I do not really remember too much about my first visit to Iceland. It was seventeen years ago when myself and a group of work colleagues spent less than twenty four hours in Reykjavik and as it was December, it was dark for most of the time we were there. So ever since then, despite being able to say that I had been to Iceland, I could not really say that I had seen much of it at all so it has always been on my list of places to go back to. Also, my boyfriend had never visited Iceland and had always wanted to go so it seemed like a no-brainer for our next trip. We booked last August which was a good thing as we saw that flights and hotels in Iceland get a LOT more expensive nearer the time. This also gave us plenty of time to make a list of everywhere we wanted to see and work out an itinerary for our four nights there.
Fast forward to earlier this month and we had an early start as the alarm was set for 6:30am which gave us plenty of time to get out of bed, have a shower, get dressed and grab a quick cup of tea before we left the house at 8:00am for the quick drive to Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Once at the airport, we tried to use the machines to drop our bags off and collect our boarding passes however the machine was refusing to read my passport but thankfully despite it being a Monday morning, there was hardly any line at the regular check in desks.
After going through security we found the water dispenser which is located close to the Harry Potter shop and filled up our empty bottles free of charge before buying sandwiches for the flight as well as a croissant and coffee for breakfast from Pret. This would be our first flight on British Airways since they started charging for food and drink onboard but I cannot say it bothered me one little bit as I always have taken food on with me even when it was complimentary. I did notice that Pret was a lot busier than normal so it seemed a lot more people were buying food to take onboard with them.
Our gate was announced at 9:40am and despite looking like it was going to be a full flight, there did not seem to very much hand baggage at all compared to all the other flights I have been on with British Airways in Europe. An announcement was made for boarding which was completely inaudible so everyone just boarded at the same time. We were near the front of the line so it did not take long before we were sat down onboard.
Our flight was due to take two hours and fifty five minutes. It was a beautiful morning at Heathrow so the views on take off were beautiful. I ate my sandwich straight away as I was hungry whilst watching so many people having to purchase food to eat as they had not realised that they had to pay for food and drink now and had not brought anything onboard with them.
As we were sat on the right hand side of the aircraft, we could see Reykjavik through the clouds as we flew over the city before turning and landing towards the south into a cloudy, cold and rainy Keflavik International Airport. There was a short line at immigration before the walk to baggage reclaim where we waited ages for any bags off our flight to appear. After about half an hour, the belt started and as usual, my suitcase was last off.
After leaving baggage reclaim, we made our way to the Avis car rental desk in the arrivals hall. We had booked a car for our trip as part of our package with British Airways as we both knew that this was the way we wanted to see Iceland. Another benefit is that we did not have to pay anything extra for a second driver as we are both members of the British Airways Executive Club. After getting the paperwork sorted and being handed a map and leaflet with some information about driving on Icelandic roads, we headed outside where our car was waiting for us in the car park.
There is only one way out of the airport and the one main road to Reykjavik is clearly sign posted everywhere so you really cannot go wrong at all. As we both had mobile data, we used Google Maps on our phones to navigate to our hotel which we found with no difficulty. The drive to our hotel in Reykjavik took about forty five minutes – the only traffic we encountered was when we reached some traffic lights in the city itself. We were able to park our car in one of the spaces right outside the hotel door and pay at the parking metre using a credit card. As there are only parking charges from 9:00am until 6:00pm, we only had to pay for a few hours to take us up to 6:00pm – it was 150 ISK (about £1) an hour. As we would be leaving the hotel before 9:00am the next day, we did not need to worry about any parking charges for then.
We stayed in the new Centerhotel Midgardur which had come highly recommended on Trip Advisor. We had requested a room on a high floor which was granted as we could see over to the mountains in the distance. The room was small but incredibly clean, comfortable and well appointed. The only downside was that it was two twin beds pushed together to make a double with two individual duvets but we’re used to that as it seems to be a permanent feature in many European hotels.
After unpacking, we decided to go for a walk to get our bearings. It was cold and the wind chill was harsh but thankfully we had packed appropriately – something you do need to do for a trip to Iceland. We walked along Laugavegur which is one of the main streets in Reykjavik. Our first stop was a chemist where I purchased a bag of throat sweets as my throat had been hurting badly since landing and I was worried about running out of the ones I had brought with me once we were out of the city. We walked all the way down to Ingólfstorg Square before deciding to get dinner as we were both hungry.
For dinner we went to a cafe called Svarta Kaffid which was located on Laugavegur. They serve soup in bread bowls which seemed perfect as it was so cold out. They can get very busy but thankfully there were a few tables free when we arrived. There are two soups served each day – one meat and one vegetarian. The choices that day were Hungarian Meatball and Mushroom so we ordered one of each as well as a 7up to drink. The soups arrived very quickly and were absolutely incredible. The mushroom soup was delicious and I’m reliably informed the same about the Hungarian Meatball soup. I ate all of mine along with all of the bread bowl. Looking around, I’m not sure some people understood that they could eat the bread bowl as they were leaving with the bowls untouched on their table. The bill for our two soups and two soft drinks came to 4500 ISK which works out to roughly £32. Whilst this may seem expensive, it is not when you compare to other restaurants in the city.
Once we got back to the hotel, we started to get our bags ready for the next day. As as we would be staying at a hotel along the South Coast the following night, we needed to make sure we had everything we needed with us and as we had the hotel in Reykjavik booked for our whole stay, it meant we could leave our bulky suitcases behind.
For the previous few days we had been constantly checking the Aurora forecast online and as we had a car, we would have been able to drive out of the city at a moments notice. Sadly it was a very cloudy and overcast night and the forecast was low so there was no chance of seeing the Northern Lights that night.
As it had been a long day, it did not take long for either of us to fall asleep. The next day was the start of our mini road trip to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and I could not wait
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