Continuing from our few days in Iceland, I thought it would be better to write my blog about those days separately from the rest of our NCL cruise. As my title implicates, we are lucky to be in the country of Iceland a few days before the summer solstice, providing us the the most daylight of the year! We arrive in the capital of Reykjavik, Iceland for our overnight stay to be able to enjoy the most of what our first time to Iceland has to offer! We arrive about midday and I had prearranged a rental vehicle through Enterprise Rentacar located right in the docks area of our pier. I planned to drive the Golden Circle by car that day and since we had so many hours of daylight, I had no worries about driving in the dark. As a matter of fact, I scheduled our time at the Blue Lagoon for later than evening as sunset was very late (almost 12 midnight) and total darkness was almost non-existent as sunrise was at 3am. I believe the best time of the year to visit unless you wish to see the Aurora Borealis (northern lights), they can be seen only during darkness. We start our travels with a GPS included in my car rental and are off to the first stop of Pingvellir National Park. Pingvellir is famous for the ability to see where the North Atlantic tectonic plate meets the Eurasian tectonic plate and is also the site of one of the first General Assembly in 935AD for the formation of the country of Iceland.
Our 2nd major stop is at Geysir, the famous geothermal area of the Haukadajur Valley. There are many small geysers in this area including the largest in Iceland called Skokkur with it shooting off up to 65 feet in the air about every 5 to 10 minutes, so not much waiting time is necessary! A nice gift shop and snack store is right on the parking lot site, so an Iceland bottled water is a must. Food and beverages are very expensive in Iceland, so we just brought along snacks from the cruise ship to carry us through the day.
We continue on our road trip around the Golden Circle leading us to the next major point of interest located at Gullfoss Falls (Golden Falls) . The Gullfoss Falls are a spectacular 2 stage falls from water that comes from the Hvita River and the Langjokull Glacier. The first cascade is 36 feet and the 2nd drop is 70 feet with the canyon walls reaching as high as 230 feet. The walk from the parking lot to these falls was about 1/2 mile with stairs at the end, so be aware of this. The sound was deafening and the view fabulous!
From our last major stop, we do have to drive few hours to get back to the cruise ship just outside the capital of Reykjavik. The views along the road are far ranging and wide with mountains and valleys and sparse vegetation. We have just some time to grab a snack on board before we have to head back out to our 8pm entrance time at the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon, although very expensive, I still say it is a must see experience! We upgraded our simple entrance fee (about $70 USD) to the Premium Package because it included some extras like a 2nd mud mask, dining reservations, robe, and slippers. It is still quite cool in the evenings in June in Iceland, so we appreciated the robe and slippers. There is no time frame for you length of stay and the lagoon is so large, you never feel crowded or pressured to leave. We ended up staying there for over 2 hours and enjoyed the varying degrees of the water temperature and the mud masks. Like I said before, I would definitely do it again!
What a fun day we had, but we still have a few hours before we have to return the car the next morning, so off to the downtown area of Reykjavik, Iceland to explore. We walk around the main areas by parking by the famous Hallgrimskirkja Church. Towering almost 250 feet this Lutheran church can be see from all over the city. It features a giant German pipe organ and measures almost 50 feet high and weighs over 25 metric tons. Walking from the church down towards the ocean, we see many interesting houses and architecture, so I am glad we ventured into town before the ships departs about midday.
An overnight trip as we head north of the Arctic Circle, towards the village of Akureyri on the northern coast of Iceland for the day. A very small fishing village, we find that we can walk around and see the sights fairly easily. Still lots of snow in the surrounding hillsides!
Iceland is definitely an interesting geographical location and I would go back to stay longer to give me more time and continue to explore the rest of the island because there are so much more to see!