This place was a challenge from the start when we first started planning our trip around the world. When Rohan shared with Amelie that Iceland had active volcanoes she was adamant we would not be going. We tried persuading her by telling her the cast of Frozen lived there, we tried reasoning that it was highly unlikely we would die from a volcanic eruption. In the end we said we would probably go and that she had several months to get used to the idea. Lucky for us this approach worked and by the time we landed in Iceland she was excited to meet the cast of Frozen. Yep she remembered that lie.
Iceland challenged us with it’s weather, accommodation issues and lack of affordability but it really is worth all of it. We had amazing weather while we were there and I appreciate we got lucky. But it’s cold, it is Iceland after all. We were woefully unprepared clothes wise for anything other than good weather so I’m glad we got lucky. We saw lots of hitchhikers and seeing them in the elements made me glad we had a car too.
Getting there and getting around
Immigration spent a long time thinking Ruby was not the child in her passport photo. Her hair is a lot more red in her passport photo but the face looks the same. It was an interesting start to Iceland but they did let us keep her in the end.
We hired a car from the airport and it was the scenario where the hire place is a distance from the airport so they drive you there. They had multiple bookings and we fill a minivan pretty quickly so there was a moment where we were going to have to wait for the second round of pickups. Seeing the kids screaming and taking pity on us it was decided we should go first which we appreciated a lot. Our hire car had a glass roof which is awesome for Iceland!
We ended up here on our first day in Iceland and it was a pretty awesome first thing to see. The king of the geysers doesn’t really perform like he used to but the younger more virile geyser nearby goes off every 8 or so minutes which leaves everyone satisfied. We went late in the afternoon and there was still loads of people so I imagine middle of the day would be packed in high season.
The second day we drove to the Gulfoss waterfall which is just incredible. You feel very small when you stand next to this watching the force of the water rushing past you. We took it in turns to see this, I had no faith in the younger two not wanting to go for a swim. I took Amelie with me and for a girl who is generally very cautious, on this day she decides skipping might be appropriate or hanging on the ropes might be ok. I had several heart attacks at Gulfoss.
Thingvellir National Park
On the third day we drove about an hour and spent most of the day here, the location of where the first Parliament was held in Iceland. It was interesting to read about how rules were handed down orally because they didn’t have a written language yet and punishments were decided by the victim instead of by the collective group.
The fourth day was spent by the sea in a little village that was so quiet it actually felt very eery to walk the streets.
We stopped at the famous waterfall that you can walk behind on our way further east. We timed it perfectly, the car park became very full with bus loads of people as we drove away about 11am. The kids loved the waterfall, even with the icy water blowing in their faces.
The highlight of the entire trip since leaving in March was this place. Seeing icebergs right in front of you and then seeing them on the beach is just so surreal. I will likely forget a lot of our travels as time goes on but I doubt I will ever forget this. The seals swimming alongside as we walked to the beach was an added bonus.
We booked an early morning session and it worked very well for us. We may have cooked Amelie a little too long, the rest of us got regular breaks from the heat but she was having so much fun she stayed submerged to her head for an hour before she started looking obviously not with it. Conveniently there is a swim up bar so we got her some water and a cold smoothie and she was good to go then.
They provide floaties for the kids which is very handy, being bright orange it makes it harder to lose them in the haze too. Speaking of which, one of the younger two wasn’t a big fan of the pool and knew exactly how to get us out quick. Shouting “I’ve done a poo” in a crowded pool gets you noticed quickly and that’s how our swim in the blue lagoon finished. I can report too that it was a false alarm by the child who cried wolf.
We spent our last day in Iceland exploring the city and the place is really good. Lots of street art, apparently there are a lot of artists in Iceland because people turn to it to “keep the beast at bay.” The beast being the harsh reality of living in such an unforgiving climate.
The low point of our stay, all 3 places we stayed at didn’t know we were coming until we got there even though we had booked. We had one place booked, a 3 bedroom house that I was very much looking forward too, and they triple booked it by mistake. They ‘fixed’ the problem by putting us up in a nearby hostel with a shared bathroom. Our room was next to the kitchen and people were very loud. I cried and swore a lot that night. The hostel even tried to charge us more money then the 3 bedroom house would’ve cost, I was annoyed it was even the same price. But we survived and it was only one night.
We loved Iceland, everyone heading to Europe should visit I think. Accommodation and food is expensive but all the attractions are free so I think it balances out. We scored a cheap flight from the UK and then it was only a 5 hour flight to the USA from there so definitely worth the effort to see such an amazing place.