Gosh this feels a long time ago now! If you missed Part 1 catch it HERE. Continuing on my Iceland holiday recap then, on Sunday morning I had just finished my lovely (pain free, smooth) 13.1 miles around Reykjavik.
My next tour was called Inside The Volcano. In true Anna style I hadn’t realised I’d double-booked myself for the Saturday. I’d booked both the Golden Circle and the volcano tour for Saturday and only realised when I received an email on Friday saying that due to the bad weather they needed to move the tour to Sunday instead. Erm…so no change then from what I thought I had booked! How lucky am I!?
It’s not a cheap tour at all, but I would say it’s worth it. We were driven out in a mini-bus to a building literally in the middle of nowhere. We were given a brief that we were to hike about two miles across the volcanic fields to the base camp next to the volcano, Thrihnukagigur. The volcano had been discovered in 1974 and has been dormant for 4,000 years. We were offered more waterproofs if we wanted them (I called them Minion suits; they were bright yellow huge anorak things). I was fine as I was though – the website gives a clear itinerary of what you’re in for so you can properly prepare.
You can see the minions behind 😉
The hike was tough going as it was so windy across the flat fields and it rained sporadically. But it was fun and beautiful.
We followed a guide who was really informative of the local landscape and history. I asked her how many times a day she hikes there and back and she said three! But she loves it – I mean who wouldn’t!
When we got to the base camp building we were given unlimited hot drinks which was lovely! We were split into groups of four-five (I think there were about 20 of us in total) and taken to the volcano in our groups. This is great for safety reasons and to help protect the volcano, of which they were very keen to do. We weren’t allowed to take any of the rock from the volcano back with us, understandably.
By now it was really windy and the trek up to the volcano itself was one of the scariest things I’ve done, I won’t lie. The path up to it had one rope as a fence along the side and then sudden death on the other side. Imagine Frodo and Sam climbing Mount Doom with no helpful eagles. It was a health and safety nightmare I can tell you.
One of the girls in my group shouted over the wind she’d never been so glad to weigh as much as she did before as it anchored her more to the ground. A slight girl and myself however clung on for dear life as we were almost blown away! I genuinely feared for my life. We then had to walk across a very rickety bridge to get to the lift thing (but thankfully we were strapped on with a harness at this point).
The lift down to the volcano took about six minutes. The area underneath the lift was fenced off and called the iPhone drop zone as so many people had dropped there phones trying to take photos as the lift descended which was obviously dangerous to the people below.
My photos don’t do the volcano any justice. There were so many colours in the rock, it was beautiful. The colours came from silicon, iron, sulphur and copper. It was very cold down there but so still. There are rocks everywhere and you can climb about and touch the sides. It was fascinating.
After a good amount of time, we headed back up and battled the wind to come back down to the base camp. I was fully ready for some hot soup after that!! There was a veggie option and a lamb option. I went for lamb and, as before, it was delicious.
Outside, just casually chilling out in the very cold and windy conditions was Mr Frosty, the base camp leader’s dog.
At first I thought he was a wolf but thankfully not, just a lovely dog.
The hike back was easier as the wind had dropped and I chatted away to our tour guide, Sigun. Her boyfriend was a runner and had run the Berlin marathon! I asked her about the Reyjavik marathon and she said that in the past few years Iceland had had a boom of running. Very cool.
That evening it took me a good while to warm up again. I had a hot shower and it felt divine. I was also very ready for a good hearty meal after my run and the hike. I found a fab restaurant called the Public House which was very quirky inside. It was kind of like tapas in that you ordered a few smaller dishes.
Or sit there with your Kindle…
It had a buzzing atmosphere and I felt a little sad to be on my own. I found it tough to choose from the menu as there were so many tasty-sounding things on it and I had no one to bounce back my thoughts to. I asked the waitress a few things about my choices and she was really helpful. When you’re on your own you need someone to discuss these things with!
I chose three plates and honestly they all rocked my world. I had reindeer tataki (basically very quickly seared) with Icelandic blue cheese. I did feel bad for eating Rudolf but the waitress recommended it. For my second dish I had a beef slider with chipotle sauce and bacon with fries. It looks like a full-sized burger (and though I kinda wished it was) it was a mini-burger. The final dish was the best. It was slow cooked lamb in an “Ástarpungur” (an Icelandic doughnut) with apricot jam. It had the right balance of sweet and savoury and was DELICIOUS.
I asked the waitress what I should have for pudding and she recommended the Mexican chocolate cake.
The lighting was rubbish, apologies. Basically it was chocolate cake kind of dismantled into a heap of crispy and delicious crumbs, with ice cream and marshmallow fluff. Dear god that was good. Calorie deficit defeated 😉
Monday morning I was off for some horse riding on an Icelandic horse. The riding tour is called Islenski Hesturinn and the raves on TripAdvisor are amazing. And I can confirm true!
Begga, the owner, was hilarious, informative and clearly hugely passionate about what she does. She really made the tour. She went through in a good amount of detail what to expect, what we needed to do and instilled a good sense of confidence in us, even to those who it was their first horse riding experience.
Icelandic horses are different in that they are smaller and have additional gaits, whereas ‘normal’ horses only have the standard walk, trot, canter/gallop. We got to experience the tölt, which is similar to trotting in speed but a whole lot more comfortable. No bouncing!
Minion trousers were offered of which I was grateful for as my leggings would have gotten soaked
Despite it raining and being rather cold, the horse riding was so much fun. Begga took loads of photos of us which was great, so we could just sit back and enjoy ourselves. My horse was lovely and the scenery was, as always, beautiful.
As part of my tour I got a voucher for a meal at a “healthy eating restaurant”. The restaurant was called Gló and it was amazing! Raw, vegan, and gluten-free options…they had it all! Obviously I went for the Mexican chicken though 😉
With each meal you get a choice of four salads as sides. I had a beetroot one and a sweet potato one and I can’t remember the other two, but it was SO good. I followed it up with a slice of rhubarb and blueberry cake and a Swiss coffee (like a mocha but thicker with Belgian chocolate). Yep. Pretty damn good as you can imagine.
In the interest of keeping things short(er) now… the rest of my trip (as in the rest of Monday and Tuesday morning before I flew back) was fairly low-key as I had no more tours planned. It gave me a chance to do lots of walking around Reykjavik, looking at the shops and sights.
Iceland seems to be full of very cool people. The shops are funky, modern and selling quirky (albeit expensive) items. There was beautiful and interesting graffiti everywhere, interesting sculptures dotted about the place and a rainbow painted on the ground left over from the Gay Pride celebration.
I spent some time chilling, reading magazines and using the WIFI (which was everywhere by the way) in a very quirky cafe/restaurant called The Laundromat Cafe. The décor was very retro and there was a genuine laundromat downstairs.
On Tuesday I ran another four miles in the morning (which were just blissful) and then spent the rest of the morning walking along the coast, taking photos and listening to podcasts. I picked up a salad from a great restaurant called XO so I would have dinner later (as my flight didn’t get back until 8pm that evening). I really recommend this place as it’s very low-key and a bit cheaper. It’s further out from the main area of Reykjavik but this worked nicely for a long walk.
I’d had a meal from there for dinner the night before (the Indian chicken salad) and it was huge and delicious so I went for the same, but take-away. Next door is a fro-yo place!! I obviously had to try it out. I didn’t hold back on toppings!
For my last sit-down meal in Reykjavik I went back to Gló because it had been so good. Then I got a transfer back to the airport. On a final note, my flight back was amazing. They had movies!! I watched Mad Max: Fury Road, which I initially thought I wouldn’t like but actually really enjoyed.
Obviously I could keep going and going, with more and more photos but I think it would be indulgent (or more indulgent) of me. Needless to say, I fully recommend Iceland as a holiday. It’s expensive but you get so much from it.
What are your top places to visit?
What’s on your bucket list of travels?
Do you like trying the local foods when on holiday?