, cafes, restaurants and bakeries. It was a really nice day. We capped it off with a lovely dinner at an Icelandic restaurant and enjoyed some local fish. We loved our time in Iceland for sure. If you have the chance to go, you should not hesitate. You really get the sense that this country is off all by itself which it is. They have kept their own Icelandic language and culture and I do hope it stays that way. But with increased immigration and tourism as well as the young people being exposed to social media, things may already be changing. I loved everything about Iceland and would love to return some day.
Below is a pic of a Reykjavik street.
Next destination is Helsinki Finland!