Brace yourselves for a rave review.
But first, We did start out with a misadventure. After a lovely flight (eight thumbs up for Icelandair!), we landed on time at Keflavik airport after only 3-5 hours of sleep apiece. All of our 9(!) checked bags arrived intact, but then we had to find the baggage storage, which proved far more difficult than my research had led me to believe. Picture us sprinting down a busy road between the airport and the airport hotel 1/3 mile away, tired kids in tow and pushing two carts loaded with almost 400 pounds of luggage. At 8am. On very little sleep. After finally getting most of the bags stored (whew!), we tried finding the should-be-very-obvious bus to the famed and very hyped Blue Lagoon. Arriving with reserved tickets for the 8:30am shuttle at 8:28, MamaHatch was ready to forgive the Hatch males who insisted on breakfast and bathroom breaks in spite of The Schedule. Foiled again: bus was full, and MamaHatch was not happy. However, only moments later, a bus arrived just for us.
All was right in the world not too much later, when the Hatches were paddling around the ohmygodthatfeelsawesome Blue Lagoon. Full of tourists of all types killing time during their layovers, the arguably-cheesy Lagoon is big enough that you can avoid the masses if you want and find your own hot spot or shallower bit to lie down even. I then had the best massage of my life: an in-water silica salt scrub and massage. I felt as if I were in a sensory deprivation chamber in the best way. Time was suspended. I cannot recommend this highly enough. We capped our visit with a fantastic meal at the Lava Restaurant on site: Arctic char and lamb for me.
Feeling fantastic and refreshed, we checked into our AirBnB apartment in Reykjavik (no longer AirBnB virgins!) and set about to explore the capital. Summary: great vibe, cool architecture, very walkable and full of public art, cute cafés and nice green space. For dinner, we sampled the hilarious shack that claims to have the “best hot dog in the world,” and who am I to disagree? They are made from Icelandic lamb and are best eaten with a secret sauce and fried and chopped raw onions. Truly delicious!
Today, continuing the theme of Iceland Is Awesome, we took a fabulous small bus tour of the “Golden Circle,” per a recommendation from a friend (thanks, Gus!). IG Tours is run by a husband and wife team; Addi (the wife) was our guide, a wealth of interesting and deep knowledge of her country and its geology and history. What a beautiful country this is, with its moonscape, mountains, glaciers and waterfalls. Did you know that Iceland sits on two tectonic plates? We walked along the edge of the North American plate, which sits above the Thingvellir – the site of the world’s first parliament in 930.
After a fish dinner tonight, we will be getting to bed early to catch a flight out tomorrow morning to Paris. Highly recommend! Icelandair does an amazing job of marketing the country and makes it very easy to do on a stopover. AirBnB makes it relatively affordable.