So I had just gotten the okay from work to be able to go on my winter wonderland adventure in Iceland and Sweden. First thing I needed to do? Replace my poor stolen bag. Luckily for me, Sportsdirect were having a big ol’ sale at the time so I was able to get this beautiful baby for just £6!
Having learned my lesson from last time, I wasn’t about to shy away from asking anyone for help with my bag. But thankfully the poppa offered me a lift to Victoria station and brought it on for me. This also included a sappy goodbye, but I will not delve into this any further. Having never been to Iceland before, and only going to Sweden when the weather was a lot warmer, I was unsure of what to wear for my trip. So I decided to wear everything, just in case. And also to prepare myself for the island through the magic of makeup!
Making it to Gatwick in very good time, I was able to find the designated special assistance area and was helped by this lovely lady named Sue who took me to the gate, and so graciously accepted my request to take a photo with her. Please look past the fear in her eyes:
Flying with Icelandair they had Icelandic words on the headrests so you could learn something while on your way there. Plus they had USB port so I could charge my phone and watch some shows, which is always a plus in my book.
After landing I got onto a Reykjavik Excursions bus that took me to my hostel. These buses are literally everywhere and they go everywhere too. I think they may be the largest tour operators in the city as not a day went bywhen I didn’t see at least 6 of these driving around town.
Thanks to the recommendation of my Icelandic friend, I stayed at the Loft Hostel in the city centre. It was, hands down, the BEST hostel that I have ever stayed in. It was so clean and very disabled friendly. They had lockers attached to each of the bunk beds and sockets and individual lights on all of them. Which is a godsend, as there is nothing worse than someone else waking up before you and having no choice but to get up when they get up. Or try to force yourself asleep. On the first night, and unfortunately ONLY the first night, I has the room all to myself. It was amazing. Best sleep ever!
My flight arrived in the afternoon, but because of the reduced day light hours and how long it took to get from the airport to the hostel, I just had a little wander up the main street and took some night time photos. At like 5pm or something.
After all the sightseeing of one street, I went to get some dinner at a fancy restaurant near my hostel called Lækjarbrekka. I highly recommend going there, as they serve traditional Icelandic fare such as fermented shark. I decided against that and opted for some lamb with langoustine. Which is just a really posh surf ‘n’ turf. With added wifi! And it’s right in the middle of the city by the Old Harbour. After dinner I went straight to bed, turned the heat up high and waited for my first proper day in Reykjavik.
As mentioned before, the hostel was a disabled person’s dream! The bathroom was excellent too, very spacious and even had somewhere for me to charge my phone and listen to some songs. And an extra plus was that I could moisturise in there as well. Having been to my fair share of hostels, there’s [almost] nothing worse than trying to lotion up and keep your dignity in a 16 person mixed dorm room.
I had booked a whale watching and Northern Lights tour with the Elding Whale Watching company, but had some time to kill before it was due to start so I went to the city’s art museum that was by the Old Harbour and had a good look around. It was a lot like many art museums that I had been to before, but they had some lovely installations including one with some plastic balls, string and I’m assuming a timer. The video of which can be found on my facebook page.
Another thing that stood out for me in the museum unlike others I’d been to, was that there had a little library-esque section in the corner that had a little tree that you could write a wish on and hang it onto one of the branches. I wrote my wish down, and hopefully it will come true!
Thankfully I was able to make it to the pick up point for the whale watching in time as I couldn’t find it straight away as it’s at the bottom of the Old Harbour, and I have very poor time management skills. As it was quite windy where we would usually take off, we were driven to another spot and let onto the boat. At this point I had been wearing layers upon layers of clothing but the cold was not letting up and I could barely feel my fingers while trying to take crappy selfies. The photos go from, yay whales to please don’t let me freeze to death on this thing.
I could feel everyone’s eyes on me while I was struggling to take pictures and not wind up overboard, but whatever. I had unfortunately not been able to get my hands on a jumpsuit until we were already rocking around out at sea. And I had to ask one of the workers on the boat to help fetch me one from the lower deck, and help me put it on. Over 25 minutes and a lot of straining and pulling later, I was able to get it on as my metal leg brace was just not helping things. I have no clue how I survived before putting it on, I thought my chin would fall off at any moment.
The water started really rocking the boat, and I kept getting up at different intervals to stretch my legs and take some new pictures. I was really hoping not to go over the edge as I am not a strong swimmer, I had too many layers to really move my arms. And most importantly, my camera is way too expensive for that nonsense, cuz they could fish me out but what about the lens!
But I was able to get it on and hold myself steady for long enough to take this rather lovely photo, as it would become apparent later on that we were not going to be seeing any whales! But my hand was by the pocket to make sure that I didn’t end up losing my phone, Digby.
After we had finished the tour, they told us that we would be able to come back within 2 years and get another go free of charge, which I thought was really nice. Especially as it was not their fault that we could not see anything. So two thumbs up for the company!
Due to the unforgiving weather, the Northern Lights portion was cancelled as we could not get enough visibility and it would have been a wasted trip. But this did not get me down as it meant that I was able to go back to my [now occupied] dorm room and get ready for dinner! I met this nice guy and girl from Ohio who had just been going around the island and were back in the city for a little while before they went back home.
There was a party happening at the top of the hostel, that was celebrating the launch of a new magazine. Which is where I found out that both myself and the guy happened to carry around $2 bills. I have no idea when it became a tradition for me, but I always have a $2 bill in my wallet whenever I am on holiday. We decided to take a photo and celebrate this fact. What is so special about the note, you ask? It’s the only note in the US that has the signing of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Little bit of knowledge there for ya!
The American kids and I went to get dinner at the coolest place in Reykjavik, Vegamót! At least the big ass queue was an indicator of that. We did end up getting a table and I had a gorgeous meal that starred my favourite crustacean; the lobster! In a delicious creamy sauce with pasta, rocket and garlic bread. I was thinking of getting the horsemeat, which I was told was very delicious, but decided to stick with what I knew! Maybe next time.
Then it was off to bed for a day filled with waterfalls, national parks and geysirs and more lobster!