Iceland Summer Trip

It’s time to board my overseas  flight to Iceland. The country is an unknown destination but a place I’ve wanted to explore for a long time.  Over the past few years. Americans have made Iceland a popular destination so I wanted to see the beauty myself.  Taking advantage of the affordable rates by Wow Air, I jumped on board and had a very pleasant flying experience. 

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Reykjavik airport is really lovely ! The small size, friendly people and organized immigration system made the experience a breeze . I picked up my car at Hertz very easily and began my journey by driving towards the capital. I was blown away by the incredible series of varying landscapes. The raw soil mixed with solidified lava looked like a painting with the moss and short grass growing on uneven fields. 

It’s a rainy day with wind and a grey sky is painted with dramatic clouds. Those formations are something I have never seen before. Just stepping out of the car for a picture is an adventure! It is all very surreal but fascinating experience at the same time.

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I booked a hotel in Downtown Reykjavik for the first two nights and picked a couple of suggested B&B’s in two different parts of the island for the rest of the trip. I realized that if I wanted to drive around all of Iceland it is not as easy and quick as I imagined and would take nearly two weeks. Instead I decided to spend my time on the Western and central side. 

I stayed at the Hummer Square Hotel right in the center of the town. It’s located near a small market with an excellent bakery and small restaurants. I quickly learned it this is the happening place during the long cold nights of winter where locals might get together for a drink and socialize. The hotel has been renovated and the rooms are pretty large with all the amenities: large bathroom, nice view, modern décor and WIFI. It is a great hub for young adventurers who love to start their experience in this unique country. 

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Two days here taught me that this could be a challenging place during the cold seasons which begins in September until April. During the summer months the citizens are focused on maintenance work. Roads, buildings, homes and even commercial fishing boats are all maintained in perfect shape and painted like new. 

I see quite a lot of tourists here who are curious to discover a place that until few years ago was just a small remote island on the map on the Atlantic Ocean. 

After wandering around under an heavy rain and cold wind, I was hungry and I found a little restaurant near the port. Reykjavik Fish Restaurant provided an excellent meal based on wild cod, red beets, salad and a hot creamy espresso. Even the presentation was top notch!

Expert tip: everything is pricey here so be prepared to use a credit card quite often. No need to carry cash, everyone takes credit cards. 

Note: As most tourist do, I stopped by the Blue Lagoon which was an experience. It was a bit too touristy and crowded, however definitely well organized.

I drove through amazing and unique landscapes. The sun finally decided to show up and it was already 11pm. Approaching the summer solstice, it’s always bright here and sunset happens at 12am while sunrise it’s a 2am. I am adjusting to these extremely long days! Bright and warm, getting up to 20C but nights could be cold for a summer weatheraround 4-5C.

The sun is coming out of the clouds and a group of traditional Icelandic horses are walking on the horizon. It looks like a renaissance painting! One of the horses was just standing up on the small hill looking at the sky and brushed by a strong wind. It was a perfect moment to take a picture. 

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Hills are smoother, the soil is greener and I’m surrounded by huge fields of blue lupins everywhere. This is a common flower hereat the beginning of the summer and the colors are dramatic, surrounded by  landscape that otherwise would be monochromatic without a clear sky.

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Our Flúðir B&B (is next to the “Secret Lagoon”, which is not that secret anymore but it is still small, cozy and more family style.  

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The B&B was more family style and clean, staff is friendly and I realized I’m right in the middle of the vegetable plantation area of the island. I was surrounded by ton sof greenhouses which use the geothermal waters to give the plants the heat they need to grow and lights on the ceiling to help the process of photosynthesis.

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Since it’s bright throughout the day, if you don’t look at the time you end up searching for a dining place at 9 or 10pm.

This is a part of Iceland that has milder weather and reminds me little more the hillside of Austria and northern Italy. Yellow flowers and the lupins are peekingup from the much taller grass that replaced the harsh lava.

The day after I decided to drive towards Vik which is the last famous spot of the Golden Circle. Heading there I found myself in a heavy rain and on a windy coast. I can barely stay still and I quickly walk towards this geometric natural wall of stone. With this weather and all tourists heading there, this is not what I expected. I jumped in the car and found a nice warm, old-style restaurant where I had a small fish soup and a local beer. I would have stayed here for few hours. Popular local music in the background and an old building that looks like a refuge of the fishermen during a cold storm. 

The day after I visited the Geysers (Geysir)  but really wanted to avoid all the tourists groupsso I went at night around 11pm. This was an intimate visit where I appreciated the beauty of this natural phenomenon of boiling water and a magnificent waterfall. The power of nature is just in front of me, showing off and yes, it was astonishing! 

The last few days I decided to go back to the Western side, only  ifty miles north of Reykjavik in the town of Bernagres. A cozy small town on a peninsula, I drove trough an amazing underground tunnel that goes under the ocean. Instead of building a bridge and ruin the beauty of the landscape, Icelanders built a mile long masterpiece that comes up on the other side of a large peninsula. How genius is that? 

 http://englendingavik.is

http://englendingavik.is

The clouds decided to stay away from the town and they are hovering inland. The B&B called Englendingavík  is owned and run by Einar, who is a multi-tasking entrepreneur. Small brand-new rooms and a mix of freshly baked bread with fish are just outside the restaurant situated on the first floor. An amazing location with the sea view ! Right on the gulf is where I experienced dramatic high and low tide which gives this perfectly located B&B a very different atmosphere.

 Midnight Sun in Borgarnes

Midnight Sun in Borgarnes

From here I experienced a majestic midnight sun with clear sky and I found a perfect spot to sit and look at this spectacular “show”. 

This part of the island is less touristic and much more interesting. A sunny day makes everything more colorful and vibrant. The close by hot springs are more unique and private, the wide and infinite green fields of grass makes you feel very small and the rivers are flowing from two large beautiful and equally dramatic waterfalls - Barnafoss and Hraunfossar.

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Horses and sheep will welcome you and they have a huge amount of land to enjoy and run free. 

Leaving Iceland makes you feel like you experienced a unique place that welcomes you with courtesy and kindness. It makes you feel safe all the time and shows you what raw nature really looks like. The population works hard and uses natural resources to survive while developing their society towards a much more advance system based on green energy and advanced services.

I met many young Europeans who decided to live here to experience this country and learn about green energy. I would love to come back for the Northern lights that begin at the end of August. I’d also love to spend some time in other parts of this unique remote island. 

 

Until next time, Iceland!