Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Icelandic Winter

Finally blogging! Just handed in 3 pieces of coursework today and I'm finally feel like the holidays have started for me... In reality however, school started today ):
Sigh, haha! But I'm now catching up on all the photos that have accummulated in my camera. Horrors, I still haven't uploaded photos from a trip I took in October!! That's like what, more than 2 months ago?!

Anyway, I headed North to Iceland during the start of  Christmas break in hopes of catching the spectacular Northern Lights. Unfortunately, I had no luck with the chase and in both our 2 nights there it was snowing mercilessly all night so I didn't even get a chance to go out! Nonetheless, Iceland is such a beautiful place and it was really memorable seeing all the geog-y stuff like actually stepping on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge!!! And of course, the geysirs and waterfalls. I wish there was time to go out to the glaciers, but I guess I'll save that for another day (I'm totally going back to Iceland!!)

So, we arrived at about 1am on a Sunday, after a flight delay, and we had to trek our way through the snow to our hotel boo!! Fortunately it wasn't too hard to find, and the 10min climb uphill made me quite warm thankfully!

We stayed at Guesthouse Sunna which was really well located, was SUPER UBER clean and served quite a yums continental breakfast! Plus, I booked it online through booking.com and there was a stay 2 nights get 1 free so the entire stay only added up to about GBP70 for both of us. Yay! Five stars review haha and hotel totally recommended!

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Day 1 was spent on a Golden Circle tour, which covers 3 of Iceland's most popular attractions - the waterfalls, geysirs and of course the MAD hahaha.We booked with Iceland Travel which was super convenient as they allowed you to add all the tours you wanted into a single shopping basket and create an online itinerary which was super useful! Plus the single checkout means you don't have to pay the horrible bank charges so many times.


Snow! Hunter wellies are lovely and waterproof BUT ARE TOTALLY NOT WARM!! Even with the fleece socks ):



The endlessly blue and white landscape! Super breathtaking!

Christmas trees and real snow!! Even London rarely gets to experience a white Christmas heh.


Our first stop was at the Geothermal Energy Plant, which contained 2 floors of exhibits on Iceland's geothermal activity and how Iceland uses her geothermal energy. *geog geek alert* Yes I really enjoyed the museum and could have spent way more than the allocated 30min there hehe (:

Next up we headed to some church which I can't really remember much of lol and then we were off to the Gullfoss waterfalls, which were no less than breathtaking. It was so so cold especially with the wind blowing mercilessly. I could barely feel my nose and it's a wonder how I managed to take photos...

Gulfoss - Iceland's most popular waterfall they say, is of a total height of 32m!
Look at that rushing blue water ooo! 

Then we moved on to view the geysirs in a geothermally active valley of Iceland. The Strokkur geysir apparently erupts every 5-10min and we caught it erupting so many times when we were there haha! I remember the first time it erupted the entire group of us gasped in wonder hahaha

A view of the geyser region. We were super blessed to have amazingly clear and sunny skies in the day, which made the subzero temperatures so much more bearable. According to the tour guide it was like -20 degrees omg...

Eruption!!!

The next stop was Thingvellir, where the mid atlantic ridge is! The entire place was just covered with a blanket of very very thick snow (like mid calf!) And it was so cold we just trekked through the entire park asap hahaha.

Rift valley! Here's a fault haha, I wonder how deep the water goes?

And pretty snow hehe

And that was the end of our Golden Circle tour. We reached back in the hotel at about 5 and were preparing to go for the Northern Lights tour but alas after preparing and waiting for the tour operators... they didn't come and when the hotel called them up they said they cancelled the tour ): So it was an early night for us to prepare for tomorrow's activity - riding Icelandic horses!

This is my first time riding a horse... and my verdict: not as easy as it looks!!! I mean, just sitting on the horse is easy and when it trots you just sit there and let the horse move but when we tried to go faster, apparently I had this super lazy horse and no matter how much I kicked it, it still went realllyyy slowly. But during the few times it actually picked up speed OMG it was so hard to keep balance, your butt literally flies up and down as the horse trots and needless to say it was very painful. -.-" *cue butt ache*

The entire ride was about 1.5hours as well, and it got really boring in the middle cause like all we could see was.... snow. and more snow. -.-" Plus, halfway it started snowing/hailing/sleeting SUPER HEAVILY and visibility was like what 5m?! So it was super painful especially when the hailstones hit your face at a super high speed cause of the strong winds. Super bad experience!!! Just wanted to turn back and call it a day lol. No photos obviously because I was busy trying to cooperate with my horse and survive the 'snowstorm' lol!



Decided to just take a photo at the end hahaha here's me and the Icelandic horses behind...

 Had lunch at the Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill) Restaurant after near our guesthouse in Reyjkavik. Love the hostel location - everything is only 10min walk away! Icelandic food is apparently very salty, and boy, was it so! :X Nonetheless the food we ordered from Sjavargrillid was bursting with feeshy flavour and was generally quite yum. Not making it to my list of favourite cuisines though!

Some funky fish with barley and a really salty sauce.

Salmon with pork skewers and mussel foam!


That night our northern lights tour got cancelled again, much to our disappointment so we whiled time away by playing cards and watching variety shows online hahaha.
Our final day would be spent in the Blue Lagoon! A super picturesque and popular geothermal hot spring bath. Soaking in the 30-40 degrees warm water with the cold wind blowing in your face was a pretty good experience. The ultimate test was definitely running from the changing rooms to the waters asap in only your swimsuit!!! There was also a tub of volcanic mud made available to put on your face for some treatment of some sorts lol! Tried it for fun but no difference to my face hahahahha.


Super pretty!!! Hot water and snow haha


And that concludes our short 3 day adventure in Iceland. Will definitely be back to see the rest of beautiful Iceland (:

xx