Lynn Ciccarelli of Bella Vacations knew she wanted to visit Iceland. Question was: How? Her itinerary didn’t disappoint and she came away with one of the most memorable travel experiences of her life.
Not knowing much about Iceland, I contacted Iceland Travel and spoke to Johanna Gilsdorf. She put together an action-packed, fun-filled trip that none in our group will ever forget.
We flew nonstop from Boston to Reykjavik on Icelandair—only a four-and-a-half-hour flight.
The plan was to make Reykjavik our base and take day trips from there. Our guide, Ása Björk Snorradottir, met us at the airport. She saw to our every need from that point forward.
We began with a Reykjavik city tour. The highlights of the tour were the National Museum and Cathedral, but the most relaxing was a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon (I’m pictured above in blue bathing suit). The warm, blue waters are inviting—and the the swim up-bar is a plus!
The next day we embarked on the well-known Golden Circle Tour. We stopped at Þingvellir Park, a World Heritage Site and a must-see when visiting Iceland. We then went on an easy hour-long hike along the fault line there, where two tectonic plates are being pushed apart, a feature unique to Iceland.
Next stop was Gullfoss Waterfall and from there we went to the famous geyser. Walking to the site, we were greeted by Chef Bjarki Hilmarsson, head chef at Hótel Geysir. There, we were treated to a totally unexpected, traditional Icelandic meal.
Chef Hilmarsson prepared the meal by wrapping eggs in cheesecloth and boiling them in a nearby bubbling spring. Rye bread was then dug up from the warm ground where it had been placed to bake overnight. Icelandic schnapps rounded out the meal.
On the third day, Johanna arranged for us to ride the famous Icelandic horses. We were picked up at our hotel and transported by van to the stables. The good nature and size of the horses make them a perfect choice for children or novice riders, and even the more experienced are sure to enjoy a ride. We trotted through streams and climbed to the tops of hills.
Day four highlights included the spectacular waterfalls, Selvandsfoss and Skogarfoss. As we drove through the farmland, we could see the volcanic ash left over from the March eruption.
Our group had decided to stay at Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel. It has a helpful staff, friendly bar and nicely appointed rooms. Other nearby hotels include 101 Hotel Reykjavik and Hotel Borg. The 101 Hotel Reykjavik is a more contemporary hotel, and you can request corner suites for a wonderful view. Hotel Borg has Art Deco charm and seven suites. All three hotels are within walking distance of one another, as well as shopping, good restaurants and historical sites.
The city of Reykjavik also has a wide variety of restaurants, both traditional and modern. A favorite is the Fish Company, an eclectic restaurant in the heart of the city. Chef and owner Larus Gunner Jonasson creates modern Icelandic food using local, fresh ingredients. Another fun spot is Tapis, which serves Spanish appetizers, as well as more unusual items (think whale meat and horse capriccio).
While Icealand’s landscape is comparable to Ireland or New Zealand, it has a uniqueness all its own; the food, people and terrain are unlike anything I have ever witnessed. No place on Earth has the same travel opportunities and experiences as Iceland.