14 May

Iceland – Reykjavik & Southern Iceland

14th May 2017 Duration 3 Nights

The Return to Iceland!

I had a feeling it would not be long until I returned to this beautiful lava land.

This time we’re doing it a little different. We’ve hired a car!

We collect the car from Reykjavík Airport from a company called Flizzr.

So, for this adventure there’s Myself and Steven and our friends Daryn, Jayne and Lewis, all crammed snugly in a compact Kia Ceed.

One word of caution, make sure you know what you’re paying for up front. Some company’s (like ours) will charge you extra if you wish to drive further than 500 miles during your time hiring the car. Bear in mind it is 31 miles just to Reykjavik from the airport. Make sure you know what you’re paying for before selecting your hire car company. They may be extras that are then offered at the desk before taking the car such as tyre puncture insurance. All these add up, so make sure you have the best deal with everything already added in before you go to collect the vehicle.

Our accommodation, unlike last time we visited Iceland and stayed in a hotel, we decided to go for an Airbnb which if you’re not formulator with this style of accommodation, then this is where, local people rent out their homes or apartments when there not using them. Resulting in cheaper deals and a much more homily, cultured feel for the guest, (the owners aren’t there with you). Again, we are staying right in the heart of Reykjavik just off Laugavegur, the street with all the shops, bars and restaurants. This time we have our own place that we can cook for ourselves, thus reducing the cost of eating out every day, and giving you that more authentic feel.

Later that day we set out on our 2-hour drive, South East or Reykjavik to, two of the main waterfalls in Iceland, Seljalandsfoss, a 60m waterfall and my personal favorite of the ones I’ve seen, here in Iceland. You can walk right behind this fall but expect to get sprayed, from the refreshing mist.

Honestly, we are friends and we do smile, just not in this photo 🙈

Ten minutes further along the road we reach Skógafoss, another 60m waterfall which is one of Iceland’s biggest great sites to behold. You can walk right up to this giant and round to the right side of it. You can climb the steps to the top and watch as the water hurtles over the top. Located right on the south coast were starting to feel the freedom of having a car on this barren landscape.

Me at the bottom of Skógafoss

Warning! Icelandic waterfalls have a strange power. Normally you would admire a waterfall from afar. Not in Iceland, you run right under them fully clothed in -1 Celsius.

I have always wanted to touch a Glacier (and lick an iceberg but that’s for another journey). Well on 15th May 2017 I not only touched a Glacier, but I climbed one. One small step for Jamie…. Followed by one giant face plant in front of everyone…. Slid right off the thing. DAM! Least I didn’t tear my pants in half this year. One bit of advice, volcanoes cover everything in black ash. So, it’s hard to tell how smooth and slippy icy Glacier really are.

We are still around two hours South East of Reykjavik standing on Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. This vast glacier is Iceland’s fourth largest. It’s situated on top of an active Volcano, Katla which has erupted many times over the centuries.

Ice rope on glacier

After all of this driving and exploring we decide we needed to visit a natural spring, and as we have the car we are 100% more free to do our own thing than on our last visit. So off we go with the ‘help’ of Google maps. An hour or so later, sat outside a paggerd, dingy looking farm hut, up a dirt track where we were specifically told not to take the hire car we sat, about to admit defeat. When I was passed an updated GPS and continued to the co-ordinates. Finally, we arrive… The secret lagoon.

The Secret Lagoon 

Located in the small village of Fludir, entry is about £19 that is amazing value! You don’t get a face mask like you do at the Blue Lagoon but hey. There is a little Geyser which erupts every 5 minutes, the whole surrounding landscape is lava rock covered in green moss and algae, wow! The water is a constant 40 degrees Celsius, unless you get to close to where the erupting Geyser has just pooled out, it can be a little…. Warm shall we say. This is the most amazing, beautiful, breath-taking experience. You can truly feel the geothermal vitality on your skin. Heated by the earth and you can watch it pooling in, with your very own eyes. Just writing about it now makes me want to rebook my EasyJet flight. This smashes Blue Lagoon out of the water, personally. The link to the Secret Lagoon https://secretlagoon.is/ a much more natural lagoon experience.

During the drive home, we realise we passed The Great Geyser Strokkur, which forms part of the ‘Golden Circle Tour’ that we did last time we visited by coach. However, we could have just drove it by car this time. That tour cost us about £63pp and was a full day. There’s 5 of us in the hire car this time. We’re starting to realise a hire car is the way forward when visiting Iceland.

Our drive back to our Apartment in central Reykjavik was a thrill, admiring the sun setting over the hills, causing fiery reds and orange swirls in the sky to our right, we were dazzled by blue flashing ahead… the police car which was traveling towards us in the opposite lane suddenly lit up, and spun around and begun to peruse us. Our little Kia stops at the side of the road and the officer comes and talks to our friend who was driving. Turns out Icelandic police have speed radars fitted to the front of their patrol cars, indicating that our vehicle was traveling towards them slightly above the legal limit permitted. About 5 minutes later our friend comes back to our car, having told us he had just been fined for speeding, luckily, they have a card reader in the police car, the fine was £230 with 1 Icelandic point. Turns out they are quite strict on their speed limits over in Iceland even though it can seem quite vast and dense…. It’s there for a reason, and the limits are as follows; 50 km/h (31mph) within cities. 80 km/h (49mph) on dirt roads. 90 km/h (55mph) on all other paved roads.

Blue Lagoon…. for those of you who have read my Iceland Blog from the first time I came here back in 2016 you will know that I have already been here. It is defiantly worth doing, despite the high prices £60 - £80 pp + travel to and from.

You suddenly remember how it has its status of being such a world-renowned place to relax as soon as you arrive at the entrance. We arrived at the late slot so by the end of the day we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

It’s always great to see the geothermal steam seeping out of the earth all over this country but it’s especially prevalent here. It’s sort of the signature that goes along with the Blue Lagoon. Having the hire car is already working to our advantage.

Second time in Iceland and still no Aurora Activity…. Being May time, it didn’t really get too dark at night. The Northern Lights best season is from September to late March, it is dark from around 6pm so your chances of witnessing this phenomenon are increased. Last time we visited Iceland was March 2016 and again, did not see the Aurora. I have had the privilege of seeing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) This was in Finland, Lapland in December 2016. You can witness the Northern Lights across, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Russia…

So many beautiful shops here in Iceland. Whether it’s hand knitted hats, scarfs and jumpers made from locally sourced wool, saviours, fashion cloths, fine foods, an all year-round Christmas shop to welcoming bars and restaurants, Reykjavik has something for everyone.

Horse Riding through a picturesque back drop of a volcanic landscape on tiny Viking horses (I’m 6’4) and in a fine drizzle.

Me & Steven

I must say the horses were strong, and tough. Size isn’t everything. You wouldn’t get an English horse doing this! Our group had about 16 people, each on a horse and two guides. Along the way one of the horses gets spooked and the rider ends up falling off their horse, Stevens horse gets Spooked and he ends up in a mad canter across a lava rock field, how he held on no one knows. We continue, the group splits, (about) 8 go the easy path, and 8 go the hard path. I’m on the hard path along with Steven and Lewis. This way involves more twists, and a much faster pace… with steeper drop’s and inclines. The views are totally insane. I don’t think it matters where in Iceland you do this experience, just so long as you do it! That feeling I had whilst being on the horse, honestly, I felt like for all he was small, his personality was big. He knew wat he wanted and he was defiantly in charge. I’ve been on a couple of horses in the past but none like this one. Perhaps it was the breed, or just his individual personality. After a good hour and half of riding, two horses came racing up to our group, full saddles and rains but no riders to be seen… which wasn’t the best as my horse seeming got agitated…. Doing my best to hold on to this wild at heart beast, I with the calming words of the guide calm him, still on the saddle I turn him away from the excitement. The guide leaps from her saddle to capture the runaway horses and asks our friend Lewis, who is well experienced with horses to keep an eye on our group. Riding back to camp, only 10 minutes away we arrive to find out that the two horses ore in fact from our other section of the group that split from us earlier on. The horses were spooked when a bird flew from the trees and the riders fell from the horses leaving the horses free to run off. That’s three people who fell from the horse whilst out on the ride. I guess these are very wild horses after all.

After all our fun we decide to hit the bars, again, we hit the bars far too early, (we learnt/should have learnt from the first time here in Iceland, the locals don’t come out until midnight). However, it’s a fantastic place to meet other travelers.

Night Out 🕺🏼

We have found its usually Americans, using Iceland as a halfway point in-between the USA and Europe. That’s half the point with traveling, meeting new people, shearing new experiences and even getting travel tips as to where they’ve been.

Some of the asphalt roads in and around Iceland are heated using geothermal energy. Keeping them free from snow and ice along with paths and carparks. Geothermal energy is largely used to contribute towards the electricity to power homes and business too. Most of the energy for heating their homes and hot water comes straight from Geothermal energy. Now that’s power!

Summed up, hiring a car in Iceland is a fantastic idea as you’re going to see so much of the island. If you’re only going for a couple of days and are clear of the tours you want to do then weigh up the pros and cons, just make sure the tours include everything, i.e. entry, transfers etc. Same for the car, make sure it includes all of those extras, such as mileage and puncher repair, before you just take the cheapest quote.

One of the many vast Icelandic roads

You can get some reasonably priced Hotels but Airbnb’s do work out better (just ensure you are going with a trusty reliable host). Make sure you book well in advance. Camping could always be an option if your super adventurous, this would take some extra planning.

I hope you have enjoyed my second blog on Iceland, do let me know what your experiences have been in this stunning country if you have been.

Until next time Iceland…… X

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