Iceland: Part 2 of 3

~By:  Amanda

Day 3: Reykjavik to Stykkisholmur

After a late night of fun in Reykjavik we finally started our adventure on the Ring Road. After a quick stop at Domino’s Pizza for a hangover breakfie, because we are still American, we set off with google maps as our guide. Driving north, the Ring Road has two toll stops, after the insanely long underwater tunnels, which feels like driving into the fiery depths of earth.

After 3 hours and a couple minor water falls, we entered the town of Stykkisholmur. With a population of 1,195, Stykkisholmur is a tiny fishing village on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Our afternoon activity was to climb Sugandisey, a rock island, connected by causeway to the main peninsula. The hike to the top of Sugandisey is intermediate and the views from the top are defiantly worth the effort.

After lounging in the grass, enjoying the last bit of sun, we headed back down the rocky trail to Sjavarpakkhusid restaurant for our reward beer. Here, we learned that Justin Bieber songs have been actually translated into Icelandic, why…… The wooden deck facing the fjord was the perfect place to settle in with our new favorite, Einstok beers. Afterwards we headed to Skurinn for dinner, the most budget conscientious restaurant in town. After our dinner, of you guessed it fish, we devoured their featured desserts, Nutella muffins and apple pie.

To finish off our day we decided to check out the Stykkisholmur pool, because if somewhere has a water slide, you go! The Stykkisholmur pool has a large indoor/outdoor pool area with three geothermal hot tubs at various temperature levels. The entrance fee was approx $8 and was well worth the unlimited trips down the water slide.

Day 4: Stykkisholmur to Akureyri

After a quick and delicious breakfast at Nesbraud ehf, a cute cafe and bakery, we said goodbye to Stykkisholmur. Next stop was Helgafell, which is a noted religious hill outside of town and is a must for everyone’s itinerary. According to Icelandic legend, one can make three wishes while climbing the hill, without speaking (a monotonous task for me) or looking back. In all seriousness though, 2 of my 3 wishes have come true so far…

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Google maps suggested two options for this route. We choose the ‘short route’ traveling across highway 54, which was a ridiculous gravel road, however a trade-off for amazing scenery. Back on the Ring road, just past Laugarbakki we stopped lunch at Kolugljufur waterfall, to have a picnic lunch, complete with champagne.

The city of Akureyri is known as the northern capital, with our whale watching adventure planned we spent 2 nights here. “Akureyri FP apartments” has the best possible location in the city. The amenities in the apartment were endless including 2 balconies and blue tooth washing machine, which can be operated from your phone. For the first time in history, I saw boys excited about laundry. After an hour of playing with a washing machine, we headed down to R5 Beer lounge for 5 euro happy hour drafts. By suggestion from the bartender we decided on Akureyri Fish and Chips for dinner. Best fish and chips ever and coating every bite with jalapeno-garlic dipping sauce is absolutely necessary.

Day 5: Whale watching in Husavik

If you eat one meal in Akureyri make it breakfast at Cafe Berlin. After the most difficult decision of life thus far, I selected the egg, bacon and gouda on toast. After breakfast we set out towards Husavik for our pre-booked whale watching tour with North Sailing. On a stroke of luck the company contacted me the previous night and upgraded our tour to the 3.5 hour, Whale Watching and Puffin Tour. Our boat was a traditional Icelandic sailing ship and North Sailing, operates as certified carbon neutral. With the exception of the ugly ocean suits we were required to wear, provided by the company, the day was absolutely amazing. As they say, “life isn’t perfect but your outfit should be.” After skirting the island where we found thousands of puffins making their nests, we followed a pair of humpback whales as they dove and surfaced from the sea. Our tour concluded with hot chocolates with rum and pastries on our way back to Husavik.

Back in Akureyri we decided to check out Cafe Amour for another happy hour, notice a pattern here? Our dinner restaurant Bryggjan was suggested by our wonderful guide from the whale tour. The food was well worth the 30 minute wait. Since calories don’t exist on vacay, we hit the local favorite ice cream shop Brynja for dessert. Brynja serves soft serve ice cream with a variety delicious dips and toppings. #fatdays

 

Day 6: Akureyri to Seydisfjourder

With a heavily planned day, we set out early with our eye on the Myvatn Nature Baths. Similar to the Blue Lagoon, however less touristy, Myvatn is a smaller scaled geothermal heated spring. This geothermic pool is more scenic and quaint than its popular neighbor to the south, with an average temperature of 95-105 degrees (36-40C).The locker rooms are clean and provide the same amenities as the Blue Lagoon, including lockers and hair dryers. Entrance was 4,000 or $35 USD and obviously we opted to pre-pay for two beers. To obtain your beverages, one must flag down a nature bath employee and they will deliver your order poolside… fancy!

Back on the road, we steered towards what is arguably the best waterfall in Iceland, Dettifoss. Approaching the waterfall is the equivalent of being inside a monsoon, from the intense back-spray. Initially we planned for a nice picnic lunch next to the waterfall… try again! You can view Dettifoss, from the east or west of the falls and both with large parking areas. As you approach the waterfall you can hear the roar as thousands of gallons of water topple over the rocks to the 144 ft (44 meters) drop. The sheer force of the water proved to be too much for my little 5’3” body and I quickly retreated back to the car after only a few minutes with this amazing giant.

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Soaked and cold we made our way towards Seydisfjoudur, stopping at the Bonus to pick up provisions for dinner. The drive over the mountain pass into this small and cute town situated on a fjord is difficult and snow still dotted the hill top, even in mid-August. Our cabin at ‘Langahlid Seydisfirdi’ was my favorite accommodation in Iceland. Approximately 2 minutes after our arrival we grabbed a bottle of red wine and ran for the hot tub. We all spent the next 2 hours chilling in the bubbles, listening to my favorite house playlist, taking in the view of the fjord.

Soon after arrival, we realized a serious lapse in judgment, the alcohol was almost gone. With the Vinbudin being closed on Sunday (DO NOT make the same mistake we did) we quickly weighed our options. Intel provided by locals suggested that sometimes local bars and restaurants will sell you full bottles of alcohol, however at a serious mark-up. The two girls were voted as best representatives to take on the mission, so we jumped in the car and headed back into town. We found a bar and settled down with two beers before propositioning the friendly bartender. After a call to the owner we were sold a bottle of vodka for about $75, the bartender threw in some mixers as a good gesture. We closed out the night with series of card games, drinking the most expensive bottle I have ever purchased outside a NYC club.

After a night of games and fun (never leave the house with out Uno and Phase 10) we settled off to sleep in our precious little cabin. The next morning we hiked thru the fields to the waterfall behind the cabin before heading down the road.

Read part one: Reykjavik  and the conclusion: The home stretch

Way Too Wanderlust Recommends

Our Home Apartments: Laufasvegur 21-43, Stykkisholmur 340 Iceland +354 899 1797 www.ourhomeapartments.com booked via www.hotels.com

Sjavarpakkhusio: Seabraut 2, 340 Stykkisholmur Iceland +354 438 1800 www.sjavarpakkhusid.is

Skurinn: Thvervegur 2, Stykkisholmur 340 Iceland +354 544 4004 no website found

Stykkisholmur Pool: Borgarbraut 4, Stykkisholmur Iceland +354 433 8150 no website found

Akureyri FP Apartments: Radhustorg 3, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 863 0042 booked via http://www.booking.com

Nesbraud ehf: Nesvegur 1, 340 Stykkisholmur Iceland +354 438 1830 no website found

R5 Beer Lounge: Radhustorg 5, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 462 1400 www.r5.is

Akureyri Fish and Chips: 12 Skipagata, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 414 6050 www.reykjavikfish.is

Cafe Berlin: Skipagata 4, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 661 0661 webpage thru Facebook

North Sailing Tours: Hafnarstett, Husavik Iceland +354 464 7272 www.northsailing.is

Cafe Amour: Radhustorg 9, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 461 3030 webpage thru Facebook

Bryggjan Restaurant: Strandgata 49, 600 Akureyri Iceland +354 440 6600 www.bryggjan.is

Brynja: Adalstraeti 3, Akureyri Iceland +354 462 4478 no website found

Myvtan Nature Baths: Jardbadsholar, 660 Myvtan Iceland +354 464 4411 www.myvatnnaturebaths.is

Langahlid Seydisfirdi: Langahlid, 710 Seydisfjourder Iceland +354 8971524 booked via www.booking.com

Iceland: A three part saga

Part  One:  Reykjavik

The perfect blend of the great outdoors and gracious hospitality; Iceland is an adventure travelers dream. While quite pricey for most budgets, there are still ways to have a cost effective trip to Iceland. Budget accommodations are not typical for Iceland, we choose a more middle ground pricing. Opting for apartments and guesthouses, with five travelers, most hotels would blow our budget out of the water. There are several ways to save money when it comes to dining and drinks and direct those extra dollars towards adventures and must see sites!

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Day 1: Arrival in Reykjavik

After arriving three hours late from New York, we hurried thru immigration and customs as we were rapidly consuming our cushioned time allotted between landing and our Blue Lagoon reservation. We reserved our rental car thru Avis and after the worlds longest line, we were informed our wait would still be an additional 20 more minutes.

Arriving an hour late, the Blue Lagoon luckily accommodated our tardiness. In advance, we booked the Premium Package online, which included a use of towel, robe and slippers, a complimentary beverage and free sparkling wine with lunch at Lava Restaurant. On previous trips I had always selected the Comfort package, which is by far the best value. Upon arrival you receive a wrist band, which is utilized for locker access and for payment of refreshments and services while inside the lagoon. It is essential during the high season, summer months that you book your Blue Lagoon reservation time in advance. You can also utilize several tour companies including Iceland Tours and Grey Line which will arrange packages with transportation.

Standard

Comfort

Premium

Luxury

50 Euro

65 Euro

85 Euro

195 Euro

  • Entrance
  • Silica Mud Mask
  • Entrance
  • Silica Mud Mask
  • Use of Towel
  • One Complimentary Beverage
  • Algae Mask
  • Entrance
  • Silica Mud Mask
  • Use of Towel
  • One Complimentary Beverage
  • Algae Mask
  • Use of Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • Reserved Table at Lava
  • Sparkling wine at Lava
  • Entrance
  • Silica Mud Mask
  • Use of Towel
  • One Complimentary Beverage
  • Algae Mask
  • Use of Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • Reserved Table at Lava
  • Sparking Wine at Lava
  • Spa Journey Product Set
  • Entrance to the Exclusive Lounge

*This information was obtained from the official Blue Lagoon website www.bluelagoon.com

The Blue Lagoon is an amazing geothermal lagoon, heated by the earths energy and is considered one of the 25 Wonders of the World. Iceland sits on a hot spot between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. There are several natural lagoons and heated pools throughout the island, which are created by this unique position on the planet, the Blue Lagoon being the largest and most popular, right outside of the capital city of Reykjavik.

 

The changing areas are clean and well accommodated, providing a comfortable space for slipping into your swim attire. Hair dryers and other amenities are supplied for efficient exit. Before entering the lagoon, it’s highly suggested to heavily condition your hair as the lagoon water can make hair very dry and sustainable to breakage. Typically, I attempt to keep my hair completely out of the water, a more difficult challenge after a few beers.

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Swimming in the Blue Lagoon can be equated to being inside a giant bathtub, temperatures range from 99F (37C) to 102F (39C).The water is said to have healing properties and a complimentary mud mask is provided, which is created from the Lagoon’s silica. Of course the Blue Lagoon has a bar or I wouldn’t go there. With the comfort package, or above, one drink is included, choose the sparkling wine, its the biggest bang for your buck. Next, switch to Gull beer for drink 2 thru ???

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Our Premium Package included a reservation and complimentary glass of sparking wine at Lava Restaurant. If you are looking for a fancy day, go for it. Our group mostly opted for a small appetizers, for a late lunch. My choice was the Langoustine Soup or Lobster Bisque, which I assume is on the buffet in heaven. The meal was accompanied with this delicious complimentary bread and salt butter. After lunch we paraded back into the lagoon for another hour of swimming and of course more Gull, before heading into Reykjavik.

After a 45 minute drive, we arrived in Reykjavik. For five people we booked a centrally located 2 bedroom apartment, “Thomsen Apartments”. Check in process was simple and efficient; the owner provides you with a code to retrieve your keys located in the lock box outside the apartment.

After settling in, we ventured to find a supermarket for much needed supplies. Near by we found a local grocery charging exuberant prices, $5 for a lime, never mind those duty free vodka tonics need no garnish. We gathered the most necessary items, including “Cool American” flavored Doritos and still chipped a bill equivalent to $43. Luckily thru a google search, we learned many grocery shopping lessons, this website is everything www.iheartreykavik.net . Based on our budget, we determined that Bonus was our go-to supermarket for our journey. Several Bonus stores dot the ring road, selling basic groceries at tolerable costs, I still use tolerable loosely here. Also, package alcohol is only sold thru the State store outlets, called Vinbudin. These stores also found in every town, STOCK UP, most Vinbudin operate limited hours. Best advice stop at duty free and bring in the maximum allowance.

After a pre-dinner cocktail, we set out to wander the picturesque town of Reykjavik, before deciding upon the Laundromat Cafe for dinner. This restaurant located in the central square of Reykjavik has an amazing variety and was relatively cost efficient for dinner. The restaurant is decorated in a quirky style and also doubles as a laundromat. If available choose the high-top tables nestled on either side of the entrance. For the nosy, there is a drawer fixed on the table which contains notes and cards from travelers past, an intriguing activity while waiting for dinner. My menu favorites include the fish and chips, the steak sandwich or the tapas platter. We ended our night here with another fresh cold Gull beer, exhausted from travel.

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Day 2: Reykjavik Part Deux

Everything is brighter after a good night sleep, especially on the best couch bed ever. For lunch we settled into the cozy and rustic Islenski Barrin restaurant and ordered beers produced by the Einstok Brewing Company. The Icelandic lamb stew was hearty and sensational, other favorites included salmon and lobster “missing dogs” with delicious, crispy, waffle fries. Our friend ordered for the table, the Hardfiskur or dried fish chips. Hardfiskur makes the list if must try Icelandic delicacies, however I don’t understand the appeal.

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After lunch we headed to the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran church, for our attempt at being cultural. The cost is 7 Euro or 8 USD per person, to ride the bell tower elevator. The aerial view of Reykjavik is breathtaking, spanning 360 degrees. This church is also a Pokemon Go gym, in case you cared. After our church visit it was only necessary to browse the Icelandic Phallological Museum, that’s right, the Penis Museum. It’s interesting to say the least, it proved to be an entertaining 30 minutes.

Happy hour is an important thing to consider in Iceland and well, life in general….beer typically costing $8-10, wine is $11-14, cocktails….elevating from there. Many places run a spectacular happy hour, we choose Bar Anasas, which is fabulously decorated as a beach tiki bar. Bar Ananas is also a tapas bar, serving Icelandic inspired tapas in mason jars. We ended the night at Cafe Rosenberg listening to amazing live music.

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Check out parts 2 and 3 of my  Iceland Saga:

~By: Amanda

Way too Wanderlust Recommends

The Blue Lagoon: 240 Grindavik, Iceland +354 420 8800 www.bluelagoon.com

Thomsen Apartments: Reykjavik City Center, Iceland +354 519 2626 www.thomsenapartments.is/en-gb/ booked via www.booking.com

The Laundromat Cafe: Austurstraeti 9, 101 Reykjavik Iceland +354 587 7555 www.thelandromatcafe.com/en

Islenski Barinn: 1A Ingolfsstraeti, 101 Reykjavik Iceland +354 517 6767 www.islenskibarinn.is

Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church: Hallgrimstorg 101, 101 Reykjavik Iceland +354 510 1000 www.hallgrimskirkja.is

Iceland Phallological Museum: Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavik Iceland +354 561 6663 www.phallus.is

Bar Ananas: Klapparstigur 38, Reykjavik 101, Iceland +354 551 5444 no website available

Cafe Rosenberg: Klapparstigur 25-27, 101 Reykjavik Iceland +354 551 2442 www.caferosenberg.is