Life as A Viking Wannabe: 4 Days In Iceland
Ice is nice. That is the motto recited by locals, describing magical Iceland, and it couldn’t be more accurate. Viking Arnorsson (yes, Viking is his real name!) of Exclusively Reykjavik made sure that ice was extra nice by setting up the most unforgettable bachelorette party for my best friend and 12 gals on a mission to explore the sights, hike the heights, indulge in the cuisine and leave with memories to last a lifetime.
Exclusively Reykjavik specializes in personalized, luxury itinerary planning and takes care of every detail from airport transfer to epic waterfall chasing to glacier hiking to dinner reservations at the best Icelandic restaurants to secret lagoon lounging and everything in between. Of course you’ll be riding in style i.e. a 16 person Mercedes sprinter thanks to Ice Limo Luxury Travel and accompanied by top notch local Icelandic guides who will make you laugh non-stop at their Viking jokes, drop all sorts of geographic and historical knowledge on you and spoil the heck out of you during your tours with impeccable white glove treatment.
Here’s how it all went down:
After settling into our amazing AirBnb (we opted for an apartment versus hotel to really experience the local culture and loved every minute of it), we spent the day exploring the vibrant town of Reykjavik. Street art was rampant. Graffiti murals canvassed entire buildings and street art gallery pop-ups showcased the talents of local artists. And. The. Shopping. One store in particular, Geysir, stole my heart with its endless variety of locally made cozy winter accessories, chic ponchos and monochromatic wool cardigans in classic patterns. A visit to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland’s biggest church, is a must, with unbelievable panoramic views of Rey. Famished after a long day of walking, we settled on Austur-India for dinner. I know what you’re thinking; Indian food in Iceland?! It was quite possibly the best Indian food I’ve had anywhere in the world. The lobster (locally, freshly caught) masala dish is something I will crave desperately until I’m back.
Time to get our Game Of Thrones on! We started our Golden Circle Tour with a stop at Nesjavellir where our wonderful tour guide, Nonni, informed us that GOT episodes had actually been filmed. (Sidebar: Nonni was also the guide for the Real Housewives of OC, whom just traveled to Iceland in the latest season!). Next, we moved to the fascinating Pingvellir National Park, Arnessysla, where we walked between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic plates and made our way to one of many magical Icelandic waterfalls. Weather is extremely unpredictable in Iceland; layers and versatile pieces are key. My Orvis hooded jacket kept me warm, ventilated and stylish throughout the trip. Our lunch stop was at Fridheimar, a family-run tomato greenhouse where we were treated to an education about the indoor harvest process as well as the most delicious tomato soup and bloody marys. Oh, and there were magical Icelandic horses prancing around the greenhouse. Something out of a fairytale. Our tour wasn’t complete without a stop at The Secret Lagoon, a natural hot spring located in the small village of Fludir, but not before Nonni stopped at his friend’s farm and picked us up the freshest strawberries I’ve ever tasted. Sweet end to the day.
Apprehensive of the tourist trap factor, The Blue Lagoon did not disappoint. Spending the afternoon floating in a geothermal spa, cocktail in hand, with water so blue it gives the Maldives a run for its money, was something special. Silica mud masks and waterproof phone cases are available at kiosks in the lagoon and 100% of the facility is powered by clean, geothermal energy; truly remarkable. After a more than relaxing day, it was time to explore Rey’s nightlife – something not to sleep on. Come Friday and Saturday nights, the locals are all about unwinding until the wee hours of the night (bars and clubs stay open until 4am) and that’s exactly what we did. Dinner and cocktails started at Burro Tapas and the night ended/morning started with an epic dance party at Austur.
We had to end the trip with a bang, so glacier hiking it was! Ascending on the shrinking glacier of Solheimajokull seemed daunting and a little scary to be honest, but the views from the top made it all worth it. With clamps on our boots and ice axes in tow, we trekked 2 hours and nearly 5,000 feet up the glacier’s peak. Every angle looked like a painting. The juxtaposition of green land and white (and black from volcanic ash) ice was mesmerizing. Due to its extreme susceptibility to climate change, the glacier may look completely different next year or even next month and may be completely gone within a hundred years. A literal once in a lifetime experience.
See you next year for the Northern Lights, Iceland!