Monday, January 25, 2010

Letters from Iceland: Days 1-2

My cousin and I made it safely to Iceland early on Saturday morning, and we're enjoying ourselves immensely. We arrived in Keflavik at 6:45am, and one of the women from the Northern Light Inn, our hotel, came to the airport to pick us up. It was wonderful not to have to worry about getting from the airport to the hotel (the transportation here seems to be primarily tour buses or rental cars, except for in Reykjavik), and the women who work at the hotel are often willing to drive you to nearby places for free. We checked into the hotel and took a nap until around 10:30am. The hotel is very nice, but a little overpriced because it's one of only two hotels near the Blue Lagoon. They have a very welcoming common area with good coffee and cookies, and a nice viewing room for the aurora borealis (which we still haven't seen, due to cloudy conditions). They also have a restaurant, which we tried for dinner on Saturday. It's a nice room and has pretty good food, which is, again, a bit expensive due to the captive audience. They did have very good skyr for dessert, with cream and liquor. That's another thing about this trip. I'm in love with skyr, and very sad it's so expensive in the US.

After our nap, we went over to the Blue Lagoon, which is apparently one of the most popular things to do in Iceland. The Blue Lagoon is a medical spa, and mineral bathing pool. The pool is inset into a lava field, and is actually the run-off from the geothermal plant nearby. Who would ever have thought we'd be swimming in mineral water from a power plant? It's actually really lovely, and though the wind was very powerful, the water was very warm (and hot around certain areas, which I loved), and it was a lot of fun to run from the very nice showers (where you had unlimited use of the spa's very expensive conditioners and shower gel) into the freezing air and then into the milky blue waters. They also had silica mud in boxes around the pool, so that you could do a face mask, and since I've loved face-masks since I was about eight-years-old, sitting around in a mineral bath with one on was pretty much the coolest thing ever. We had skyr shakes at the cafe there, and also made use of their sauna and steam rooms (my favorite things in the world). It's very touristy, and at 4200kr (a little under $40), it is a pretty expensive trip, but we spent the whole day there, and I would say it was definitely worth it.

On Sunday morning, we woke up a little early and had free breakfast at the hotel before heading out on a little hike through the lava fields. I've seen lava fields before (in Hawaii), but these were completely different. The jagged black rock is covered in many places with a round green moss, and the combination is beautiful, especially against a fast-moving grey sky like the one we had. It's been cold, but not freezing, and the hike was invigorating. When we returned to the hotel, we checked out, and ended up missing the next bus to Reykjavik, so we hung around the Blue Lagoon reading (you can get into the cafe for free) for two hours before making the trip to Reykjavik. The bus dropped us right in front of our hotel here, the CenterHotel Skjaldbreið, which is a little dingy, but for $65 a night, has an amazing location and free breakfast. We walked around the city until dark, taking in the port, some lovely architecture, and the Hallgrímskirkja, an enormous concrete church on a hill. After, we stopped at a 10-11 (yes, really) for some Icelandic groceries, and enjoyed a dinner of skyr and Icelandic chocolate at the hotel. We watched some Icelandic travel shows, and then headed out for drinks at the Cafe Paris (all the cafes here turn into bars around 10pm) before tucking in for the night.
Today, we're off to do some shopping, check out the National Gallery, and try some traditional Icelandic food.

4 comments:

  1. amazing...and you're an amazing writer as well.

    i think i'd love iceland, my kinda place, cold and damp.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Kristin!

    I'm the Channel Manager for CenterHotels and I just ran into your blog while "blog surfing".

    I really enjoyed reading about your travels and especially to find out that you stayed at our hotel Skjaldbreid here in Reykjavik and linked to us on your site!

    Let me know if you plan on coming to Iceland again and I'll make sure you get one of our best rooms at one of our hotels!

    Best regards from Iceland,

    Rósa Gréta Ívarsdóttir
    channelmanager@centerhotels.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. amazing...and you're an amazing writer as well.

    i think i'd love iceland, my kinda place, cold and damp.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Kristin!

    I'm the Channel Manager for CenterHotels and I just ran into your blog while "blog surfing".

    I really enjoyed reading about your travels and especially to find out that you stayed at our hotel Skjaldbreid here in Reykjavik and linked to us on your site!

    Let me know if you plan on coming to Iceland again and I'll make sure you get one of our best rooms at one of our hotels!

    Best regards from Iceland,

    Rósa Gréta Ívarsdóttir
    channelmanager@centerhotels.com

    ReplyDelete