so, last month, i went to iceland for my 30th birthday. =D easily the best birthday weekend of my life!
it was only a 3hr flight from london, with no time change - a nice naturey weekend away, if you're in the UK. it's also very affordable, ever since its economy crashed =P. we did the iceland excursions tour package with an extra day on the southcoast and waterfalls tour. - i would definitely recommend this, as the prices included the stay at the cozy hotel fron, which comes complete with a kitchenette in its double rooms - almost like a studio apartment.
although the golden circle classic tour, with the majestic gullfoss waterfall and geysir, was amazing and the most popular (the large tour bus was PACKED!), i liked the southcoast and waterfalls tour more. the southcoast tour runs on a mini-bus (there were only seven of us on the whole tour), so it has a very intimate feel; you also travel to more locations, going to a LOT of waterfalls, as well as glaciers, a black sand beach, and the very quaint skogar museum with its grassy roofs.
- waterfall -
- skogar museum -
both tours were incredible, and the scenery absolutely stunning, but i felt the locations would be better in the summer. the one big advantage of going to iceland in the winter, however, is - the northern lights! =D we booked a northern lights tour on the first night, but it kept getting cancelled due to bad weather, so we had to constantly move our booking to the next night. luckily, our persistence ultimately paid off, because we saw the lights on our final night there! needless to say, the lights are beautiful, but they are tricky to catch on camera. i'd never done night photography with a d-slr before, so i had a hard time - plus, it is COLD, so wear woolen thermals (miraculously insulating) - and if you can, practice night photography using a tripod to prepare yourself before your trip. =)
- northern lights -
we ended our weekend at the blue lagoon. if you're in iceland, it's easy to stop here for a few hours on your way to the airport. i would actually recommend going to the lagoon in the winter, since the contrast between the sub-zero weather with falling snow and the steaming hot waters is nothing short of surreal. bring plenty of lotion, as all the exfoliating with the silica mud made my skin feel parched, and also a water camera since there are some spectacular photos that you can take while bathing in the lagoon.
- blue lagoon -
finally, i'd like to add a quick note about food: if you're wondering where to eat, the fish company gave me the best dinner of my life. we also headed to the three frenchmen to try some icelandic specialties, like puffin and whale, which i thought all tasted great, but - disclaimer: i can stomach anything! =P