Iceland – The Full Video

So after a year of life and editing every now and then, finally an Iceland film roll was born…

With the help of my wonderful man Brad we put together this wonderful video of me and my friend Jess and all that we did in Iceland, 2018!

It was a really amazing trip, we did so much in such a short time and it was a great laugh with Jess, I will never forget the experience so you can find the video in the link below!

I am going to start posting film rolls of my trips whenever I go away so next up will be Norway and then Sri Lanka when I get back! It won’t be frequently updated but you’re welcome to subscribe to the channel if you wish to see what is to come!

Enjoy & Let me know what you think!

Music: Intrinsic / Odd Mob & Loving Life / Rationale (Frankie Rizardo Remix).

10 Things I Learnt Whilst in Iceland

  • IT IS COLD.

When we arrived it was at 0. IT IS FREEZING. Well not freezing, but it is incredibly bone chillingly cold, especially the wind. The main reason it’s so cold I actually think is because of the wind! It was -9 on the evening we went out to see the Northern Lights, and -7 the day we went too the Golden Circle Tour. It appeared that that closer to the city you were the warmer it was, and the further out of Reykjavik you were the colder it was due to so much open land and the wind. WRAP UP SO WARM, And don’t only take Adidas Gazelles with you, they will not protect your feet from the cold. Lesson Learnt. 

  • Icelandic Krona is very confusing.

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Its not actually so bad, but at the same time it is awfully confusing. Its all done in the thousands, like 1000 Krona is worth £7. The exchange rate is absolutely horrendous and everything in Iceland is still expensive. But its all absolutely worth the expense and the confusing currency. The currency realistically actually makes sense due to the pay and life in Reykjavik, for us visitors it seems high but for anyone who is living and working there it is completely normal and not to highly priced at all.

  • Getting around using just a map is refreshing.

Although we had out phones and we could use them just as if we were in the UK we were given a map by Blazej at the desk when we checked into our hostel! So we used that to get around the centre and it was wonderfully easy and nice to not really have to use google maps either! I usually live off an application on my phone called City Mapper which is really good but it was so nice for the two of us to figure out where we were on the map and find our way!

  • The Northern Lights is a normal and unexciting experience for those who live in Iceland.

You forget that if you live in Iceland the Northern Lights is a pretty bog standard thing. You can see them over the ocean from the seafront in the city if you’re lucky so you don’t really have to go on trips to see it, but if its not your usual occurrence then its a pretty big deal. After talking with some man at our hostel we discovered that he can watch the lights most nights from his hot tub in his back garden. I’m a little jealous if you ask me.

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  • Turns out, they don’t eat whale as much as we thought.

After wanted to try whale when we were out there as I had heard it was something they eat, I was very wrong. Turns out only 1.2% of the population of Iceland actually eat whale meat!! And its the same with Shark (which smells, bad). They only hunt it quite frequently, but the end result is not actually eating it! 

  • Coffee in Iceland is incredibly popular, Tea is not (And they drink it without milk????).

If I wanted a good cup of tea it was a struggle and asking for milk in my tea seemed to be absolutely mortifying. The tea usually tastes quite herbal, I had one tea with a hint of lavender and it was wonderful, probably my favourite one out of them all. We were told that a majority of people live off coffee and it is a lot more popular so I can understand why you wouldn’t bother with good tea.

  • Folk Tales are very strongly upheld and told to generations still to this day.

The woman on our Golden Circle tour informed us of folk tales like ‘The Hidden Woman’ who appeared to a woman and told her she was pregnant and what to name her baby for good blessings and it is still happening to this day. There was also another folk tale of the night trolls, or just the trolls. Men who have had a spell cast on them and they have been enchanted to the caves and only human contact after 3 days of the spell can break it, but they are so hideous from the troll transformation people do not go near them, so the spell is never broken and these men disappear

  • Driving looks very similar to the UK, although not so easy with the snow.

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It seems so easy! Almost exactly like the UK of course just the other side of the road, the signs are in kilometres and there is a lot of snow. SO ACTUALLY nothing like the UK at all. But it was somewhere where I felt I could drive quite comfortably if there was no snow! But another thing was the snow.

If it snows in the UK, Everything comes to a standstill. Couple of centimetres in Iceland? No problem mate, busses, trains, schools, work, all still open and all roads clear as normal!

  • It smells of rotten eggs (Sulphur) a lot of the time.

The hot water is straight from the ground, so it smells a lot like the Sulphur or rotten eggs. If you run the water for a while it kind of disappears, but as our hostel told us, its just something you have to accept! And it was very easy to accept it, although there was one morning where we had left our window open through the night and my god when we woke up in the morning I couldn’t workout if a rat had died in the room or if it was just the sulphur. 

  • The water in Iceland is the purest water I have ever drank in my life.

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Once you leave the water to run and separate the sulphur the after is the most cold and refreshing water you have ever tasted. It took me to move up north to university to realise that yes, water tastes different everywhere. In Lincoln, the water is rank, in London, its lovely, in Iceland? Its better. Its just really fresh, like drinking something straight out of a refrigerated bottle.

Iceland – The Northern Lights

Jess and I booked a tour for the northern lights which we were pretty excited for so we booked it for the Tuesday night which was our first proper night in Iceland! 

But typically for us, the forecast wasn’t very good even though apparently its a pretty good time to see them this time of year. The forecast when we got back was at 0 out of 9. Pretty disappointing so typically the trip was cancelled and we could reschedule for a later day so we re-booked for the Thursday!

Thursday rolls around and we’re outside waiting for our minibus at 7:30! After another bus journey we ended up on the start of our trip, we had a Icelandic young guide giving us all the facts and we didn’t even have to go that far away too our destination!

We stopped just outside of Reykjavik, by Keflavik airport, although not right by it of course. We stopped by the coast and by a small church, from there we could walk out into the fields to the coastline and stand and watch the lights from there. It was the Reykvanes Peninsula we visited.

WELL IT WAS COLD. Like understatement cold, it was -10. It was windy and late at night and cold so we were fully geared up but it still did not do us any good as it was freezing. 

The reassuring thing there was hot chocolate for us when we were at the bus in the evening, and it was appreciated greatly. We got chatting to a lot of people, tried Icelandic doughnuts and even had the option to try shark?? did we?? No. The smell was enough, it was incredibly off putting. Eventually we gave up at about 11:15 and hopped back on the bus.

We hadn’t really seen anything. There was a faint strip in the sky and some movement but no real colour or movement from the lights. We were a little gutted, luckily we’re on the list for 3 years to book another trip for free when we come back which is always a nice benefit. 

So here was me thinking I had gone to Iceland and not got lucky at seeing the Northern Lights, well, luckily for me, I was wrong!

We were on the plane home and It was a night flight. 7:30pm departure from Keflavik, sad sad times. We’re ordering some food on the plane and Im on the left side by the window seat, taking a nose outside expecting to see uh, darkness, and theres the sodding Northern Lights in all its glory!

I couldn’t really believe it, I nudged Jess and she didn’t believe me of course, it had been a long day and I’m annoying so I salute her for dealing with me. The pilot even turned the lights down for all of us to see out the window properly which was really lovely. We were all talking about it together and Jess managed to get a couple of good photos as well!

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Overall it was a really good end to the trip, I’m so pleased we got so lucky!

 

Iceland – The Golden Circle Tour

Its hard to choose a favourite day the trip because it was all amazing but I am pretty sure this day was one of my most favourites. We did so much and saw so many beautiful things!

We got picked up from our hostel at half 10 to leave on the coach on our Golden Circle tour. We were gonna be on a coach for  very long time on this day but I didn’t mind because I was excited and we stopped and saw so much!

So we headed off on our journey on the coach down a road out of Reykjavik called Road number 1! It waved between all the mountains and was the only ring route around the entirety of Iceland, we were heading to our first stop with a really incredible guide on the coach. She talked loads and gave us loads of facts about where we were going, she was funny as well which was even better.

Our first stop was Pingvellir National Park and it was beautiful. Really breathtaking spot. There we could enjoy the wintery views for miles and walk down a Lava Canyon where the tectonic plates have moved the earth down to another viewpoint.

It was really stunning, but we didn’t have much time, so we ended up running down the Lava Canyon on the way down because we wanted to see the view from the bottom even though the tour guide said we didn’t have enough time to go. WELL we did. And it was worth it for sure. The views were just as good if not better.

The walk back up caused us a lot of regret.

Next up on our trip was to the Geysir’s! The journey was done around a huge lake area on the National Park. A large part of discussion from our tour guide was the cracks in the side of the road in the land and how they have been formed. I mentioned before the tectonic plates causing the lava canyon, these canyons are formed by the North American Tectonic Plates and the Eurasian Tectonic Plates pulling apart.

These create the large cracks we were seeing beside the road, we also got to see all these different volcano’s whilst we were on the coach on the drive.

The guide was pointing them out to us as we drove. We saw Hekla Volcano and Eyjafijallajokull Volcano.

As our tour guide was telling us, You will definitely remember the last volcano as it was the one that caused the rather large ash cloud, grounding flights around Europe in 2010! The eruption brought a lot of attention to Iceland, people living in the area around the bottom of the volcano were evacuated with the number of people removed at 800.

If there was anything good to come from it was that the ash that fell from the volcano actually fertilised the soil on the fields meaning the soil was good for farming!

We headed on around the park to the Geysir’s at Haukadaluar Valley. It was a smelly place indeed with all the surfer coming up out of everywhere! The place itself was large with there being numerous holes puffing with sulphur and the large geysir itself named Strokker. It went off every 2-5 minutes and was the main attraction at the area.

There was a lot to see and if you got too cold there was also a cafe and shop too! I had the most AMAZING cake there. Im hungry just thinking about it**.

We got some good pictures an we stood and waiting for the geysir a couple of times and then it was back on the bus! Our next stop for me personally was the best and the most gorgeous. Gulfoss Falls, or in English, Golden Falls. It really was something spectacular and not to far away from the Geysir either!

When we arrived at Gulfoss Falls we were guided down some steps and told to go down to both viewpoints, so we definitely did as we we’re told. The first viewpoint for the waterfall was a more ariel view as you looked over the cliffs down at the waterfall. It was really beautiful and snowy, there was even a rainbow coming out of the falls at one point!

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The lower viewpoint gave you a better view of the falls but it made me sad because some days you can go down to the very bottom of the cliffs to the falls but the weather hadn’t ben very good so they had closed it! Which is fair enough with the amount of snow there!

Once we enjoyed the beauty of the falls we headed back to the bus for our final very quick stop. The Kerid Volcanic Crater. It was a large crater created by the plates and the sulphur at the bottom of the crater. It was really lovely and a nice little final stop on our Golden Circle Day!

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We drove down Road number 1 and we were arriving back in Reykjavik the tour guide told us stories of Folk tales of Iceland. Where a hidden women appeared to a pregnant lady at night and told her to name her child Helga in her dreams, if she was to name her this she would have good health. So she did the and she did have good health, so now it is carried through generations the name itself.

Another chirpy fact she told us was at the start of the road there are 3 crosses beside the road to signify how many people have died on the road already and to drive safely. We were there on January 17th and there were already 3 crosses. The number at the end of 2017 was 15. Drive safe people!

The trip was great and the tour guide was a lovely woman, we had a really wonderful day that I will never forget for years to come!

We got back to the hostel at around 7:00pm, Just in time for dinner!

**I actually went to the shop and got some chocolate cake midway through writing this post.

 

Iceland – Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon was a very very early start. We did not handle it well, although we did manage to be on time so I’d say it was really a miracle.

We were up at half 7 to be picked up at half 8. Horrible Horrible times. But it was absolutely worth it. We eventually crawled out of bed, made ourselves look relatively alive, breakfast and then on the road. After being dropped at the bus station to jump onto another coach and then we were off!

DCIM100GOPROG2020555.It wasn’t too far away which was really great so we were there before we knew it. There was a large Blue Lagoon Iceland sign at the entrance. You walked between ripped up earth and rock down the path to the entrance of the Blue Lagoon building. Its a pretty fast process and we had our green wristbands and towels before we new it.

We got green wristbands because of the deal we had. We got a free towel, face-mask and our first drink at the bar for free! They were also our locker keys! Totally worth the money to be quite honest with you because it was a really wonderful day. Jess and I were in the lagoon for at least 2 and a half hours.

Before we could enter the lagoon we had to shower thoroughly as they are really hot on their hygiene at the Blue Lagoon. We also had to coat our hair in a layer of conditioner because the sulphur in the water really dries your hair up. They weren’t lying. My hair after being in the Lagoon was like straw. It was so dry and flaky and it felt horrible, took at least 2 more washes to get that shit back to normal.

DCIM100GOPROG2050560.Once ready we hung our towels up and it was freezing outside with the snow on our toes, it was weird being in a bikini in the -7 temperatures. The water was so so warm. The temperature of the lagoon is 38 degrees. It was like a perfect temperature bath. We had a really good couple of hours wading around the huge sulphur pool. It was steaming like crazy so we couldn’t see much but t was so fun. 

We headed to get our face-masks at the kiosk in the lagoon, we waded up to it and the woman in the window told us we had to have the Silica Face-mask on for 10 minutes, then once that hardens to wash it off and come back and get the Algae face-mask. The Algae face-mask was green and on for 5 minutes. 

My skin afterwards, well. It was so smooth. It worked wonders and was soon nice! I felt like I was being pampered. Once we had done the mask and gone exploring, we found a fresh Icelandic water drinking fountain in the lagoon under a bridge and the water from that was absolutely lovely, so cold and refreshing in the warm water. So we Obviously decided to go to the bar after that.

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Or first drink was free so I had a Somersby and Jess had a Strawberry wine which was lovely. We chilled out and had them before we got out of the pools. it was a really enjoyable day. We got some food after and then got the bus home where we got back and had a real chill afternoon and sleep.

The trip was totally worth the money and it was so much fun and its so cool to say that I have been there! I feel so lucky! Here are some more photos of our Blue Lagoon Trip below!

Insta: @wandererandtraveller / @Jessiexmills

 

Iceland – Sightseeing Reykjavik!

Jess and I’s first day in Reykjavik was an incredibly busy one, and it was awesome. We were up for breakfast by 9:30 and heading straight into Reykjavik as we had our entire day free until about 7:30pm where we were supposed to be going to the northern lights! Unfortunately the trip itself got cancelled so we rescheduled for Thursday! 

G1070388.JPGSo we headed out of the hostel and straight to our first destination which was the Perlan Museum and viewpoint, a wonderfully large building with a 360 view of Reykjavik, museum on the glaciers and Ice caves and an Ice Cave itself! There’s also a cafe and a restaurant inside as well at the very top of the building inside the glass dome and my word, the view whilst you had a drink was phenomenal.

So we headed inside and straight to the desk where we paid just over 500 Icelandic Krona just for the viewing deck itself which isn’t so bad as it was totally worth it.

The view really was 360, we could see the coastline, the airport in Reykjavik, the centre itself and the surrounding suburbs and the mountains, it really was something special and I was pleased we did it first. There were little bits of lava or volcano effected rocks also out on the viewing dock as well and signs along the railing which advertises what you’re viewing in front of you so you know exactly what you’re looking at!

 After the walk around the dome and the viewpoint itself we headed up one floor inside the glass dome ceiling of Perlan to have a Coffee and plan our next moves. And of course, it was beautiful, you have the 360 view of Reykjavik around you whilst sipping on a coffee/tea and cake is wonderful. There’s a cafe and a restaurant, the cafe is actually very reasonably priced I got a tea and a cake for just over 1500 Krona! 

G1040383.JPGBut if there is one thing I learnt very very quickly in Iceland is that everyone drinks coffee, so if you’re going to have a tea, just make it yourself. Like I said, everyone drinks coffee, so asking for milk with my tea was almost a sin. I also found it tasted really herbal and struggle to find one that didn’t, It tasted lovely though so I really cant complain, the one that had a tinge of lavender was my all time fave.

The best thing about Perlan being only a 2 minute walk away from the hostel is, well, that, and the fact that there is also a free shuttle from Perlan into the centre! So Jess and I jumped onto the free shuttle bus and headed into town!

G1160398.JPGIt dropped us right at the seafront outside the Harpa Concert Hall. We didn’t head inside as we had LOTS to see and do but I wish we had! We walked straight into the centre and straight to a place called the Volcano House. We thought it was going to be one very large museum but it actually turned out to be on small room! But what was inside the room was incredibly interesting a it was full of rocks and stone that have been morphed, damaged or even crystallised by volcanic eruptions!

You could even take some Volcanic sand home if we fancied! Plus it was also free, we thought there would be a charge as it was advertised with a charge but lucky us, free!

After poking our nose through the Volcano House we headed down the high street and popped into the Information desk to ask where the best places were to visit as we were just walking around Reykjavik for the day. She was super helpful and circled loads of places on our map we had received form the hostel, so after that we were off!

We walked down the the Icelandic Parliament buildings which were not as regal or elegant looking as I’d have thought but they were large none the less. There was a large square area also with a statue in the middle around the buildings and lots of other little statues closer to the buildings, but it didn’t look very exciting so we got our pictures and carried on our little Reykjavik excursion.

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Next destination on the Adventures of Jess and Jess was some fucking food. WE WERE HUNGRY. But the centre is very expensive so finding somewhere that doesn’t cost an solute bomb for food was actually really very difficult.

Te & Kaffi. Just in case you can’t tell what we had to eat and drink, it was tea and coffee. My tea even came with a timer for when it was brewed! We had ham and cheese croissants as well as the drinks and it came to just under 2000 Krona each, so it wasn’t so bad and we were so hungry and cosy in the warmth that it really didn’t matter!

Once we’d gotten some energy back in the system we headed down the road towards the lake! We had been told it was froze over so of course we had to have a look. To our joy, the whole thing was froze over, to the point where we could stand and walk on it! I was absolutely mind blown because I have never walked on a lake before! (obviously). 

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It was so frozen over people were even playing football on the lake! It was so cool, there was just one broken area for the ducks and the geese and it was awesome. Once we’d had a wonder around the lake we headed up to the Tallest Church I think I have ever seen in my whole fucking life (so far). 

g1360432.jpgIt was called the Hallgrimskirkja, or the Cathedral and it was absolutely huge! Grey and scary looking it was a pretty impressive building. You could go inside but the queue was rather large and there was a service going on, plus we were absolutely freezing by this point because we had done a lot of walking across the centre! 

So we wandered around the outside and took a couple of pictures and just enjoyed how mad windy it was and how cool the building was. There was also a statue in front of the building as well, the whole place was really creepy and gothic but also fascinating at the same time.

So we headed back down the hill to the sea/coastline again. We passed a really colourful and quirky bakery on the way down, I wish we’d gone inside but It did look like a cafe and we had other things to do! We headed down to the statue they have on the seafront, called the Solfario, or sun voyager, and its really quite pretty! Although it does look like a boat it also can be seen as a whale sculpture as well. I got a really great picture of Jess nearly falling over by it, loved it.

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After that the weather got pretty horrendous and it started to get really breezy and snowing really hard so we headed back to the shuttle station to get the free shuttle back to Perlan and bare the walk home!

Which FYI, was incredibly fucking cold in blizzard conditions, amazing fun though!

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Next I’ll be writing about a couple of the day trips like Blue Lagoon etc, they were the best!

Insta: @Wandererandtraveller // @Jessiexmills

 

 

Iceland – Our incredible Hostel, Lots of Busses & Nearly being stranded

So Jess and I ventured all the way upwards to Reykjavik, Iceland.

G0850347.JPGOnly slightly out of our comfort zone, it was the most magical trip a girl could ever possibly dream of going on, or anyone for that matter! Iceland is one of those trips where everything I’d describe exactly how great it was, but I physically can not, but hey I guess this is me trying to give it a go!

So when we landed in Keflavik my first thought was ‘oh shit its snowing’ which also meant ‘oh shit it’s going to be freezing’, and I wont lie, it was absolutely bloody freezing. I’m usually one for warm holidays with lots of sun and sea, but this was really different and I am so pleased we did it. We jumped of the plane and it was about 0 to -3 degrees, so it actually felt a lot like England.

Next was our 45 minute bus transfer which took us about an hour and a half, and then to top it off we were moved to a smaller minibus which had every intention of dropping us 30 minutes walk away from the hostel, and with snow and a suitcase, we were not best pleased and a little worried. Luckily the driver has a Northern Lights pick up at our hostel after our stop so it was a relief when he said he would take us instead of leave us stranded. 

Although I know full well Jess and I wouldn’t have actually been stranded, there are endless busses and the choice of 3 to get to the hostel, it’s pretty clear unless you use the busses its a little harder to get around. And as far as a metro service, I didn’t even see one so I am not even sure if they did have one! 

So we had arrived, The Capital Inn!

As far as hostels go, we really had hit the jackpot with this one.

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It was just a plain white building with its funky sign on the outside and two lit up fake reindeer just chilling outside the door, already nice and welcoming! Check in was really quick and easy, we were given our key to room 303 on the second floor! The gent behind the desk who’s name was Blazej was incredibly polite and really helpful when we arrived giving us a map and just the lowdown on busses.

He was a really lovely guy generally throughout our stay, looked after us well with towels, directions and always polite! (If you’re reading this thank you for all the tea!). We didn’t catch the other gentleman name as he was only there in the morning but he was also lovely! Both were helpful with the room and Reykjavik generally so service was fast, and their housekeeping service was also so good and helped us when I woke up at 7 am water pouring onto the floor from the windowsill.

As it turns out, two of you in the room makes a lot of condensation on the windows, so when the heating is up if the windows aren’t open, water!!! everywhere!!! 

The room itself was really perfect for the two of us. We had two beds, a wardrobe, a sink and mirror, a desk with enough space for all our food we brought which is perfect as we brought a lot. The beds were super comfy and I slept like a baby most nights which is nice considering I usually have trouble sleeping! It was really tidy and clean, we were super impressed. 

We had breakfast at the hostel every day as it was included in the rate which is perfect, although timings were slim as I love sleep and breakfast finishing at 10 is difficult. But none the less it was lovely, a buffet of your breads and crackers and cereal, really good all fresh things, especially the melon! Everything was lovely and having bottomless cups of tea and coffee was our dreams come true.

27066921_10210463517696080_2575658416571362744_n.jpgThe hostel also in the evening where breakfast was served turned into a restaurant instead, and a cheap one at that! Food was big sandwiches, burgers and pizza’s and all for a really good price as well, the food was really nice and very impressive considering we thought we’d booked some bog standard hostel but no, it was really really much better than we could’ve hoped or expected! The only thing that I didn’t like was that if you wanted something taken off the pizza’s they wouldn’t which made me wonder how fresh they really were, because if they were homemade there’s no reason for it to not be possible! Oft I love moaning when I don’t really need too, I’m fussy that’s my problem.

As I was saying before a lot of the main transport seems to busses. It amazes me because there is so much snow, in the UK it snows and the whole place basically starts screaming and crying about how we can’t cope and need to close everything. In Iceland? 7 Inches? No problem mate. We are absolutely tragic. Busses, cars, lorries, every man and his dog do not have any problems in the snow! It was very impressive!

We had coaches for our Northern Lights, Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon trips. And to be fair I can’t fault them, busses are busses, they were cosy and we didn’t have any problems! The transfers were all on time, we went usually with Grey line and another bus travel company and they were great and friendly. 

As for the public busses, you’ll have to find that out for yourselves!

Next I’ll writing about exploring Reykjavik centre, one of my many favourite days of the trip!