Iceland – Round Two, Day 2

Our second day in Iceland was truly magical – the perfect way to celebrate our one year anniversary! We booked another tour through Arctic Adventures, the same group we booked the Black & Blue tour with last time around. (The one where I had a panic attack during diving in freezing water). James and I were standing outside of our hotel, and waited to be picked up super early in the morning. A van pulled up at 7:45 a.m. and called out our names. We sat down and proceeded to be driven through the city like a game of Crazy Taxi. The driver was up and down curbs, taking turns too quickly and stopping literally just in time. We arrived at another large bus station where we proceeded to a small bus that would take us through Southern Iceland.

Southern Iceland is… breathtaking. I am going to let the pictures do the majority of the talking, because this was just a magical tour, filled with rainbows, waterfalls, glaciers, hiking and more.

Our first stop was at the Skógafoss waterfall.

Yes, this is all real. It was stunning. Shortly thereafter, we drove to the Sólheimajökull glacier for “glacier hiking.” This was seriously a once in a lifetime opportunity. The glaciers in Iceland are sadly melting, and not being reconstituted due to temperature and weather. We had to hike about 30 minutes to the glacier (and to be honest, this was the most difficult part of the journey!). Once at the glacier, we strapped on crampons and received ice picks (I think mostly for show, I really didn’t use it!). Our guide took us around the glacier and provided us with facts about the different areas of it.

The black you see is volcanic ash.

Following, we headed to Black Beach – which received its name because of the color of the sand, which was created by volcanic ash and rock. The beach was breathtaking. Every time you turned a corner, there was something else magical to see.

This inspired the church in Reykjavik
It also made for a great chair!
The two rock formations out there – they are believed to be formed by troll “children” who were turned to rock when not returning before the night was done. Apparently trolls turn into rock when hit by sunlight.

At this point, the majority of the group was “hangry.” I had brought provisions for sandwiches from the U.S. (part of my 4.75 kg!) and so James and I were doing quite well. This called for a stop in the village of Vik – which is really a tiny fishing village with a knitting factory. I of course, had to buy a hat.

Afterwards, we drove on top of a cliff (but they called it an island) which had a luxury hotel in a lighthouse. Luxury is questionable, and there are only four rooms available. The view is fantastic though.

The tour continued on with a pitstop along the beach where a plane from WWII had crash landed. It was a U.S. plane that was flying from the east part of Iceland to the west, and had forgotten to fuel up beforehand. All passengers survived. But it left a very cool shell.

Yes I went inside.

Our final stop of the day was Seljandsfoss waterfall. This is the waterfall you can walk behind. Only a few people on our tour opted to do this. Crazy people! Everyone should walk behind a waterfall.

It was clear, on our ride back, that we would not be making our 8:00 p.m. reservation at Sjávargrillið (SEAFOOD GRILL). I called the restaurant, quickly updated our reservation and anxiously waited for the tour bus to drop us back off at our hotel. This is hands down one of our favorite restaurants in the world (so far) and we really didn’t want to miss the opportunity to dine there. Our bus got us to the hotel at 8:45 p.m. We bolted inside, changed as quickly as possible, and then RAN to dinner in the rain. We made it two minutes before our updated reservation time.

James ordered the exact same thing he did last time we were there – the lobster meal. He’s so original. I opted to change it up a bit and had the shellfish stew and a lobster and beef main course. For dessert we split James’ creme brûlée which was served with sorrel and strawberries.

Exhausted from our day, we quickly stopped at the Lebowski bar (but only to see the inside) and then headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep.

Iceland – Round Two, Day 1

For our one year anniversary (can you believe it has already been one year?!), James and I decided to go back to Iceland to celebrate. This seems extravagant until I tell you that we flew there for $300 roundtrip each, thanks to Wow Air (which I’ll get to in a moment). I am all for experience over material gifts, and because we enjoyed Iceland so much the first time we came, it felt only fitting to come back.

Let’s start with the airline. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Wow Air is one of those “discount” airline companies. The no frills, you literally are paying for your body to be on the plane. I had limited expectations but was extremely pleased with my experience overall. The airline is punctual and clean. The staff was very kind. And with the help of a handy luggage weight, James and I were each able to pack 4.75 kg of the allowed 5 kg on our carry on (as to not pay extra – because as I mentioned, this is a no frills flight!).

We took a red eye flight to Iceland – which meant arriving at 4 a.m. local time. OOmph. Instead of a crying baby, like we experienced in Spain, I was seated next to snorer. I would take the crying baby over snoring, so needless to say, I didn’t get much shut eye on the plane. When we arrived in Iceland, it was raining, windy and cold. We made it through the airport and settled on Reykjavik Excursions, the bus that takes you to and from the airport. This bus is a godsend. Seriously. It means you don’t need to rent a car and navigate crazy roads. It drops you off at a large terminal and passengers board smaller buses to take them to their hotels.

The bus was packed (despite it being super early). The bus driver arrived at the main station around 6:00 a.m. and realized that the woman who took our tickets and our hotel information never gave him the list. So he proceeded to write down where everyone was staying on a piece of cardboard. But rather than communicate any of this to the staff, he simply handed James the cardboard, told him he had to go and left. We stood there for about five minutes, completely out of it due to the lack of sleep, before realizing no small bus was coming to take us to our hotel since no one was notified! We eventually found someone who could make this happen. We arrived at our hotel by 7:00 a.m., and promptly fell asleep for a few hours.

View from our hotel balcony

We planned an easy day, given that we would have limited sleep. Around 11 a.m., we were picked up and our way to Blue Lagoon – the famed geothermal spa. We made reservations at their restaurant, Lava, before we headed into the water. Lava once again, did not disappoint. Though the wait staff was thoroughly confused when I ordered a coffee for the start of my meal.

Afterwards, we spent a few hours in the hot spring. We even had someone take our picture together. It was shocking.

On our way back, James and I got off the bus before our stop so that we could walk through the city center. Reykjavik is filled with colorful buildings, graffiti and interesting people. A walk through is a must. We stopped a Kaffitir for a chai tea latte before making it back to our hotel.


For dinner, we made reservations at Dill, which is supposedly one of the “best restaurants in Reykjavik.” Set up as a tasting menu, it did not disappoint. They were even  accommodating of my diet, and made everything for me gluten free. Which really just meant, didn’t include cake with dessert, but gave me more ice cream to make up for it. I’m good with that.

James was really set on eating a hotdog in Iceland. It’s a specialty. So after his seven courses, we proceeded to the hotdog stand he has been dreaming about for one year.

I am sorry this is not the most flattering photo of you.

We ended our evening at our hotel’s bar, which was surprisingly vibrant and funky – and great for people watching.