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Published: November 27th 2012
My friend Thaik mentioned he had a significant birthday coming up and was looking for suggestions for a long weekend somewhere warm to celebrate. We suggested Iceland. Warm he said ... Blue Lagoon we said ... I want bikinis he said ... we told him he was dreaming and still said Blue Lagoon! A bit of lobbying over drinks and before you know it twelve people are heading to Iceland to celebrate four birthday over 4 days.
The weekend started on the right note courtesy of Glenn's mate Mark who organised for everyone to be seated together at the front of the economy section in the posh seats - thanks Mark! So we flew in comfort and arrived at Reyjkavic with an fitting welcome of a snowstorm. A clever bit of bag theft by Tick Tock saw a poor and extremely unimpressed local smuggle a year's supply of boiled eggs into the country as we all know you can't get food up north 😉. Thankfully bags were exchanged before leaving the airport and the rest of the night was incident free with a quiet beer and snacks ... hint ... leave the dried fish alone!
Day 1 was a
snow ball strewn stroll around Reykjavik to take in the sights of the city which alternatively threw at us snow storms and blue skies. The highlight of the city the Ravens Nest, a recycled house perched on the seaside and home to a local artist. Probably lucky he wasn't home as we ran all over that place - it is one of the most amazing houses I've ever seen and well worth the walk. The highlights of the city for me were the Viking inspired Solfar (sun voyager) sculpture beware very, very slippery, the inspired Harpa Concert Hall, the concrete church Hallgrimskirkja (closed unfortunately) and just wandering throught the streets, cemetaries and parks.
We found the fab Icelandic Bar (Islenski Barinn) for a very reasonably priced lunch including the local wildlife and local beer on tap and waiting staff that found plenty about us to make fun of. Dinner ended up being soup in bread in a random pub in town - soup in Iceland is really good, cheap, filling and easy to find. The evening was a trip to hunt for the Northern Lights. Apparently there was a brief flash, but I missed it - what a great
excuse to go back.
Day 2 was the obligatory golden circle tour to the inland to do the loop of Pingveller National Park, a partially frozen Gullfoss (the golden waterfall) and Geysir (a geyser of course!). A few of us chose to do the posh super jeep option which added the odd dead volcanic cone and the best bit ... snow mobiles! While we were supposed to head up to the glacier for this bit the 'weather' was against us so we ended up going to a site closer to Reyjkavic. No loss. It was great to get out into the emptiness, but was short and very controlled so perhaps a little lower on the adventure list than expected.
That evening we headed back to the Icelandic Bar for further sampling of the local wildlife before taking in the nightlife! We ended up at a local club til the wee small hours of the morning and probably the less said the better. What's not to love about cheezy music and seeing the way the locals 'get down'.
Needless to say not everyone made it to the activities of Day 3 and a couple probably shouldn't have if
you applied that no injury/no exessive alcohol requirements. This was easily my favourite day, but then again what's not to love about spending a day stomping around in crampons on a big beautiful hunk of ice called Sólheimajökull. From the moment we bumped across the snowy landscape with the glacier looming up ahead to the ice climbing to the moments crawling through ice tubes there was nothing to dislike. Dory our guide was knowlegable, entertaining and exhibited what seemed to be typical Icelandic humour - getting laughs at others expense - trust me he had plenty of material to work with. The tour ended with a visit to the magical Skogafoss and everyone slept on their way back in to Reykjavic.
Our final dinner was at Sjavargrillid (http://www.sjavargrillid.is/en/Welcome
) an amazing restaurant that is almost worth a visit to Reyjkavic on it's own - it's number 1 on trip advisor and while I don't usually rate that too highly, they are spot on with this!
Last day in Iceland had to be ... yep ... the Blue Lagoon! What a way to spend a couple of hours, floating around in the hot pools, applying dodgy facials and final beers
before back to the airport to knock off the final bottle of wine (thank you random Icelandic person with a bottle opener) before getting back to reality!
Two words - ICELAND ROCKS!!
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