Surviving an early morning in Reykjavik 

As most people who have taken an Icelandair flights from the United States will know, you get into Reykjavik at a miserable hour of the morning. Flights will often get in at around 6am Icelandic time. This is way too early for me, but if I can do it then so can you! Our flight from Minneapolis left at 6pm, lasted six hours, and then we got in at 6am. So, here is my recommended itinerary for surviving early morning arrivals. It worked wonderfully for us, so I’m here to share it with you!

6AM: Arrival. Get your sleepy self out to the baggage claim! Before you go, make sure book the Flybus for the morning of your arrival! The bus ride into the city is just under and hour, and we were dropped off at a bus station just outside of the city. There, we rented lockers for our baggage and walked into the city. Kaelyn guided us with a map into the city center (20 minute walk): thanks Kaelyn!


8AM: By this the time you make your way to the center of town, it should be near or after 8AM. But either way, start your walk over to the Laundromat cafe. This eclectic cafe is the perfect place to start off your morning! It is the funkiest theme of washing machines and laundromats and maps. The food is also incredibly fresh and delicious. If you’re a little adventurous, open the drawers at tables, you will not be disappointed. This place is also kid friendly, so don’t be afraid to bring your little ones there.

10:30AM: Do a free walking tour of the city! Book your tour here. It is the perfect way to wake up and get acclimated with the city. The best part is that you pay what you think the tour was worth. We had an amazing experience with a wonderful guide who was very entertaining, funny, and informational.


12:30-1PM: Around this time, or thereabout, you will finish your tour and will probably be getting hungry again. For the meat eaters out there, this is a great time to test out the famous hot dogs! For others, there are many more quick and delicious options all throughout the city.


1:30-2PM: Another short city walk! Now is the time to hit the sites that you saw, but didn’t get enough time to explore. This is also a perfect time to take all of the gorgeous monuments, streets, and nature. (We took a long time doing that.) Next stop is to the giant church! Trust me, pay that fee and go to the top. It is incredible and has some of the best views in town. You will get some great shots here, so take your time, take it in, and take pictures to your heart’s content!


3-4PM: Walk back to the bus station and taxi back to your hostel. As tempting as it is, resist the urge to take a nap. This will help you better acclimate to the time difference for the rest of your trip. Instead, use this time to unpack, read, write, listen to music, and relax. Once you’ve reached an appropriate dinner time, make your way to the harbor for dinner! Either go grocery shopping, or stop at one of the trendy restaurants in this area teeming with locals.

By this time, it will probably be close enough to a nice early bedtime to get rested for your next day in Iceland!

What other suggestions do you have for spending the day in Reykjavik?


Why You Need to Visit the Secret Lagoon

I see the Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland on nearly every travel bucket list, and for good reason. It’s gorgeous, relaxing, and fun! It is a great option for short layovers, like when I went, because of its close proximity to the airport. For a longer trip, though, you have some other options that are not quite as publicized or as expensive.

Going to these pools is actually a very common cultural part of Icelandic life and many pools are free! There are multiple throughout Reykjavik teeming with locals, if you’re feeling adventurous enough to make friends. Be aware that most of these require you to get fully naked to shower before entering the pristine water. There will be people there ensuring that you are thouroughly clean. It’s only as weird as you make it, but remember this is normal!

This brings us to the Secret Lagoon. The Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland dating back to the early 1900’s where children learned to swim. It is indeed a secret as it is located deep into the arctic circle. There is a small lodge where you can warm up and cafe where you can purchase drinks and some food. There is a lovely changing area complete with showers and hair dryers (and no one to supervise your shower if that was an uncomfortable prospect).

When Kaelyn and I went, we were terrified of the cold and I had to give Kaelyn a pep talk to even get out of the little lodge. We ran out screaming, like the Americans we are, not realizing everyone was staring at us until we were safely out of the cold and in the steaming pool. The other pool goers continued to stare at us for about 10 minutes whilst in the water, but honestly I don’t blame them. We then witnessed others gracefully and silently making their way into the pool, glasses of wine and beer in hand. Far more sophisticated than we will ever be, so just know that this place includes everyone!

This was the perfect place to end our tiring day around the golden circle! What pools have you been to in Iceland?


Big and Little Went to Iceland

Hi friends! I have officially been out of the country for over a month now! Though many days and adventures have passed, I’m going to start with the general story of my adventure with Kaelyn in Iceland. Don’t worry, there will be many more specific posts about Iceland, but for now we’ll keep it simple for a good update!

Leah and Kaelyn!

This story actually begins before we even left the state. Shout out to my mom for putting up with me. We left the house to go to the airport, and we were close to half an hour away when I realized I forgot my boots and had to turn around. So we definitely didn’t get to the airport with the two hour time allotment (oh yeah, and the weather was awful, and the traffic was insane). Again, sorry mom. Thankfully, we made it to the airport, there were no lines, and we got through without a hitch.

The Coocoo’s Nest

Finally, we boarded our plane. Of course I sat next to the two pretentious hipsters. It was awesome.

After our six hour flight, we landed in Reykjavik at 6:30am and took the fly bus to what we thought was the center city. As it turned out we were at what was basically a bus station where we sat for about 20 minutes before deciding to rent a locker there and find food. Kaelyn went all wild-woman and guided us with the map. I was like Merriweather-Leah and she was Sacagawea-Kaelyn. Except that neither of us actually knew where we were going, and there was a city right down the road, and Kaelyn is white…sorry this was a bad analogy.
Well, Kaelyn, the fearless leader, guided us straight to the Laundromat Cafe. (One of the few places open that early in the morning. Side note: the whole day seems early in the morning when the sunrise is at 10:30.)  As we munched on our delicious breakfast, we searched through a drawer near our table full of letters, notes, advice etc. After getting our fill we booked a free walking tour for about half an hour later. I must also mention that the garbage can in the bathroom was shaped like a rocket ship. That really stuck with me.


Hostel Views

We roamed around, basically walking up and down the same street eight times before we saw a group of people gathered around a monument. They definitely saw us struggling too so that’s slightly embarrassing. Our guide’s name was Marteinn and we were completely obsessed with him. C’mon, he was smart, funny, handsome, and Icelandic, what more could we ask for? Sorry ladies, he’s engaged. We had an incredible tour of the city, learning so much more than we ever thought there was to know about Iceland and the city of Reykjavik.

After this, we did our own little tour of the city. We took pictures of the mountains, Kaelyn ate a hot dog (apparently it was a really good hot dog), and we went the the large church with the most beautiful panoramic views of the city. It was breath taking. Eventually we made our way back to our bags, and we took a taxi to our hostel. Our hostel was in a pretty random location, but from our window we had views of the city, ocean, and mountains. I don’t think we could’ve beat that.


Snorkeling Site

That night we found a local hipster restaurant called the Coocoo’s Nest, perfect for us, honestly. And we had some darn good tacos there. Immediately after, we walked down the street and got ice cream. Typical. To be fair, it was Blueberry Skyr and Biscuits, an Icelandic dessert in ice cream form.

The next day was time for our snorkel adventure in the Silfra Fissure between tectonic plates. Contrary to popular beliefs you don’t swim between the two walls. It is actually a large area of no mans land full of both land and water. You can see the two walls of the North American and Eurasian plates when you are standing out of the water. We completely psyched ourselves out in a few ways. First of all, Kaelyn couldn’t read the 24 hour clock on the email and thought we missed our pick up time. Spoiler alert: we didn’t. It was scary and then funny. Then, once on the bus, we forgot our Wisconsin heritage and made ourselves believe this was going to be ridiculously cold. Now don’t get me wrong, it was super cold. But, we were wearing dry suits and were almost completely covered from head to toe. The only reminders of the cold were our hands and lips. It was very unlike snorkeling in tropical environments as it was rather desolate and eerie. That being said it was incredibly beautiful nonetheless.


Our final day in Reykjavik consisted of another tour. This time, we went all over the Golden Circle. Honestly, the highlight of my day was seeing the OG, Original Geyser. This is where we get the word geyser for all others, and the first documented geyser. We saw other lovely sights likes a stunning waterfall, but let’s just take a moment to talk about the secret lagoon. This is an actual geothermal pool used by locals and it is the oldest public swimming pool where children actually learned how to swim back in the day.

On this day, however, the serenity of this pool was rudely interrupted by two loud girls named Leah and Kaelyn. Shrieking and screaming through the freezing air, we ran into this pool as everyone inside stared at us in disgust. The staring continued for the followed 10-15 minutes. We later witnessed people calmly and silently entering the pool. I still have no idea how.

Geyser Next to the Original Geysir

We ate again at the Coocoo’s Nest, and again got ice cream after promising we wouldn’t and had an early morning to catch our flights. I love my big and I love Iceland and I can’t wait for our next trip together!