The best flight I could come across was from Belfast, which seemed an easy enough option. So on the train I hopped on Saturday morning and made my way up to Belfast city before jumping on the bus to the International airport. Not exactly the easiest to get to but feck it I was away. The airport itself didn’t have a sinner in it and the security looked a bit perplexed when I strolled up as if they weren’t expecting anyone. Makes for a change!
After a wobbly flight I landed in Reykjavik around 3pm and hopped on the shuttle bus to the bus station in the city. Map in hand I decided to ramble through and eventually found the hostel, dropped off bags and went for a little walk. With a population of 150,000 Reykjavik isn’t the biggest city but still big enough to get lost in. I popped into a local pub to catch the end of the United game before heading into the main square for some pizza and a pint. Talk about cultured!
Saturday night is the big night out in Iceland so I had planned on going large, but unfortunately there wasn’t much of a party crew in the hostel, which meant flying Hans Solo. So with the Appy Hour app on my phone I managed to find a few pubs that had offers on. Only thing is that the night doesn’t really kick off until 1am and there I was in a pub at 10.30pm, still feckin bright outside and sipping away. Needless to say I didn’t hang around too long and headed back to the hostel fairly tired after the day of travelling while also extremely jealous of the throngs of cars passing me by with multiple blond haired women going for a night out.
I was sup early on Sunday morning due to a bunch of Koreans packing like mad so grabbed some brekkie before making some plans for the coming days, booking tours and renting a car. I had been recommended to join a walking tour with Marteen, a 25 year old local, who knows his shit. The tour itself took about 2 hours, probably about 3 in total depending on the amount of silly questions, but gave a great overview of the city from its foundation to the modern day capital of Iceland. After the tour I grabbed some lunch in the centre before heading back to the ranch for a quick power nap. The weird thing about Iceland at this time of the year is that it looks like the sun is about to set for about 6 hours, so your body is a bit all over the place.
After an hour or so sleeping I got up, has some dinner and started on the happy hour with some of the hostel crew before we headed out to some of the better bars. To say nightlife on the weekend compared to during the weekday is like night and day would be an understatement. We went to the coppers of Reykjavik and were the only 4 people there before eventually finding an Irish bar that had about 40 people or so. So we drank with a group of the local and watched what appeared to be some lad out of it on ecstasy dancing by himself for about 4 hours. Quite entertaining all together!
Monday began in a world of pain due to the consumption of litre loads of Viking beer. I had a tours booked for the Golden Circle at 8am and managed to sleep in by a few minutes, miss it, but then call them pleading with them to come back which worked a charm! Even gave me time to make a few sambos for the road! The tour itself went to some of the main sites of the Golden circle but I would recommend that people rent a car instead as you will save half a day and not spend hours in souvenir stores with grannies. First stop was the amazing Thingvellir National Park, which essential is where the American and European tectonic plates join. You can actually walk between the two which is quite surreal and even snorkel if you’re brave enough! Next stop was at the amazing Gulfoss waterfall which is up there Iguazu in my opinion just for the sheer magnitude of it. You can right up close and personal with it too which makes it all the more real. A must see! After a quick lunch we were back on the road and stopped off at the Geysers, when it began to lash rain. It didn’t dampen (sorry) the mood, so I climbed a volcano that was right beside it where the views up top were unreal. Coming back down wasn’t too much fun as I was soaked with no spare clothes so spent the remainder of the day a bit moody on the bus. The last two stops on the tour were to a local church, pretty but could be missed if you’re driving, and the power plant, which was cool but a bit random.
I made it back to the ranch at about 7pm, ate a Domino’s pizza, had a couple pints of Viking with the hostel peeps and then crashed for the evening. All tuckered out!
I was up early on Tuesday to grab brekkie and then rent a car for the day. Little did I know most of the rental places don’t open until 10am which was a bit of a bummer but managed to find one open. So I got the car and then began to panic about driving on the other side of the road in rain and snow. Sure give it a bash. I managed to make it out of the city, sambos in hand, after 5 failed hill starts at traffic lights to my absolute embarrassment. But I was on the road!
First port of call was the Blue Lagoon, located near the airport. The scenery on the way was out of this world and once I arrived, I paid the entrance €35 (bit hefty) and got into my speedos and hopped in. You can have a maximum of three drinks while there (Icelandics like to limit alcohol consumption), but I was on the dry. After a quick facial and snaps I was out and back on the road heading south. The aim was to get to the most southern point of the country of the infamous black sand beaches.
The drive itself took about 4 hours but would have to be one of the most surreal drives I’ve ever been on. It was littered with mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls and cliffs. The most impressive waterfalls were Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss , which are not to be missed! Just after these I stumbled upon the volcano Eyjafjallajökull that caused all that havoc in Europe a few years ago but was a great advertisement for the country in hindsight. I devoured some sambos in a random fishing village before getting back on the road and finally making it to the southern tip which was amazing!
With only one main road back to Reykjavik it was back through the same route I had come but luckily Icelandic people have equally as bad a taste in music as me so I was dancing away all the way back listening to the radio. The final stretch of road to the city creeps up high in the mountains where it was snowing and quite a scary, but cool drive.
I was happy enough to make it back to the city, and tucked into another Dominos before going for a couple of pints with the locals I had met 2 days previously. I was in bed early and up at 8am to check out, leave the car back and walk to the bus station and begin my trek back to Dublin after a great few days.
Iceland itself is one of the most magical countries I have yet to visit and I feel I barely scratched the surface. I would recommend it to anyone but spend at least 7 full days there and rent a car as it will give you so much freedom. The country has it all: volcanoes, glaciers, whale watching, the Northern Lights (too cloudy for me), hot springs, waterfalls and rugged coastlines. And it is not as expensive as some people may think. So get there while you can!