Adventure in Iceland – Day Three

One of the best pieces of advice we got from our AirBNB hosts was to avoid the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa trolling with tourists. It’s likely you’ve seen an ad for it, and it was mentioned in nearly every video we watched and every blog post we read while researching the trip.

However, as our host said, you won’t find Icelanders there. It’s a tourist trap, complete with high prices and required reservations made well in advance. Instead, we were encouraged to find a local place, and that’s exactly what we did. We got up early Thursday morning, before the sunrise, and drove north to Krauma Geothermal Baths.

Boiling water coming from the frozen tundra – Iceland really is the land of fire and ice.

Of course, before we arrived, we warned the boys that they’d need to shower before getting in the baths, and we didn’t mean showering with swimsuits on. Nope. Fully naked. In open showers. Because Europeans don’t care about nudity the way Americans do.

Jeremy wasn’t pleased.

Fortunately, we were the only ones there, minus a couple of Icelandic women who were leaving just as we arrived.

It was… a dream.

There are five baths at varying temperatures, including one cold bath that’s pure glacier water. Everyone except me dipped a toe or leg in that bath and reported that it was pins-and-needles cold.

But the warm baths? Delightful.

This photo is currently the screensaver on my phone:

Though it would’ve been a quicker drive to the Blue Lagoon, Krauma was well worth it and confirms what we always believe about traveling: do what the locals do. 

Another perk of driving north to Krauma was being able to go in a different direction than we’d already gone (south to Reynisfjara Beach and east to Gullfoss).

The weather wasn’t all that clear north of Reykjavik, so I wasn’t sure what we’d find once we got back to the city. Fortunately, again, it was perfect!

Spotted: Church cat

Finally we could see Leif Eiriksson and Hallgrimskirkja in the daylight.

The views from the tower in Hallgrimskirkja were breathtaking. So thankful for a clear(ish) afternoon!

I approve of Iceland’s love for color!

Back on the ground, we walked around a little longer since it wasn’t raining. I think I’d like grass on my roof too, please.

Spotted: Bookstore cat

Next we drove back to our little town of Hafnarfgjordur to visit Pallett, the coffeeshop owned by our AirBNB hosts.

I ordered a Flat White, which was the best Flat White I’d ever had in my life. I wanted a second one, but it was getting late and caffeine-induced insomnia is not my friend in other time zones.

Our final stop on Thursday was a local mall, mainly out of curiosity.

Prices at the LEGO store were significantly higher than in the States. We definitely window-shopped.

We grabbed dinner for the second time at IKEA and headed home to pack. As expected, the trip flew by. Boo.

Next: Friday and going home. 

Adventure in Iceland – Day Two

When we got back in town Tuesday night, after our excursion to Reynisfjara Beach, we went to a local grocery store to buy food for the rest of the week. We had already made a mistake by eating on the fly Tuesday late-morning, jet-lagged and un-researched. This is a huge fail when it comes to visiting Iceland on a budget and we resolved to be better the rest of the week.

(I think I’ll make a separate blog post about traveling to Iceland on a budget, so if you’re interested in that, stay tuned.)

Since we had eggs, toast, cereal, and milk in the house, breakfast was a cinch. Once they boys were dressed and fed, they went outside to the backyard to pet the cats.

The first stop on Wednesday was along the Golden Circle to Thingvellir National Park, which you can see noted on the map below:

Thingvellir is important to Icelandic culture and history, as well as its geological and ecological significance. It is literally where the North American tectonic plate and Eurasian plate meet.

Iceland is notoriously vibrant and green in the summer, and despite the snow, you could still see the beautiful moss growing everywhere.

If you continue on the path you run into Oxararfoss, an up-close magnificent (frozen) waterfall.

One of my favorite photos from the trip – this is my whole heart right here:

I can’t emphasize how clear the water is. I mean, if you want to drink from it, go ahead.

Oxararfoss is right behind us. We walked across frozen water to get to it. I’d love to see it in summertime!

After climbing out of the crevasses, we got back in the car and headed to Strokkur/Geysir. The Golden Circle is a heavy tourist area, so unlike much of our experiences on Tuesday, we were among fellow travelers most of Wednesday.

Imagine boiling water bursting out of the Earth and running down a frozen tundra. That’s Geysir.

This is Strokkur, a reliable hot spring that erupts every four to eight minutes.

Even with steaming hot water erupting from the Earth, there is plenty of frozen bright blue water to be found.

The last place we visited along the Golden Circle was Gullfoss, Iceland’s largest waterfall. Of course, it was mostly frozen so I’d love to return in summer to see it in full color and motion.

Our five hours of daylight were fading fast, so we hoped in the car back to Reykjavik to explore the city at night.

But first, sunset.

Icelanders take their Viking history seriously, so Thor is everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

It was foggy on Wednesday night, so we knew we’d have to come back to Hallgrimskirkja Church the next day and hope for clear skies.

Next: Krauma Geothermal Baths and Reykjavik in the daytime