Iceland is often called the land of fire and ice, and while we saw plenty of ice while we were there we did not see any fire. Plenty of lava fields and black sand beaches, but Iceland did not have any volcanoes currently erupting. But, before we get into our trip, let's discuss how this amazing trip became a reality.
Back in August of 2022 my dad told Rylan and I that he wanted to go on a trip with us. Our first thought was like Tucson or Flagstaff for the weekend? But, we asked him what he was thinking. Dad said that he was thinking a Caribbean cruise, or something like that, and that it was up to Rylan and I to make the plans. So, we started looking at cruises, and nothing was really standing out for us. We then started thinking about selecting a city in Europe to spend a week in, and started thinking of cities like London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and/or Venice, and Athens. Rylan and I started really thinking that Athens would be the city that we discussed with Dad. Then, I remembered that back around the year 2000, my dad told me that his dream/bucket list trip would be to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. Well, in the last 22 years, he had never realized this opportunity. After discussing this with Rylan, it was settled that this would be the trip that we would pitch to my dad. Our plan was to go in March 2023, and this would allow us to celebrate Dad's birthday while in Iceland. We felt that this was the perfect plan, and when we discussed it with Dad, he loved it! The next thing we knew we were making airline, hotel, and tour reservations, and the ball was officially rolling for Iceland - 2023.
We arrived in Iceland at 6am on a Sunday morning to a cold 16°F with 22 mph of wind, that calculates to -1.6°F with wind chill. We had arrived on an Icelandair Boeing 767, and had been sitting in the middle three seats and could not see outside. This also meant that we could not see the truck-mounted airstairs and the fact that we weren't exiting in a jet bridge. Coming from Phoenix, we were dressed in jeans and sweatshirts, and this made for a very cold introduction to Iceland.
The first few days we spent exploring Reykjavík. Our apartment had a full kitchen, so we found the most convenient grocery stores and corner markets. We also spent time at Jómfrúin - Scandinavian Kitchen, Hard Rock Cafe, Lebowski Bar, The Irishman Pub, The Drunk Rabbit Irish Pub, Sun Voyager, Hallgrimskirkja, American Bar, and Dirty Burger & Ribs. We also found a couple of tattoo shops that were accepting walk-ins.
On Tuesday night, after dinner, Rylan and I decided to take a walk. We walked down to Tjörnin, "The Pond," and when we got there I looked up and saw what looked like wispy clouds. Rylan looked up and started to laugh at me and then she told me that they were not clouds, that they were the Northern Lights. I took my phone out and took a photo, and in the photo you could see that they were green, the color was not visible to the eye. We watched them until they faded out and made the walk back up the hill towards our apartment. As we got to our street, I looked up and the Northern Lights were exploding above our heads. You could clearly see the green colors dancing in the sky. I proceeded to run around taking photos and Rylan dashed back to our apartment to make sure that Dad was able to go out and see them too. Mission accomplished, see the Northern Lights in Iceland, another check off of Dad's Bucket List!
On Wednesday we set out on a Day Trip to visit Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach. Because it was so cold, everything was frozen and there wasn't any ice on Diamond Beach. Because of this, the tour guide decided to make an additional stop at Fjallsárlón so that we could see some icebergs floating in the lagoon. On our way back to Reykjavík, we stopped in the town of Vik and were able to see the black sand beach there, and we also stopped at the Stjórnarfoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls.
On Thursday we set out on another Day Trip to visit the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We were treated to some amazing sights and a delicious home-cooked Icelandic lunch. Some of the amazing places we visited were Ytri Tunga, Búðakirkja (a small wooden church dating back to the 19th century), the cliffs at Arnarstapi, the black beach and shipwreck at Djúpalónssandur, Kirkjufell, and the town of Grundarfjörður.
Friday was our last day to explore Reykjavík, but it was also Saint Patrick's Day. We decided to go back to The Irishman Pub and celebrate the Icelandic way.
We really enjoyed our time in Iceland. We saw some incredible sights and the people were very nice and helpful when we had questions. And while Iceland can be very expensive, we look forward to getting back there one day.