Yesterday was the first day of summer here in Iceland, an annual public holiday, which meant that H and I had the day off work. We made sure to make good use of our day off.
Life is good.
But wait, did I just say first day of summer?
Yup, sure did.
According to the old Icelandic calendar the first Thursday after April 18th is celebrated as the first day of summer, no matter what the weather. So even though the weather is no where near summer like Icelanders celebrate the first day of summer with parades, bbqs, events in the park, basically all things you normally do in summer, just with freezing temperatures.
There is an old Icelandic superstition that believes if there is cold weather on the first day of summer it is known as “winter and summer freezing together”. If this happens then according to the superstition the actual summer will be very warm. Kind of like Iceland’s version of groundhog day. It was freezing this morning so maybe this means a warm summer is headed our way???
Whatever it means the day was absolutely beautiful and I am feeling so rejuvenated after spending a day outside in the sunshine. Sunshine just makes me happy, and sleepy, but I mean really you can’t not smile when the sun is out!
See, all smiles, I love you sunshine!
And I really wasn’t kidding about the sleepy thing, I mean there are worse places to take a nap.
Yesterday was just what I needed to shake off the last of those winter blues. Yes, I still have winter blues at the end of April, it has been a rough winter you guys. On the positive side I am pretty sure the winter of 2015 is one that people will be talking about for years to come so at least I can say I was there. Kind of like how my parents always talked about this one terrible winter when they were growing up, I now I have my terrible winter to go on and on about to my kids one day.
Now that I am feeling back to my usual self I am ready to dive head first into this blog. You see, this month has been a bit rough for me on the blogging front. I have been traveling two out of the past three weeks, which means I have lots of amazing things to share it you all, but also has meant that I have been totally out of my routine. And to be honest I have been really struggling to get back into the swing of things.
It is so hard to get back to real life after traveling isn’t it? I mean why can’t everyday just be spent exploring the world!
Seriously guys, yesterday, it was dreamy.
On top of trying to get back into the swing of blogging I have been dealing with non-stop technical issues. The real icing on the cake was when Bluehost, my server host, went MIA earlier this week knocking out my site and their own in the process.
So yeah, project get back to blogging is not starting out so well. But yesterday, yesterday was amazing.
Basically this post has really no point other than me telling you guys I have been trying to get back into the swing of real life things, and that my Icelandic adventure yesterday was amazing. Don’t worry, next week thing will be back to normal around here, including a full post about our hike from yesterday, so I can gush about how incredible it was all over again.
Hiking in Iceland, it never disappoints!
Okay, this post needs to end before I continue to talk more nonsense. And to celebrate you making it through this random post and for sticking around through my crazy blog issues how about a giveaway to say thank you for reading and kick off your weekend!
If you have been reading this blog for awhile (okay even just one post) then you know how much I love traveling. Another fun fact to know about me, I love finding the best deals possible for my travels. So today I have a little insider secret to share with all my fellow travel lovers who are also all about traveling on a budget, its going to blow your socks off, are you ready???
If you are ever headed from Europe to the US, or visa versus, Icelandair has an awesome stopover deal which offers travelers the chance to add a stopover in Iceland for no additional charge! What! Unreal right that is like getting two trips for the price of one.
And now that you are already booking your flight with Icelandair and dreaming of your stopover in Iceland I have the perfect three day itinerary for you that will guarantee you an awesome Icelandic adventure.
Morning | Arrive at Keflavík International airport. Purchase a Flybus ticket ($15-20 USD) to take you into Reykjavik. Sit back and take in the moss covered lava fields on the 45 minute trip into Reykjavik.
Mid Morning | Arrive in Reykjavik and drop off luggage at your accommodation. Walk down Laugavegur, the main street in downtown Reykjavik, and window shop as you make your way to the Laundromat Cafe for a late breakfast early lunch.
Afternoon | Head off for the Golden Circle tour at 12:30 and spend 6 hours exploring some of the most visited, and beautiful, attractions in Iceland. Be sure to go inside the cafe at the rest stop you will take halfway through the tour and sample the tasty Icelandic doughnut, kleinur, for an afternoon snack.
Note: Purchase tickets in advance with Reykjavik Excursions. The tour cost is 8,500 ISK ($65USD). Book the tour here.
Evening | Treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the wonderful restaurants in downtown Reykjavik. Check out one of these restaurants for a memorable meal and a taste of Iceland:
The Fish Market – If your a fan of lamb the fresh Icelandic lamb here is a must try. Tapas – Order the tasting menu! The Grill Market – You will be impressed as soon as you walk inside.
Morning | Start your day with a cup of coffee at the charming Stofan cafe. Once you have your caffeine fix catch this free walking tour. Tour start times vary from 10:30am-12:00 so check here to see the schedule for the day.
Afternoon | Grab a famous Icelandic hot dog at the stand near the harbor and enjoy your meal while you wander around the charming harbor area and explore the little shops. If you are interested in seeing some whales while in Iceland catch this tour at 1:00pm down at the harbor. Wanting to explore more of Reykjavik instead? Rent bikes at this location and have fun exploring.
Additional Tours | Looking for a more action packed Icelandic adventure for day 2? I recommend checking out the following tours:
1 | Glacier Hiking – This one time, in Iceland, I hiked across a glacier… who doesn’t want to start a story like that! Blue Ice Glacier Tour
2 | Horseback Riding – Explore the Icelandic nature with the adorable Icelandic horse as your sidekick. Íshestar Riding Tours
4 | South Shore Adventure – Perfect for nature lovers, spend a day in one of Iceland’s most scenic regions. Reykjavik Excursions
Evening | Before dinner head over to one of the local city pools for a true Icelandic experience. Just be prepared to strip in the locker room and shower before entering the relaxing hot water. Once you have turned into a prune head out for a drink and use this app to help you find the closest happy hour!
Morning | Enjoy one last meal in Reykjavik at Prikið before saying goodbye to the city. Catch the bus again with Reykjavik Excursions and head to the Blue Lagoon for a pit stop before the heading to the airport.
Note: You can purchase a bus ticket with Reykjavik Excursions that allows you to be dropped off at the Blue Lagoon and picked back up to be taken to the airport from there. For more information check out here.
Afternoon | After spending a relaxing morning pampering yourself catch the bus straight from the Blue Lagoon to the airport again with Reykjavik Excursions. Plan your trip back to Iceland while you make the short drive to the airport for your flight back home.
Know Before You Go
Currency: The local currency is the Icelandic Krona. Most shops and restaurants accept debit/credit cards.
Language: Icelandic. The majority of the population can speak English and many signs will have Icelandic and English on them.
Getting Around: The easiest way to get around Reykjavik is by bus. Download the app and be able to purchase tickets on your phone as well plan your trip based off your current location and destination. Bus tickets can only be purchase on the bus with exact change. Tickets are 350 ISK ($2.75) per ticket.
Tipping: No need to worry about tipping in Iceland as it is not customary to tip. If you receive excellent service though a little tip would be much appreciated.
Climate: May to September are the best times to visit Iceland with almost 24 hours of daylight and mild temperatures averaging 5-15 degree Celsius. The winter can bring cold stormy weather which may cause travel around the country to be difficult and unsafe. Plan accordingly based on what activities you are interested in doing while in Iceland.
What to Pack: Rule number one, pack according to the season in Iceland, not where you live. For the summer you don’t need to pack your winter coat but make sure to bring warmer clothing as the weather is quite mild and not too warm. The winter can be freezing cold and dry, lots of warm thick clothing should be packed. For a list of items that you should pack no matter what time of year you are visiting Iceland check out here.
Learn the Language: Want to practice some helpful words before heading to Iceland. Here are a few helpful phrases to practice. For more Icelandic phrases head over here.
Halló (Hah-low): Hello
Bless (often said twice, Bless Bless): Goodbye
Takk (Tahk): Thank you
Ég tala ekki íslensku (Yeh ta-la eh-ki ees-len-sku): I don’t speak Icelandic
Talarðu ensku? (Ta-lar-dhu en-sku?): Do you speak English?
Þú ert falleg: You are beautiful! – (just in case:)
Air: Make the most of your trip from Europe to the US, or visa versus, and checkout Icelandair awesome stopover deal which offers travelers the chance to add a short trips to Iceland before they continue on with their travels.
Where to Stay: Iceland can be a very expensive place to visit, keep your accommodation costs down and stay at one of these three hostels that are right in or near the downtown area:
Renting a Car: Have more time in Iceland and interested in renting a car to explore the country? Check out here for great deals or here for your own house on wheels, perfect for road tripping around the country.
City Pass: Planning on visiting several museums, using the bus and visiting the local swimming pools? The Welcome to Reykjavik City Card will be perfect for you and will help you save money! Here are more details on the city card.
Where to Shop: Looking to score some Icelandic goodies such as your very own Icelandic lopapeysa? If you are in Reykjavik over the weekend head down near the harbor and check out the local flea market, Kolaportid, for some handmade products at a much cheaper price.
Whenever I visit a new city it is always at the top of my list to find the best place to take in the city from above. I just love getting to see everything sprawled out below me and it usually helps give my navigation challenged self a better sense of direction, well at least a little bit:)
My first time in Iceland the first activity I did here was, you guessed it, visit the viewing deck at Hallgrímskirkja. I think this has made me a bit biased to these views but I think they are the best in the city!
Hallgrímskirkja is the perfect spot to take in the views of the colorful rooftops that brighten up the grey Icelandic days. View the beautiful Esjan overlooking the city. And on sunny days when those colorful houses and views of Esjan combine with the sparkling ocean, it is quite magical!
Sadly there was no sunshine when I visited Hallgrímskirkja a few weeks ago. But there was a fresh snowfall (in April but we won’t dwell on the sad fact) and as I have never visited Hallgrímskirkja during the winter months I figured a trip was in order to take in the city in its white blanket.
When you arrive at Hallgrímskirkja you are greeted with a massive door. I have a thing for doors and this one tops the list!
Once you enter Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, you are greeted with a 15 meter tall organ which is quite impressive. I have yet to hear this beauty in action but it is on my list!
After H and I wandered around the inside of the church and I took a dozen pictures of the impressive organ we headed off to purchase our tickets for a visit to the observation deck at the top of the church. Tickets cost 800 ISK (5.5 Euro).
The first part of the trip up to the observation deck is a somewhat nerve wracking elevator ride that was a bit shaky for my liking, thankfully it is quick. When you get off the elevator you arrive at a large area with windows all around to take in the view of the city. But don’t stop here, make sure to climb the stairs to go all the way to the top to get the full experience!
Be prepared, if there is even a slight breeze in Reykjavik it will feel like a wind storm once you reach the observation deck. Brave the winds and take in the views of Reykjavik from ever angle, it is so worth the watery eyes and windblown hair!
Australia, famous for its laid-back lifestyle, sandy beaches, huge outback and home to the koala, kangaroo and kookaburra, what’s not to love? To me, it is and always will be my home. As an Aussie girl who loves to travel, I have encountered quite a few Australian myths on my way and no matter where I am in the world, the question “So, where are you from?” is always met with, first, a warm smile, and then, some rather funny questions.
I’m not sure whether it’s Australia’s relative isolation and subsequent portrayal as an exotic “Land Down Under” or whether a few iconic films and pop culture are the culprits, but there a quite a few myths circulating about Australia that has given it a certain level of notoriety among travellers. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourites with you all today, to bust those myths and share what life in Australia is really like!
1. We greet each other by saying “G’day mate!”
This isn’t exactly untrue. I know quite a lot of people who will say “G’day mate”, but mostly our go-to greeting is “How’s it going?”. As nonsensical as it is (how’s what going?), it’s just what we say!
2. We all live in the outback.
Actually, 85% of us live within 100 kilometers of the coast, so this one is definitely a myth!
3. Vegemite is eaten from the jar with a spoon.
I’m not sure why people insist on trying Vegemite this way – never eat Vegemite from the jar with a spoon, because if you do, you’ll soon know the error of your ways! It’s best spread thinly on toast with butter, but even then you might not like it. There are definitely some substances best consumed by those born into it, I think!
4. We ride kangaroos to work.
I have actually been asked this once or twice. No, seriously I have. I was just as dumbfounded as you when it happened! For those Australians living in the cities, seeing a kangaroo is actually quite rare! I don’t think it’s even necessary me saying this, but for the record, no, kangaroos are not our favourite alternative to an automobile.
5. We can all surf.
Our laid back lifestyle and love of the beach and ocean is well known among travellers, and I’ve come across so many people who are genuinely surprised that I can’t surf. Kind of like how generally surprised I was upon discovering that not all those who live in a cold climate can ski!
6. The importance of mateship.
This is a famed Australian trait and quite a few of us do refer to our friends as our ‘mates’. It might seem weird to others, but this term has roots in our history. When the convicts arrived on the shores of Australia, the authorities forbid them from using each other’s names so they referred to each other as mate (short for shipmate). And as they say, the rest is history!
7. Aussies drink Fosters beer.
This is definitely a myth because the only time I have even seen a Fosters beer can was when my fiance and I were travelling through America!
8. We shorten all our words.
Yep, this one is definitely true. We shorten everything and we use more slang words than any other country. Barry is Bazza, Sharon is Shazza, MacDonalds is Maccas, afternoon is arvo, barbecue is barbie, sausage is snag, language is lingo, I could go on forever!
And there you have it! Some of my favourite Aussie myths, true or otherwise!
What are some of the funniest myths you have heard about your home country?
If you like to find out more about life in Australia, as well as keep up with all my travel adventures, you can find me over at Let Us Wanderlust! There, you’ll find stories and photographs from my travels alongside my favourite travel companion (my fiance!), snippets from our day to day lives, recipes I’m loving, outfits I’m wearing, project I’m DIYing and the happy little things that make my life so wonderful. I do hope you’ll stop by to say hello!