“I want to come with you somewhere. What’s on your list?”
“Well Iceland is, and …”
“Iceland! I want to go to Iceland.”
“Awesome, but I’m planning to go in February to try to see the Northern Lights.”
My childhood bestie Shannon amazed me when she raised her hand to join me on my wintry wonderland #50for50 Icelandic adventure. I thought for sure I was doing that one solo, so was thrilled to turn it into a joint celebration of our 50th birthdays — and Iceland did not disappoint.
We rented a car to travel the entire south coast. Our very first day we got into white-out conditions — so bad I had to come to a full stop with no visibility in front or behind. But it only lasted a few moments and we shakily continued onward after considering our options. It was the same distance forward as back, so on we went to make it in time for our planned snorkel between two continents in 35-degree water (#21 on my list). And that was just Day One.
We walked next to a frozen waterfall, waded through a small river to a magical one in an open-air cave, skated in our boots in front of another frozen beauty, and that was just Day Two. Visiting a lagoon filled with icebergs, the sea where they eventually float out to, and then climbing the glacier that created them wowed us on the following days. Our six-mile glacier hike took us to astoundingly beautiful ice caves (#22), carved by wind and water. And we still weren’t done with Iceland’s beauty.
The guesthouses charmed us too. One had outdoor hot tubs built from rocks of the river below, which bubbled in places from the thermal hot springs. Another hosted a communal dinner with great food and fun conversation with visitors from the U.S., Europe, and Thailand. And our last one before Reykjavik was a cute yellow cottage overlooking a winding river and snow-covered fields with ponies in the distance.
We ended our trip with a night in Reykjavik (#23), which underwhelmed me. But our final adventure was a four-hour visit to the Retreat Spa at the Blue Lagoon (#24) the morning before our flight. This was one of the dreamiest, relaxing, self-indulgent experiences I’ve ever had. From our private dressing room to sipping Moët & Chandon champagne in the milky blue waters to an in-water massage that felt like I was rebirthed in a water cocoon to the dozen different experience rooms (volcanic rock steam room, sauna with lagoon view, swinging hammock nests), we reveled in the luxury and sensory bliss. So much that I almost made us miss our flight by staying 10 extra minutes to experience the final stage of the minerals-silica-algae Blue Lagoon Ritual. My skin was baby soft for the next two weeks though so it was worth it!
The Northern Lights eluded us, but the rest of Iceland so thoroughly blew us away that we didn’t feel we missed out on a single thing. Go get enchanted.