The wild land.
Land of the midnight sun.
Yes this means I have finally found the motivation to begin blogging about our European backpacking extravaganza.
Since we flew Iceland Air and they provide free layovers, we ended up spending a day there on the way out and 15 hours on the way home. The first layover was intentional, the second was a by-product of the fact that our flight from Madrid landed at 2:00 AM and our flight to Minneapolis didn’t leave until 5:00 PM.
What you should know about this country: It is only 50 degrees in the summer and the entire nation wears hiking pants. We were woefully unprepared on both counts. Basically we were wearing all of our clothes.
Also, they sell seal pelts.
And I look like I am involved in some sort of cloak and dagger, moose and squirrel-style situation. I still cannot make sense of this.
This is a beautiful basalt cathedral built in modern times. The non-traditional architecture and the stark interior is a fascinating contrast to the gothic cathedrals spread across the European continent. It is the sixth tallest structure in Iceland (after a heap of radio towers) and for $6 or so, you can buy a ticket to visit the top of the bell tower, which allows you to see pretty much the entirety of the city.
The Sun Voyager
On the bay, this sculpture is meant to evoke the structure of a Viking ship. Pretty much if you are walking along the bay, you will see it regardless of weather or not you meant to.
The National Museum of Iceland
Detailing the history of the Icelandic people from settlement to present day, this museum did a great job of explaining Iceland to Marcus and I since we were essentially clueless. There are some wonderful reconstructions in the museum and a great assortment of Viking artifacts. To summarize, Iceland is essentially the Australia of the Nordic countries.
The Golden Circle
We booked this tour through viator.com but it was actually run through Gray Line. We chose the evening tour, which ran from 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM because we had the benefit of endless daylight.
If I can be totally honest, we did a lot of sleeping on the bus as we moved from place to place because we were exhausted. If you discount the sleeping, what we saw was exceptional.
The Blue Lagoon
When we were planning our time in Iceland, I floated the idea that maybe the Blue Lagoon on the way home would be the best way to unwind after our trip.
This was the best idea.
We booked a shuttle directly from the airport and arrived just as they opened. That was truly lovely because as we departed, the entrance and locker rooms had turned into a crowded madhouse.
We chose the most basic package (entry) threw on our suits and proceeded to sit in the springs and people-watch for the next two hours. Between the cold air (it was ~50 degrees) and the bright blue water, we were in heaven.
I dragged this place up on Trip Advisor (which was absolutely invaluable on this trip) because I was looking for a seafood place that was (1) unpretentious (2) served whale.
So, after a morning of sightseeing, we sat down to a meal of whale kebab, shrimp kebab and really excellent lobster soup.
What was the whale like? Red meat. Served medium rare. With the texture of venison and the neutral flavor of chicken. Fascinating, but unmemorable.
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur
When my in-laws were driving us to the airport, they produced a Delta SKY article for us detailing Icelandic To Dos and Eats.
Since our tour ran into the night and this is a cheap, late-night stand that was listed, it was the perfect pick. Not to mention that they eat lamb hot dogs in Iceland. Topped with fried onions, raw onions, sweet mustard, relish and ketchup, we had them fully loaded up because it seemed like the only appropriate choice. I’m sure the fact that we were ravenous at this point did not hurt the deal at all.