Here we are on the train on our way from Paris (where I was born) to Montreux-Riviera in Switzerland (where I grew up) to celebrate my birthday with friends and family. It’s not the only milestone I’ll be celebrating as this big life transition comes with a few achievements. I’m so grateful!
I needed to celebrate with rejuvenating trips so we decided to visit Iceland, France, and Switzerland.
Connecting with the Elements
Iceland is such an amazing place. It had been on my bucket list as the photos I’d seen made it look like a place of fairy tales, or more recently Game of Thrones. I met with a friend who had been there previously and was generous to share her experience with me prior our trip.
We landed in Iceland very early in the morning. The arrival at the airport is a bit chaotic as everyone needs to wait at the base of stairs and an escalator without moving for a while…a bit rough but maybe it’s the jetlag that was speaking too. Once we got out we had to wait 10 minutes for the rental car shuttle, and it turns out the rental car center was just a few blocks away… It seems a bit silly. I wish they had a boardwalk for us to walk to get there.
The travel book we had recommended to go straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon, the legendary hot spring and one of the great wonders of the world. We gave our luggage to watch at the safety spot they have, showered, put our bathing suits on and there we were swimming in 38 degrees (about 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) water in the middle of volcanic rocks. We got to have a Skyr (local yogurt) smoothie in the water, my husband a local beer, a few algae masks for our faces…Pure happiness and relaxation.
We then went to check in into our hotel; the Skuggi Hotel in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Reykjavik is a fun little city with an outstanding concert hall, the Harpa. It’s by the sea not far from an art structure of a Viking boat. The Harpa architecture doesn’t seem to end. It has so many perspectives and lines. We toured the little town and had a blast.
Iceland has about 330’000 in population, it’s not many when you think of it. We went to enjoy a concert by Konni Kass that Matt had spotted online. We seem to really enjoy Icelandic musicians. It was such a nice and intimate concert. Every place you enter in this city plays music and GOOD music – amen (such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Ziggie Pop, Florence and the Machine etc…) Pure old rock’n roll – I love it. You find yourself singing on tunes and most of the time you aren’t the only one.
Iceland has one main road called the Ring Road that circles the island (be careful with radars there – they won’t miss you as my friend Joy said!). Since it takes about 2 weeks to visit this emerald island and we were there for 6 days we had to choose what we wanted to see. So we decided to go west with our red rental car that we called “Cherry Bomb” (playing the song pretty much every time we’d jump in) on the famous golden circle tour to discover the geysers, the waterfalls, and the feel for the tectonic plates while hiking. It has a beautiful energy and you really feel all the elements. One can only smile when experiencing them. We kept driving up and found lovely fishing villages and volcanic landscapes. It was so lush! As we drove, we would enjoy the scenery with the many Icelandic horses, sheep with their baby lambs, a few cows and geese. It’s nice to see nature so close.
We visited a lava cave, had a blast stepping and playing on moss for about 2 hours – it was like finding gold. I enjoyed rolling myself on the floor, taking off my shoes and feeling the earth under my feet. The best hypoallergenic carpet! Super green!
The Bakery is great, Skyr (local yogurt) is excellent, hot dogs are alright (it seems to be a thing though) and candies are fun but for the rest, the food in Iceland isn’t the best to my taste and it’s pricey (you don’t get much for your money).
Luckily, hotels we stayed at had breakfast included and we could manage to have the necessary proteins and healthy food to last for a long part of the day. Local beers are great (my husband was happy) and tap water is fantastic – hello it’s Iceland!
We found a fun place in Reykjavik called the Public House which was quite inventive, tasty, and reasonably priced for a filling variety of tapas. It’s a type of fusion cuisine. Their logo was a dressed pig. We asked the waitress what was its name as we were joking about it and she said Donald Trump…Ouch!
I really liked that Iceland and Icelanders are clean and care about presentation. We slept most of the time super well but for when the curtains at places weren’t covering the windows completely (it’s day light at that time of the year for about 20hours and when it’s night it’s not completely dark).
We’ll definitely have to come back at another time to see the northern lights in the winter and the glaciers with a 4×4 car though, Cherry Bomb wouldn’t have done so well there (Ford Fiesta).
We are excited to be full of great memories and for me to have gotten a beautiful hand made Icelandic super itchy wool sweater there! I had to!
Some useful links:
Hiking & Waterfoss : Gulfoss; Skogafoss (loved this one) etc.
Skuggi Hotel : https://www.keahotels.is/en/hotels/skuggi-hotel
Public House : http://www.publichouse.is/
Blue Lagoon (reserve online prior to your arrival) : http://www.bluelagoon.com/blue-lagoon-spa/prices-and-packages/experience-packages/?gclid=CLGvmoiYgNQCFaYy0wodMwMJog