Iceland…the new hotspot tourist destination for people in their mid 20’s, looking for a magical getaway without breaking the bank. It is incredibly cheap to fly here, camping around the country is free, and all the attractions such as waterfalls, volcanoes, wild life, craters, canyons, and oceans are free to visit. So when Jordan and I decided a few months ago that we needed a vacation before our wedding, we decided Iceland sounded pretty great. We began planning exactly what we would visit, what camp sites we would stay at, and what kind of excursions we would splurge on. About seven minutes into this process we quickly realized two things:
- It would be just as expensive to rent a camper van, cooking equipment, tents, sleeping bags, propane tanks, dish ware, and coolers as it would be to just stay in an Airbnb
- I am not built for “roughing it”
You know…I spent almost five years in the girl scouts, camping with my friends in the woods, spending time around the fire, peeing in bushes, sleeping under the stars. Well just like Jesus had risen on Easter day, so have my standards. It’s not fun when you’re camping without your mom who doubles as a security blanket and a private chef.
Luckily for us, the same month we were planning on heading to Iceland, so were our best friends/cousins Emma and Emerson.
After some initial begging, bargaining, and pleading, they agreed to come to Iceland with us. Thus our twosome had become a foursome. This significantly helped reduce the cost of vacationing on this island. As I mentioned previously we knew we needed to rent an Airbnb and car. And because almost all Airbnbs have two bedrooms and you have to rent a 4×4 car, which can seat five people comfortably, the cost now went from being split two ways, to being split four ways. So not only are we vacationing with two amazing friends, but it is also cost effective, and allowing us to sleep in an actual bed surrounded by four walls. Bless.
After months of planning the day finally came for us to catch our flight to Iceland. We purposely scheduled a red-eye so that after we arrive we could spend the entire day exploring the city and adjusting to the time change. Like any good daddy’s girl, we arrived at the airport approximately four hours before our midnight flight took off. Which thank god we did, because security was hopping. There were a grand total of nine of us waiting to get molested by the TSA while our carry on items went through the x-ray.
Once we were all checked in and waiting at our gate, Emma and I decided that it would be a good idea to find snacks. In case you didn’t know, Emma is about four months pregnant with her and Emerson’s first child, and her pregnancy cravings and her desire to eat frequently perfectly compliment my fat girl eating schedule and diet. It’s nice to finally find someone else who wants to eat an entire block of cheese and three donuts at eleven o’clock at night.
To our complete dismay, just as were were rounding the corner to find the only Dunkin Donuts in the entire airport, we saw that they were closing. I think at this point Emma fell to the ground crying while clutching her baby bump while I simultaneously fell to my knees, shouting “WHYYYYYYY?!” into the abyss of the abandoned hallway. Thankfully God himself was looking out for us that night because one of the Dunkin employees saw how violently upset we were, and offered to sell us some donuts, despite closing 15 minutes ago. And let me tell you, your boy hooked us up. We paid him about four dollars for three donuts, and ended up walking away with about a dozen. I guess he figured those fried sugary pieces of diabetes served a better purpose in our tummies than in the trash can. Not a bad way to start our trip.
Our flight left at 12:45 AM. I’ve never taken a red eye before, but it went pretty much exactly how I expected. We got seated next to the loudest possible snorer in the entire world. Picture a super charged lawn mower combined with the sound of a dying whale and that’s what we were dealing with for the entire flight. So after six hours and a grand total of 20 minutes of sleep, we landed in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital around 11AM their time. We picked up our rental car and luggage, drove to the nearest cafe we could find and sat down for brunch. We ended up having the most amazing food and later found out it was because we just happened to stumble into one of Reykjavik’s top ten restaurants.
After lunch we drove through different parts of the city and found the capital to be a lot more industrial than we pictured. Warehouses everywhere, very square and plain buildings and stores, not a lot of color or variation. We did end up visiting the Perlan, Reykjavik’s natural history museum with a gorgeous view of the city, which can be seen from their observation deck.
On our way out of the city we stopped at the local grocery store called “Bonus.” It has been highly recommended on every blog I’ve read, as the cheapest grocery store in the area. We stepped inside and immediately realized we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Even though Iceland uses most of the same alphabet we do, their language is completely different and completely complex. We couldn’t read or understand any of the labels, and let me tell you…trying to find turkey or chicken hotdogs in the deli section when you can’t read Icelandic is almost completely impossible. Also the pricing on certain items is so different. A stack of sliced cheddar cheese…TWENTY ONE DOLLARS. Two kiwis….FIVE DOLLARS.
After Emma promised to sell the cashier her first born child and I sold her my right kidney, we left with our groceries. Only to discover hours later that the two cartons of “milk” we bought were actually yogurt or maybe sour cream?
We’re not exactly sure, all we know is it plopped as it hit the bottom of the bowl…
After an afternoon in the city it was time to find our Airbnb. We didn’t have high hopes. The website had very mixed reviews and limited pictures of the inside, so when we pulled up to this perfectly sized little red cabin on it’s own personal lake, we were extremely excited. Two bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room and living room area, a back deck and a grill for s’mores is all we had and all we needed. The skyline of the city was visible across the lake and the sunset over the water was amazing.
Our cabin is also situated in what we think is a tiny national park, because horse tours constantly come through the land next to us and there are these giant red rock mountains that people come and climb all over, including us.
We spent the rest of the evening playing with my drone over the lake, getting settled in, making dinner, and planning our Golden Circle tour for tomorrow.
Before I go, somethings we learned/observed our first day in Iceland:
- Everyone here is extremely tall—So tall that in most bathrooms we can not see ourselves in the mirrors above the sink
- Everyone here is the perfect weight—no one overweight, no one is even just a little bit chubby. Makes me feel great about my pre-wedding body.
- Everyone here dresses super nicely—It’s easy to spot the tourists from the locals because the tourists are all in hiking boots and sweatpants, while the locals look like they just got off the set of Fashion Runway
- The bathrooms are so nice and clean
- You don’t tip at restaurants—because they actually pay their employees a decent salary
- We think it’s gay pride month here, because there are rainbow flags and symbols EVERYWHERE
- Their stop lights flash yellow before turning green (like in nascar)