Iceland – Winter Wonderland Part 1

At the start of February I travelled to Iceland for a wee two night, three days break. We stayed in Reykjavik and only explored a tiny fraction of what this amazing island has to offer. I also rode there, Icelandic horses are incredible, and I will be doing a full review of that experience as well.

Outside plane landing in Iceland

On day one we arrived in Iceland at quarter past two in the afternoon after a flight where my flying nerves were steeled by the 50% proof vodka the lovely lads I ended up sitting with were kind enough to give me. We had already had done a fair amount of planning for the trip, with such a short space of time we had an itinerary and everything to maximise our time.

We chose to hire a car and I would recommend that, while I didn’t drive (I can’t drive here, let alone in Iceland) it gave us a freedom to travel where we wanted and crucially when. It was especially useful on the 2nd day when we drove the Golden Circle but that’s a whole other blog post! The people in the car hire place were lovely and while it did cost a little more we got a slightly bigger car and of course a free hot drink!

Free drinks in car hire place

We then headed off to Reykjavik where we had rented an apartment, since I was the last one to tag along on this trip the others had found the accomodation and we simply added an extra bed. It was basic accommodation but clear and nicely furnished, we weren’t expecting to do much there except sleep. My bed was super comfy. The bathroom well that was odd, it had a clear door – more like a window. The toilet was right behind the door and the bathroom was down the hall from the sofa! We made a pact that you just shouted when you were off to the loo and then everyone moved to the other side of the flat! I don’t think that anyone needs to know their mates that well!!

Leismin Iceland2
Harbour lights

We had planned to go northern light chasing that night but there was full cloud cover so there was no point in setting out in the car. Instead we walked along the front and headed to one of Reykjavik’s swimming pools. As we walked we saw runners and cyclists out on the snowy streets, it was actually pretty cool to see people just dealing with snow without any dramas but of course they get it every year.

The pool was ridiculously cheap only around Β£3. There was a standard indoor pool but we ignored that as we were there for the outdoor pools. There were around eight outdoor pools of various sizes and temperatures. It was -3 degrees celsius that night and we pretty much ran from the changing rooms to the first pool which was a warm jacuzzi affair. We then went and swam in the other bigger pools, I couldn’t work out what the other cement circles were about so I braved the cold and discovered 4 sunken pools all heated to between 38 and 44 degrees celsius. They had a bench seat all the way round them and you were submerged up to your neck. It was bliss. There was also a steam room, a sauna and a sea water pool with water from a bore hole out in the harbour. After a couple of hours we all realised we were starving and reluctantly left the pool, braved the freezing dash back to the changing rooms then had to spend a while sorting out my giant hair πŸ™‚

Leismin Iceland22

We then wound our way back to town walking down streets with painted houses decorated with fairy lights, it was beautiful. There was snow on the ground which just added to the fairytale feel of it…well until we reached the main roads. There weren’t a great deal of options to eat as we had left it a little late and some places had no veggie options (I’m vegetarian). We chanced on the Islenski Bar and had a great feed, I tried an Icelandic beer but I reckon I will stick to cider thanks. Leismin Iceland32Afterwards we headed for a drink in a rather cool bar called Kaffibarinn which had the Underground symbol outside and also a ban on photos, can’t stop my mate taking them though. The cider was great and we did get to see our first viking! Or just a guy with long hair and a beard but hey! We had an earlyish night – next day was the Golden Circle and we wanted to be up and on our way before sunrise.

Subtle aren't we
Subtle aren’t we?
Leismin Iceland33
Fantastic window displays in Reykjavik

Day 2: The Golden Circle tour coming soon!

Photos courtesy of my Iceland buddies

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