Iceland at Christmas

Month/Year: December 2016
Flight time from London Luton: 3 hours 
Exchange Rate: £1 = 130 ISK
Weather: Around 12 degrees in day, 2 degrees at  night (colder in uk)

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So me and Ang decided to go to Iceland In December in the hope to see the Northern lights. We had heard that since it was their winter that daylight is shorter and therefore more night sky meaning more chance of seeing the lights.

 

We booked all trips whilst in UK. If honest I would recommend people do this as they do work out to be cheaper as exchange rate aint the best at moment!

Airport to Center of Reykjavik

Cost: 4000 ISK each open return

There are 2 coaches that take you from airport to center. They are Greyline and Flybus. Both Depo stations are in different locations so the Flybus was closest to our hotel. We boarded coach, nice seats n free WIFI – Wohooo. 50 mins later we were at bus station. Our hotel was only 10 mins walk away so walked it with our cases on wheels making lots of noise on the streets! Walking actually saved us £30 as we didn’t need transfers.

The first main landmark we saw was the church. Its pretty impressive and looks almost futuristic. We never got to go in it on this trip, however it was a great landmark to use when you got lost as you could see it from almost anywhere in the city due its tall spire.

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Konrads Guesthouse

Price: £57.50 per room per night

We got to hotel and were greeting by the Son. He was amazingly friendly, shook our hands n all that. It was quite quirky here. Lots of weird ornaments n that all over the place.

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We had access to the kitchen n fridge which was cool.  They gave us free tea n coffee but you had to supply your own milk.  This place had a homily feel about it.

We were then shown to our rooms and they were nice n big. It was all shared bathrooms here however there were 3 bathrooms for 4 rooms so more than enough. They were all really clean n quite big too. Only thing with them is that the hot water here smells of Sulphur . We got used to after a while thow and it doesn’t make you smell of eggs luckily!

Our room had an electrical hospital bed in it…not sure why but it was fun..oh and free robes!

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We planted all our shite in our rooms n today would be our exploring day of the city. Since it was early the first stop was to find the nearest supermarket to buy some cheap shite to save us money so off we trotted.

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Iceland on a Budget (Food, drink etc)

Ok, so when I say Budget..Its cheap for Iceland..Not your 2 for 1 at your local Hungry Horse kinda price!

Supermarkets

Ok so we found that Bonus supermarkets were the cheapest. There was one right bang in the center. We decided to buy pasta, Tomato and tuna so we could do a batch of this and use it for lunches on each day etc. We spent around 400 ISK on all this so bargain, oh and we were warned what to look for with milk as they also sell yoghurt here that looks like milk cartons!

Alcohol

We had recently been told how expensive Iceland was so we bought a little friend at the airport. We bought Captain Morgan 1 litre bottle that would be our Tipple of an evening before / after we went out. This cost us £18 and was far cheaper than paying the prices for it in ICELAND. We bought apple juice at Bonus and warmed it up and had that most nights.

Appy Hour App for budgeting on Alcohol. 

Now everyone also said how much beer was etc. Average price of a beer here is around 1170 isk (£9)…however there is something I found out before I came here that helped me alot when budgeting. I found out about an app called “appyhour”. This tells you what Happy hours are going on at the time you click on app, and also will map you to where they are. Not only is it free, but it also tells you what licker they have on happy hour and at what price. It was a great app n got updated instantly. The average price of a pint at happy hour was 500 isk (£4), so deffo worth while especially since the average price of a pint is like 1170 isk (£9)…oh and there are plenty of places to choose from in happy hour. The average one will go from 4 – 7pm..but some go to as late as 8/9pm (The Dubliner – Tuborg Beer).

 

You wana eat out but not spend much?

Ok so although we had budgeted with pasta etc above, sometimes you wana still eat out. We wandered around and to be honest if your ok with Cheeseburger, fries and a drink then most places will sell this on their happy hour for around 1900 isk (£14)…however we wanted abit more variety… so one of the days we walked by the harbour and found many fish places. The one that served cheap (cheap compared to everywhere else) meals was a place called ” Reykjavik Fish Restaurant”. This had many fish dishes for under 2000 isk. To give you an example:

Fish n Chips = 1980 isk

Fish burger and fries = 1780 isk

Fish n Chips n Large beer = 3470 isk

Oh and not only is there quite a selection of dishes in here, but the views are great onto the harbour too. One of the things I noticed in here too were the fish skins that they used for Lanterns – weird!

 

Dillons bar

This was one of our fave bars mainly due to how it’s decorated. It’s very dark, has over 100 whiskeys and also serves wine n beer. There happy hour was 1090 isk for 2 pints.

 

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Reykjavik Town At Christmas

This place was lit up quite well. They love their half Christmas trees attached to sides of buildings. There is no tatty blow up stuff, it is all very classy and traditional which was nice to see.

There were many Christmas shops. One of which you could post your letter to the Yule Lads (I will mention these guys later), oh and a pair of Santa’s boots outside

The ornaments were expensive but very nice and traditional.

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This place really came alive at night and looked very pretty.

It also features an Ice rink that was in the center. This was literally only about £6 to hire skating shoes for half hour. This place was also good if you liked to listen to old school classic Christmas hits

 

Spot The Yule Lads (only at Christmas)

Ok so we would be wandering the streets at night and would glance up onto a building and notice something would be moving on the bricks…I hadnt got a clue what they were at first, however since further investigation I found out these were in fact Projections onto walls.Basically there are 13 Yule Lads. The myth goes that 13 days before Christmas you will be visited by one of these Yule lads each day leading up to Christmas. They all have their own things they like to do i.e Eat your Candles, slam doors etc. Each projection we saw was on a separate building and each had a Yule Lad doing something to do with what they were known for. We then found out that all 13 were hidden around the city. You didn’t know where about they were, you just had to keep looking up at night onto the side of walls. We found 7 in total.  Its pretty cool. It was almost like a treasure hunt 🙂

 

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Things To Do In Reykjavik City

 

Visit this Pastry Shop

Brauð & Co is a pastry shop in the center of the town. We had been speaking with a couple in our hostel who recommended this. Now the first thing we noticed was the outside. It was quite creative looking and very colourful.

We entered the shop and it was very small however smelt rather nice. We looked around and although didn’t seem like much choice, it all looked ravishing!

We opted to try this Morning bun things and also a PISTACHIO nuts pastry chocolate thing. They were both sooooo nice. They cost around £3.54 /450 isk each.

 

Viking Ship

We walked to the sea harbour area where we found a Viking ship sculpture. It was pretty cool however very modern looking. I would have preferred to of seen some rustic washed up viking ship thingy but that prob wouldn’t have looked as pretty.

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When exploring the city we found many huge Graffiti pictures on sides of buildings. They were very interesting to look at and looked somewhat “Allowed” here.

 

See the Single Gloves Dating Alley!

Didn’t even know about this place, just stumbled across it on the main street in the center. Had to go back to take pics! Amazing idea..but where are all the other gloves?

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Mountains with Snow On Top.

One day we decided to go on a walk on the other side of the harbour. We originally went there as we saw this huge moat style grass mound thing that looked interested so we walked on the outskirts of the city. Whilst doing so we ended up by factories etc however when we couldn’t walk anymore (due to the huge lake being in the way) we noticed we could see some new mountains that were not visible from the main center of the city. These looked rather picturesk. It was Fooking cold thow.. so we didn’t stay here for long, however got some good snaps.

 

Saga Museum

Now there are many museums around the city, however I’m quite fussy with them as I don’t have a very good attention span when it comes to things like this.. so we looked around and found the Saga Museum. This looked like it had lots of Wax figures and cool things to look at so we opted for it.

When you arrive you walk through the doors. You are then in a room that’s very dark and you walk around with your audio guide. It tells you of how the Vikings came to Iceland and how they progressed.

There were quite graphic scenes here, however this got my attention so I guess that was good. The tour only lasted about around half hour however the coolest bit is at the end where you get to dress up in Viking gear and look scary for your camera. Me and Ang could easily pass off as Vikings..maybe we need a career change?

 

Eat a hotdog

Cost: 470 isk

Sounds pretty vague, however Iceland is known for its tasty hotdogs. Now the main place that people go on about is this place:

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

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HOWEVER….we also read reviews that the hotdogs are just not served with passion or tasted half as good as this here:

Pylsuhusid Hot Dog House

This place you could sit inside (although small) and had lots of different types of hot dogs.. so ones with bacon, cheese n all sorts. We opted for the standard hotdog but with all sides. Now My expectations werent up to much as id seen pics and it looks like a standard Frankfurt to me.. however i was kinda wrong. This hot dog got served with spicy mayo, a weird mustard and crispy onions. Now I am not a fan of onions at all however WOW this hot dig was nice! ok so the hot dog was a standard frankfurt, however the sauce and the crispy onions made it oh so tasty and one I had never tasted before!  Deffo recommend this place rather than the Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur as you don’t need to cue, the waitress was really nice and you get to sit in doors!

 

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Things to Do outside the City

 

BLUE LAGOON

Price: £54 each / Includes: Transfers with Blue Lagoon entry and bathing fee.

Robes: £9.20  / 1200 isk each

Beer: £10.23 / 1330 isk each

Website: http://www.icelandair.co.uk/

This was one of the reasons we came here. Now we had looked into this and we decided to book things separately rather than go through a tour operator. We booked it via http://www.icelandair.co.uk/.  We only had to book our time that we wanted to catch the bus from main bus depo. The return bus was an open ticket.

Now we found wanted to experience the Blue Lagoon in the day and at night so we opted to get there for 3pm. Now this place is in the middle of nowhere! We saw the cranes next to the factory things which were a bit off-putting, however this was due to them building a new part of the resort.  Now we took a rucksack with us with:

  • 2 x Towels
  • Bottle of “Water”
  • Sea shoes
  • Packed Lunch

We cued up. They gave us the option of purchasing extras.We chose to hire 2 robes (1200 isk each) , they slapped an electric wristband on us and made our way to our seperate  changing rooms. The wristband was actually a mint idea as you opened your locker with it by scanning your locker and you could also use it to purchase drinks / foods in the pool area so no need to take wallet etc.

Showered up, robes on , swimwear on ..we were ready to bathe! I met Ang at the bottom of the stairs where you got your first glimpse of the HUGE Lagoon through the windows. We made our way outside and it was pretty nippy. I was amazed by how big this place was. There was steam all over the place. It looked very relaxing.. Now we chose to take our mobile phone down before we got in pool to take pics of us and then I returned it back to me locker. We hung our robes up on the outside rack (had to remember where we put them) and then slowly made our way into the steaming hot water.

 

We had also noticed people putting their phones in waterproof bags which if honest, was a good idea. They did sell them at the bar however they naturally bumped up the price. We have since purchased one of these waterproof bags as they must be pretty trustworthy right??? and you can get some amazing water shots then.

 

Now this water was around 40 degrees. You couldn’t see the bottom of it . The told us at beginning do NOT wear jewellery in there as if it comes off and falls to bottom..YOU WILL NOT FIND IT!. Now this brings me onto the sea shoes. We chose to wear sea shoes as the floor is grainy and you do have to keep getting in and out of the pool and walking on wooden bridges / concrete to go to toilet etc so we just felt better with stuff on our feet.

 

The water felt amazing. Very relaxing. We bopped up and down around the lagoon, exploring the many areas of this lagoon. There were people everywhere, but it wasnt crowded at all. There were areas you could go to with bridges over the top of you, waterfalls, area with a bar and also secluded areas.

 

We got the free face mask at one of the kiosks in the water. You literally just help yourself. We did each others face and now officially looked like Casper the friendly ghost.

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Now they recommend you leave on your face for 5 mins..however we lost track of time and left it on for around 10 mins..I didn’t think it would make a difference but IT DID! When washing it off under the waterfall my forehead BURNT. It wasnt a nice feeling and I deffo didnt feel 10 years younger. . so would deffo recommend only leaving on for a few mins. We also spoke to a couple who decided to apply a 2nd facemask on…they regretted it as it burnt their skin like mad. This was really powerful shit!

Now there are guards wandering around this place just to make sure no one Drowns, gets up to no good. We walked around with our “Water” Bottle and no one questioned it so you can take in your own water.

Now time was getting on. We were having such a great time exploring the many different areas of the lagoon, that we actually forgot about lunch, however I did noticed you are allowed to eat it in the eating area in side.

It was soon dark. Now at night this place transforms into something quite remarkable. Everyone turns into silhouettes! Now we found a secluded spot where the only light came from the heater table things. There was that much steam that you could only see someone walking towards you when they were like 4 feet away.

We got chatting to a Canadian and  a New Yorker. They were uber cool. We all then decided to make our way to the Lagoon bar. You were allowed 3 Drinks per person. They just scanned your wristband.

Now there was also a Sauna there that we made use of, however this thing was UBER hot so I couldn’t stay in there long.

Now it was time to depart. It was now 9pm!!! we had stayed here alot longer than we thought.. if honest it was so much fun. I didnt think we would want to stay in there this long, but I guess there’s so many nationalities in there that you just get chatting to people so makes you want to stay longer..and nighttime.. well put it this way I could have stayed another hour if it wasnt for the buses.

We got all our shite together and handed in our wristbands. The bill for 2 robes, and 6 beers was £79.84 / 10,380isk. Although that seems expensive, it was worth it!

 

The Golden Circle

Price £54 each

Booked via: http://www.icelandair.co.uk/

So we got up nice n early and got collected from a hotel down our road. OUr first stop was a Tomato farm. This was basically a rest stop after 1 hours driving. You got to go to toilet, but at same time be introduced to this tomato farm. Now normally I wouldnt give a shite about stuff like this, however I was rather pekish n noticed that they served there own grown n made Tomato Soup. They served it with bread too. This had to be tried and was actually really nice!. Great especially since it was cold outside. Something to warm up the old belly!

Oh and if the Tomato farm wasnt good enough, we even had Gordon Ramsey tell us all about it..(ok so it wasnt him, however looked like him!!)

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Bellys full, we all got on our coaches onto the next stop which was to see a LIVE geyser!

We arrived in the middle of no where. We were told that temperatures of the water here can go past 100 degrees so NOT to put your hand in the running water. We all got out and made our way up the path towards the thermal pools n Geyser.

Straight away you saw activitiy as there was steam everywhere from the ground. We also noticed a water stream to the side of us and signs everywhere saying DONT TOUCH THE FRIGGIN WATER AS ITS HOT AS FOOK”.

Now whilst walking I noticed the steam would be heading in a certain direction so couldnt resist acting like a dragon!

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We also noticed smaller geysers that weren’t so active around the place. Some of them had deep Blue water that was very pretty, however we didn’t see any activity from those ones. Apparently they can go off like once a year or sumet like that.

Luckily for us thow there was one Geyser that actually went off every 3 minutes. We waited around in a circle for this monster to erupt.. after a few mins we all had the camera ready and WOOOSHHHHHHHH. It shot up in the air. We saw this happen around 4 times whilst here, however this was the best shot we got. You can see how tall it got!

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I found this pic in the toilets.. I tried to convince Ang that I took this picture, however she was having none of it 😦

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Geysers Saw, it was now time to get our asses on the coach onto the next stop which would be the Huge Ass Gullfoss Waterfalls!

Now again this is a place in the middle of nowhere. You are surrounded by mountains with snow on top and you cant actually see the waterfalls from where your dropped off…but you can hear them!

We made our way down the steps and then all of a sudden the waterfalls revealed themselves…and WOW!

They were the biggest id ever seen. Constructed of 2 main waterfalls, this was a huge beast of a waterfall. You can see how big it is as you can just about make out the people to the left of this photo.

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Now there were 3 main look out points. Thee was this one..then there was one  right up close to it. This is where we also represented the Black Country with its very own flag!

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We then went up onto the 3rd look out point which was at the the top of a cliff…this would also be where something special happened..hehe

So we got up the top and this was our view…

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Now this is where I wandered around whilst people left the the top of the cliff to prepare to do something Special to me. I grabbed Ang, told her I had wrote her a poem and then found teh one spot where was hardely any mud and got down on one knee…

A dirty knee and a Yes from a princess later…we were both now Engadged 🙂

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Ok, so the ring didn’t fit, however Ang insisted on wearing it so worse it on her index finger the remaining of the holiday..awwwww the happy couple!

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Smiles all round, it was now time to run back to our coach..and head onto the final stop which was to witness where 2 earth plates meet and have cracked!

This tour was deffo worth the money paid. It lasted around 8 hours and everything was very unique! Thumbs up!!

 

Northern lights

Website to view activity: http://www.aurorareykjavik.is/aurora-forecast (anywhere in white is where you should see them)

Ok so I admit this was the main attraction that caused us to want to come here. Now we had read that the winter months are a lot better to see these badboys as the daylight is shorter therefore there’s more darkness in a day hence more chance of seeing them twinkle away.

We had chosen to go with The Mystery Tour with Greyline.  Now this was our first time with Greyline as we had previously gone on trips with Reykjavik Tours. If honest we prefer Reykjavik tours.  Greyline picked us up from hotel then took us outside their street shop. We had to cross the road in rain and then all cue up in their little shop for our tickets. This took about ten minutes just to cue up. We then had to go back out into the rain where we had to try to locate our bus. With Reykjavik tours they have a huge bus terminal that you wait in. Once on the coach it then states you have wifi, however no one could connect (even after complaining to bus driver). With Reykjavik it connected every time!

The bus tour guide then told us a few facts and said that viability should be ok. We drove out the city to a secluded petrol station where all the coaches parked up. We were then given the chance to either stand out in the rain to look up at the sky or to wait in the coach and the tour guide would alert us if Northern lights showed themselves.

We opted to go outside…now if honest this was the none fun part. We stood outside for over an hour in the rain looking up at the sky with a hope to see the twinkle.. I know it sounds stupid as since theres rain theres cloud right? I guess we were hoping that there would be an opening somewhere. Anyways we didnt see them in this location and got wet. Fortunbately we had the help of Captain Morgan to keep us merry.

We then all got on the coach and heading to another secluded area by a church. Again after looking up at the sky for over an hour they didnt show. If honest I wished we would have bought an umbrella.

 

So the night ended with us NOT seeing the Northern lights. Its not the tour companies fault, however would have been nice to of had hot drinks or sumet supplied…oh and this tour did get cancelled the first night we were here. You wont get a refudn with this company they just simply say “we will rebook you in for another day”.

We had friends go in November, and a week after us though and they both saw them..grrrrrrr.

 

Visit the town of the elves

Now I thought this was a joke kinda thing..however it actually exists. On the way from airport we saw a sign saying “TOWN OF THE ELVES”. I believe the town was called “HAFNARFJÖRDUR”. We never got to actually go into the town, however we got told stories about the elves. Apparantly Elves do exist here and they are referred to as “Hidden People”. There are people that can talk to the Elves..so much that they actually have to refer to these people when building new roads in case they may obstruct / ruin an exisiting elf home.  Now although this sounds far fetched…these people do believe it and if honest I like the idea! I love the fact that they named a town “Town of the Elves” and that tradition has carried on.. We didnt see any Elves..but then again we didnt see the Northern lights so whos to say  Elves  dont exist???? wooooooooo

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Things to know about Reykjavik

– In winter Sun rises around 11:30am and goes down at 3:30pm

– Every person we encountered here was friendly – even the people at the airprot!

– You can budget in Iceland..Happy hours are in many places in the center

– Take an Umbrella as it rained alot when we were there!

 

Oh and be careful when leaving the airport..as we ended up being captured and placed in a Stew for the Yule Lads 😦

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