Summer ’17: Iceland
[Dave] We moved to America on 22 July, 2014, 3 years ago and aside from my two day work-related visit a couple of months ago, we haven’t been back to the UK since the big move.
It felt like something we needed to do – we probably should have done it sooner, but other family events elsewhere as well as restrictions on our travel based on pending green card applications meant that this Summer was going to be the best time to do it.
We booked flights with WOW Air, an airline based in Reykjavík, Iceland. Their flights are comparatively cheap and they offer a ‘stopover’ option where you fly to Iceland, spend a few days there and pick up your connection flight. We decided on a stopover of a day and a half (2 nights).
The flight to Iceland was great – there’s always a bit of trepidation when flying with 5 kids, but the children were great and the fact that it was an overnight flight meant that we were able to get off to sleep pretty soon after taking off.
We arrived in Iceland on Friday afternoon, picked up a hire car and headed for our AirBnB in the suburbs of Reykjavík. We dropped off our things and set off for the famous Blue Lagoon.
The Blue lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field in Grindavík, not far from the Keflavík Airport. We loved it – you get changed in a large modern facility, then walk out into the freezing cold in your swimming costumes. The cold is so uncomfortable that it makes wading into the lovely warm water all the more satisfying. The temperature is around 100 degrees, so it felt like a hot bath. The color of the water is amazing too – a cool pale blue/green that looks otherworldly, especially set against the salty, volcanic rock and Icelandic landscape.
On the way to the lagoon, the kids needed something to distract them from tormenting each other in the car, so I told them the tale of the creature from the blue lagoon (it’s actually the black lagoon, but that didn’t work quite so well for my purposes). “It’s not real, Dad, you’re just pretending”… “ask Siri, Dad, prove it!”. So I did a quick image search on my phone and was able to show the kids ‘the creature’. This made Charlotte a little nervous.
The kids are pretty confident in the water, they recently completed another round of swimming lessons in California and are doing well. Even Olive was able to be independent in the water with her mandatory inflatable armbands.
We took the opportunity to put face masks on, which was fun. I’ve had a few people compare my smiling face to that of the Joker from Batman and with the addition of the face mask, I concede that they may be onto something!
After a blissful hour or two in the lagoon, with no sightings of the creature, we returned to our accommodation for pizza and a good night’s rest.
One thing we hadn’t anticipated was the lagoons mystical effect on hair. Not so much an issue for me, but for the rest of the family, the properties of the water had dried out their hair, leaving it anything but ‘soft, shiny and manageable’. You’ll see from the photos that the frizz from the blue lagoon lasted for days, in spite of the generous and repeated application of conditioner.
The next morning, while we were waiting for Heather to finish de-frizzing her hair, a sword-fencing tournament was held in the living room of our accommodation.
We then headed into Reykjavík for lunch and had a wander around the city.
Iceland’s football team were about to kick off against Switzerland, so there was a gathering of supporters in the city square waiting to watch the game.
We got these ice cream cones that were like soft serve ice cream dipped in melted chocolate and then rolled in dime bar like chocolate balls – amazing.
Sadly, just a few seconds after this photograph, Olive was making a fuss about her ice cream and as I bent down to help her out, my ice cream fell on the pavement – gutted!
One of the things we enjoyed (most of the time) was simply driving around. We would come across waterfalls, glaciers and little colorful buildings in the middle of nowhere.
While driving to Skogavoss waterfall, we came across some other waterfalls and decided to stop to take a look.
We first saw Skogavoss from the road – it’s a huge, powerful waterfall with a trail leading up the side of the hill to the top of the waterfall.
As we approached the foot of thew waterfall, the spray became more intense, which makes photography a bit of a challenge – we would cover the lens with our hand until we were ready to take the shot, then quickly take it before the lens was completely misted up.
I decided to get quite close to the waterfall – the spray didn’t feel too bad, until after we’d taken a few pictures and I started walking back. It was then that I realized that my clothing was actually completely soaked.
We then headed for the black sand beach near Vik, catching some amazing glacier views along the way.
Black sand beach is amazing. It would be worth a visit just for the sand, which looks amazing next to the white surf. However’ there’s a lot more than just the sand to enjoy – on both sides of the beach, there are cool rock formations, then along the back of the beach there are huge caves and geometric rock formations that reminded me of giant’s Causeway in Ireland. As if that wasn’t enough interest for one location, after half an hour on the beach, we looked up and saw hundreds of puffins on the hillside above the rock formations.
After a while on black sand beach, we realised that it was after 11:30pm. Because it doesn’t really get very dark this time of years in Iceland and because our bodies were still half-thinking we were in California, it just didn’t feel that late. It dawned on us (excuse the pun) that after driving the 2 and a half hours back to the accommodation and packing our things, it would be time to leave for the airport! So while the kids managed to sleep in the car and had an hour in bed at the AirBnB, Heather and I just didn’t go to bed that night! It was well worth missing out on a nights sleep in order to pack in the experiences we’d had on our brief Iceland stopover.