The next few blogs will be a departure from my local adventures – I took a much needed (and long overdue) vacation to Iceland early this summer. My wonderful climbing partner Casey and I decided we deserved to have a serious adventures, so we planned the ultimate trip around Iceland’s Ring Road. Like most people, we planned to tackle this country starting in Reykjavik and travelling counterclockwise. It only took us a few days to fall in love with the such a beautiful country.
Trolling Iceland. Photo credit: Casey
Our first (and last) stop was Reykjavik. We found a great AirBnB within walking distance of most major sites in the city, with free street parking! For our first full day, we booked a horseback riding tour to ride Icelandic horses at a farm outside the city. The first lesson we learned is that they are NOT called ponies, the staff at the barn insist that these Icelandic equines are all horses, regardless of size. The horses were some of the sweetest, heartiest and dearest creatures we have ever encountered. We had bad luck with the weather and rode in pouring rain with heavy winds, so we were dressed at the barn in rubber outfits that made us look like traffic cones. We meant to do the hot springs tour at Eld Hestar, but were so cold by the time we arrived, that no one dared undress to get into the water. I would, however, highly recommend checking out the Reykjadalur Hot Springs if you get a chance! Our guide was fantastic and we switched horses many times as we rode up into the mountains. We were able to test the gaited horse and try tolting, which was an absolute delight for us former riders.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs. Photo credit: Lisette
The next day, in order to make the best of the rain, we decided to explore the Blue Lagoon, figuring that it couldn’t hurt to soak in warm water in the rain. We found the Blue Lagoon to be a bit overhyped, but interesting. The prices were STEEP, so we stuck with the basic package. The staff were fairly snooty, and yelled at us as we prepared to enter the lagoon, getting mad at us for going back and forth between the locker room and showers. We found that the Blue Lagoon was fun, but crowded, there is a bar you can access with your wristband in the water, so you’ll find many a frat boy type in this region of the pool. The best part of the lagoon experience, in my opinion, was the restaurant. We had a wonderful three-course meal. It started with gluten free bread and whipped butter, followed by fantastic fish, lamb and decadent dessert.
My meal at the Blue Lagoon restaurant. Photo credit: Lisette
We found a few wonderful restaurants in Reykjavik, including Fish & More, for excellent fresh fish, veggies and great gluten free cuisine at reasonable prices (by Icelandic standards), and then slightly pricier Snaps, very close to our AirBnB. Snaps specializes in gin cocktails and serves upscale cuisine in a charming little location off the main drag. Both were easily able to accomodate my gluten free diet and served absolutely excellent food. We did find the service at Fish & More slightly more cordial than Snaps, but I got the impression that had more to do with our particular waitress at Snaps and not the service overall.
Restaurants and sites in Reykjavik. Photo credit: Lisette
From Reykjavik, we headed south and east to begin our trip around the Ring Road!