Field Notes From Iceland

Hello from Iceland! I have spent the last week exploring the great outdoors in this beautiful country and wanted to provide some highlights and gems for those that may be thinking about visiting Iceland. If you love hiking, outdoor adventure and good food then Iceland is for you.

I wanted to visit Iceland in March so I would have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights, which are not visible during the summer. My wife and I spent 4 hours hunting the Aurora Borealis on our first night in Iceland. We rented a car (highly recommended if you visit Iceland) and parked on the beach, completely alone, outside of a small town (15 minutes from Reykjavik) called Álftanes. The hunting of the lights consisted of drinking some Icelandic beer, trying not to freeze and watching the sky when the sun went down. It is cold in Iceland, especially on a beach with the cold wind blowing across the Atlantic Ocean, but an adventure I loved.

Hunting the Northern Lights Iceland
Hunting the Northern Lights Iceland

After hour 3 the sky was black (about 11:00 p.m.) and we walked along the beach looking up. As if by magic the lights appeared, slowly at first. I have no pictures to prove it. I wanted to experience the moment and I also lack the night photography skill set, but it was one of the most magical and amazing things I have ever seen. Here is a similar image to what I saw which I cannot take credit for taking.

Photo courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk
Photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

What do you eat in Iceland? The foods you can’t miss in Iceland are obviously the seafood and lamb. We stayed on a farm near Vik in the south with a man who raises lamb. Like Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company he served up so many kinds of lamb it made my head spin. Smoked lamb, cured lamb, marinated lamb etc… Coffee is huge in Iceland and coffee houses are everywhere. My favorite was a little place called Mokka-Kaffi in the heart of Reykjavik. It is the only coffee house I heard the patrons speaking the local language. Most others are filled with selfie stick wielding tourists. Try their homemade waffles with jam and whip cream. You will thank me.

You also want to make sure to try skyr, which is basically thick yogurt. You can buy it in the USA as well but everything tastes better when you eat it at the source. Hot dogs are also popular in Iceland and everyone is crazy about one small red hot dog stand in the Reykjavik called Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Condé Naste Traveler called it “The One Dish To Eat In Iceland”. Massive lines form here and what makes the hot dogs special are things like Icelandic mustard and the fact that they use lamb in the hot dogs.

Amy and I tried it and well, it tasted like a hot dog. It was good but at the end of the day, “The One Dish To Eat In Iceland.” I would have to disagree. Seek out the lobster soups in Reykjavik instead.

We scaled glaciers and drove the Golden Circle which you should not miss. Iceland is packed with waterfalls and you don’t really have to search very hard to find them. Gullfoss is particularly amazing which you will see during a day trip on the Golden Circle, which takes about 6 hours.

Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland
Skógafoss Waterfall Iceland
Skógafoss Waterfall Iceland

Hot springs are also a big thing in Iceland and we indulged in the touristy but very worth it, Blue Lagoon. My favorite spot though was a hidden gem hidden in the mountains on the way to Vik called Seljavallalaug pool. It is a 20 minute hike into the small hot springs pool which is one of the oldest in Iceland.

The hike to Seljavallalaug.
The hike to Seljavallalaug.

Most people miss this so if you have the chance I would say this is a do not miss. The water is lukewarm but warm enough to take a swim surrounded by snowcapped mountains. In summer it would be ideal.

Seljavallalaug Iceland Hot Spring
Seljavallalaug Iceland Hot Spring

All in all Iceland is a must visit for those that love the great outdoors!

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4 thoughts on “Field Notes From Iceland

  1. Enjoyed this read immensely. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit, if you can do all the things that Gabe and Amy were able to accomplish.

    Like

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