Day One in Iceland


We flew direct to Reykjavik on WOW Air (not sure I’d recommend it, but didn’t have any problems with it) and stayed awake for most of the night. I ran my first marathon yesterday and my body was feeling a little rough, but in the end I was so glad it kept me up. A few hours outside of Iceland the pilot came on the intercom and told us the Northern Lights would be visible!! We looked out our windows and the most incredible green lights were floating at eye level, just off the wing of the plane. It was absolutely breathtaking!! I could not believe that just a few hours into our trip we had already seen one of the absolute top things we hoped to see in our lifetimes. Feeling incredibly lucky!

We landed just before 5am, got our rental car, and hit the road. The sun was just starting to come up, and I cannot express how beautiful everything looked. The land goes from completely flat in shades of brown and green, when all of a sudden a massive, rounded hill will pop up in the middle of nowhere. The earth is covered in huge, beautiful green rocks and algae and it was not at all what we expected. I truly don’t have the words to describe how gorgeous everything is!

We arrived at Silfra for snorkling with Dive Silfra and it was freezing cold outside. We probably should have known that ICEland would be this chilly. We found our tour site, hopped into thick dry suits, and wiggled into our snorkeling equipment. The only parts of our bodies left showing were our foreheads, cheeks, and chin, and man were they cold! Then we got into the water and effortlessly floated down the Silfra River between the North Atlantic and European tectonic plates. The water between the plates was unbelievably clear and blue, and it was breathtaking to see the land split beneath us. Our bodies were freezing, but we were wide awake and so in awe of the earth.

We snorkeled for about 45 minutes, then crawled back into our warm, dry clothes and had hot chocolate. Once we regained feeling in our fingers, we wandered around the flat region between the plates, saw parts of the massive rift that are still above ground, and went to Oxfrass Waterfall. It careened over the edge of the rift and was so beautiful!

After that we were still pretty cold and tired, so we headed to the Blue Lagoon – a sulfuric hot spring just outside of Reykjavik. The water was a murky blue and white, and the sides of the pool were covered in a white mud that could be used as a face mask. We got smoothies and a beer, and relaxed in the hot water – it was bliss!

Exhausted from our adventure thus far, we went back to Reykjavik proper to check into our hotel, the Guesthouse Pavi. Emphasis on the word hotel. Which we went out of our way to get, knowing we would be tired. We arrived and it literally didn’t exist. There was no check in desk, no promised breakfast, no room, nothing. It looked like an abandoned apartment building. We eventually got ahold of the owners and they took us up the street to a house where we were given a bare room with bunk beds. We were displeased to say the least.

Once we composed ourselves, we got changed and headed out to dinner at Café Loki. We had an incredibly authentic meal complete with mashed turnips, sweet rye bread with butter, sheep head, flat bread, smoked trout, smoked lamb, lamb stew, mashed fish, and skyr with peas and carrots. Most of it was very tasty (except the sheep head...couldn’t do it), but man is Iceland expensive!! What would have been a $15 meal in DC or a $12 meal in Richmond was $40 here. This is going to be a pricey trip…

After we ate we decided to try to force ourselves to stay up for a bit to readjust, so we walked from the restaurant to downtown Reykjavik. Along the way we bumped into an American guy from Alabama, Davis, who is working for the Navy and we all decided to go to the water and hit up a bar. Along the way we passed so many cute shops, buildings, and restaurants, and were excited to check them out in the daylight.

We ended up settling on the Drunk Rabbit, where they had a live musician. We got beers and played Piccolo with our new friend and had an absolute blast! He decided to head out before we were ready to go, so we said our goodbyes and kept listening to the music. About twenty minutes later though, he was back! He had spotted the Northern Lights and come back to tell us so we wouldn’t miss them – unbelievably nice! We ran to the city center where it was darkest, and absolutely could not believe our luck. The lights were huge and wavering in thick gray-green bands above our heads. We all lay on the grass and watched them until the clouds rolled across them. It was awesome.

Afterwards, the girls and I headed back to the Drunk Rabbit to listen to the music until closing time at 2am. Then we walked back home and fell blissfully asleep.