#icelanding2016

Part 1: Reykjavik & Surrounds

We started our journey by picking up our 4-wheel rental vehicle from Go Iceland. It was quickly dubbed The S.S. Science Puddle. Flights to Reykjavik actually land in Keflavik, which is outside of the main city, but provides some interesting stopping points along the way.

Our first stop after the airport.

The bridge, spanning the two continents, behind us.

A must for an Iceland visit, and a nice respite after a plane ride, The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Baths are a real treat. We did the package that comes with a drink, two masks, and a towel. Delightful.

Krýsuvík-Seltún is a geothermal area outside of Reykjavik. The temperature below the surface is close to 400° and the water is boiling as it comes out of the ground.

Kleifarvatn is the largest lake on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland, situated in the southern part of the peninsula on the fissure zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Reykjavik

After finishing up at geothermal areas outside of the city, we started making our way towards the OK Hotel in Reykjavik, our home for our first two nights of #icelanding2016.

Our hotel was located on Laugavegur, the city's famous shopping street. We spent some time strolling the area and exploring the many stores, as well as excellent street art

And, of course, trying on the traditional clothing of the region.

After dinner, we walked down to the waterfront and saw the Sun Voyager sculpture (Sólfar in Icelandic), which is gorgeous against the water and sky background. Not many people were around at the time, so it was easy to get some great photos!

And the necessary "we were there" selfie, obviously.

Have you heard about Iceland's midnight sun? We were there for the last two weeks in May. It is no joke.

Since running out of light didn't seem to be much of a problem, we took a walk up to Hallgrimskirkja, which is the largest church in Iceland. It was closed at the time, but the light was great and we were able to stroll around and appreciate the interesting architecture, lovely detailing on the doors, and have a great view of the sunset (which can be seen on the cover of this story).

Turning in for the night, here is a shot from our hotel room terrace. Note the light and the hour.

I spent many of my 12 days in Iceland being surprised by things that are real in Iceland. Here are a few of them.

Okay, that last one I knew about ahead of time and we had already planned to go there (I mean... How can you not?) but it was utterly bizarre to witness in person. I hope all of my friends enjoyed their postcards.

Iceland is not famous for their cuisine, but they do make a mean hot dog. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a chain of hot dog stands that should not be missed. Get one with all the toppings!

After hot dogs, we swung by the Volcano Museum, which I don't have any photos of, but which I highly recommend. It's free and nearby, and the film they have on view about Iceland's history of, and living with, volcanos was both informative and fascinating. It gave us quite a bit of insight to one of our later stops, Heimaey, the only populated island of the Westman Islands, and the Eldfell eruption that happened there in 1973. More on that in later stories.

After the Volcano Museum was a stroll down to the infamous Harpa.

I immediately made a friend. His name is Frímmin.

We're BFFs now.

It's impossible not to marvel at Harpa's architecture. It's also really tough to crop the photos because I don't want to cut anything out.

Challenge: Find yourself in a slanted ceiling mirror and take selfies while your friend is in the bathroom desperately trying to figure out how to open the stall doors.

If you're not at all familiar with Icelandic culture, there is a really great experience we discovered called dinner with the natives. It's offered at The Tin Can Factory, and includes lessons on the language, history, foods, and all sorts of cultural institutions of Iceland. It was incredibly informative and tons of fun. I believe we spent about 3-4 hours there, which included all I mentioned above. Our hosts were fun and welcoming. It was a wonderful way to end our stay in Reykjavik and set us off for the Golden Circle.

Geyser Bread, baked in the ground by the natural heat, covered with Smjör (Icelandic butter) and sautéed Angelica herb with garlic and butter.

Sheeps heads. A bit daunting.

Our host pouring us some beers.

Traditional Icelandic pancakes with jam and cream. We were taught how to make, and did make the pancakes ourselves!

Another time stamp.

Things that make the sheep heads look a little better.

I was just relieved to find iced coffee before we hit the big road.

a story by @thatlalagirl #iceland #reykjavik #travel #travelphotography #stellerstories #europe #roadtrip #stellarplaces #icelanding2016 #GoExplore See more at ThatLalaGirl.com Flickr and Instagram Follow Me on Instagram @thatlalagirl Stay tuned for the rest of my two week Iceland trip!