After spending time in NYC, Paris and London, it was finally time to head to Iceland. This was after all the actual destination for this trip – everywhere else was added on during our planning!
We flew out of London and arrived in Reykjavik around 3:30pm. Since there is only about 6 hours of daylight during mid-November in Iceland, the sky was already getting dark. There was also a fresh dusting of snow which looked beautiful was we approached the airport.
We had originally scheduled an excursion on a boat to check out the northern lights but I got an email that it had been cancelled that evening due to the weather – so we rescheduled for the next day. We then got all checked into our hotel and then ventured out for some dinner at a recommended spot, Sjávargrillid Seafood Grill. I was even adventurous and tried the fermented shark (first and likely last time!).
Our tour ended up getting upgraded to a private tour so Nanci and I had the driver and vehicle to ourselves for the day which was really nice. We drove for over 2 hours south to the first stop at Reynisfjara Beach, also known as the black sand beach. It was a cold and rainy day, exacerbated by some incredibly strong winds. Even with the bitter cold, the beach was a beautiful sight!
Our next stop on the Golden Circle tour was at Skógafoss. This is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. On sunny days, the water spray droplets can produce double rainbows. Obviously, we were not fortunate enough to experience that but it was still a beautiful waterfall.
Next up was Seljalandsfoss – a waterfall you can actually walk behind!
We then headed more west to see Stokkur, a geyser located in a geothermal area along the Hvítá River in southwest Iceland. While the more famous geyser, aptly named Geysir, is also in the area, it erupts infrequently whereas Stokkur erupts every 8-10 minutes. We were fortunate enough to experience Stokkur erupt a few times while we were exploring.
Next up was Gullfoss, which I personally found to be breathtaking! We arrived just before dark so we didn’t have a ton of time to spend there since we had one more stop to make before heading back.
For our last stop on the Golden Circle tour, we made our way to Þingvellir National Park. In addition to being the site of the world’s longest running (and still ongoing) parliament, it’s also where the North America and Eurasia tectonic plates intersect. The rift between the two plates expands 2.5 centimeters per year.
Once we moved further in, we were in a pretty dark spot so the electric transmission tower is the point of reference in the other shots. While not as scenic of a backdrop as the lake, we definitely were able to see more of the northern lights from this spot. Iceland is one of the only places in the world you can see red Northern Lights, which are produced at a higher altitude. While not the best night to see the northern lights, we were lucky enough to see the green ones, along with some slight red ones.
Both Nanci and I agree that Iceland was the highlight of our trip! I would love to experience it in the summer. So Iceland – ég kem aftur! (I’ll be back!)
Thanks to Nanci for asking me to join her on her bucket list trip and for allowing it to expand to France and England as well! It was a FANTASTIC trip!