Angela’s been travelling the world for years and has ticked 133 countries off her list. Recently she popped into Abbotts Travel to enquire about a trip to Iceland and Greenland with her granddaughter, Caitlin. We arranged an itinerary and asked for her expert judgement about the land of fire and ice.
“When I was asked to write this blog, my 76-year-old self jumped at the opportunity, ably assisted by Caitlin, my 16-year-old granddaughter.
Don't let the name deceive you. There may not be much ice in the summer months, but Iceland holds an array of sights.
You’ll likely have heard of the blue lagoon, a mineral rich lagoon full of geothermal seawater known for having positive effects on the skin... if only it had removed my wrinkles!
In addition, whale watching, glacier walking and geyser observing are popular.
After a three-hour flight from London, we landed in Reykjavik. With a bus ride seeing the desolate land we checked into the lovely Centrum Hotel ready for our adventure.
It started with Super Jeep. Having been on an excursion like this many years ago, but in a coach, I had high hopes of seeing more sights this time around. After all, I wasn’t going to be stuck in a coach with 30 other people. As always, I wasn’t disappointed.
Alongside three other visitors and a tour guide, we were off making our way into the countryside to see the Kerid Crater.
This huge crater has an astonishing red colour due to the lava flow and even though it's a little chilly, climbing to the top gives you an amazing view.
Next, we found ourselves stood in front of the Bláskógabyggo waterfall, which was beautiful. Luckily, the weather was great with clear skies and sunshine. It resulted in my son saying 'your pictures are amazing’, which doesn’t happen often.
One of the most popular attractions is the geothermal area in Haukadalur where we witnessed Iceland's only working geyser that erupts every 4-8 minutes. I may have stood there for about twenty of those minutes getting photo after photo.
However, nothing could come close to the pinnacle moment: Langjökull Glacier. It takes a scary off-road drive to get there but the view is spectacular. It has been home to many Hollywood movies.
The ice is crunchy and sparkling with the reflection of the sun but there are a few crevices, so don't walk too far away from the tour guide.
You can explore more of the glacier on snow mobiles (experienced drivers only) with a group/convoy or like I did, have an adventure in the jeep to the nearby lagoon that happens to empty itself on a regular basis. Whatever you do, make sure you bring your jumper, it’s cold up there!
We stopped for lunch at the Gullfoss Waterfall, or the golden waterfall. Slightly bigger than the Bláskógabyggo waterfall, it’s not afraid to splash back, quite literally. For lunch, I recommend the lamb soup; it's succulent and tasty all in one bowl. To finish that off, the chocolate banana cake is still making my mouth water.
We stopped at the Thingvellir National Park where the old Viking parliament was founded over 1000 years ago. After a short walk up to the viewing area, I was able to take photos and read all about it in both English and Icelandic (I could only understand one).
The next day we boarded the bus to travel out of Reykjavik and into the middle of nowhere. It was time to experience the Blue Lagoon.
I personally didn't go in as I can't swim and it was too cold but Caitlin did the honours.
She said when you arrive in the changing rooms you’re advised to shower to avoid contaminating the water. The salt and minerals, although good for the skin, aren't good for the hair so lather it in conditioner to contain your glossy locks.
Once in the lagoon, my granddaughter said it could only described in one word: weird. Not a bad weird, but similar to being in a hot tub in snow. Your head is out of the water, subjected to the cold air, yet your body is submerged in this hot pool, keeping you nice and toasty.
There's a bar inside the pool, where you can use a wristband given to you at the front desk to pay. You see lots of visitors lounging with wine, as well as enjoying the facemasks and poolside massages on offer.
All in all, the blue lagoon was a great experience for both of us. Caitlin got a lovely swim, and I got brilliant photos. I definitely recommend it.”
Stay tuned for part two of Angela & Caitlin’s trip, which sees them visit the Danish territory that’s been on Angela’s bucket list for years.