Unbelievable, awesome, amazing, just three over used adjectives that have become normal for describing the most mundane of things. However when it comes to try and portray my weekend in Reykjavik Iceland believe me none of them do it justice!
We took the early Thursday morning Easyjet flight from Manchester, the flight to Keflavik takes around 2 to 2 and half hours and the transfer from the airport to Reklavik approximately 45 minutes.
We stayed in the 3 star hotel Hafnafjordur (try saying that to the taxi driver after a night on the town) just outside Reykjavik. From the outside the hotel looked quite unappealing but it was immaculately clean and the rooms were spacious with a small kitchenette if you needed those facilities. All the staff spoke fluent English and the service was five star. They just couldn’t do enough for you.
There was a beautiful blue sky and the temperature was around 9 degrees but felt much warmer in the sunshine. We had booked to go whale watching the following afternoon but the weather forecast looked a little unfavourable so we asked the hotel receptionist if it could be possible to rearrange our trip for that afternoon. A quick call to the excursion company and our mini bus pick-up was set up for one hours time.
The Whale watching embarks from the old harbour in Reykjavik and travels out into the waters of Faxaflói bay. Even though it was a sunny day it was quite cold out in the bay. The efficient boat company provided extra warm clothing for those that needed it. The trip was wonderful with Porpoises, Dolphins and several Minkie Whales spotted during our outing. Several seabirds including Guillemots, Arctic Terns and Puffins were also in abundance.
We arrived back into Reykjavik at around 5pm so we set off to explore the city. Although around half of the countries population live in Reykjavik the city is not huge and it wasn’t long before we found the Laugavegur district with its shops and bars. Drinks prices are fairly steep but most bars seem to have ‘happy hours’ in the early evening so we finished our long day with a lager or too and met some of the friendliest locals I’ve met anywhere.
The next day we did some more serious sightseeing in Reyjavik, we jumped on the local bus, our friendly receptionist had pointed out the bus stop and gave us the prices which were quite reasonable and off we went.
You can’t miss the amazing Hallgrimur’s Church as it dominates Reykjavik’s skyline, here it’s possible to take the lift to the top of the tower and have an incredible birds-eye view of the city and surrounding coastline. The Harpa Conference centre and Opera house is a breathtaking architectural masterpiece and also well worth the visit. A few minutes walk from the Harpa is the stunning Solfar Viking ship a wonderful piece of art. To reflect Iceland’s colourful history there are plenty of Museums, Viking Villages and the like but with only so much time available we had to miss them this time.
We had pre-booked the ‘Golden Circle Tour’ prior to our departure, this is the most popular of the excursions available in Iceland. Our knowledgeable guide Martha was very informative and told us so much about the country and the sites we were to visit. It takes in the hot springs at Geysir -where the word Geyser go its name, the waterfalls of Gullfoss and the national park of Thingvellir. The excursion was worth every penny.
I must admit I set off on Thursday morning thinking well OK this may be an interesting trip to somewhere I’ve never been, tick it off my list and move on. By Sunday I was reflecting on so many ‘firsts’ I had achieved in such a short length of time I was already planning my next visit!
I need to visit the blue lagoon, see the Northern Lights, check out a few Volcanoes, go on a Jeep safari, hike a glacier, wander round the odd museum or too and have a few more beers with my new Viking pals – Never mind sunbathing it’s the land of fire and ice, Reykjavik Iceland for me!