Did you know that the human body is better at adapting to heat than to cold? Eventually, the body does make adjustments though. Coming from a temperate warm climate certainly does not help, but layers and layers of winter clothing does!
I traveled to Iceland recently without any fear of the cold, the numerous active volcanoes that make up the entire country nor of the unpronounceable string of letters that make up an Icelandic word. I knew nothing about Iceland prior to this trip (except maybe Bjork in all her quirkiness) but left with this insatiable desire to come back for more and explore this tiny nation with only 320,000 people.
Contrary to what most people think, Iceland is not THAT cold. In fact, New York and Toronto were much, much colder with temperatures in the teens whereas Iceland stayed in the high to mid 30s.
Reykjavik (pronounced Reyk-yavik), the capital and largest city of Iceland is also the world’s northernmost capital. This colorful little city has everything you want and yet retains its small town charm.
It even has the world’s largest phallological museum! This blog is rated G so no photos of this one. Just google it.
Hallgrimskirkja Church is the tallest and largest structure in Reykjavik. You pay $7.00 to go up the top where you get panoramic views of the entire city and the surrounding mountains. Inside, there is a beautiful pipe organ where we were lucky enough to hear someone play it.
Street art and graffiti make their colorful presence here on this gray and gloomy day.
Walking around can certainly make you hungry. So my husband and I and another couple were in search of the perfect local restaurant. Cafe Loki was one of those serving traditional local dishes. Fermented shark, sheep’s head, puffin anyone? Nah, we’ll take a rain check. But if you are brave enough to try them, please let me know. I may be an adventurous nurse but I am not quite an adventurous eater. The most we tried was eating the minke whale. It looked and tasted like beef.
For the life of me, I really do not understand why you have to use all the letters of the alphabet to name something ~ add a few other extra unknown letters to boot!
A city with a beautiful view of the mountains and the ocean.
Driving to the outskirts of the city, the landscape changes to otherworldly. This was a random stop along the road leading to Keflavik Airport. Stretching for miles and miles, you see nothing but fields of lava rocks and mossy looking stones with the occasional farm house/factory.
The Blue Lagoon, or Blaa Lonio (my keyboard does not have the special Icelandic letters or I probably just don’t know how to do it) is one of Iceland’s main tourist attractions. It is a geothermal spa located in a lava field approximately 20 minutes away from the airport and 45 minutes away from Reykjavik, that does not include getting lost though. Apart from trying to read a map with Icelandic street names, we were looking for the words “Blue Lagoon” only to pass by the sign Blaa Lonio. You would think it being a major tourist attraction, there would be huge billboards advertising its location. No, you have to do it the Icelandic way. Asking for directions from locals and a couple of turns later, we get there.
It was a chilly 30s that day. I made a mad dash outside from the indoor shower facility in my bathing suit to hang my towel, leave my flip-flops and then jump-splash into its waters before I froze to death. It was the best feeling ever!
The Blue Lagoon’s waters are around 98-102 degrees Fahrenheit. You never feel the cold once you are in, even with a cold beer in your hand. The mineral-rich waters are reportedly good for your skin but bad for your hair.
Post spa-therapy, we all get bundled up again and get ready for the Northern Lights Tour.
No, these aren’t the Northern Lights. I was just getting my cam settings ready while we were in a busload of tourists. We stayed up for five hours waiting for the Aurora Borealis, trying to catch it in at least two other locations but we failed to see it because of the cloud cover. Same thing happened the next night when the tour company offered us another chance. Thank God for the warm buses otherwise it would be too cold to stay outdoors for a long time.
Because of this missed opportunity, my husband and I have decided to chase the Northern Lights, wherever and whenever, and will not stop until we see this elusive natural phenomenon.
Stay tuned for The Golden Circle in my next blog!