In December of 2016, my fellow travel agent Cathy Robinson and I set out for a tour of Iceland with Collette Guided by Travel. Iceland has been at the top of my list for years because of its amazing scenery and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. Once we arrived in Iceland, we were picked up by our guide and bus driver and swept away to our hotel in the city center of Reykjavik.
Our tour guide, Jeff, has been leading tours in Iceland for years. He was extremely knowledgeable and shared fun facts on our way to the hotel. Since our flight got in early in the morning our hotel room was not ready. The hotel stored our luggage as we enjoyed snacks at a local cafe. About half of the travelers had booked a pre-night hotel and arrive the previous day. I would highly recommend this because they were well rested and ready to go for the start of our tour.
Once the sun started to rise (around 11am!), Cathy and I set out for our walking tour of Reykjavik. We were split into two groups and led around by two local guides. Reykjavik has a very walkable downtown area. We were able to visit the modern Harpa concert hall, old Hallgrimskirkja church, and learn about Iceland’s history. I was particularly interested in the path of women’s rights in Iceland.
This is also where we were first introduced to the weather of Iceland.
It’s called the “land of extremes” for very good reasons. About 10 minutes into our walk, rain started to fall from the sky and also from all directions. Experiencing sideways rain was a first for me!
Our local guide wasn’t even fazed by it. He was just wearing a jacket over his t-shirt and only carried an umbrella that was being battered in the wind. This is where I learned the importance of following the dress code. The weather is always changing and carrying your waterproof coat is a MUST.
The food of Iceland is quite a treat! Cathy and I had a wonderful buffet dinner at a popular restaurant and I discovered a new love of broccoli soup and their slightly salted bread. Our guide, Jeff, was constantly checking the weather for cloud coverage and the probability of the spectacular Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately the weather was acting up and our Northern Lights cruise was canceled. We went off to bed so that we were refreshed for a day of touring the Golden Circle the next day.
The Golden Circle is a popular path to see some of Iceland’s most basinful natural sights: Thingvellir National Park, geothermal fields of Geysir and Strokkur, and spectacular waterfalls. These were some beauties and the pictures do not do them justice.
Our stay at the guesthouse in Vik was delightful! I loved how cozy this hotel was in the Iceland countryside. Our floors were naturally heated with geothermal pipes and we threw our clothes right on the ground to dry! I also enjoyed the geothermal hot tubs and tasty breakfast & dinner buffets.
Cathy and I also had the chance to experience the folklore of Iceland in a very charming way. We were lucky to be visiting during the time of year for the 13 Yule Lads. Every night a different Yule Lad visits leaving gifts or rotting potatoes, depending on your behavior throughout the year. We had little gifts from the spoon-licker, pot-scraper, bowl-licker, and door-slammer.
The weather of Iceland didn’t quite cooperate and I never was able to see the beauty of Aurora Borealis. However I did get to experience the culture of the Icelandic people, stunning waterfalls, a swim at the Blue Lagoon, and tour around downtown Reykjavik. I hope to visit again soon, either to hunt for the Northern Lights again or experience almost 21 hours of sunlight in the summer.
If you would like to know how you can experience the wonders of Iceland or just hear more stories, please contact Cathy at 314-439-5700 ext 114, or send her an email. You can also call Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext 128, or send her a message.
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