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Reykjavik, Iceland > 4 day trip to Reykjavik in April 2013

Iceland Introduction - If you are looking for something different to a typical beach holiday then look no further; Iceland is a truly wondrous place that will captivate you from the moment your plane starts it potentially turbulent landing. This relatively young volcanic Island is full of contrasting landscapes, from the barren volcanic Reykjanes peninsula, to the snow capped peaks of mount Esja; Iceland is waiting to be explored.

Day 1 "Welcome to Iceland!" - Fresh and ready for adventure we enjoyed a quick pint in Manchester Airport departure lounge before boarding our Icelandair flight. After another beverage and a quality sandwich we started our descent…….worst ever landing! The turbulence was aggressive and as we touched down on a rain-soaked runway the plain suddenly dipped to the left and for one heart stopping moment it looks as if the wing would hit the tarmac.

Transfer to the hotel was hassle free Hallgrímskirkja churchand we got to see the dark and otherworldly landscape of the Reykjanes peninsula on the way. Our home for the trip was Hotel Leifur Eiríksson - situated in the heart of Reykjavik on Skólavörðustígur it provided great access to the town and we could easily walk to see the sights. Immediately opposite the hotel loomed the imposing Lutheran church Hallgrímskirkja - an architectural marvel that dominates the Reykjavik skyline; make sure you visit this church and pay a mere 700ISK (approx £3.80) to use the viewing platform that gives you superb views of Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains.

After unpacking we took a brief walk around the city before heading out dressed to impress; our restaurant of choice for the night was the Roadhouse - an American style burger bar where we both enjoyed a hearty meal at a reasonable price (for Iceland!). We then walked down Laugavegur (the main shopping street in Reykjavik) onto Austurstræti and enjoyed maybe a few too many drinks in the local bars - the best of which was the Old English pub that had a live band playing old rock songs - brilliant atmosphere and we would have stopped in there all night if we could continue to see straight!

Day 2 "What whales?" - Feeling slightly delicate from the previous night's antics we had a quick breakfast and embarked upon our whale watching tour with Elding. The transition to the harbor was efficient and we were picked up from our hotel with no hassle. When on the boat, I opted for the warm all in one suit provided whereas Anthony decided to be manly and stick it out with just his coat (idiot!). Unfortunately we had a disappointing outing and did not see any whales at all – Elding have a 95% sighting rate so don't be put off by our failure; we were just unlucky and you cannot set store by nature. We did enjoy the boat trip however; the scenery was spectacular and seeing Reykjavik and the surrounding mountains from afar was something special. One tip we want to share is to be prepared for the bracing Icelandic winds – the sea air was bitter and the spray from the water was really cold – wrap up and wear a coat that will cover as much of your face as possible.

After an anti-climatic search for the gentle giants of the sea, we headed out to the Blue Lagoon to relax and unwind. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and one of the most popular attraction in Iceland - situated in Grindavik, approximately 40 minutes from Reykjavik we enjoyed the drive and looking at the desolate landscape of the Reykjanes peninsula. The first thing you note on your arrival to the Lagoon is the smell! The scent of Sulphur (rotting eggs!) is strong in the air - you Blue Lagoonwill get used to it! Once your changed into your swimming gear and had a pre-bathing wash, get ready for the dash from the building to the lagoon itself - it wasn't exactly freezing but it was not the best experience walking out into the open! The reward however was instant warmth when we submerged ourselves in the turquoise water (the water really is the same colour as our photos!) - the best way I could describe the temperature is like having a really hot bath that never gets cooler! We enjoyed a couple of hours lazing and relaxing in the lagoon before heading back to the hotel for an early night to prepare for our all day tour the next day.

Day 3 "The Golden Circle" - Fully refreshed and ready to go, we had an early start for our Golden Circle day tour. The Golden circle is the best way to see some of Iceland's more spectacular sights and our tour provider Iceland excursions was excellent - the tour guide was extremely knowledagble, witty and had a great sense of humor. Our first stop was Thingvellir national park - birthplace of Icelandic parliament and situated on the joints between the Eurasian and North American continental plates. This beautiful landscape was mesmerizing and bursting with contrasts and colour. The next stop was Gullfoss waterfall - an immense waterfall stemming from the river Hvita. Our excitement built as we drew nearer to the falls - I had read about Gullfoss Waterfall - the Golden FallsGullfoss and couldn't wait to see this marvel. The Golden Falls didn't disappoint; it is an awe inspiring sight, the water crashing through the carved path of the cliff, the different hues of the water from dark blue to light turquoise, the sheer scale of the falls and the feeling of insignificance when stood next to its might. After chomping down a bowl of Icelandic Lamb soup, we headed off to the volcanic area of Haukadalur to see the active Geysers, the best and most active of which was Strokkur which erupted every 5-8 minutes. I stood holding my camera ready on continuous burst mode for 10 minutes to capture an eruption - success! We also visited the little known waterfall Faxi and Skalholt church. The Golden circle tour was fantastic and for approx £50, great value for money - a perfect end to our Icelandic adventure.

Iceland - awe-inspiring - We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Iceland and I would personally go back without hesitation - there is so much to do and see and the wild barren and un-spoilt nature of the country appealed to me. We will leave you with some parting advice - Iceland is expensive, the accommodation and tours are good value, but the food and drink are not so. Unless you are content to eat Subway's then take a little extra money for your meals and nights out - we ate out each night at a mid-range restaurant and were spending £30 each on a main course, while beer was £4 per pint and drinks like Smirnoff were £8 per bottle.

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I heart this place because

Beautiful but barren, rugged and unforgiving, Iceland is a country of contrasts and never ceases to amaze with its fascinating landscapes and ever changeable climate

Dont miss out on

The Golden Circle tour is the best way to see some of Iceland's most impressive sights in one comprehensive trip. See the majestic and powerful Gulfoss waterfall, erupting Geysers and the rugged and beautiful Thingvellir national park

Gulfoss waterfall on the Golden Circle Tour

The Golden Circle - Gulfoss waterfall

Information and resources for Iceland and Reykjavik - links will open in a new page

Iceland on Wikipedia

General information about the country of Iceland and its history - Link

Reykjavik on Wikipedia

General information about the Iceland's capital Reykjavik and its history - Link

Icelandair

Flight operator for Iceland, provide flights and packages - excellent service - Link

Elding whale watching

Tour operator for whale watching excursions in Iceland - highly recommended - Link

Iceland Excursions

Popular tour operator in Reykjavik - we used these for our Golden Circle tour - Link

The Blue Lagoon

Geothermal Spa in Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula - Link

Photos taken using a Canon Powershot ssx220 HS

Iceland is a beautiful place to photograph; the air is so clean and the sky is usually clear and a vivid shade of blue. Be ready with your camera at all times as the weather is changeable and you never know how long you will have to take a shot.

The Sun Voyager sculpture Reykjavik as viewed from Hallgrimskirkja The Esja mountain range with Reykjavik harbour in the foreground Hallgrimskirkja church with statue of Leifur Eiriksson in the foreground Reykjavik Habour Reykjavik viewed from Hallgrimskirkja church Reykjavik Harbour Ready for the off on the Elding whale watching tour Icelandic coast line from our whale watching boat Hotel Leifur Eiriksson and Skolavoroustigur All wrapped up - still have a red face! Esja mountain range - was a really spectacular sight The Blue lagoon geothermal spa Blue lagoon - the water was volcanically heated, like having a really warm bath Blue Lagoon - it was freezing walking from the changing rooms to the pool! The Blue Lagoon is powered by a geothermal power plant Thingviller national park Thingviller national park Thingviller national park Thingviller national park Thingviller national park We stopped to feed some Icelandic horses before reaching Gullfoss Gullfoss waterfall - the golden falls Gullfoss waterfall on the golden circle tour Gullfoss waterfall was a truly breathtaking sight The power and the size of Gullfoss waterfall were amazing Iceland - on the Golden cirlce day tour Blessi geyser near Strokur and the original Geyser Blessi geyser near Strokur and the original Geyser Hekla volcanic mountain - this was a really impressive sight Active Geyser Strokkur that errupted every 5-8 minutes One of the first Christian churches in Iceland
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