Weekend in Iceland
“There are more things to be thought of by men than money alone. En fleira er mönnum til hugganar en fébætur einar.”
–The Saga of Grettir, chapter 47
A Weekend in ICELAND: vikings, futbol, and beards!
We had a layover in Iceland on a return trip so we decided to make it a long weekend in Iceland. Best decision we made! Basically, we had not planned this trip at all really! In light of that, here is a guide for how to not plan a trip to Iceland.
Iceland is a hidden gem. Travelers of the rich and famous are catching on to this fact. Before we planned to visit Iceland, no one was really paying this island any attention…but we were. My husband and I are minor history buffs. WWI and WWII are our favorite American histories. However, we also enjoy the myths, sagas, and facts of how other countries were created and what makes its’ cultures unique.
Most people think of Vikings when someone mentions Iceland-you know those iron-clad, shield wielding hunks that built sleek ships in order to plumage all over Europe. (I may have watched too many “Vikings” TV shows). Some people think of Iceland as being cold and dark year round. That is only part true. While we visited, daylight shown 24 hrs and would continue to do so for a couple months more. (Thankful for blackout curtains). We stayed in a quaint family home-renting out a bedroom through airbnb. During our stay history was being made. Futbol history! Iceland was invited to play in the UEFA championships for the first time ever! Our host was thrilled and surprised us by divulging that there are only ~320,000 people living in Iceland-like the size of a city in the USA. It is amazing a country of this size even showed up on the radar for European soccer but these folks are athletic as we would find out.
Upon arriving into this mysterious country we were welcomed by rolling fog. Thankfully it cleared the remainder of the weekend. Here are our suggestions of great places to stay! We dropped our bags and 1st visited the Hallgrimskirkja church which resembled the eruption of lava in honor of the many active volcanoes on the island. The pictures below were taken between 11pm-1am.
The next day we enjoyed the morning at the geothermal beaches-natural hot tubs. Yes, in Iceland I actually strapped on a bathing suit! We enjoyed a steamy soak before dousing our feet into the icy waters-then we ran back to the hot baths. This was a great meeting point for many locals. They would go for a jog and submerge into relaxation afterwards. My kind of plan.
We spent as much time outdoors as possible and there are so many nature walks-Iceland is green in many ways! I wish we had more time to get off the beaten path but we did manage to see some cool things! We stumbled across the volcanic rocks to the lively downtown area where we tried the best Icelandic stouts! There was a 5K that had taken place earlier in the day and everyone had the same idea afterwards-BEER. We saw many interesting characters, my favorite being the Gnomes and a walking Penis. Iceland has a love-love relationship with this phallic object-they even have a museum dedicated to the Penis.
On our last day, we were going to take a “Golden Circle” tour but never was able to meet up with our guides (don’t worry they refunded the $$). Instead, we created a tour of our own. We headed to the harbor and hopped a ferry to Videy island. We spent 3 hours hiking all over this uninhabited space. It was stunning-raw beauty. We saw Thor’s hammer, a ship’s salvaged anchor from WWII, birds of the singing sort, and baby ducklings galore! Afterwards we had dinner downtown and caught a soccer game with the locals. I do recommend trying the Golden Circle tour though and Wanderer of the World has a great post on 6 spectacular highlights of the golden circle in Iceland.
I will say, the people of Iceland are what make this country so warm and friendly. They are quirky and artsy-vikings are poets after all- and they are undeniably happy. I kept asking myself, why are these folks so happy when it is cold and dark 1/2 the year? My guess is that the beer and music scene ROCK and everyone is attractive! (like there are physically built men and women EVERYWHERE!) If you don’t have a long weekend to spend, check out this 2 days in Reykjavik post for inspiration!
Also the community is strong-they welcome all walks of life. Even after they lost out of the EUFA championship, newscasters found Icelanders cheering for the accomplishments earned by their countrymen. I don’t feel the USA would have the same affections if we were to lose in anything! The nature is also purely beautiful and I am honored to have spent time here. I am already itching to return to this magical island.
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Be well and Travel often!
Where will you travel to next?⇓ (Reykjavik?)
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