We booked our Golden Circle tour with Grayline and although both Lloyd and I would have preferred to have seen the sights alone, to our surprise we actually really enjoyed the trip!
On our first full day in Iceland we booked a whale watching and northern lights (by boat) tour. Our reasoning behind starting with this tour was that if by any chance we didn’t spot any whales, we’d have the opportunity to try again before leaving.
We headed for the Elding boat and got into our overalls, which trust me, if you’re going to Iceland in January/February, you will need. I’m pretty sure I would have ended up with pneumonia without that extra layer!
Here’s us looking super chic –
We chose to take this trip with Elding because they are the most environmentally friendly whale watching tour in Iceland. It’s really important to us that these gentle giants are treated with the utmost respect and this goes for every other species that the boat comes into contact with. There is no sonar equipment used to locate the whales; it’s entirely dependent on the day and the food in the area which obviously attracts them.
It snowed pretty heavily which made it quite difficult to see! Taking photos was also a challenge. My hands have never felt so cold and I was genuinely afraid of getting frostbite on my toes. My circulation is pretty poop at the best of times. Unfortunately it wasn’t our day for seeing whales in the wild so that’s still on my bucket list left unticked however we did see many white beaked dolphins so it wasn’t all in vain.
I would definitely recommend Elding as the company to choose for your whale watching experience. Our guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable; you could tell that she loved her job despite probably freezing her butt off at the highest point of the boat and her excitement was quite infectious (to me at least).
In the evening we took the northern lights boat trip with Elding and were fortunate enough to see a beautiful spectacle for about ten minutes (my second time!). The cloud gods were sadly not on our side for the remaining two hours but considering the weather, I think we got pretty lucky :) Despite the bitter cold we sat outside for the majority of the trip in the hopes of catching further glimpses of the light show playing above our heads.
Have you ever been whale watching or seen the northern lights?
Post in the comments and let me know your experience! x
Around seven years ago I was stood around the bar of my dads pub (or what was my dads pub back then) discussing the possibility…no, the certainty, of going to Iceland one day.
The northern lights, whale watching, glaciers and mountain views…what could be more appealing to a girl who loves being one with nature?
Fast forward to 2015 and I can finally say that this country has been ticked off of my bucket list – but only just! I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface with this magnificent country and a re-visit is definitely on the books. We’re thinking a road trip is in order!
Our base for this seven day stop was Reykjavik which I found to be a modest little city (but the largest city in Iceland) full of colour and character. I also found that I felt secure; none of that peering over my shoulder suspiciously when withdrawing money from a cash-point feeling that I get in some cities. I think that the fact that it’s still a tradition for parents to park their pram outside of a cafe (with baby warmly bundled up inside said pram) while they sit next to the window having a coffee or lunch is a safe bet that you’re going to be okay and no one means you any harm.
We balanced our days out well with walks around the city to explore as well as trips to some well known areas of Iceland. I’m a nature girl so any opportunity I can get to leave the urban jungle I jump at! Mushy took a tiny bit more convincing but I’m pretty certain he was happy to let me lead on.
Here are some highlights from our days in the city!
Beautiful views just a few minutes out of the city centre!
Colours everywhere ^_^
Lake Tjornin frozen over
The locals have a quirky sense of humour!
We visited Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral – the view of the city from the top is beautiful but you’ll need to pay (it isn’t expensive though). On the right of the photo below is a statue of Leifur Eiriksson who is said to be the first European to discover America. Records suggest that he landed in America 500 years before Christopher Columbus! *fun fact*
We ate mushroom soup in a bread bowl! I was so excited to see a little tavern specialising in it and it was delicious! Visit Svarta Kaffi if you get a chance to – Mushy even ate the bread bowl too! It’s also probably the cheapest meal we ate in Reykjavik.
Please excuse my terrible foodie pic, the photo was a last minute thought before I devoured it all :)
Quirkiest and most extraordinary place we visited: The Icelandic Phallogical Museum
Well what can I say? It’s a museum specialising in the mammal penises of Iceland. You’ll find a collection of over 200 specimens (some were as long as I am tall) and it’s actually kind of fascinating…and a little intimidating.
The best coffee: Reykjavik Roasters
A small coffee shop close to the Cathedral. I loved the fact that despite there being no tables left, the barrista actually made the effort to bring together some random pieces of furniture to make a table and chairs for us to sit on. It was like sitting at the kids table at a birthday party!
Delicious vegetarian/vegan food: Glo
Great portions and variety to choose from. It was nice to grab something healthy after a long day. They also do a meat option if you really can’t resist.
We stayed at: OK Hotel
This is more of an apartment than a hotel and that was more than OK with us! The location is excellent and the rooms are all unique. We just loved it and would definitely stay there again. If you’re looking for luxury and room service I would suggest you skip it though as this is really self catering.
Stay tuned for Part 2!