Well, I think it is true what they say, turning 30 really is a milestone not to be afraid of. In fact, I think it could be the best year yet.
Last weekend I celebrated my 30th Birthday with my boyfriend who so sweetly surprised me with a weekend trip to Iceland. I had no idea where I was going until I arrived at the airport and was given a gift, a book wrapped up in the map of the world. With great excitement I ripped the paper apart to find Lonely planet’s guide to ICELAND, screaming and jumping up and down, it was the best surprise ever, Iceland has been top of my list for so long!
My boyfriend had arranged for us to hike a glazier and go on a waterfall tour on my birthday which landed on the Saturday. We aren’t usually the type of holiday makers to ever enjoy tours or organised trips but with only 3 days in Iceland and so much to see, this was a must do and we absolutely LOVED it!!!! We went with Extreme Iceland on this tour. We were picked up in a mini bus at 9am to start our 2 hour journey to our first waterfall destination. In winter, the sun rises at 10.30am so on our way to the waterfalls we stopped off at an incredible viewing point to watch the sun come up, greeting me into my 30th year, it was AMAZING and so, so special. We then hopped back in the bus and carried on to our first stop. Our tour guide was really informative yet fun, we learnt a lot and really got a feel for the country.
Sunrise on the way to Seljalandsfoss waterfall
Hiking the glazier at Solheimajokull
The day was so long but oh so worth it. After exploring three waterfalls and hiking across a breathtaking glazier, we finished off with a beer (a very expensive beer) on a black sand beach watching the sunset. After that, the others on our tour left to go on a northern lights tour, but seeing as it was my bday, we just wanted to go out for dinner and drinks and hopefully see the lights the next night. So we started the 2 and a half hour trip back to Reykjavik where we were staying. On the way back, about 9pm, our driver started ponting out the window, we were in the middle of the dark on a quiet road, and he was like northern lights northern lights!!!! I screamed!!!! Peering out window with my nose squashed up to the glass like a child. He stopped at the side of the road and we got up to watch the most amazing green stripe fill the sky! I definitely had a tear in my eye and felt so lucky to see one of the world’s most mystical magical shows on my birthday. We didn’t need to do a tour, we just needed some darkness to see the lights 🙂 Check out the aurora website for forecasts, we knew we were in for a good chance over the weekend and even saw another little glimmer of green the following night too.
Sunset at the black beach
For dinner we headed back into Reykjavik and went to a restaurant called Snaps which was recommended to us by a local and we loved it. It was super cool vibes, great 60s music and quite a soho house feel to the bar area. Food was great and the cocktails even better, horrendously expensive but welcome to Iceland, it makes London feel cheap! After dinner we headed to a great bar called Kaffibarrin which I would definitely recommend and then danced the night away in Prikid, a hip hop lovers dream. Well it was my 30th after all, I had to show the kids how to party.
We spent most of Sunday nursing a hangover and gently exploring the capital Reykjavik. It is brilliant for coffee stops and indulgent treats so we did just that. Again and again and again. Luckily the perfect hangover hang was just around the corner, we booked into the very famous Blue Lagoon for an evening of deep healing 😉 and relaxation. Hire a car so you can get out of the city without paying a fortune on expensive taxis.
Blue Lagoon truly is the disney world of geothermal bathing but honestly, you cannot miss it. Yes there are lots of tourists, like us, and yes it is really overpriced. But, it was so amazing and just what we needed. We paid over £100 for us both to get in, what that included was an algae face mask which we very proudly wore whilst having our swim, a drink of our choice, so we drank beer with our face masks on and a bath robe. We aren’t sure how much we would recommend paying for the bath robe as ours were stolen, who can blame them, it was -5 degrees, we were left to scamper out of the 40 degree water into freezing temperatures wearing nothing more than our undies. Blue lagoon was magic, go there and don’t get your hair wet, it will ruin it for months to come.
On our last day, we explored the golden circle. The golden circle is a route combining some of Iceland’s most breathtaking sights. We loved having our own car so we could make up our own little tours and adventures. Gullfoss waterfalls, Geysir and lots of other famous sights were on the list and we were not disappointed. Those two were definitely my favourite and I would make sure you visit them! Gullfoss blew my mind, especially in winter, it looked like nothing I have ever seen before. The pure power and beauty of the falls were incredible.
And finally, before heading back to the airport, we couldn’t resist taking one more dip into Iceland’s amazing hot springs. Just off the golden circle is Fontana spa, and at £10 each for entry it was CHEAP as chips in comparison to Blue lagoon and had incredible scenery. It isn’t as vast or dramatic as Blue lagoon but it felt much more authentic, like a locals place. Hanging out in the hot springs is like hanging out at the local pub for us, it is very much a big part of Icelandic culture and after a long day out in the cold it really is the biggest treat. Iceland we love you and we can’t wait to come back and visit for longer next time, there is so much more to see but this was a really good start!