So it went something a little like this:
Him: What are your thoughts on Iceland?
Me: I have no thoughts on Iceland.
Him: Let’s go to Iceland.
Chuck was gone on assignment for much of August, all of September, and a good chunk of October, so we decided we needed a little getaway to reconnect as a family and do something fun. The original idea was to go camping, but somewhere along the way we decided on Iceland. Boil it down to cheap airfare, a little research on how to travel Iceland on a budget, and a lot of nerve to do something out of the ordinary.
Chuck and I love traveling together. It’s something we do really well as a couple. But traveling internationally with the boys? Heck. They’re old enough to carry their own bags. Let’s just see how it goes! We booked the trip the first week of October and didn’t tell Jeremy and Jackson until mid-October just in case something fell through with getting their passports. We didn’t tell family and close friends until sometime in November. The reaction was got from everyone – including the boys – was, “Huh?”
Yes, we’re going to Iceland. Why not?
Suddenly the trip was upon us and we arrived on Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh, which is one of the hubs for WOW Air, a fairly new low-cost carrier based in Iceland.
We left Monday night on a plane that was half-full, which meant we all got to stretch out. Even Salem got his own seat.
At some point during the flight we saw the Northern Lights. It is unfortunate that I couldn’t roll down the airplane window for a better photo. You’ll have to take my word for it that they were more beautiful than what you see below.
Six hours after taking off, we landed in Iceland. In the US, it was around midnight, but in Iceland, it was 5 a.m. We got our bags, the rental car, and took our zombie children to the AirBNB we rented in Hafnarfjordur, a small town just south of Reykjavik.
The Garden Flat was on the bottom floor of a three-story house owned by a British couple, who were currently in England. The hosts live on the second floor and own a coffee shop in town. We didn’t meet them right away (it was early, after all), but we eventually ran into them and were so grateful to pick their brains about places to go and what living in Iceland is really like.
We didn’t see much of the outside when we arrived since it was dark. The inside, however, was straight out of IKEA.
(The boys had their own bedroom with twin beds, though I didn’t take a picture of it.)
Since sunrise wasn’t until 10 a.m., we elected to nap for a couple of hours and crossed our fingers for good attitudes afterward. Needless to say, it took some time to pull the boys fully out of a slumber.
Once the sun was up we got a good look at the neighborhood. It was delightful!
This is the “friendly Hafnarfjordur cat” in the aforementioned note:
Spotted: Icelandic Black Cat.
The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, but when we arrived it was clear and in the 20s. Since the forecast for Tuesday was mostly good, we took the opportunity to make our farthest trek to Reynisfjara Beach, the black sand beach near Vik. There was plenty to see along the way, so off we went.
Within 20 minutes we were away from the coast and headed for curvy roads and breathtaking views. There were plenty of pull-offs to get out and take pictures. The fresh, crisp air helped wake us up too.
The first waterfall we came upon along the southwestern edge of Iceland was Urridafoss.
Of course, everything is frozen! Elsa got here before we did.
Back in the car, we continued south towards Vik and came upon a pasture where short, furry Icelandic horses were waiting for us to pet them. We couldn’t let them down! Chuck pulled over so the boys and I could introduce ourselves.
Theses horses everywhere, and while some of them graze away from the road, there are plenty who meander about waiting for tourists to give them love.
With only five hours of daylight to play with, we were selective about our stops. There were plenty of places to pull over and explore, but we really wanted to make it to Reynisfjara Beach before sunset. Seljalandsfoss was a must-see though. As soon as we pulled up to it, the boys recognized it from videos we watched while researching the trip.
Again, Elsa got here before we did:
Fortunately, we didn’t need to take the stairs.
With only a couple of hours left before sunset, we got back in the car and headed for the coast.