While studying abroad in England during my autumn semester, I planned a weekend trip to Iceland. Iceland had always been a destination on my bucket list. Ever since I watched the music video for Bon Iver's Holocene, I was captivated by the country's magnificent geography. From it's beautiful southern beaches to the grand westfjords in the north, I made it my own personal mission to see its natural grandeur myself. Although my time in Iceland was short, I was able to walk around the city center of Reykjavik, see major tourist sites along the golden circle, and drive on Ring Road where I checked out some of Iceland's breathtaking waterfalls along the southern coast. I chased waterfalls during the day and searched for aurora borealis in the night. Before heading back to England, I got a chance to relax at the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal pool. Despite missing the northern lights due to the weather, showering in water that reeked of sulfur, and paying $18 for bare-minimum sustanance, the weekend proved to be perfectly imperfect; the views I encountered were nothing short of spectacular and the friends I was able to share this experience with made the trip easily one of my favorites. You can read the full itinerary of my trip here.
Day 1: Golden Circle Tour
Visiting Iceland in December definitely had its perks. There were less tourists at all of the locations we visited and the roads weren't congested. However, having only 5 hours daylight meant that we needed to get up early and make sure we made it to our first destination by sunrise. Before hitting the road, we bought all of the food we were going to eat at a local super market and brought everything with us. Iceland is ridiculously expensive. In an attempt to budget our money, $8 Cold sandwiches, $5 water, and $5 chips had become the road trip ritual. Between destinations, we pulled over to hangout with some icelandic horses.
Þingvellir National Park
Kerid Crater Lake
Day 2: Southern Iceland
The weather worsened as the weekened continued. Driving along the Ring Road to get to Renisfjara shore took around 2.5 hours, and the entire journey was dark, foggy and wet. By the time the sun rose, nothing could be seen in the distance because of the dense fog. A glimmering haze sat right above the morning horizon and intertwined with a milky grey sky. I could feel the earth breathing. Everything around me was tinted in black and white, and the lack of tourists made me feel like I was traversing a desolate planet.
All of the locations we visited were featured in Justin Bieber's music video for I'll Show You. Getting to Solheimasandur Plane Wreck was a trek in itself. We had to park along the main road and walk 4 kilometers south to get to the site. The entire walk felt like an eternity. Because of the fog, it felt like an endless journey on a treadmill; nothing around me indicated how much progress we were making except for the amount of time that passed. Each step forward felt like a step in place. 40 Minutes later, we got to see the abandoned plane wreck. At that moment, it didn't feel like I was on earth, but in an eerie dystopian/post-apocalyptic world. The rain picked up the rest of the afternoon, so our time at Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss were cut short. My hands were so numb that I was only able to take a couple of photos. Nonetheless, the waterfalls were gorgeous. The sound of the water crashing from above and the mist that surrounded the falls created an unworldly ambiance.
Reynisfjara shore, Vik
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
Day 3: Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of my favorite experiences during my entire time abroad. The warm water, soothing and calm atmosphere, and stunning view were extremely relaxing. We arrived at the Blue Lagoon around 8 am. Guests are required to take a shower in the spa’s facilities before entering the water using their complimentary soap and conditioner. After showering in water that reeked of sulfur all weekend, being able to enjoy a refreshing shower at the Blue Lagoon was a pleasant experience in itself. We booked the standard package that came with unlimited time at the spa and a free silica mud mask. Because we booked an early time, we got the chance to watch the sun rise while relaxing in the lagoon. After 2 days of driving and exploring, being able to relax in the geothermal spa was the perfect ending to an incredible trip.