Okay- I know I have to move on from Iceland. I’m reaching the limit of what I know about it. However- one last thing I want to mention- one of my absolute favorite things to do:
There are less than a million whales world wide (or so I was told) and really, regardless of the numbers, it is believed that approximately 200,000-300,000 live off the coast of Iceland for a large portion of the year. That is an enormous amount of whales!
Now whatever the month- bring some serious winter clothing because this is not the soft breeze you get on a boat in the Atlantic- this is the arctic- so dress appropriately- check the temperature before you go, and even if it’s August- bring a sweater (preferably the one you bought at the Nordic Store before you left.
Something particularly cool is the fact that if you go during the summer months, you may get the chance to see blue whales. Now, that’s a huge deal because really- there’s only about 3-4,000 in the entire world, and if you’re lucky- you may even get to see a group or “stock” of about 700-1,000 of them (the one of largest stocks recorded). These blue whales are believed to migrate up to Iceland in the summer months. In addition to Orcas, Minke Whales (which may freak me out the most), Sperm Whales, Dolphins and several other breeds, a blue whale is an astounding form of mammal that will literally change your life when you see it.
It is a little more expensive than going in the States, but they’re longer too, and just an absolutely unforgettable experience. I’ve done some chatting- and it seems like Elding is the best- they do a really amazing midnight tour which is epic because half the time it’s still light out. If you need more information you should check out Ice Whale because they are a fountain of knowledge on the subject.
If you’re not on a real budget- you can hire a private tour also. Iceland has quite a few of them- they’re much more intimate and you may be able to have a closer introduction to the whales.
Just remember** The animals are wild and many times endangered, and could LITERALLY kill you without trying at all. So make sure to stick with a whale watching company that complies to all the laws and standards so that both you and the wildlife remain unharmed.
Going there in July will guarantee you a high of around 55°f- about 13°C- and you’ll wonder why anyone would want to spend time in a place like that. But the chill isn’t the sort that seeps into your bones, and you really can survive with a windbreaker or a sweater. My suggestion is buying one of those fantastic sweaters from the nordic store or honestly just buying one from the airport’s shop(it WILL come in handy for your next sweater party). But be warned- Reykjavik airport leaves a LOT to be desired. Most of the stores are closed until a flight lands, so if you don’t make it to a store as soon as you arrive, you may be stuck waiting for another international flight to arrive before you can even really grab a bite to eat or pick up a souvenir.
As far as money goes- it may be a little overwhelming when you walk into the airport and try to take money out of an atm. My traveling buddy emptied her little bank account by hitting random buttons. But before you whip out the ol’ fingers and toes, the conversion is pretty simple-
1,000 Icelandic Krona is worth approximately 9 US dollars(5.30£), the easiest way is just to round it up and move the decimal over two spots.
The next tip is that Icelandic people speak English less fluently than a European country, so if you’re used to walking into a shop, restaurant or hotel and having no language barrier, you’re going to be stuck. Knowing some common phrases could be helpful- because honestly, saying something in English with a huge apologetic smile will get you absolutely nowhere.
However, yes, the people from Iceland will try to be accommodating because they believe in mythical beings. (I know I know, but don’t judge) One of Iceland’s motto’s is: always be kind to strangers, because you never know who(or what) they may be.
Iceland really has an air of magic about it, and you half expect to see faeries and elves in the strange damp caves around you. Keep an eye out for cairns too- rock piles created as markers- some of them are tiny, but some look like humans from far away, and really are kind of eerie. Either way- they’re a huge part of Iceland’s history.
These are just a few things that will help you navigate Iceland, and let me tell you- despite the differences, it is such an overwhelmingly amazing place to see. Everyone should go there at least once in their lives.
and those are the places that completely take your breath away.
One of those places?
The Blue Lagoon- located between the Keflavik airport and Reykjavik city, the spa from far away looks like a factory. And after traveling for half an hour on a single desolate road surrounded by moss coated lava rocks, the billowing steam coming out of the large white building looks somewhat daunting.
The idea that for 47 dollars (62 if you want the breakfast buffet) you can hop on a bus that will take you to an Icelandic spa is pretty unbelievable. And once you arrive you realize how cheap the deal really is, because sitting before you is the strangest clash of nature you could imagine. Huge hulking black rocks frame the strangest opaque blue water that reaches 102 fahrenheit, and is literally the saltiest mess you’ve ever experienced.
But once you’re floating in the almost unbearably hot water, toes in black lava sand, white silica mud awkwardly dripping off your face, you stop noticing the saltiness of the water, and the dreary gray sky above you. You’re humbled by the beauty of the burnished white rocks that sit at the waters edge, and slightly unnerved by the idea that you’re floating in a cyanide scented spring, created by active volcanoes.
But even with all of these things that should sound a bit creepy, it’s one of the most beautiful and healing places on earth. You float until you can’t stand it anymore- then you slip into one of the grottos or rinse off under a waterfall.
I know that sometimes life gets away from you- we are all running as fast as we can to get everything done. But if you’re feeling banged up, this is the place to go. Get a massage, have a bite of fresh Icelandic salmon, and try to ignore the lack of warmth received from the locals (most of which are wonderfully attractive) because let’s be honest- no one is friendly at 7am, so you really can’t fault them. My suggestions is, if you’re flying overseas, you should take icelandair (not the BEST airline but certainly acceptable) and opt for the 10 hour layover. Yes you’ll be exhausted and your hair will feel like straw, and if you’re a female, you will have to suffer through the awkward nakedness of all the women who have ABSOLUTELY no modesty, but you’ll also feel like a different person- cleansed, healed and deliciously sleepy.
The best part is- Icelandic customs literally consists of two dapper men hanging out asking where you’re going and why you’re in Iceland- but both ways Customs only takes approximately twelve minutes- which gives you plenty of time to explore the island.
www.bluelagoon.com - buy your tickets right at the airport next to the customer service desk.