The sky was filled with dark cobalt light as we headed out just before dawn to explore the glacial beach. Sweet smells of the ocean enveloped us as we walked towards the ice-strewn volcanic black sand.
Salty spray danced in the air as the ferocious Atlantics waves crashed over the glittering ice chunks. The wet sand mirrored the sky’s cool blue hues and reflected into the frozen masses of ice, making it seem as if they were glowing.
As the sun rose, we were on the road for the long 4.5-hour drive from Jokurlsarlon to the Golden Circle. Halfway through the drive we experienced our first true snowstorm! We HAD to stop to play in the snow! The delicate snowflakes moved with such grace as they danced and spun in the air; they moved to their own tune as if directed by some unseen maestro. We played in our winter wonderland until we could no longer feel our toes, then it was back on the road again!
We arrived at Geysir just as sunset approached. Giant plumes of steam rose into the air, catching the suns warm glow. Every few minutes certain geysers boiled, surged, and then exploded, sending water and mist spraying into the sky.
They call Iceland the land of fire and ice for good reason! As the sun sank quickly below the horizon, the misty vapor that rose from the deep earth transformed into fire as the sun backlit the steam.
Just as the last bit of light had left the sky, we headed onward to our hotel in Reykjavik. We skidded and plowed through snowdrifts on our way over a steep mountain pass; two hours later we were back in civilization. We arrived exhausted at the Center Hotel Thingholt from our very long day.
This chic boutique hotel is nestled amongst the narrow downtown streets of Reykjavik. A sense of calm washes over you the moment you descend the stairs into the lobby. The juxtaposition of warm wood tones, low furniture clad in cool black leather, and funky light fixtures makes you want to sit back, relax, and sip a glass of wine. We headed out to dinner and explored a bit before turning in for the night.
We woke before sunrise and drove under a bowl of stars back to the Golden Circle. We arrived at Gullfoss as the cool tones of dawn washed over the snow-laden landscape. No one was there yet and we relished in the fact that we had the raging waterfall all to ourselves!
The sound of the turbulent falls could be heard long before you got to it, which just added to my anticipation. Finally it came into view, I was in awe! The powder white snow cloaked the land and clung to the shoreline. Tumultuous icy blue-green water swelled and surged as it plummeted over the steep cliffs that cut their way through the canyon. Blue ice clung to the steep canyon walls as the mist rose high into the gray sky.We explored Gullfoss all morning, taking in its immeasurable beauty.
We saw a massive winter storm was brewing in the west, so we decided to head back to Reykjavik a bit early. Once back in Reykjavik, we enjoyed lounging in the spa at our hotel to warm our achingly cold bones.
Shortly after getting back, the frigid storm hit with a fury: 50 mph wind gusts and sheets of snow blinded us as we walked to dinner. We feasted at Lækjarbrekka for our last meal in Iceland. It had a quaint yet refined feel and boasted some of the very finest cuisine in Reykjavik. We were thoroughly impressed by the service, atmosphere, presentation, and bold Icelandic flavors. If you find yourself in Reykjavik this is an absolute must!
The day I had been dreading was finally here; we hurriedly packed our Hartmann luggage so we could explore Reykjavik a bit more before flying back home. A must on our list was to visit Harpa. The opera building boasts some of the most incredible modern architecture I have seen. It is truly a piece of art. We meandered the light filled space and gazed up at the mirrored ceiling as glass birds hung mid flight above us.
All too soon we were on our way back to the airport, but in true Icelandic style there were 70 mph wind gusts that grounded our flight. You never know what you are going to get with the weather in Iceland. Take advice from the locals, if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes! Iceland, ‘til we meet again!