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By Terry Mullen, MBA

A single viral photo on Twitter of the Blue Lagoon gave me the epiphany of planning a trip to Iceland.

After a few months of planning and a little effort in convincing friends to accompany me on this journey, the wheels were in motion. I was lucky enough that our Business Development Executive, Jennifer Barrows, knew an acquaintance from Iceland that gave me plenty of helpful tips before setting out on our adventure. Six friends, two cars, and lots of PB&Js lead to one epic road trip. Strangely, the Blue Lagoon wasn’t even the best part.

The Views

Iceland views

TLC was wrong when they told us not to chase waterfalls. Of which, Iceland has plenty. By far the best way to explore Iceland is The Ring Road. Route 1, which is referred to as The Ring Road, goes around the entire island circling to about 828 miles. We saw the beautiful rainbow above as we were in the last leg of our trip through the western side of the island, heading back to the main city of Reykjavik.

Towards the end of spring, the sun is up almost 20 hours each day and even in those four hours of night, it was never truly “dark”.  The island itself is made from volcanic rock that looks like black lava that has hardened over many years. Most of the civilization resides in the southern part of the Ring Road which houses waterfalls off to the side that you can park your car and walk up to. While driving past all of the farmland, you can see herds of wild horses and goats moving up along the eastern side of the island as it becomes more of a dirt road roller coaster. Never knowing what beautiful site we may see next, we kept our cameras handy.

The Dos

Reykjavik Iceland

In addition to the large selection of waterfalls, all unique in their own way, there’s an abundance of things to do and see. Geysers that shoot boiling hot water up unexpectedly, the Harpa Museum, Jökulsárlón and Laugavegur, the main street in Reykjavik, are all hot spots. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is filled with marble like glaciers that never melt and you may even spot some otters. The street of Laugavegur has everything from shops to bars, and it even includes the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church where you can capture an amazing view of the city from the very top (pictured above).

Find a hot spring. The Blue Lagoon is luxurious, but if you’re not trying to spend all of your money, general entry to sit in this man-made lagoon is about $60+. Don’t get me wrong, it is breathtaking and I would definitely recommend it, but it comes with a cost. On the other hand, there are hot springs that you don’t have to pay for. Reykjadalur, a hot spring river that requires a 2.5 mile hike, is only 40 minutes from the main city. The manner the pathway runs along the river is quite the site to see.

Lastly, make your way to the Svörtuloft Lighthouse. It’s a bumpy ride, yet totally worth it. We were on the hunt to find puffins off the coast and were fortunate to spot a few while out on the ledge. Their multicolored beaks help them stand out among the other penguins. Don’t be alarmed if you see them listed on the menu at some restaurants. however. They are cute, but tasty.

The Foods

Icelanders generally complement their fermented shark with a side of Black Death. Definitely an acquired taste, the fermented shark that is. Black Death is a shot of Brennivín vodka. The consensus with our group was that this Icelandic vodka is smooth to the core and easy to take.

While in the city of Reykjavik, you can’t leave without getting a famous Icelandic hot dog better known as a pylsur. If you can, get it with Cool American Doritos (aka Cool Ranch), Icelandic sauce and cheese. Sounds crazy, but it is phenomenal. Do not get a hot dog from a convenience store, it may ruin your hot dog experience and Iceland certainly has the best I’ve ever had.

Most goods are imported onto the island so it was pricey to eat out, but the seafood is fresh and flavorsome. Langoustines, whale and reindeer are a few additional items available that are far from the American norm.

Closing Remarks

Bring a backpack and an open mind. Always have it packed with an extra pair of clothes and a bathing suit. I was so grateful to have my Withum backpack with me as some of our adventures were completely unexpected. If you don’t already have a good pair of hiking boots, buy some. Pack for the season and be prepared to be amazed.

Iceland

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