As most who meet me will quickly find out, my husband and I love to travel. Since our honeymoon in Paris, almost 5 years ago, we’ve been carefully allotting our vacation days to ensure we could make it to the 10 countries we’ve visited thus far. We’ve been bit by the travel bug and have no plans of slowing down any time soon.
Most recently, we went to Iceland with our friends after a casual mention of “I really want to see the Northern Lights” at dinner turned into booking flights less than 5 days later. Iceland is a mountainous island nation in the far north Atlantic Ocean, mostly remembered from the phrase, “Greenland is ice and Icleland is green”. While true, Iceland has a rocky landscape with both grassy fields and Glaciers year- round. When originally deciding to go, our inspiration was specifically, to see the Northern Lights or aurora borealis; however, Iceland has so much more to offer.
We set off on our adventure with a brief layover in Baltimore before our 5 and a half hour flight from Baltimore to Reykjavik, Iceland, arriving just after 5:30am local time. After catching a quick bite to eat and some much-needed coffee, we set out to the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is a Geothermal Spa; a byproduct of the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Interestingly enough, about 85% of total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources. Of the renewable production, 73% comes from hydropower and 27% is from geothermal power. This is the world’s highest share of renewable energy in any national total energy budget.
The Blue Lagoon is known for the picturesque blue water surrounded by rocky mountains. Despite being in the low 30°F outside, the outdoor lagoon averages 104°F in the water. The calming warm waters are rich in silica and sulfur, known to have great effects on the skin. What a better way to kick off our vacation (at 5:30am) than head straight to the spa for some relaxation! Included in our spa package was access to the luxurious locker room, towels, a free beverage while in the spa, as well as a Silica Mud mask at the swim up “bar”. After enjoying a few hours at the spa swimming around, ensuring to enjoy the mud mask and our early morning wine, we headed into Reykjavik.
But, don’t forget, we had a mission, and that was to see the Northern Lights. We booked a SuperJeep tour ahead of time to do just that; yes, the night that we arrived. The tour would take us about 2 hours outside of the city on an excursion, far from the city lights to see the Aurora Borealis dance before our eyes.
At 9pm, we started our trek out to a large, open field for optimal viewing. As the sun slowly set (around midnight), temperatures dropped and the wind picked up, we waited and waited to see the green lights we so desperately wanted to see. Slowly, the sky lit up, and streaks of white and green lights danced around, intermittently for a few hours. We watched in awe and enjoyed one of the most magical, natural wonders we had ever seen!
The next few days we explored the western and southernmost parts of the country. The Golden Circle, is one of the most famous areas in the country. This ring road around Southwestern Iceland features many of the most famous tourist destinations, including Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall. We completed our trip with a trek around Southern Iceland seeing highlights such as Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall and the black sands of Reynifjara Beach, just to name a few. Iceland was one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. The landscape was beautiful, desolate, peaceful and unique.
The natural beauty of this country is unbelievable and I highly recommend this fairly short trip from the East Coast to everyone!