Photos: That Time Reykjavík Was Buried In Record Snowfall

Photos- That Time Reykjavík Was Buried In Snowfall

I’m pretty sure this was my fault. After living in Reykjavík for about a month, I was emailing my Grandma and informing her of the weather, as you do. “Oh it’s not too cold, just rainy and cloudy mostly…just like the UK,” I told her. And then that night, bam! 4 feet of snow dropped seemingly in one go. Thor was clearly not happy with being compared to England. Which is fair enough. So, we woke up to snow so thick we could hardly open the front door. This was, as we would discover, the most snowfall Reykjavík had in a single night for about ninety years.

We felt like children, charging into the street, gazing in awe at the sheer crotch-deep amount of powder that was bringing the city to a standstill. That was until all the tourists woke up and found their tours were cancelled, so wandered the streets in droves, in a mixture of delight and frustration. Not only this, but the main road out of Reykjavík was shut, meaning many tourists missed their flights home.

Aside from the tourists clogging the streets, Reykjavík was stunning. The skies were completely clear, the air completely still and the snow completely and utterly beautiful. Take a look for yourself…

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3 Must-Do Icelandic Day Trips: The Essential Tours for the First-Time Icelandic Tourist

3MustDoIcelandicDayTripsLostness.co.uk

There are certain people who regard ‘tours’ as ‘not real travelling’. Please do not listen to this snobbish garbage. Tours are awesome. Sure, there is something more adventurous about hiring a car and discovering everything by yourself, but sometimes tours are the most cost-efficient and time-efficient way of seeing what a country has to offer. Plus there’s no need to worry about flat tyres and arguing about directions. Win/win.

Our trip to Iceland was short and limited to a relatively tight budget (no £300pp helicopter lava tours for us!), so we went to the local tourist information centre and, after looking through the vast array of tours, decided on just 3: The Golden Circle, The Blue Lagoon and The South Coast Tour. Here’s a rundown of what each tour had to offer…

  1. The Golden Circle Tour 8360 ISK (£46 pp)

Surprise surprise! Of course we were going to pick The Golden Circle Tour! You can’t speak to any Icelandic tourist without hearing them say ‘Oooh have you done The Golden Circle yet?’ So, we had to see what all the fuss is about. The trip included:

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Þingvellir National Park

  • Þingvellir National Park. UNESCO world Heritage site.

Iceland is smack bang in between two tectonic plates. At this amazing place, you can see the gaping crater where these two plates are tearing apart from one another. It’s also where the old Viking Parliament used to gather. Cooler than the Houses of Commons, that’s for sure.

  • The Geysir Area

You know all those people who go on holiday to Iceland and come back with super cool snaps of an erupting geyser? They almost definitely took them here. Strokkur is the name of the geyser which erupts every 8-10 minutes. So get that camera at the ready!

  • Gullfoss

Gullfoss (meaning ‘Golden Falls’ in English) is often considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. It certainly is beautiful, but if you go in the winter, pack your coat; the water spray in the arctic wind is brisk!

Overall: It’s not difficult to see why The Golden Circle Tour is the most popular day tour in Iceland. We booked our tour through Sterna Travel, and we were so happy we did. Our tour guide was truly a fountain of knowledge, with a real passion and energy for Icelandic history.

*A bonus with this trip*: it departs from The Harpa, so arrive an hour early and take a look around Reykjavík’s beautiful concert hall!

  1. The Blue Lagoon 9700 ISK (£53 pp)

Another classic. But…a pricey one. Like The Golden Circle Tour, The Blue Lagoon is synonymous with Icelandic tourism. It’s world famous and on every must-see Iceland guide going. It was for this reason, that we knew we’d visit the Blue Lagoon before we even departed the UK. But is it worth the price? 9700 ISK got us:

  • Bus transfers to and from Reykjavík
  • Admission to The Blue Lagoon

And that’s it. Compared with The Golden Circle, this can seem pretty steep. But you have to remember that The Blue Lagoon is a spa, and spas are expensive. In fact, in relation to other spas around the world, this price actually isn’t that bad, especially as it includes transport. To make the most of your money, incorporate your visit in your airport transfer– you will zoom right past it on your journey from Keflavík Airport to Reykjavík anyway!

*Tip*: Visit The Blue Lagoon at dusk (season permitting!). It is a less busy time and you will get to see the Lagoon’s beauty both in the daylight and darkness.

  1. The South Coast Tour 12,255 ISK (£67 pp)

This tour was the best value for money by a long shot. It was a 10-hour trip, which stopped off at five locations, each of them better than the next. Here’s the rundown of what to expect:

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Jo behind Seljalandsfoss

  • Seljalandsfoss

This is a beautiful little waterfall that you can actually walk behind. Bring a waterproof jacket though, there is no avoiding the spray behind the falls; this is the first stop and you do not want to begin your 10-hour journey cold and wet!

  • Skógafoss

Another waterfall! Skógafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It’s English translation is ‘forest falls’ (“because of all the trees” our tour guide claimed sarcastically). This is a really impressive waterfall that has an almost constant rainbow effect from the masses of gushing water. If you don’t mind heights, you can even climb up the side of fall- watch your footing on the wet rocks though!

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Jasper sat on the rock formations at Reynisfjara

  • Reynisfjara

This south coast beach is known for it’s charcoal-black sand and beautiful basalt rock formations. It is also known for its aggressive waves, which only this year fatally swept up a tourist. This is a beautiful beach, but keep a safe distance from the unpredictable water.

  • Cape Dyrhólaey

This is the southernmost point of Iceland and offers beautiful views of the ocean, more volcanic back sand and amazing arched rock formations. Depending on the season, this is also a popular puffin hangout.

  • Sólheimajökull

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    Sólheimajökull Glacier

This was the last stop on our tour. Sólheimajökull is a large melting glacier, and although our tour did not include the glacier walk (maybe next time!), simply viewing it was amazing in itself.

Overall: This tour was jam-packed with awesome sights, and well worth the money. Again, we booked this through Sterna travel and were really pleased with our guide, who taught us loads about Icelandic culture. We went away inspired!

To sum-up: tours are great, Iceland is great, we love Icelandic tours.

.:. Jo & Jasper .:.

Cats Rule The Town: Reykjavik is the City of Cats.

Did you know that Reykjavik is the city of cats? Because we did not. Imagine then our delight when, within hours of arriving in the city, we saw cats everywhere. We saw cats on walls, rolling on the pavements, crossing the streets, hanging outside Hallgrímskirkja. Like, imagine a bunch of cats just lounging outside of St Paul’s cathedral or something, it just doesn’t really happen anywhere else. We were already falling in love with this otherworld city, and as self-acclaimed ‘cat people’, the constant feline presence tipped the scales from love, to full on infatuation and obsession.

Why are there so many cats though? After chatting to some locals, we discovered that the dog laws in Reykjavik are crazy strict. Until the 80s, it was illegal to own a dog in Reykjavik. Nowadays, you can get a dog, but owners must pay for a licence, get residential approval and adhere to rules about leashing, chipping and vaccinations. Cats, however, can be owned free of charge. With this in mind, it’s far easier for people to get their four-legged fix in feline form (try saying that when you’ve had too much Brennivín!).

But let me explain what’s SO charming about the cats in Reykjavik. These cats aren’t the dirty skinny strays of Rome or Istanbul, they are chubby, friendly, collared pets. And, let me tell you, there is something really surprising and whimsical about seeing peoples’ pets wandering around the streets like pedestrians. It is something that seemingly would only happen in Iceland, and really sums up the country well. For, only in a country so safe and welcoming would creatures known for their skittish, fickle and untrustworthy ways, happily wander the streets and let total strangers pet them.

So, if you are a cat lover, Reykjavik is the place for you! Be sure to wander the residential areas for maximum cat coverage and, if you are serious about seeing the cat population, we would recommend avoiding the depths of winter, as they tend to stay indoors more. And we don’t blame them!

.:. Jo & Jasper .:.