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The Land of Fire and Ice

April 3, 2015

Before you get too excited, no I am not talking about Game of Thrones.  This one is not so much fantasy but much more reality.  In my story however, we focus on the Ice part and didn’t have too much time to check the fire part up close.  Then again you can’t do everything on a trip.  You need that reason to go back to a place, especially one that is so spectacular, one that is called Iceland.

The capital Reykjavik (a great pub quiz question on the correct spelling) is located about 40 minutes away from the International airport of Keflavik.  We flew from Glasgow to Iceland, only a 2 hour flight, on Icelandic Air.  A nice little request of Emergency Exit row seats came up trumps when we managed to get the extra space.  My little legs loved me for it.  The airline itself is very good with complimentary soft drinks.

 

We arrived through customs and passport control before getting picked up by our hire car company, Sixt.  It had been a few years since I had driven on the opposite side of the road but me and ‘the Green Machine’ seem to get on okay.

Our first stop was at Helga’s guest house in Reykjavik and even though we sent through an estimated time of arrival, no one seemed to be there to let us in.  Not to worry though, we jumped back in the Green Machine and headed to a restaurant for some food.  The B & B was located about 5 km’s outside of the city centre, but nice and close too local amenities such as the hot pools, grocery store and a delicious bakery.

 

 

 

The next day we woke up to the crisp air and headed on our way in search of the Glacier Lagoon.  With the weather being so unpredictable and the snow the night before, I jumped onto http://www.vegagerdin.is/english which has up to date information on all the roads in Iceland.  Some sections suggested that the road was slippery and spots of ice were present.  The road between Reykjavik and Vik was a pleasant 2 hour drive and a perfect stop to stretch the legs.

About 1 hour after Vik, the earlier prediction of spots of ice and difficult driving conditions were in fact true.  If you have ever driven on a sheet of ice with strong gusts of wind blowing the fresh powder over the road creating visibility of about 50 metres, you will know what I am talking about. The worst bit was driving past oncoming traffic.  They blocked the wind and then created a big gust after it.  If it wasn’t for my epic driving skills and the relationship that I had built up with the Green Machine, we definitely would have been blown into the ditch like a plastic bag.

 

After 5 hours of driving, we arrived at the Glacier Lagoon and what a sight to

see. Europe’s largest Glacier, Vatnajökull, was under full sunshine and covered most of the horizon.  The long distance and challenging driving was all worth it.  The Lagoon itself is located about 40 minutes from Hofn but we decided to stay at a small place, just 12 km’s from the Lagoon.  Skyrhusid Guest House was our home for the night and a nice little welcome gift of Skyr was a thoughtful effort.  Skyr (www.skyriceland.com) is traditional Icelandic yoghurt which is so smooth that it leaves you wanting more.

 

 

The next day I woke up early and headed back to the Lagoon to get some early morning photos.  Cheryl was not too happy about my eagerness to get on the road all in the name of that photo.  This time we headed to the beach side to capture the icebergs that have been hand carved by the power of the waves.  After numbing our face from the cold wind until it begun to hurt, the long drive back to Reykjavik had begun.

 

 

As we headed onto the plain in which the day before confronted us with wind, ice and low visibility had changed to a more pleasant drive.  A much more welcomed approach to driving in Iceland.  Before heading to Reykjavik for the night, we made a quick detour the town named after myself, Geysir.  The main attraction of ‘The Great Geysir’ appealed to me the most.  The boiling water erupts into a steam flume over 30 metres high, it gets everyone standing still in the one position with their camera’s ready for that perfect postcard shot.  I would recommend climbing up the hill to get a good view over the valley and bubbling steam pools.

 

An hour’s drive later and we arrived back into Reykjavik but with no accommodation booked.  We had seen a trusty YHA just around the corner from our 1st night’s accommodation and they had availability for us.  The night was still young and we still needed to see the Northern Lights.  The area around Reykjavik has too much city lights in order to see them clearly, so we were advised to travel out of town for about 30 minutes.  This time however, luck wasn’t on our side and the lights didn’t show.

 

Our last day in Iceland left one thing on our ‘to do’ list for this visit, the Blue Lagoon (http://www.bluelagoon.com/). The entrance fee is about 35 euros for entrance to the pools and 55 euros for entrance, a free drink, towel and face mask.  After removing my singlet, t shirt, jumper and outer jacket, I donned my swimmers and dashed 10 metres from the warmth of inside to the outside elements and the naturally heated pools.  It was relaxing to swim around in the waist deep water until our bodies turned to prunes.  A nice way to finish off our short stop over.

 

In the name of the great Arnie, Iceland, we will be back!

 

Airline: Iceland Air www.icelandair.com

Reykjavik Accommodation: Helga’s Guest House http://guesthousehelga.weebly.com/

Glacier Lagoon Accommodation: Skyrhusid Guest House found through booking.com

Reykjavik Accommodation: YHA City hostel www.hostel.is

Highlights: Glacier Lagoon, The Great Geysir, The scenery, Blue Lagoon.

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